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Student interest drove new film studies minor

In response to growing student interest, Merrimack College has a new interdisciplinary film studies minor for those who love the big screen. 
“It's a minor that includes film history, film literature, film appreciation and film production,” said communication arts and sciences associate professor Jacob S. Turner.

Turner, academic adviser for the new Film Club, is a cofounder of the new minor with professors Luis Saenz de Viguera Erkiaga and Cinzia DiGiulio of the World Languages and Cultures Department.

Saenz de Viguera Erkiaga and DiGiulio each have strong backgrounds in film studies and knew of Turner’s interest in film, so as they began collaborating to develop the minor. More professors were quick to join the effort, including Kathleen Sills, chairman of the Visual and Performing Arts Department, and English Department associate professor Kevin Plunkett.

“It came out quite quickly and naturally because we were doing work on film in one way or another already,” Saenz de Viguera Erkiaga said. “We basically designed the program to take advantage of what we were already doing at Merrimack.”

There are already film studies classes in departments across the School of Liberal Arts, including Communication Arts and Sciences, English, and Women’s and Gender Studies, so the new minor will tie them together cohesively. Students can take courses on analysis and history of film as well as practical courses such as editing, production and screenwriting.

Turner teaches “The Film Experience” focusing on theory, criticism and production. It involves watching and critiquing six movies as well as producing four “shorts” in journalistic and scholarly styles.

Gordene Mackenzie teaches “Gender, Sex and Film” and “Women, Film and the Politics of Representation” already.

“She’s been teaching film classes both on film production and critical analysis, but mostly on critical analysis, for years,” Turner said.

The Communication Arts and Sciences Department also offers “Introduction to Television Production.”

The new student club offers a potential pool of students for the new minor.

“I think there’s energy around the Film Club and we’re trying to connect students to the minor,” Turner said.

It makes sense for students to declare a minor of some sort during their academic careers. The 124-credit requirement for a bachelor’s degree allows for one or two minors or a double major. Students get preference in scheduling when they declare a minor, and it also helps students develop themselves professionally and personally.

The minor can tie together all the courses already offered, Saenz de Viguera Erkiaga said.

“It’s about crafting a brand and vision for yourself,” Turner said.

For more information on the film studies minor, including courses, visit