Film Studies

Program Description

Film, along with other visual media such as television, is arguably the least understood aspect of our everyday lives, and yet one of the most powerful forces around us all the time.

In Gettysburg's Film Studies program, students may pursue either a minor or an individually designed major in Film Studies. The programs provide a deeper understanding of film, which can be applied to other visual media as well.

Courses in Film Studies can easily be meshed with studies in other areas of our liberal arts curriculum. The minor or individually designed major will not only introduce you to the major issues that cinema raises, it will also give you some grounding in the aesthetics of film, the history of film, the production of films, and theories of how and why films affect us so much. The overall goal is to provide a set of critical skills to make you aware of something most people consume without reflection. These skills can be used for particular careers in media and broadcasting, yet they can also be utilized in all walks of life.

The college offers wide array of film studies and film-related courses to show how films actually work as films and to show the context in which films are made and seen. A course's focus may be:

  • How films are constructed;
  • How films are produced in or affect a larger context, often historical;
  • The exploration of key underlying questions about films, often relying on theories derived from other areas of study, including philosophy and psychology.

Those interested in Film Studies should review the requirements for the minor and the individually designed major.

For more information, contact:

  • Jim Udden,, Associate Professor of IDS/Film Studies

Program Requirements


An individually designed Film Studies major consists of 12 courses. The majority follow the following template:

  • Film 101, Introduction to Film and Film Studies;
  • Film 220, Introduction to Video Production;
  • Film 250, History of World Cinema, 1895-1945;
  • Film 251, History of World Cinema, 1945-present;
  • Film 252, Film Aesthetics and Analysis;
  • Six other courses, at least three of which need to be at the 300-level or higher, chosen by the student to reflect his or her individual interest related to or interacting with the study of film;
  • 400-level individualized study (capstone)

The individually designed major allows a student great flexibility in focusing on practically any discipline through the lens of film studies. Gettysburg offers a wide range of film-related courses, but as individual majors students are not limited to those courses as electives. The student needs to create a cohesive course list organized around a central theme and write an essay explaining how his or her major defines a valid academic program, then have two advisors and the IDS advisory committee approve the major.

Students at Gettysburg have combined their interest in film with studies in disciplines such as philosophy, theater, chemistry, computer science, visual arts, media studies, psychology, sociology, writing, marketing, and cross-cultural topics.

The Film Studies minor consists of six courses:

It is strongly recommended that one of these be Film 220, Introduction to Video Production. Having hands-on experience like this is invaluable even for those who do not go into the field.

Film 252, Film Aesthetics and Analysis, will also provide a wide range of critical skills, and will touch on film theory as well.

*Other than Film courses, electives may include: Anth 215, AS 220, Eng 303 or 413, Fren 332, 333, IDS 217, Phil 335, Soc 204, Span 353, WGS 220, one FYS film course, one Individualized Study or Internship.

For further information please contact Jim Udden.

Course Listing

Course level:
100 | 200 | 300 | 400
FILM-101 Introduction to Film and Film Studies
Introduction to film and film studies. This course provides an overview of the basic properties of film as a medium and as a field of study. Topics covered include film production, film form, the concept of style, plus basic issues of film analysis, film history, film theory and film as a cultural phenomena.

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FILM-218 Global Media Cultures
Consideration of the current state of international media, combining theoretical approaches to globalization with case studies of films, websites and broadcasting systems. Lecture and discussion is complemented by live interactions (either in person or online via skype) with media producers from across the world. The course emphasizes the development of students’ abilities to merge theoretical insights with empirical data, allowing class participants to engage in original analyses of specific aspects of the rapidly growing world of international media.

FILM-219 Global Media Industries
Global overview of media industries in the world today. With a primary focus on cinema and TV, this course interrogates the political economy of the globalized media industries through economic, political, legal, and aesthetic analysis. Topics include the rise of multimedia, multinational conglomerates, followed by the impact of new technologies creating media convergence, and ending with sections on key global players in Europe and outside of the west.

FILM-220 Video Production
Introduction to the basics of video production. This course provides the basic hands-on skills and requisite conceptual backing to understand the entire production process for video. Students learn the basic properties of camera optics, mise-en-scene, lighting, sound design, editing, screen-writing, narrative, documentary and experimental forms. Students also come away with basic terminology and concepts that apply over a wide range technical situations, as well as how the medium is used in varying social, political and historical contexts.

FILM-226 Media and Cultural Theory
Investigation of the major theories that guide the study of media texts and systems. This course aims to enhance the student’s ability to analyze film, radio, television, the Internet and video games from a perspective that emphasizes the cultural significance of these media. Through an overview of thinkers from traditions including structuralism, Marxism and British Cultural Studies, students will learn to write about specific texts in a manner that engages deeply with broader traditions of social thought.

FILM-234 Diversity in French Cinema Since the 1980s
Study of current French films that address the topics of diversity and marginality in an increasingly diverse society. Since the 1980s, a number of film directors have explored artistic techniques in order to frame exclusion within the mainstream pressures and national demands for integration. In this course, techniques and language systems pertaining to each artistic expression are identified and debated.

FILM-250 History of World Cinema , 1895 to 1945
Exploration of the origins and evolution of world cinema from its official inception in 1895 up to the end of World War II. Notable developments, such as the invention and diffusion of cinema, early Italian features, French Impressionism, German Expressionism, Soviet Montage, Japanese cinema in the 1930's and the Rise of American cinema as the dominant economic force, are all covered. In lab, students watch a film or films that represent a particular time period and/or a particular national or regional cinema. In lectures, these films are analyzed and discussed in light of every possible contextual factor (cultural, national, political, industrial, etc.) which explains why films are made in certain ways under different conditions.

