Admission & Financial Aid

Admission & Financial Aid


Regulations & Requirements

Regulations & Requirements


Amherst College Courses

Amherst College Courses


Film and Media Studies

Affiliated Faculty: Professor Hastie (Chair); Assistant Professors Levine and Rangan‡; Visiting Assistant Professors Brennan and Guilford.

Contributing Faculty: Professors Aldama, Caplan†, Drabinski, Gewertz, Keller, Kimball†, Lembo, Parham, Rogowski, Rosbottom, Sarat, and Woodson; Associate Professors Brenneis†, Engelhardt*, Gilpin, Van Compernolle†, and Wolfson*; Assistant Professors J. Robinson, and Shandilya; Five College Associate Professor Hillman; Visiting Resident Artist Schmidt; Visiting Lecturer Johnson.

*On leave 2014-15.

†On leave fall semester 2014-15.

‡On leave spring semester 2014-15.

The Film and Media Studies Program situates the study and practice of the moving image in its aesthetic, technical, and socio-cultural dimensions within a wider history of media.  The program integrates formal, historical and theoretical analysis with various forms of creative and production experience in its required core courses.  In courses in Critical Studies and Production, we explore the practice of constructing moving images through considerations of narrative, non-narrative and experimental structures, camera motion, editing techniques, music and sound design, mise-en-scène, and digital technologies.  The dual emphasis on study and practice allows the historical, theoretical, compositional, and aesthetic issues to illuminate each other and thus to allow students to engage with both the depth and breadth of media production and analysis. The program interfaces with a variety of disciplines across the Liberal Arts spectrum, such as philosophy, social and literary theory, area studies, language study, visual culture, theater and dance, anthropology, computer science, and gender studies.

Major Program. The Film and Media Studies (FAMS) major requires four core courses, a minimum of five additional courses (electives) from a variety of related disciplines that reflect each student’s individual academic and creative interests, and a two-semester thesis project. The FAMS major is framed by three foundations courses: Foundations in Critical Media Studies (e.g. "Coming to Terms: Cinema" and "Knowing Television"), Foundations in Production (an introductory production workshop), and a Foundations in Integrated Media Practices. Foundations courses in Critical Media Studies and Production will serve as the prerequisites for the Foundations in Integrated Media Practices, which will be a team-taught course, and which FAMS majors should ideally complete by the end of their junior year. Majors will also be required to take at least one FAMS seminar in their junior or senior year. In addition, students will take at least five other courses as electives, including at least one course at one of the other Five Colleges.  The FAMS program grants wide scope to students for creating an individualized program of study. When declaring the major, each student is required to make a contract for his or her program with the Faculty Committee on Film and Media Studies (which will function as a review board), as represented and coordinated by the Chair.  Each student’s progress towards the completion of the contract will then be assessed, over the following semesters, by two faculty advisors from different departments appointed by the Committee. For the Capstone Requirement, students will either produce a two-semester thesis or will both submit a portfolio in the Fall semester of their senior year and will take at least one additional 400-level FAMS course.

110 Film and Writing

(See ENGL 180)

210 Coming to Terms: Cinema

(See ENGL 280)

215 Knowing Television

(See ENGL 282)

220 Foundations and Integrations:  Film and Media Studies

(See ENGL 281)

221 Foundations in Video Production

(See ARHA 221)

227 The Film Portrait

(See ARHA 227)

228 Introduction to Super 8 Film and Digital Video

(Offered as FAMS 228 and ENGL 287.)  This course will introduce students to basic Super 8 film and digital video techniques.  The course will include workshops in shooting for film and video, Super 8 film editing, Final Cut Pro video editing, lighting, stop motion animation, sound recording and mixing.  Students will learn to think about and look critically at the moving and still image.  Students will complete three moving image projects, including one Super 8 film, one video project, and one mixed media project.  Weekly screenings will introduce students to a wide range of approaches to editing, writing, and directing in experimental, documentary, narrative, and hybrid cinematic forms.  Screenings include works by Martha Rosler, Bill Viola, the Yes Men, Jennifer Reeves, Mona Hatoum, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Dziga Vertov, D.A. Pennebaker, Jean-Pierre Gorin, Cécile Fontaine, and Johanna Vaude.

