Film Studies

Deb Clark, Holland Hall 504

(Media and Film Studies)

Art, history, cultural studies, and technology come together in the interdisciplinary study of film: text meets sound and image, art meets science, economics meet aesthetics. Film studies addresses the inherently collaborative nature of a medium where directors, cinematographers, editors, actors, musicians, and set designers work together to create works of art. Films invite analysis and evaluation both as self-contained works of art, and as reflections of the historical and cultural circumstances in which they are created and consumed.

Overview of the Concentration

The film studies concentration equips students with basic skills of visual literacy (how to "read" the moving image), and the ability to understand the cultural, historical, and commercial contexts of films.

Intended Learning Outcomes for the Concentration

The film studies concentration consists of five courses, at least three at level II or III, including:

FILM 101Introduction to Film Studies1.00
Studies in the history, theory or cultural meaning of film
Two elective courses that focus on the history, theory, or cultural expression of film within the United States or in a global context. These courses examine the production, critical evaluation, cultural history, and reception of film. Students take two courses to develop fluency with the critical and theoretical methods of the discipline (see list below).2.00
Practical film studies
One elective course that focuses on practical aspects of film creation or criticism. These courses emphasize modern film as professional practice, asking students to master at least one of the main creative or technical skill sets used in film-making (see list below).1.00
Integrative film studies
One more elective drawn from the above categories, or an integrative film topics course approved by the program (see list below), or a contract course worked out in consultation with the program director and the instructor. This course challenges students to synthesize their previous study of film in ways consistent with their own needs and interests, emphasizing the interdisciplinary nature of film studies. Students must present to the program director a brief explanation of how their work in this course synthesizes previous interests.1.00
Total Credits5

Note: no more than one course from another institution may count toward the concentration.

Courses that count toward the film studies concentration

The following courses are offered annually or biannually: Additional courses that count for film studies may be offered on a periodic or one-time basis. Students interested in having a course approved for film studies should consult the program director.

History, Theory, or Cultural Meaning of Film Courses

ENGL 275Literature and Film1.00
FILM 201American Film History1.00
GERM 249German Cinema (in English)1.00
NORW 130Nordic Film Today1.00
RUSSN 265Introduction to Russian and Soviet Film (in English translation)1.00

Practical Film Studies Courses

ART 104Foundation New Media1.00
ART 228Animated Art1.00
ART 229Digital Filmmaking1.00
DANCE 150Movement, the Camera, and the Creative Process1.00
ENGL 296Screenwriting1.00
THEAT 130Introduction to Acting1.00
THEAT 275Writing for Performance1.00

Integrative Film Studies Courses

ASIAN 156Contemporary China Through Film (in English translation)1.00
ASIAN 230The Philosophy of Anime1.00
FREN 250Speaking (of) French1.00
HIST 290Reel America: U.S. History in Film1.00
MEDIA 160The Media Landscape1.00
MEDIA 260Media and Screen Cultures1.00
PHIL 260Kant's Moral Theory in Literature and Film1.00
REL 121Bible in Culture and Community (when the topic is "Bible as Screen Play")1.00
WRIT 111First-Year Writing (when the topic is "Writing about Film" or "Page, Stage, and Screen")1.00

FILM 101: Introduction to Film Studies

This course provides an overview of film studies by focusing on three areas: history of film, production (the basic tools of film-making), and theory (the basic vocabulary of film analysis). Students develop visual literacy through engagement with the primary structures, methods, practitioners, history, ideas, and vocabularies of film studies. Counts toward media studies concentration.

FILM 225: Documentary Film: The Challenge of Representing Reality

This course explores the relevance and influence of documentary films by closely examining their aesthetic concerns, ethical implications, and real-world impacts. The course offers a condensed historical overview along with an examination of recent works. It combines screenings, readings, and discussions with the goal of preparing students both to understand and to analyze documentary films. This course does not have a production component. Offered alternate years.
Prerequisite: FILM 101 or permission of the instructor.

