DSC_0215The Film and Media Studies (FAMS) Program integrates critical study with hands-on practice in media making. FAMS is interdisciplinary in nature, and encourages strong working relationships with the local community and with wider media production communities beyond.

FAMS 101: Introduction to Film and Media Studies
This is a foundational course that introduces students to key concepts, theories, and methods in film and media studies. During the first weeks of the course, we will explore the basic elements of film form (e.g., lighting, editing, and sound) and study the ways in which these forms shape the moving image. We will also pursue a set of theoretical questions as we move between crucial moments in the global production of film and distinct categories of cinematic expression (e.g., narrative, animation, documentary, and experimental). During the final weeks of this course, we will shift to consider television, video, and new media. FAMS F & CCS course. (HUM) Open to first and second-year students only. 

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 deep discussions of ethical media-making and responsible practices that move between past, present, and future. FAMS P course. 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. Students will also participate in field trips to media archives, museums, and other historical media sites. Prerequisite FAMS 101.  

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 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, VertigoRear WindowNorth By NorthwestThe BirdsNotoriousStrangers on a TrainShadow 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 & CSS course. (HUM) No Prerequisite. 

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 course. Prerequisite FAMS 102 or permission of instructor.

FAMS 220:  Film Theory (W)
What makes film a distinct art form? Often described as the “seventh art”, cinema is unique and interdisciplinary in nature. The study of film theory gives us deeper insight into film as a language and social practice, allowing one to explore cinema’s relationship to historical, aesthetic, social, political and technological influences. We will study some of the debates in classical film theory, auteurism, psychoanalysis, feminist film theory, queer theory, postmodernism and post colonialism as they apply to issues of perception, the spectator, representation, adaptation and realism. 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. FAMS T & CCS course. (HUM)

FAMS 235: Topics: 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 othe
r 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 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 course. (HUM)

FAMS 255: Women Make Movies/Movies Make Women (W)
This course provides an introduction to key issues that frame the study of contemporary gender and media, primarily (but not exclusively) in the US. We will examine the ways both media and gender contribute to the formation our “identities” as individuals and groups; and the ways gender is inseparable from race, class, religion, sexuality, disability, ethnicity, age, religion, and nation. As a community of learning, we will concentrate on close readings and viewings, vigorous discussion, and analytic writing. FAMS H & CCS course. (GM1, W) Prerequisite FAMS 101 or WGS 101 or permission.

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 course. (HUM) Prerequisites: FAMS 101 or permission of the instructor.

FAMS 270: National & Transnational Cinemas-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 course. (HUM/GM1/GM2). Prerequisite FAMS 101 or permission.

FAMS 275: World Pictures: Visual Studies and Media Cultures
What is an image? What is vision? How and why do we look, gaze, and spectate? This course aims to introduce students to Visual Studies, including the central debates and theoretical frameworks that inform the field, along with the contemporary media formations that have motivated its development. Students will learn to analyze images and media using a set of critical tools and concepts (e.g., the gaze, interpellation, embodiment, circulation, commodity fetishism, objectivity, the archive, biopower, the anthropocene, post-humanism, etc.), and consider the role that images and media play in constructing categories of racial, sexual, ethnic, geographic, and biological difference. Finally, this course will challenge students to consider the stakes of disciplinary boundaries and interdisciplinary thought. Prerequisite FAMS 101 or permission. FAMS T & CCS course. (HUM)

FAMS 302: Special 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 cinema or avant-garde cinema. Using digital cinema and 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 or permission. FAMS P. 

FAMS 302: Special Topics in Integrated Practice III-Short Fiction Filmmaking/Write-Shoot-Cut-Screen
This course extends the hands-on media making of the early production courses and is recommended for students hoping to 1) do a production-based capstone project in their senior year, and/or 2) sharpen their media work into a coherent, presentable portfolio. Students will complete short narrative films, moving from the stages of writing, shooting, editing, scoring, and screening their original short fiction films. Prerequisite FAMS 102 or permission. FAMS P. 

