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Courses

Film studies majors are generally united by a love of the movies. Yet film studies classes involve a lot more than just watching films. In addition to teaching students important skills in film analysis and production, faculty in the film studies program teach courses that encourage students to develop a general cultural literacy, or the ability to better interpret and critically “read” the increasingly visual way in which we are asked to understand the world. Courses in production then allow students to apply that newfound literacy and contribute their own stories to our diverse culture.

Few courses are limited strictly to readings of film. Instead, students assess a range of images and the visual language of mainstream media, news coverage, and the Internet. Often these visual texts are then analyzed in relation to other works to elaborate the circumstances of a given film’s production and reception. Journalism, theory, history, sociology, philosophy, and literature might be assigned to broaden a film’s meaning by developing its cultural and historical context.

Typically, students view and read this content outside of class, coming together in the classroom for discussions on the artistic, technical and thematic elements that make the film what it is. Classes are kept small so that students have ample opportunity to try out their own ideas and contribute to the ideas of others. Discussions are richer because film studies faculty hail from departments across campus, bringing their own academic perspectives, be they historic, cultural or linguistic, to the classroom.  Production classes provide students with the opportunity to get behind the lens and put analysis into practice. In addition, visiting scholars and filmmakers present students with the opportunity to learn from the faculty at other institutions and practitioners working in the field.

Film Studies majors choose their courses from a variety of different department and programs around the University, such as Art and Art HistoryClassical Studies, EnglishJournalismLatin American, Latino, and Iberian StudiesModern Literatures and Cultures, and Music. The range of courses available provides students the opportunity to construct a program of study that matches their particular interests.

Courses in other departments that count for the film studies major/minor are grouped as A, B, or C.

The following courses are specific to the Film Studies program.

Courses
FMST 201 Introduction to Film Studies
Units: 1
Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSLT)
Description
Introduces the methodology of film studies through close textual analysis of narrative film. Special attention paid to the international history of the medium, the language of production, and major critical approaches. (Same as ENGL 220.)

This course introduces students to the practice of film studies; the theoretical, historical, and aesthetic analysis of the cinema as an art form and as a socio-cultural phenomenon. The course begins by considering film in its earliest history, looking at the invention of the cinematic apparatus and the development of the earliest forms of film narrative as well as the audience for these spectacles.  The course then considers film in other national and historical contexts: possible areas of examination include the Italian neorealist movement, the French New Wave, German Expressionism, and Soviet Montage, among others. Further units include an in-depth investigation of the work of a significant director such as Alfred Hitchcock or Ingmar Bergman, and an analysis of the history and development of film genres such as the Western, the screwball comedy, or film noir. Students who take the course learn to engage with film interpretively and imaginatively. These interactions encourage a more active, critical engagement with the medium and add to one's recognition of the complex ways in which film operates as a symbolic and cultural-historical system.


FMST 202 Introduction to Film Production
Units: 1
Description
The art and technique of film production, including the fundamental principles of shot composition, lighting, sound, and editing and development of critical and aesthetic sensibilities.

FMST 203 With Images and Sound: Introduction to the Language of Film
Units: 1
Fulfills General Education Requirement FSVP
Description
A study of the film medium by a systematic discussion of the ways in which meaning is constructed by viewers, and how images are used to communicate. The discussion of the mechanisms at work in contemporary visual culture will be undertaken through complementary activities, both analytical and creative, emphasizing a direct experience with the medium. Additionally, students will view and discuss significant films, from various film traditions, which exemplify the theoretical questions discussed.

FMST 265 German Cinema
Units: 1
Fulfills General Education Requirement (FSLT)
Description
Survey of German cinema from the 1930s to the present emphasizing the historical and cultural context in which the films were produced. (Same as LLC 265.)

FMST 302 Intermediate Film Production
Units: 1
Description
Intensive film production course for students with previous filmmaking experience. Includes sophisticated technical and aesthetic skills involved in professional level film production through writing, producing, and directing narrative films.
Prerequisites
Film Studies 202

FMST 367 Culture in the Making: Conception and Actualization of a Film Festival
Units: 1
Description
Experience in the creation and preparation of a major annual cultural event, the French Film Festival presented by the University of Richmond and VCU, leading to significant enhancement of knowledge of contemporary cinema and culture, exposure to production and distribution models, and to cultural management. (Same as FREN 467.)
Prerequisites
Either FMST 201 or 202.

FMST 371 Introduction to Latin American Film
Units: 1
Description
Study of prominent examples of Latin American film production with special attention paid to aesthetic aspects of cinematographic language and cultural questions embodied in the films examined. (Same as LAIS 371.)
Prerequisites
For LAIS majors/minors: LAIS 309. For FMST majors/minors: FMST 201 or 202 with a grade of C or better.

FMST 374 Film Theory
Units: 1
Description
The course examines several different approaches to understanding what is unique the film medium as a both an expressive art and a social and critical discourse. Models include the classic theories of realism of André Bazin and Siegfried Kracuer; the social and material history of Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, and the Frankfurt School; feminism and gender studies; phenomenology; sound in cinema; critical race theory and whiteness studies; and digital media, among others. (Same as English 374.)
Prerequisites
Film Studies 201 or English 220, 297, or 298 with a grade of C or better.

FMST 388 Individual Internship
Units: 1
Description
Application of skills outside of the department in areas related to film studies. Possibilities might include working for a film festival or film series, on a film under production, or in associated fields. No more than one unit may apply towards the degree.
Prerequisites
Departmental approval

FMST 397 Selected Topics
Units: 1
Description
Selected topics in film studies (such as various national cinemas; the significance of particular directors, schools, or movements; period designations, or thematic approaches) for students pursuing a Film Studies major.

FMST 399 Independent Study
Units: .5-1
Description
Individually designed course of study supervised by a faculty member.
Prerequisites
Department Approval

FMST 400 Research Seminar
Units: 1
Description
Required seminar for majors taken in junior or senior year. Seminar focused around the in-depth study of an individual topic, culminating in a substantial research paper. Topics and instructors vary from semester to semester.

Film Studies seminars offer students the opportunity for in depth study of a wide range of different topics, including genre studies, historical periods, national and ethnic/minority film traditions, theory and aesthetics, and other areas of film study. Topics vary from semester to semester. Each seminar culminates in a substantive research project. Under certain conditions, students may have the opportunity to create a short film as a final project.

Prerequisites
Film Studies 201 or English 220 with a grade of C or better

FMST 406 Summer Undergraduate Research
Units: 0
Description
Documentation of the work of students who receive summer fellowships to conduct research [or produce a creative arts project] in the summer. The work must take place over a minimum of 8 weeks, the student must engage in the project full-time (at least 40 hours per week) during this period, and the student must be the recipient of a fellowship through the university. Graded S/U.
Prerequisites
Approval for summer Arts and Sciences fellowship by faculty mentor

FMST 473 Political Action and Latin American Indigenous Film
Units: 1
Description
Examines the main cinematic movements in Latin America, in which political action and the vindication of indigenous peoples and their land coalesce with a concern for a new film aesthetic. (Same as LAIS 473.)
Prerequisites
LAIS 321, 331, or 332 or FMST 201 or 203.