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Interdisciplinary Film Studies Minor

Interdisciplinary Film Studies Minor

The interdisciplinary film studies minor provides a unique perspective on film from a constellation of fields and disciplines within the School of Liberal Arts, including communication arts and sciences; English; women’s and gender studies; world languages and cultural studies; and visual and performing arts.

This minor will equip students with tools to analyze the formal aspects of cinema as well as its broader social and cultural ramifications. Students will also have the opportunity to learn film and video production techniques.

The minor is intended for students who wish to deepen their understanding of film analysis, video production and editing. The Interdisciplinary film studies minor can lead to opportunities in filmmaking, producing, screenwriting, directing, editing, film criticism and more.

The minor requires the completion of a minimum of 18 credits, with a minimum of five courses (including one foundational course and four elective courses) chosen from the list below and distributed so that no more than two elective courses can be taken from the same department.

Foundational Courses

Students must choose one of the following three foundational courses:

The Film Experience (COM 3425). This course will offer students an overview of the cinematic experience. The course will focus on three specific parts of the film experience. First, students will gain an understanding of classic and modern film theory. Second, students will learn how to critically analyze films as well as how to write journalistic and scholarly analyses of films. In the class we will watch six movies as a group in order to give students a common subject for thoughtful analysis and spirited discussion. Third, students will be given the opportunity to produce, direct, act in and edit their own short films. Fulfills AL in LS Core.

Literature and Film (ENG 2770). Study of the transformation of works of literature into film, focusing on the different techniques used in cinema, literature and the relationship of film to traditional literature. This class will focus on four major films and the literature they are based on. Prerequisite: FYW 1050. Fulfills AL in LS Core.

Gender, Sex and Film (WGS 2420). This course will explore how film intentionally or unintentionally reflects and shapes our perceptions of sex and gender categories. Throughout the course, we examine mainstream, independent and international films, looking at how gender, sex and race are represented. We will analyze how women and men and transgender persons have historically been portrayed in film and how sex and race are interlocked with gender. Questions and topics we will cover include how sexualities from heterosexual, bisexual, lesbian and gay individuals have been represented during different sociohistorical periods; how different genres from romance to horror to comedy position characters according to sex and gender; who we identify with and why; and how different audiences respond to characters based on the interactions of sex, race and gender. Students will have the opportunity to reverse the lens and experiment with video production. Fulfills AL and D in LS Core. 

Elective Courses

No more than two elective courses can be taken from the same department (not including the core courses listed above).

Introduction to Television Production (COM 3422). This introductory course is intended to provide students with an understanding and appreciation of the art and skill involved in creating television programming. Students will examine historical milestones and develop the skill to analyze the craft. Pre-production, production and post-production techniques will be introduced. Students will work in teams to gain experience both in front of and behind the camera and develop storytelling strategies, writing copy for television, camera shots and angles, lighting and composition, all of which will prepare them to produce original Merrimack College campus programming. No prerequisite. Fulfills X in LS Core. Four hours a week.

The Film Experience (COM 3425). This course will offer students an overview of the cinematic experience. The course will focus on three specific parts of the film experience. First, students will gain an understanding of classic and modern film theory. Second, students will learn how to critically analyze films as well as how to write journalistic and scholarly analyses of films. In the class we will watch six movies as a group in order to give students a common subject for thoughtful analysis and spirited discussion. Third, students will be given the opportunity to produce, direct, act in, and edit their own short films. Fulfills AL in LS Core.

Special Topics: Video Production, Studio (COM 4011). This course provides focused study of a specific and significant topic from a communication orientation. The topic varies each time the course is taught. Descriptions will be available in the communication arts and sciences office. This course includes student preparation of seminar papers and critiques. Prerequisite: COM 1020 and junior standing or consent of the instructor.

Literature and Film (ENG 2770)Literature and film are mediums unique unto themselves, yet they also shape and influence each other. The class will study this complex interrelationship. Class will focus on major films and the literature they are based on. Prerequisite: FYW 1050. Fulfills AL in LS Core.

Hollywood’s America: Gender, Race and Class in American Cinema (ENG 3735)Movies are undeniably the most popular art form of the 20th and 21st centuries and, as a result, provide important insights into the American experience. This course will study landmark Hollywood films that helped shape modern American identity. Prerequisite: FYW 1050. Fulfills AL in LS Core. 