FILM 230: Media and the Environment (abroad)

This course will be taught off-campus, with one week at St. Olaf followed by three weeks in Iceland. Students study various media representations of nature, while specifically addressing the ways in which journalists, activists, filmmakers and artists have responded to global warming and climate change. Prior to departure students learn about documentary cinema and acquire introductory filmmaking experience. During their stay in Iceland, students attend lectures on media and climate change, discuss course topics with scholars and artists, and visit heterogeneous sites, including art museums, geothermal power plants and national parks. Course assignments include group presentations, a final exam, and a collaborative documentary filmmaking project.

FILM 240: Film History

This course provides a broad overview of the cinema from its beginnings to the present day, while introducing students to historically informed methods and arguments that have contributed to the shape and continuing development of film studies as a formal discipline. In addition to adopting a global perspective to explore the cinema's role as a powerful aesthetic, social, and cultural force, students examine key movements, conventions, practices, and periods that inform film history.
Prerequisite: Film 101 or permission of instructor. Counts toward the film studies concentration. Offered annually in the spring semester.

FILM 294: Academic Internship

FILM 298: Independent Study

FILM 350: Topics in Film

This advanced course rotates between various topics in film that may include genres and styles, authorship, national and transnational cinemas, industrial history, and film's relationship to other art forms and popular culture at large. Students study films within a context that emphasizes specialized theoretical, cultural, or historical concerns and questions. Offered annually in the spring semester. Counts toward film studies concentration.
Prerequisite: FILM 101.

FILM 394: Academic Internship

FILM 398: Independent Research

FILM 396: Directed Undergraduate Research

This course provides a comprehensive research opportunity, including an introduction to relevant background material, technical instruction, identification of a meaningful project, and data collection. The topic is determined by the faculty member in charge of the course and may relate to his/her research interests. Offered based on department decision. May be offered as a 1.00 credit course or .50 credit course.
Prerequisite: determined by individual instructor.

Director, 2018-2019

Linda Y. Mokdad

Assistant Professor of English

film history; classical film theory; feminist film theory; art cinema; Arab cinemas

Karen R. Achberger

Professor of German

German cinema; 20th-century German and Austrian literature; Ingeborg Bachmann; Green Germany; fin-de-siècle Vienna

Brian Bjorklund

Professor of Theater

design and technical theater; scene painting

Kari Lie Dorer

Associate Professor of Norwegian

Norwegian language and culture; applied linguistics; Sami studies; Nordic film.

Carlos Gallego

Associate Professor of English

Chicano/a studies; 20th century American literature; comparative ethinic studies; philosophy and critical theory; cultural studies

Steven C. Hahn

Professor of History

colonial America; Native American history; piracy

Karil J. Kucera

Professor of Art and Art History and Asian Studies

Asian art history; text/image; sacred sites

Judy Kutulas

Professor of History

20th-century U.S. history; U.S. women's history; popular and material culture

Justin W. Merritt

Professor of Music

composition; theory; instrumentation; electronic music

Diana O. Neal

Associate Professor of Nursing

pediatric nursing; neonatal intensive care nursing; complementary therapies

Bjorn Nordfjord

Visiting Associate Professor of English

American cinema; world cinema; crime fiction; adaptation and narrative theory

Rebecca S. Richards

Associate Professor of English

rhetoric and composition; feminist/gender studies; media studies

Anthony W. Roberts

Artist in Residence in Dance

modern dance; dance technology; Companydance

Marc Robinson

Professor of Russian Language and Area Studies

Russian language; Russian film and literature; Russian theater

Matthew Rohn

Associate Professor of Art and Art History and Environmental Studies

19th-and 20th-century art; American culture; gender and multi-cultural studies; social justice; visual ecocriticism

William Sonnega

Associate Professor of Theater

theater; media studies

Mary E. Trull

Professor of English

16th- and 17th-century English literature

Karen Wilson

Professor of Theater

theater; ethics and theater; directing; voice/phonetics