FAMS 101: Introduction to Film & Media Studies
This is a foundational course that introduces students to the basic concepts, theories, and methods in film and media studies. We will study the histories and genres of cinema as well as formal techniques, including cinematography, editing, and sound, to develop a critical understanding of film as a mode of representation. We will also study other forms of contemporary moving-image media to gain a better understanding of the perspectives and practices of emerging technologies and forms of distribution. Through required weekly screenings, readings, writing and regular discussion, we will analyze these various kinds of screen medias as they influence our world. No prerequisites. FAMS F & CCS HUM.
FAMS 102: Integrated Practice I
This course introduces students to the creative, theoretical, and practical aspects of media production and is designed to provide a foundational understanding of audio-visual storytelling. Students will learn the technical fundamentals of composition, lighting, audio recording, digital video cameras, and non-linear editing. The class will be grounded in discussions of theory, ethical media-making and responsible practices that move between past, present, and future. Prerequisite: FAMS 101 or permission of instructor.
FAMS 103: Foundations in Writing and Research (W)
This course will introduce students to the practice of writing and researching in the discipline of Film and Media Studies. Students will learn to develop strong research questions, identify relevant scholarly sources, draft a bibliography and write a literature review, conduct archival research, and write and revise a research paper. They will develop these skills as we explore media-historical case studies from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. This course is designed to be a genuinely collaborative endeavor. Students will contribute to the course materials through their research; they will learn about moving image technology and teach others what they learn. Prerequisite: FAMS 101.
FAMS/ART 105: Sculpture Against the Digital Horizon
Through a series of reading/viewing/discussion sessions, this course will first examine issues and ideas that involve the use of new media methods and technologies in the contemporary practice of art. Second, through studio projects ranging from video art to social practice art to internet art, this course will serve as a laboratory from which experiments will be performed that investigate these ideas through students’ own cultural production. [H, W]
FAMS/ENG 116: Film and Literature
This course will explore the themes of protest and rebellion in 20th and 21st century African American literature and film. We will discuss how a film or piece of literature protests and rebels in content, form and distribution. To that end, we will also discuss the socio-political context from which literary and cinematic protests and rebellions emerge. As opposed to a comprehensive exploration of both mediums, the course explores specific themes related to protest and rebellion including: Slavery and Its Afterlives in Literature and Film; Independent Black Cinema and the L.A. Film Rebellion; Rebellious Gazes: Viewership and Criticism, and the Mediatic and Literary Elements of the Movement for Black Lives.
FAMS 120: Filmmakers-Alfred Hitchcock
This introductory course examines the work of Alfred Hitchcock, one of cinema’s most recognizable and impactful filmmakers. Known as the “Master of Suspense,” Hitchcock was fascinated by sex, deviance, crime, obsession, power, terror, mystery, and the macabre. His career, spanning from the silent era to the 1970s, offers numerous unforgettable films and a fascinating way to study evolutions of film form, film history, and film theory. The titles are legend: Psycho, Vertigo, Rear Window, North By Northwest, The Birds, Notorious, Strangers on a Train, Shadow of a Doubt, The Lady Vanishes. In addition to studying both famous and lesser-known films, we will examine Hitchcock’s forays onto other platforms, particularly television and radio. We will adopt useful cultural and theoretical frameworks through which to read Hitchcock’s body of work, and we will practice reading film and media closely, as complex, sometimes contradictory, and always supremely manipulative art forms. FAMS H & CCS HUM. No Prerequisite.
FAMS 120: Filmmakers—Martin Scorsese’s America
This course is an examination of the films of Martin Scorsese, one of the most prolific, successful, and distinctive filmmakers in American Cinema. As we explore both the breadth and depth of Scorsese’ body of work, we will use his films as windows through which to understand 1) cinema as a complex art form, and 2) cultural complexities around issues such as family, ethnicity, class, masculinity, deviance, salvation, and violence. No prerequisite. Andy Smith.