Admission with consent of the instructor.  Please complete the questionnaire at  Limited to 13 students.  Omitted 2015-16.  Five College Professor Hillman.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

240 Screenwriting

(See ENGL 388)

312 Pioneer Valley Soundscapes

(See MUSI 238)

313 The Soviet Experience

(See RUSS 234)

316 Performance

(See GERM 360)

322 South Asian Feminist Cinema

(See SWAG 469)

323 Weimar Cinema: The "Golden Age" of German Film

(See GERM 347)

325 Nazi Cinema

(See GERM 348)

333 Videogames and the Boundaries of Narrative

(See ENGL 277)

335 Experiments in 16mm Film

(See ARHA 335)

341 Video Production: Bodies in Motion

(See THDA 250)

342 Performance in Place: Site Specific 

(See THDA 352)

343 Lost and Found: Appropriated, Recycled and Reclaimed Images

(See ARHA 343)

345 Performance Studio

(See THDA 353)

350 Experimental Narrative Cinema in a Global Context

(Offered as FAMS 350 and ENGL 376).  This course will introduce students to a diverse range of experimental approaches to narrative filmmaking. Students will gain skills in filmmaking and criticism through project assignments, readings and analysis of language, performance and visual structure within selected films. Workshops in cinematography, sound recording and editing will be offered. The course will concentrate on filmmakers who are working in a context of multiple languages, hybrid forms and transnational histories. Screenings will include works by Jia Zhangke, Mati Diop, Abderrahmane Sissako, Pedro Costa, Claire Denis, and Nagisa Oshima. Students will complete three film and video projects. Lab fee required. Course meetings include one three hour consecutive meeting per week and one screening time per week.

Recommended prior coursework:  ENGL 287/FAMS 228, Introduction to Super 8 Film and Digital Video, or other introductory course in film and video, photography, or painting. Admission with consent of instructor. Please complete the questionnaire at and submit to Prof. Hillman. Limited to 13 students. Fall semester. Five College Professor Hillman.


2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015

351 Cinema and Everyday Life

(See ENGL 381)

353 A Decade Under the Influence:  U.S. Film of the 1970s

(See ENGL 373)

358 Spike Lee’s Joints

(See ENGL 374)

359 The Cinema of Robert Rodriguez

(See SPAN 391)

370 Traumatic Events

(See GERM 363)

371 Film, Myth, and the Law

(See LJST 225)

374 Reading Popular Culture:  Girl Power

(See ENGL 271)

377 Women, Gender and Popular Culture

(See SWAG 105)

378 Visual Anthropology

(See ANTH 241)

379 Black Feminist Literary Traditions

(See SWAG 208)

381 American Avant-Garde Cinema

(See ENGL 382)

383 The Documentary Impulse

(See ENGL 377)

441 Documentary Production

(See ARHA 441)

444 Films That Try: Essay Film Production

(See ARHA 444)

451 Ghosts in Shells? Virtuality and Embodiment from Passing to the Posthuman

(See ENGL 456)

455 The Confession:  Theory and Practice

(See ENGL 477)

462 Film and Video Curation

(See ENGL 462)

475 Serial Fictions: The Victorian Novel and Contemporary Television

(See ENGL 475)

479 Critical Studies in Television Intertextuality

(See ENGL 479)

489 Paris and the Banlieues:  The City and Cinematography in French and Francophone Cinema

(Offered as FAMS 489 and ENGL 489.)  This course in film production and film history will address changing cinematic representations of the architecture and urban space of Paris and the surrounding suburbs. The course will include workshops in cinematography, lighting, editing, and sound recording. We will consider shifting representations of the city and the body of the performer in the films of Feuillade, Vigo, Rivette, Prévert, Cantet, Denis, Kechiche, and Volta. We will analyze performances of identities, emphasizing the body as the primary site of a daily negotiation of language and culture. Students will be encouraged to question how performative languages of movement, architecture, and speech function as aesthetic systems that reflect the ways in which the body is coded. The course will include a study of articles from Présence Africaine, Trafic, Cahiers du Cinéma, and Bref, as well as works by Petrine Archer-Straw, Carrie Tarr, Raphaël Bassan, and Nicole Brenez. Students will complete two film or video projects.  One three-hour class meeting and one film screening per week.

Recommended prior coursework:  ENGL 287/FAMS 228, Introduction to Super 8 Film and Digital Video, or other introductory course in film and video, photography, or painting.  Preference given to FAMS majors.  Admission with consent of the instructor.  Limited to 12 students.  Please complete the questionnaire at  Omitted 2015-16.  Five College Professor Hillman.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014

490 Special Topics

Independent Reading Courses.

Fall and spring semester.  The Department.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023, Fall 2024

498, 499 Senior Honors

Admission with consent of the instructor.  Spring semester.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Spring 2023, Spring 2025

Non-Language Departmental Courses

320 Japan on Screen

(See ASLC 234)

Introductory Courses

376 Introduction to Music and Film

(See MUSI 122)

Non-Language Courses


(See GERM 368)

Special Courses

321 European Film

(See FREN 361)

327 Toward the New Wave

(See FREN 365)