INTRODUCTION TO FILM AND MEDIA STUDIES is designed to provide students with the skills necessary to view visual media critically. In emphasizing visual literacy, the course allows students to apply techniques of analysis they have learned in their English Literature classes to the culture of images. By studying a variety of cinematic genres and the work of substantial directors, students will be introduced to the basic elements of narrative film form and style. They will examine aspects of cinematography, editing, acting, and sound to determine how directors create culturally significant visual texts. In their exploration of films and other visual media - such as music video, television, and advertising - students will discuss the relation between perception and reality, and the impact of representation on society. By the end of the course, students should be able to recognize various structures in visual media and effectively analyze those structures. Students in this class are required to contribute to discussions on a daily basis; participation in class discussion makes up the majority of each student’s grade for the course. Other modes of assessment for the course include succinct analytical writing assignments, on-line discussion board posts, in class analysis activities, various quizzes, and a final project. Students should be prepared to view and address subject material that is mature. NOTE: Some of the films used in this class are rated R. They will be shown with various minor edits to remove scenes of extreme violence and graphic sexual situations; however, students should be prepared to view and discuss mature content.  

 Essential Questions:

1. How do we “read” a film? How do film techniques used to tell a story differ/compare to those used in literature?

2. How do we participate in critical viewing as a means to identify, examine, and evaluate systemic conflict and concerns in contemporary life?

3. How do we critically analyze popular culture?

4. How does developing an understanding of the symbolic patterns present in our culture help us to convey meaning and understand our world?

5. What is the significance of representation in relation to the establishment and perpetuation of social constructs?

6. How do visual media work to mold public opinion and communicate political statements?

Course Objectives

After active participation in this course, students will be able to:

  • examine and critically discuss the ways in which film conveys meaning.
  • comprehend the role of shot composition, editing, music, and screenwriting in the construction of meaning.
  • understand cinematic connotation.
  • define and discuss key terms and concepts in film.
  •  think analytically and use visual evidence to substantiate points.
  • understand the significance of and differences between major film genres.
  • appreciate and be able to discuss auteur style.
  • engage in critical discussions with peers, both in person and on-line.
  •  explore the role film plays in the contemporary world.

For more detailed information on this course, please read the Course Expectations document.