FAMS 130: On Bullshit: Media Literacy for the 21st Century
Bullshit is all around us. It saturates our encounters with contemporary media, infects how we understand the world, and is increasingly difficult to detect. It is the language of politics and advertising, to be sure, but it has also penetrated into the American news media, the humanities, science and technology, start-up culture, and organizations of all kinds. This class concentrates on media bullshit, but it will provide a set of crucial skills to every student, no matter their field or intended major. Participants will learn how to be reasonably skeptical; how to identify bullshit whenever and wherever they find it; and how to explain with evidence why something is in fact bullshit. We will begin with the basics of media bullshit (photography, film, advertising, cable news) before considering more recent manifestations of bullshit (social media, clickbait, “fake news,” and data visualizations). FAMS E course. CSS HUM course. No prerequisites.
FAMS 140: Media and Mass Incarceration
In this course, held primarily inside Northampton County Jail in Easton, we will learn about the basics of mass incarceration in the United States and the ways in which media has contributed to, reified and changed the discourse around mass incarceration. The course introduces students to basic, but critical concepts of the criminal justice system and similarly, basic concepts, and methods central to film and media studies, to better understanding of our community in the Lehigh Valley. (GM1, HUM, V)
FAMS/DOC 150: Introduction to Documentary Storymaking
This course is an introduction to digital documentary story making. It merges the critical study of documentary media with the hands-on construction of documentary stories waiting to be found in local communities. Working with tools of the documentary arts-video, still images, audio, writing-students will acquire the foundational skills of media production and effective story telling while absorbing and analyzing rich examples of documentary story telling over time and place. FAMS E course. Open to all majors. No prerequisites.
ART 155: Digital Photography I
Creative expression, explorations of content and articulation of ideas will be emphasized. The course comprises technical lectures, laboratory demonstrations, slide lectures of historic and contemporary photography, and critiques of student work. Upon completion of the course, a student can expect to have a thorough understanding of the basics of digital photography-proper and consistent image exposure, basic Photoshop skills and competency with scanning and digital printing. (Additional course fee) [H]
FAMS 202: Integrated Practice II
In this course, students produce research-based creative work in the form of stop motion animations, digital cutout animations, and green-screen composite videos. Students integrate the written word into their projects during the conceptual phase and as companion texts such as artist statements. Students also learn the essential practice of designing budgets for large scale collaborative projects. FAMS P. Prerequisite FAMS 102 or permission.
FAMS 220: Film Theory (W)
The study of film theory provides foundational insight into the moving image, allowing one to explore cinema’s relationship to historical, aesthetic, social, political, and technological influences. Through weekly screenings and readings, we will study some of the key debates and concepts in film theory, including ontology, semiotics, materialism, psychoanalytic criticism, feminist and queer theory, genre theory, theories of race and identity, and phenomenology. FAMS T & CCS course. (W, GM1) Prerequisite: FAMS 101 or by instructor’s permission.
FAMS 221: Media Theory (W)
With the advent of photography, film, and digital media, visuality became a ubiquitous and highly contested form of perception. What lends images their power and appeal? How do visual media elicit desire, inscribing differences of race, gender, class, and religion? What production practices and critical discourses respond to today’s politicized images and cultures of performativity, representation, and spectacle? This course introduces students to the key concepts and theories of the multifaceted fields of media theory and visual culture. Prerequisite: FAMS 101, 102 & 103.
FAMS/THTR 222: Collaborative Process
Through lecture, discussion, performances, hands-on experience, films, guest artists, and readings of primary texts, this course intends to introduce students to the principles of visual design as applied to scenic, lighting and costume design for production. Prerequisite FAMS 101 or permission. FAMS E.
ENG 231: Journalistic Writing
This course introduces the fundamentals of journalism through its most basic form: news reporting. Students will learning how to write clearly and succinctly, conduct interviews, locate and use accurate and relevant information, think analytically, recognize a good story, and work on deadline. The course also examines the changing media landscape as it pertains to digital media and the role of the journalist in a democratic society. Prerequisite: FYS.