Basic Digital Photography (FAA 2450). Students will develop visual ability in a digital context to make, share and publish photographs. Examples of photographic work from the history and philosophy of photography will provide for the development of a photographic vision. Composition, manipulation, restoration and creating images for other uses, such as PowerPoint, will be stressed. Students will also develop an online portfolio. A digital camera capable of 3 megapixels or greater is required. No prerequisite. Fulfills AL in LS Core.

Digital Video (FAA 285)This course will concentrate on the kinds of issues often confronted by today’s multimedia artists. Though studio production techniques will be covered, the importance of shooting on locale for various purposes will be explored. Issues concerning video on the web, in multimedia titles and on DVDs will be covered. Editing techniques as applied to video, stills, animation and audio will be covered. Audio mixing and digital photography will be covered to the extent necessary for skillful editing. DVD production will be introduced. Software: Premiere. Fulfills AL in LS Core.

Cinema of the French-Speaking World (FRE 3030). This course is offered for students who wish to study French and Francophone culture and civilization through film. Taught in English. No prerequisite. Fulfills AL in the LS Core.

Five Centuries of French Civilization in Films (FRE 3040 [W]). A study of French culture through films. There will be a selection of five films, each representing a century of French civilization and culture from the 17th century to the present. Students will be reminded of all the important events in history, literature, culture and art; then, they will discuss how the films illustrate these events. Fulfills W in the LS Core and AL or FL in LS Core.

Italian-Americans and Film (ITA 2550). From the premise that the visual image is a most powerful tool in the creation and structuring of collective systems of values, this course focuses on the cinematic representation of Italian-Americans in the works of major American and Italian-American directors from the silent era to the present. In addition, it provides a historical account of the Italian-American experience of male and female immigrants. Taught in English. No prerequisite. Fulfills AL in LS Core.

The Italian Southern Question in Literature and Film (ITA 2560 [W])A voyage through southern Italy using literature and film, with a particular attention to the so-called Southern Question. Readings from such writers as Carlo Levi, Ignazio Silone, Elio Vittorini, M.G. Cutrufelli and Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa. Taught in English. No prerequisite. Fulfills AL, D and W in LS Core.  

Italian Culture Through Film I and II (ITA 2570 / ITA2580, four credits each). A survey of Italian films as textual, cultural and historical artifacts. Analysis of such movements as Neorealism, “commedia all’italiana” and new Italian cinema through the work of De Sica, Rossellini, Germi, Benigni, Taviani and others. Taught in English. No prerequisite. Either semester may be taken independently. Fulfills AL in LS core.

Latin American and Spanish Contemporary Film (SPA 3020). This course is focused on the development of students’ confidence in their command of Spanish and their cultural knowledge of the Spanish-speaking world, through the discussion of cultural and social issues relevant to the contemporary world as presented via recent films from Latin America and Spain. Class work will focus on analyzing the way the films work and present real world problems, on learning more about Spanish-speaking cultures and on strengthening students’ skills to communicate. Taught in Spanish. Prerequisite: placed at this level by placement test; SPA 2020 or equivalent; or permission of the instructor. Fulfills FL in LS Core. Three hours a week and one hour of a conversation component a week.

Gender, Sex and Film (WGS 2420)This course will explore how film intentionally or unintentionally reflects and shapes our perceptions of sex and gender categories. Throughout the course, we examine mainstream, independent and international films, looking at how gender, sex and race are represented. We will analyze how women and men and transgender persons have historically been portrayed in film, and how sex and race are interlocked with gender. Questions and topics we will cover include how sexualities from heterosexual, bisexual, lesbian and gay individuals have been represented during different sociohistorical periods; how different genres from romance to horror to comedy position characters according to sex and gender; who we identify with and why; and how different audiences respond to characters based on the interactions of sex, race and gender. Students will have the opportunity to reverse the lens and experiment with video production. Fulfills AL and D in LS Core. 

Women, Film and the Politics of Representation (WGS 3120). This course studies filmic representations of women and gender in the U.S. and international cinema, documentaries and independent film, and the role of feminist film directors and producers. We will study feminist film analysis and analyze the different film genres like horror films, where a strong woman usually defeats the monster. We will contrast U.S. and international filmic representations of women. Issues to be addressed include how representations of women change historically and reflect shifting attitudes about gender, race, ethnicity, class, nation and sex. We also will explore audience responses to films and some techniques of filmmaking. Additionally, students will produce short videos as a means to explore how to create a feminist film and what it is like on the other side of the camera. Fulfills AL and D in LS core.

Film Production Component: Strongly Recommended. It is strongly recommended that students gain experience in film production. There are multiple elective courses that provide this learning opportunity. In addition, students might pursue internships, directed studies or other options outside of the classroom.