Student Research

Research is a crucial part of the Film Studies major and minor, developing students’ skills in big-picture thinking, project design, information literacy, and critical analysis. Every student will do research as part of his or her Film Studies course work, which culminates in a Capstone Research Seminar taken in the junior or senior year. Additionally, an intensive research experience is perfect for students who want to immerse themselves in a project and work one-on-one with a faculty mentor. Faculty in the Film Studies Program, along with administrators in the School of Arts & Sciences, do everything possible to ensure that students who ask big questions are presented with plenty of opportunities to answer them.

The School of Arts & Sciences provides a number of research fellowships for students to perform research over the summer, either collaborating on a faculty member’s newest project or designing their own investigation. In addition, students who are invited to present their research at a regional or national conference or meeting can apply for travel funds through the School. Past summer research experiences have included an exploration of gender dynamics in serial killer cinema, investigations of hero figures in contemporary films, and an examination of the concept of professionalism in the neo-noir films of the 1970s.

Additional research opportunities are available for students enrolled in an independent study course. Independent research with the assistance of a faculty member is an excellent way to explore a particular topic while earning academic credit. Past independent studies in film have included an analysis of phenomenon of Hollywood blockbusters, a study of the films of Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, and Steven Spielberg, and the production of a documentary on homeless children living in the greater Richmond area.  

Students who conduct independent research projects are encouraged to present their findings at the School of Arts & Sciences’ Student Symposium, an annual event held at the Modlin Center for the Arts each April, where over 250 students present their work.