FAMS 235: Media Histories: Abolition
In this course, we will study Abolition–the unthinking and undoing of the carceral state–and as a social movement that overlaps historically with our contemporary moment. We will explore its historical roots, the theories and origins of punishment, reform and abolition, and the intersection of abolition with gender, race, and labor movements. We will study a range of media from photographs to hashtags, from podcasts to cinema and other texts including but not limited to, the work of Angela Davis, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Frederick Douglass, and Mariame Kaba to imagine other forms of justice, accountability and being in the world. No prerequisites.
FAMS 235: Media Histories: Endangered Worlds
This course explores the history of film’s engagement with nature, environmental discourses, and the current ecological crisis. We will discuss how representations of landscapes, animals, food production, catastrophes, and robots challenged and transformed our concepts and images of nature. Students will learn about the history of environmental criticism in film, the shift from nature to climate and the environment, ways of depicting injustice and exploitation, and the key role that cinema and digital media played for ecological movements. FAMS H & CCS course. (HUM)
FAMS 235: Media Histories: Race
FAMS 237: Celluloid Ghosts
The transition to sound at the end of the 1920s brought a new layer of sensory experience to the cinema. However, synched sound technologies also homogenized the film market. It eliminated the idiosyncratic formats, genres, and theatre experiences that defined the silent era. This course will introduce students to the diverse histories of film’s first decades: from Japanese Benshi narration to Russian melodrama, from ethnographic expedition films to abstract animations. Each week, we will be guided by a different concept (e.g., space, narrative, gender, sound, the archive, etc.) and a new constellation of questions. In an era of new media experimentation and upheaval, many artists and amateurs have turned to the early and silent eras for raw materials, conceptual guidance, and inspiration. In the final weeks of this class, we will work comparatively to trace and analyze these sites of historical return. Prerequisite FAMS 101 or permission. FAMS T & CCS HUM.
FAMS/PHIL 240: Philosophy of Art
What is art? And how should art be interpreted and evaluated? What is the nature of artistic representation? What is the connection between art and emotion? What role does form play in art? Can art ever be a source of knowledge or of moral growth? This course examines these and other fundamental questions by looking at the classical theories of art as well as contemporary philosophical writings. Examples are drawn especially from painting, photography, and cinema.
FAMS/ENG 251: Introduction to Screenwriting: Adaptation
This course will introduce students to screenwriting adaptation in feature films focusing on the delights and challenges of adapting fictional and non-fictional narratives to film. Students will examine various tools and methods of screenwriting including story structure, logical cause and effect, character development, use of conflict, scene writing and dialogue. The class will also seek to address the ethics of adaptation, and some of the questions and techniques surrounding the process of fictionalizing “truth” and revising fiction for dramatic purposes. Students will read and analyze fictional and non-fictional narratives and their accompanying script adaptations to illustrate universal script principles. These formal investigations will be applied to students’ own original material in a workshop environment. Prerequisite permission of instructor. FAMS E, CCS HUM & W.
FAMS/ENG 252: Writing for Television
In this class, we will be exploring the craft of writing for television. We will practice how to develop a premise and populate the world of a TV show with intriguing characters and dramatic conflicts. We will discuss scene design, the structure of both half-hour comedic and hour-long dramatic episodes, series-long story arcs, and how to write compressed but believable dialogue. We will develop a critical vocabulary for analyzing TV shows as writers, and will also examine the shifting landscape of the industry as it relates to cable and internet distribution. Writing assignments will build from short loglines to developed scripts. Particular emphasis will be placed on drafting and revision. CCS W.
FAMS/WGS 255: Women Make Movies/Movies Make Women (W)
This course examines the work of women and non-binary filmmakers and how their images have been historically constructed (and not constructed) in cinema in the US and beyond. We will examine the ways gender is inseparable from race, class, religion, sexuality, disability, ethnicity, age, religion, and nation. As a community of learners, we will combine close readings of films, advertising, print, social media, alongside vigorous discussion, and analytic writing. Prerequisite: FAMS 101 or WGS 101, or permission.