FAMS 320: 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 eugenics 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. Each student will submit several critical video essays and collaborate to create a peer-reviewed, online film and media, videographic journal. Prerequisite FAMS 101 or permission. FAMS T & CSS course. (GM1, V)

FAMS 350: Seminar—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 KnickSix Feet Under, OJ: Made in America and Penny DreadfulPrerequisite FAMS 101 or permission. FAMS H.

FAMS 351: 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 course. (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

FAMS 362: American Cinema of the 1970s (W)
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. Prerequisite: FAMS 101. FAMS H & CCS course. (HUM, W). Prerequisite FAMS 101 or permission of instructor.

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. FAMS T & CCS course (HUM) Prerequisite: FAMS 101 or permission of instructor.

FAMS 420: Senior Capstone (W)
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. FAMS C course. Open to senior FAMS majors only. 

FAMS 421: Capstone Practicum
This new 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.

AFFLIATED COURSES

FAMS/ART 105: Sculpture Against the Digital Horizon (W)
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.   

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/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. No prerequisites. Open to all majors. LVAIC course

FAMS/DOC 250: Legal and Ethical Challenges in Documentary Practice (ONLINE COURSE)
This course examines questions of how stories are represented, how documentary films represent truth, the nature of filmmakers’ ethical obligations toward their subjects, and how these questions inform documentary production. Students will study a variety of approaches used in the act of truth-telling, examine legal and privacy issues, and explore the ethical and moral practices that surround documentary. Prerequisite DOC 150 or permission. LVAIC course, DOC minor

FAMS/ENG 251: Screenwriting  (W)
This course will introduce students to feature film screenwriting. Students will examine various narrative tools and methods of screenwriting including story structure, character development, use of conflict, scene writing and dialogue. Students will analyze films and their accompanying shooting scripts to discover what works and what is less successful at the script level. These formal investigations will then be applied to students’ own original material in a workshop environment where student scripts will be critiqued. Prerequisite: FYS, FAMS 101 or permission of instructor. 

FAMS/ENG 252: Writing for Television (W)
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.   

FAMS/WGS 255: Women Make Movies/Movies Make Women (W)
This course provides an introduction to key issues that frame the study of contemporary gender and media, primarily (but not exclusively) in the US. We will examine the ways both media and gender contribute to the formation our “identities” as individuals and groups; and the ways gender is inseparable from race, class, religion, sexuality, disability, ethnicity, age, religion, and nation. As a community of learning, we will concentrate on close readings and viewings, vigorous discussion, and analytic writing. FAMS H & CCS course. (GM1, W) Prerequisite FAMS 101 or WGS 101 or permission.

FAMS/ASIA 270: National & Transnational Cinemas-Contemporary Chinese Cinema
Ever since film was introduced into China at the end of the nineteenth century, it has become a major medium of mass communication, and has played an important role in China’s quest for modernity. Despite warfare, censorship, competition from Hollywood, and other obstacles witnessed by over one hundred years of development, the Chinese film industry is currently one of the most vibrant in the world. Focus on major developments and genres since 1980, with representative films from mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, both as a unique form of artistic expression and a powerful social and political discourse. English subtitles. Prerequisite FAMS101 or ASIA 101 or permission. FAMS H & CSS course. (HUM/GM1/GM2) 

FAMS/AMS 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. FAMS H & CSS course (HUM) Prerequisite: A&S 102, FAMS 101, or permission.

FAMS/PHIL 345: Philosophy of Film (W)
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 course. (GM2, HUM, V,) 

DOC 370: Capstone in Documentary Storymaking
Designed for those minoring in doc storymaking, this capstone is a workshop-based experience where you will design, complete, and exhibit a documentary media project that represents your most advanced work. The course will also include readings, screenings, and conversations with working filmmakers, all intended to ground your documentary in theoretical and industry-wide discourse and deepen your practice. The Capstone is typically completed in the senior year. Prerequisites DOC 150 & 250 or permission.