FILM-251 History of World Cinema, 1945 to the Present
Exploration of world cinema from the end of World War II up to the present day. Notable developments and movements are covered from all over the globe. In lab, students watch a film or films representing a particular time period and/or a particular national or regional cinema, including examples from Italy, France, Japan, Cuba, the USSR, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Iran and the United States. In lectures, these films are analyzed and discussed in light of every possible contextual factor (cultural, national, political, industrial, etc.) which explains why films are made in certain ways under different conditions.

FILM-252 Film Aesthetics and Analysis
Study of various types of films and what makes them complete works of art resulting in certain aesthetic effects. This course provides various critical, analytical and theoretical models which help students understand a single film in its entirety, noting how various discrete parts make up a single aesthetic whole. The films shown in labs include popular Hollywood films, independent films, European art cinema, Asian cinema and others. Students are asked to write in-depth analyses of these films, and to note their own aesthetic responses. Prerequisite: Film 101 or permission of the instructor.

FILM-260 Media Violence/Violence in the Media
Discussion of the aesthetics and political function of violence in literature and visual culture. Topics include cultural negotiations of hierarchies of power in the family, abuse, trauma, terror, war and the representation of the Holocaust. Shorter secondary readings will complement the close reading of German literary texts, film and TV productions, and the discussion of digital games and their (alleged) contribution to the propensity for violence.

FILM-261 Japanese Cinema
Overview of Japanese Cinema. This course explores the history and the various manifestations of Japanese cinema. It examines why Japanese cinema is arguably the most successful national cinema historically. It also explores the sheer complexity of Japanese cinema, from its highly accomplished auterist strands, to its more generic fare, including anime.

FILM-262 Hong Kong Cinema
A historical investigation of Hong Kong Cinema from the 1960's to the Present. This course explores the works of Bruce Lee, Jet Li, Jackie Chan, Michael Hui, Ann Hui, Tsui Hark, John Woo, Chang Cheh, King Hu, Lau Kar-leung, Stanley Kwan, Wong Kar-wai and others to determine how this is arguably the most physical and energetic popular cinema ever created. Generic, cultural and industrial backgrounds are provided to explain a cinema that actually kept Hollywood at bay for decades.

FILM-270 Topics in Film
Study of a variety of directors, genres, techniques and other aspects of film and filmmaking.

FILM-272 Introduction to Documentary Film Studies
Introductory course in the history and theory of documentary film practice. Students explore the ethical issues of representing "reality", as well as the social, political, and cultural functions of the medium through the examination of various types of documentary films. Students analyze the components of documentary style including narrative, cinematography, mise-en-scene, sound, and editing; as well as the different modes of documentary representation.

FILM-280 European Cinema
Introduction to the cinemas of Europe of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Study of well-known movements such as Weimar Expressionism, Italian Neorealism, French Nouvelle Vague, etc. The course challenges the widely accepted binary opposition between European Art Cinema and Hollywood by also considering popular genre cinema. Similarities and differences between national cinemas are studied in their respective historical, cultural, and commercial contexts. Conducted in English. Cross-listed with Film Studies.

FILM-284 Arab Film
Introduction to the diversity of Arab cultures as presented through contemporary film. Special emphasis is given to film as a linguistic text, exploring ethnographic and commercial films through attention to speech variation, speech communities and dialects, language and politics, the ethnography of speaking, and gender and social class. A variety of ethnographic and commercial films are viewed in conjunction with readings on such themes as resistance, corruption, religious identity, modernity, generational change and political conflict.

FILM-290 Television History and Criticism
Exploration of broadcasting content and technology from the origin of television to the present day. Major technical, regulatory, cultural and aesthetic developments are placed within a historical context. Students engage with the preeminent schools of thought in television criticism, including those emerging from Marxism, feminism, post-colonialism and critical race theory. Although the United States plays a major role in the course material, international topics are also discussed at length.

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FILM-330 The Social Network from Durkheim to Facebook
Exploration of the concept of the social network spanning from early sociological theorists to today’s online world. This course provides students with historical and theoretical contexts necessary to illuminate the impact of social networks as well as the cultural and economic factors that affect their formation. Students will analyze websites including Facebook, and in order to develop a critical understanding of their place in society both off and online.

FILM-350 Topics Seminar in Film Theory
Study of a variety of directors, genres, techniques and other aspects of film theory. Prerequisite: One course in Film.

FILM-375 Comparative National Cinema
A study of comparative national cinemas. This course is an in-depth look at the notion of "national cinemas." This concept seems straightforward as numerous film courses and film festivals are organized around it. But there are numerous issues raised by trying to define a national cinema, none of which are easily resolved. This course explores these issues by comparing four distinct "national" responses to a globalizing medium. Prerequisite: One course in Film.

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FILM-450 Individualized Study-Tutorial
Individualized tutorial counting toward the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded A-F

FILM-460 Individualized Study-Research

FILM-461 Individualized Study-Research
Individualized research counting toward the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded S/U

FILM-470 Individualized Study-Intern
Internship counting toward the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded A-F.

FILM-471 Individualized Study-Intern

FILM-474 Summer Internship
Summer Internship graded A-F, counting in the minimum requirements for a major or minor only with written permission filed in the Registrar's Office.

FILM-475 Summer Internship
Summer Internship graded S/U, counting in the minimum requirements for a major or minor only with written permission filed in the Registrar's Office

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