Admission & Financial Aid

Admission & Financial Aid


Amherst College Courses

Amherst College Courses


Film and Media Studies

Affiliated Faculty: Professors Hastie and Van Compernolle‡ (Chair, fall semester);  Assistant Professors Guilford‡, Levine†, and Rangan.

Contributing Faculty: Professors Couvares, Drabinski, Gewertz‡, Keller†, Kimball‡, Lembo, Parham, Rogowski, Rosbottom, Sarat, and Woodson†; Associate Professors Brenneis, Engelhardt, Gilpin, J. Robinson, Shandilya, and Wolfson.

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.

* On leave 2018-19.
†On leave fall semester 2018-19.
‡On leave spring semester 2018-19.

110 Film and Writing

(See ENGL 180)

210 Coming to Terms: Cinema

(See ENGL 280)

213 Knowing Cinema

Soviet filmmaker Dziga Vertov claimed that the movie camera is different from, even superior to, human vision and thus allows us to see in new ways. Many others have echoed this idea about cinema’s powerful impact on our ways of seeing and knowing the world. As an introduction to the study of cinema, this course cultivates in students what Vertov called “the Kino-eye.” Our emphasis will be on narrative film, but with some attention paid to experimental, documentary, and animated works as well. This course treats cinema as an international art form: we will examine a wide range of films from many countries over the past century and more. Through exposure to the great variety of filmmaking and writing about film around the world, from the silent era to the digital revolution, students will receive a comprehensive introduction to the key formal features of film and to the major debates that inform film studies.

Limited to 35 students. Omitted 2018-19.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2025

215 Knowing Television

(See ENGL 282)

216 Coming to Terms: Media

(See ENGL 284)

218 Introduction to Film Theory

(See ENGL 288)

220 Foundations and Integrations: Film and Media Studies

(See ENGL 281)

221 Foundations in Video Production

(See ARHA 221)

226 Video Production: Bodies in Motion

(See THDA 250)

238 Latin American Cinema

(See SPAN 238)

312 Pioneer Valley Soundscapes

(See MUSI 238)

316 Performance

(See GERM 360)

321 Bollywood:  A Cinema of Interruptions

(See ARHA 288)

322 South Asian Feminist Cinema

(See SWAG 469)

326 Popular Cinema

(See GERM 344)

329 Russian and Soviet Film

(See RUSS 241)

333 Videogames and the Boundaries of Narrative

(See ENGL 277)

335 Experiments in 16mm Film

(See ARHA 335)

345 Performance Studio

(See THDA 353)

352 Russia and the Representation of Race

(See RUSS 252)

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

(See ENGL 373)

357 Sergei Eisenstein's Cinema and Thought

(See RUSS 245)

359 Andy Warhol, Filmmaker

(See ENGL 386)

360 Intimate Film Cultures

(See ENGL 383)

370 Traumatic Events 

(See GERM 363)

375 Jazz Film: Improvisation, Narrativity, and Representation

(See MUSI 225)

377 Women, Gender and Popular Culture

(See SWAG 105)

378 Visual Anthropology

(See ANTH 241)

379 Black Feminist Literary Traditions

(See SWAG 208)

382 Television and Experience

(See ENGL 384)

383 The Documentary Impulse

(See ENGL 377)

421 Inventing Film Theory

(See ENGL 486)

423 The Film Essay

(See ENGL 480)

424 Foucault and Media

(See ENGL 476)

441 Documentary Production

(See ARHA 441)

443 Fictional Narrative Video Production

(See ARHA 330)

455 The Confession: Theory and Practice

(See ENGL 477)

462 Film and Video Curation

(See ENGL 462)

471 Deep Time:  Memory, Media, and Ecological Imagination in the Americas

(See ENGL 475)

478 “Having a Voice”: Theories of Voice and Documentary

(See ENGL 478)

479 Problems in Documentary

(See ENGL 479)

481 Conversations with Experimental Filmmakers

(See ENGL 481)

490 Special Topics

Independent reading course.

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. The Department.

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)

422 Apocalypse Japan

(See ASLC 436)

Non-Language Courses


(See GERM 368)