ART 255: Photograph II
In this intermediate course, students will refine both their aesthetic and technical photography skills. Studio assignments are designed to teach students specific technical skills (medium format, strobe + large format printing, develop students’ individual styles, and examine photography’s relationship to other art mediums and its cultural implications. In addition to studio assignments and group critiques, there will also be slide lectures, technical demonstrations, readings, writing assignments, field trips and visiting artists. (Additional course fee) [H]
FAMS 260: Film Genres
This critical film studies course is a tour through several influential genres and an introduction to approaching media via genre theory. Focusing on four (perhaps five) important film genres—Horror Film, the Western, Film Noir, the Melodrama, Screwball Comedy— we will look closely at the films’ stylistic elements, cultural impact, and role in media history. We will make mini-case studies of each genre, examining archetypal examples, revisionist versions, global variations, and manifestations on television and streaming platforms. Questions considered will include how genres are established, stretched, and subverted, the political or social uses of certain genres, how spectatorship and ideology work within specific subgenres, and how the cultural work of genres changes with the times. FAMS H & CCS HUM. Prerequisites: FAMS 101.
FAMS/A&S 267: Film, Media, and Popular Culture in Africa
From its colonial origins to the postcolonial present, cinema has played a key role in African cultural production, connecting the continent to global media circuits. The class analyzes film as a sociocultural medium, drawing on ethnographic perspectives. Indeed, by linking the study of film with interdisciplinary approaches to popular culture, the class foregrounds the diverse roles that media play in sociocultural life. In readings and discussions we will examine how diverse African social worlds have actively shaped and been altered by the creation, circulation, and reception of moving images, focusing on documentary, video films, hip-hop, film festivals, and other domains of popular cultural expression. CCS HUM FAMS H. Prerequisite A&S 102, FAMS 101, or permission.
FAMS 270: National & Transnational Cinema—Post-War German Cinema
Film has a unique relationship to trauma, offering critical ways of perceiving, presenting, and giving testimony to painful and unacknowledged experiences. This course explores the histories of trauma and testimony in German cinema from post-war rubble films and New German Cinema to contemporary productions by Fatih Akin and Maren Ade. Through critical analysis, weekly screenings, and creative projects, we examine topics such as Holocaust representation, the Berlin Wall, gender discrimination, and the European migrant crisis. FAMS H & CCS HUM/GM1/GM2. Prerequisite FAMS 101 or permission.
FAMS/REES 270: National and Transnational Cinemas: Soviet and Russian Cinema
With the dawn of the Soviet state in 1917, aware of the tremendous potential for cinema as a political tool, Vladimir Lenin declared cinema “the most important art form.” During the cultural revolution of the 1920s and 30s, Russian directors did some of the most innovative work in film history. In this course, students will investigate major topics in film form, theory, and genre, the role of cinema in shaping Russian culture and politics, and the challenges facing Soviet filmmakers under a planned economy with unique production and distribution norms. Throughout the course we will examine what film can teach us about key shifts in Soviet values and ideology. Special attention will be paid to Ukraine’s national cinema, in addition to Soviet films with profound global orientations and lasting cultural impact. Students who sign up for the REES cross-listing do not need a prerequisite. Prerequisite FAMS 101 or permission. FAMS H & CCS, (HUM, GM1, GM2).
THTR 270: Design for Stage and Screen
Through lecture, discussion, performances, hands-on experience, films, guest artists, and readings of primary texts, this course intends to introduce the student to the principles of visual design as applied to scenic, lighting and costume design for theatre and film. No prerequisites. FAMS E, CCS HUM course.
THTR 273: Writing Comedy for Performance
introduces students to writing humor for theater, media, and film, offering them intensive practice composing and performing texts that function within the conventions and boundaries of each genre. Students will compose multiple texts in drafts, meet with practicing comedy writers, attend performances, revise, film, and perform original scenes, sketches, and monologues. FAMS E & CCS W, V course.
