October 13, 2015
By Rachel Rogol
Students in Prof. Levine's spring 2015 Cinema Experiments
course meet under a tree near Chapin Chapel.
Now in its sixth year, Amherst’s Film and Media Studies (FAMS) Program recently appointed two new faculty members and is offering more courses (24 this academic year) and public film screenings (with internationally renowned artists and scholars) than ever before.
The FAMS program originated at Amherst in 2009 and officially launched as a major in fall 2010. Since then, the program has steadily gained momentum. Nine students have graduated as majors and nearly two dozen filmmakers and scholars have shown their work on campus. In fall 2014, Adam Levine, assistant professor of art, film and media studies, oversaw the installation of a black box studio in Fayerweather Hall; students majoring in film and media studies, as well as art and the history of art, can access it any time, day or night.
Last fall, Professor Amelie Hastie—the first FAMS faculty member and current chair of the program—oversaw the hires of new faculty members Pooja Rangan and Joshua Guilford.
Hastie says she's particularly excited about the areas of study and practice that Rangan and Guilford bring to the program, which complement her own scholarship, as well as Levine’s creative work and research. "What's interesting is how we all intersect," Hastie says. Levine and Guilford explore experimental film practice and theory in their courses and creative work. Hastie and Rangan, both published feminist media scholars, focus on narrative fiction and documentary film cultures, respectively. And though the four approach film and media from different perspectives, Rangan says, “We all share an investment in questioning normative film studies.”
In addition to being on the faculty in the FAMS program, Hastie, Rangan and Guilford are also members of Amherst's English department, and Levine is a faculty member in the department of art and the history of art. Many other professors from various academic departments also contribute to the FAMS curriculum, in part, Hastie says, because of the program's inherently interdisciplinary nature.
Christian Rogowski, professor of language and literature in Amherst's department of German, was an early advocate for the FAMS program and has taught courses about the German contribution to the emergence of film since before the FAMS program began. "The FAMS program was created in recognition of the fact that developing an awareness of how media operate is a crucial component of a liberal arts education," Rogowski says. "In today’s media-saturated world, it is increasingly important, especially for young people, to gain an understanding of how media images are constructed and how they impact our sense of being in the world."
In addition to teaching FAMS courses, Rogowski oversees the German Film Series, which screens German films with English subtitles each semester.
Learn more about the faculty members who contribute to the FAMS curriculum, and see a list of all upcoming film screenings, below.
Amelie Hastie, Professor of English and Film and Media Studies
A feminist film scholar, published author and contributer to the academic journals Film Quarterly and Flow, Hastie's research explores film theory and history, feminist film studies, television studies and interdisciplinary approaches to media studies. Hastie's courses design a creative critical practice in their approach to contemporary world cinema, Classical Hollywood film, television and everyday media and material objects.
Adam R. Levine, Assistant Professor of Art, Film and Media Studies
A scholar and filmmaker whose practice largely encompasses nonfiction and experimental forms, often in combination, Levine's films have been shown in theaters around the world. His courses emphasize filmmaking as an integrated practice combining criticality, creativity and technique, and encourage students to think through their own relationships to media and, by extension, the world around them.
Pooja Rangan, Assistant Professor of English in Film and Media Studies
Author of Immediations (forthcoming, Duke UP) and other essays, Rangan describes her research as beginning with documentary and opening onto larger questions regarding power, difference, visibility and what it means to be human. Rangan's courses explore ethnographic, humanitarian and confessional media, and are often organized around a central question or contradiction, e.g. “Why does documentary take itself so seriously?”
Joshua Guilford, Visiting Assistant Professor of English in Film and Media Studies
A scholar and film programmer interested in histories and theories of avant-garde cinema, Guilford's research manifests in the form of scholarly essays, as well as curated film screenings like this semester’s X (Unknown Quantity) series at Amherst Cinema. Guilford's courses explore media and other cultural phenomena through group discussions, short essays, off-campus expeditions and creative assignments.
FAMS contributing faculty 2015–16:
- Frederick Aldama, Professor of Spanish
- John Drabinski, Professor of Black Studies
- Deborah Gewertz, Professor of Anthropology
- Baba Hillman, Five College Associate Professor of Film and Video
- Chris Mason Johnson, Visiting Lecturer
- Marisa Parham, Professor of English
- Christian Rogowski, Professor in Language and Literature In the Department of German
- Peter Schmitz, Visiting Resident Artist of Theater and Dance
- Krupa Shandilya, Assistant Professor of Sexuality, Women's and Gender Studies
- Timothy Van Compernolle, Associate Professor of Asian Languages and Civilizations
Upcoming FAMS Events
The following film screenings are followed by Q&A sessions with the filmmakers. All are free and open to the public, except the Nov. 16 screening at Amherst Cinema:
“Songs from the Nickel” by Alina Skrzeszewska
Tuesday, Oct. 20, 7 p.m.
Keefe Campus Center Theater
“Dividing Roadmaps by Timezones: 10 Years of Moving Pictures 2000–2010” by Amanda Dawn Christie
Monday, Oct. 26, 7 p.m.
Keefe Campus Center Theater
“The Year We Thought About Love” by Ellen Brodsky
Wednesday, Nov. 11, 7 p.m.
"Radiant Matter: Experiments in Handmade Cinema"
Monday, Nov. 16, 7:30 p.m.
Amherst Cinema (tickets required)
“1 Day” by Penny Woolcock
Thursday, Nov. 19, 7 p.m.
Keefe Campus Center Theater
“Ward One” by Heidi Cooley
Thursday, Feb. 25, 4 p.m.
Pruyne Lecture Hall, Fayerweather Hall
“OwnerBuilt” by Larry Andrews
Thursday, Mar. 24, 4 p.m.