THTR 279: Topics in Theater: Acting for Digital Media
This course will provide students instruction and opportunities to begin mastering the stylistic and technical demands for acting within a television studio environment. Topics include: adjusting to simultaneous camera coverage, hitting marks, mastering terminology and etiquette, and working with ever-changing casts, crews and material-al in digital media. We will also discuss the history and social implications of television, the genres inherent to the digital medium, and production hierarchy in a studio setting. Requirements: weekly assignments, scenes, short script research, 9inal project for camera.
FAMS 302 Topics in Integrated Practice III – Experimental Cinema
Experimental cinema has been described in many ways; “poetic,” “discordant,” “dream-like,” “exploratory,” “sub-cultural” and “innovative” but it is an aesthetic that has always challenged the norm. In this course, we will develop an understanding of filmic principles that explore and challenge mainstream narrative and/or documentary structures, collectively known as experimental or avant-garde cinema. Using digital cinema and possibly 16 mm film, we will focus on a theoretical understanding to “experiment” with content, structure, technique, and style, with an emphasis on developing a unique way of representation, and ask what it means to develop such an “experimental” sensibility in our work. Prerequisite: FAMS 102 required, FAMS 202 recommended.
FAMS 302: Integrated Practice III—Short Fiction
This course asks students to integrate a critical study of short fiction film with hands-on practice at an advanced level. Students will closely examine the form and force of short fiction film while completing their own short films, moving through the stages of writing, shooting, editing, scoring, and publicly screening their original work. IP3 is recommended for anyone hoping to 1) do a production-heavy capstone project in their senior year, and/or 2) anyone looking to sharpen and add to their media portfolio. Prerequisite: FAMS 102 required, FAMS 202 recommended.
FAMS 320: The Spectre of Race
Governed by the metaphor of “spectre,” this seminar looks at the tangle between race, images and technology. Beginning with early image-making and the birth of cinema, we will examine how ways of seeing, the rise of mass media in modern consumer society, and the relationship between visual culture and power are deeply intertwined to influence and create discourse on racialized difference. Examining race theories ranging from whiteness to discourses of diversity and post-raciality in the United States and beyond, we will study a range of media such as, but not limited to the shadow play of daguerreotypes, the high contrast of early ethnographic films, the gaze of Hollywood cinema and the counter gaze of progressive cinema and media to explore historical constructions of race and ethnicity, how they have influenced racialized difference on screen and how we see ourselves and others. Students complete critical video essays and collaborate to create a peer-reviewed, online videographic journal. CSS HUM/GM1/V course. FAMS T (theory) course. Prerequisite: FAMS 101, or permission of instructor.
FAMS/PHIL 345: Philosophy of Film
This course is an examination of fundamental questions on the nature, interpretation, experience, and evaluation of film. Special attention will be paid to film’s essential nature, and to how such nature affects how films engage the viewer, hence perhaps how they should be evaluated. Topics will include: the distinctive nature of the moving image compared to other forms of representation; cinema as an art form; film authorship; colorization; the nature of film horror; and the relationship between film and ethics. FAMS T & CCS HUM/GM2/V/W.
FAMS 350: Topics: Death on Screen
What is death, according to cinema? The consumption, the contemplation, the act, the fear, the penalty, the humanity of death, are collectively among the most represented and memorable of topics on screens large and small. How is the subject altered across genres, platforms, spectator positions and historical/cultural contexts? Are screen depictions of death a storytelling device or a commodification and exploitation of the fear of death? Do screen representations serve significant cultural purpose in understanding this most human of dimensions? Cinematic texts include works by Ingmar Bergman, Akira Kurosawa, Hal Ashby, Lars von Trier, Chantal Akerman, Michael Haneke, Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, Freida Lee Mock, and Errol Morris, and television including The Knick, Six Feet Under, OJ: Made in America and Penny Dreadful. Prerequisite FAMS 101 or permission. FAMS H.
FAMS 351: Topics: Minor Cinemas
Taking Gilles Deleuze’s concept of “minoration” as a starting point, this advanced seminar explores the minor/minority across a wide range of visual forms, formats, and exhibition practices, including amateur films, home movies, and orphan cinema as well as works from ‘minority’ media communities (third cinema, indigenous, exilic, independent, experimental, etc.). Students will also experiment with a range of minor techniques, including 8mm and 16mm filmmaking, found footage filmmaking, and digital remixing. Prerequisite FAMS 101 or permission. FAMS T & CCS HUM & V.
FAMS 355: Cinema is Dead, Long Live Cinema: Moving Images in the 21st Century
This course explores what moving images are in the twenty-first century. Since the late 1990s, roughly one hundred years after the invention of the first film camera, film fans, scholars, and archivists began lamenting the “death of cinema.” The emergence of digital images seemed to threaten an entire century of film practice and the very foundations of film studies. If we no longer had physical film, cinema was dead. Though scholars have never stopped announcing the death of cinema, moving images have expanded and proliferated wildly in the twenty-first century. This course aims to introduce students to the expansive field of “post-cinema” studies. We will engage a range of examples of twenty-first century moving images, including computer-generated and animated cinemas, streaming television, music videos, small formats (e.g., Vine and TikTok), video games, AR/VR immersive experiences, and algorithmic art. Prerequisite: FAMS 220 or 221.
FAMS 362: American Cinema of the 1970s
Called a “Decade Under the Influence,” and the “Last Golden Era of American Film,” the 1970s were a wrenching cultural pivot point and an astonishingly rich extended moment in the history of American Cinema. From Vietnam to Watergate, from disco to gas lines to Americans held hostage, from women’s liberation to the beginnings of pay per view and video games, it was a decade of trauma and change. In Hollywood, the long-established order of the studio system collapsed, independent artists were suddenly tolerated and even enabled, and, by decade’s end, corporate-controlled franchises and blockbuster expectations had become the new normal. We will examine memorable American films from the late sixties through the late seventies, and the cultural contexts from which they emerged. Through regular readings, screenings, writings, and discussions, students will learn to treat films as complex texts and interpret cinema as a potent cultural force. Prerequisites: FAMS 101 or permission of the instructor. CCS HUM & W.
DOC 370: Documentary Storymaking Capstone
Designed for those minoring in Documentary Storymaking, doc capstone is a workshop-based experience where you develop, research, generate, and present a substantial documentary media project. The course proceeds in a collaborative context, with students and mentors from three campuses (Lafayette, Lehigh, Muhlenberg) supporting each other’s works in progress. Our original creations will be enhanced with readings, screenings, and conversations with working media practitioners and educators, all intended to ground your documentary in relevant theoretical and industry-wide discourses, highlight ethical issues inherent in documentary, and deepen your doc storymaking practice. Prerequisite: DOC 150 and DOC 250 or instructor permission.
FAMS 385: Educating the Ear
This course traces sound theory across the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. From the sound obsessions and anxieties of silent cinema to the disruptive sound experiments of the Fluxus collective to the expansive field of contemporary sound art and its remixture of the historical archive, this course considers the aesthetic, political, and epistemological possibilities of sound. Prerequisite: FAMS 101 or permission of instructor. FAMS T & CCS course. (HUM)
FAMS 420: Capstone
This required course for FAMS majors is a chance for students to synthesize their course of study into one major individual project. The capstone is a workshop-based experience where students design and complete either a critical or creative (or some combination of the two) media project that results in a public presentation of their most advanced work as FAMS majors. CCS W. Open to senior FAMS majors only.
FAMS 421: Capstone Praxis
This course asks upper-level FAMS students to begin transitioning their work to the larger community of media makers, scholars, and educators. Capstone Praxis has a dual focus: 1) to enhance the skills individual students need to shape and effectively present themselves for post-college opportunities, and 2) to work collectively to create, manage and host programs and events that enhance campus and local communities. Capstone Praxis students will sharpen their individual portfolios and presentation skills while working with speakers, networking with alums, curating work, and designing and implementing outreach that expands the meaningful impact and accessibility of film and media studies. Open to FAMS seniors. FAMS juniors only with instructor permission.