Cinema and Media Studies

Geometric arrangement of circles with raindrops and colored lights showing through

The Department of Cinema and Media Studies (CMS) takes an expansive and multifaceted approach to its study of cinema. The Department’s scholarship encompasses works on film as well as new forms such as television, video, and digital media, analyzing them in historical, theoretical, and cultural terms while also giving careful attention to aesthetic style and practice. Although students may take all of their coursework in CMS, many expand their study into overlapping subjects like Art History, Comparative Literature, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, English Language and Literature, Gender and Sexuality, Romance Languages and Literature, Slavic Languages and Literatures, Theater and Performance Studies, and Visual Arts.

Selected Faculty

Portrait of Allyson Nadia Field

Allyson Nadia Field

African American cinema; silent cinema; non-extant film; film historiography; nontheatrical film; American independent cinema; Hollywood; film exhibition; archival and curatorial work; race and representation; feminist and antiracist film and activism
Portrait of Patrick Jagoda

Patrick Jagoda

New media; post-1945 American fiction and culture; videogames; network films; virtual worlds; transmedia storytelling; long-form American serial television; history of communication networks
Portrait of Daniel Morgan

Daniel Morgan

Film and philosophy; classical film theory; experimental and avant-garde cinema; nonfiction cinema; animation; cinema and the other arts; European and Classical Hollywood cinema; modernism and realism; new media

Sample Courses

CMST 67804 - Media Ecology (Thomas Lamarre)
The first aim of this seminar is to introduce some of the key problematics associated with this ‘turn’ in media studies. At the same time, due to the proliferation of turns (elemental, environmental, ecological, energetic), objects (media forms, devices, platforms, networks, infrastructures) and concerns (more-than-human life, settler colonialism, indigenous struggles, migration), this seminar aims to provide a practical focus for doing media ecology or thinking media ecologically. The problematic for fall 2022 is Plant Media or “thinking with plants through media.” Finally, this ecological approach encourages a reconsideration of eco-agriculture and alternative paths of cultivation.

CMST 31019 - American Cinema 1900 to 1950 (Allyson Nadia Field)
This course will look at early African American filmmaking practices from their emergence in the 1910s up to the immediate post-WWII period. Examining a range of film forms, we will explore topics such as issues of representation, the politics of early Black filmmaking, Black film criticism, and intersections with Hollywood.

CMST 68008 - Senses and Technology (James Lastra)
This seminar examines the fraught relationship between the human sensorium and its mediations through what we might call “sense technologies,” such as photography, phonography, moving images, radio, computers, telephones and virtual reality. We will examine both theoretical and historical approaches to understanding various sense/technology relationships since the eighteenth century.

CMST 31806 - The New Latin American Cinema and its Afterlife (Salomé Aguilera Skvirsky)
The New Latin American Cinema (NLAC) of the late 1950s – 70s generated unprecedented international enthusiasm for Latin American film production. We will situate the NLAC in its historical context, survey its formal achievements and political aspirations, assess its legacy, and take stock of the ways and the reasons that it haunts contemporary production.

CMST 31805 - Chicago Film Cultures (Jacqueline Stewart)
In addition to its rich history of film production, Chicago also boasts a long, significant history of film presentation. Through archival research, participant observation, and interviews, students will study the conceptual and historical frameworks that have been used for presenting cinema—historical and contemporary—in the city's varied institutional and cultural contexts.

A complete listing of offerings is available at the Department’s course page.

The Cinema and Media Studies Option

Students who would like a more directed course of study may want to complete the MAPH Cinema and Media Studies Option. Students who complete the following requirements will receive a Cinema and Media Studies notation on their MAPH transcript:

  • The MAPH Core course (Foundations of Interpretive Theory)
  • The Cinema and Media Studies Methods and Issues course
  • History of International Film I and II
  • One or Two Elective courses in Cinema and Media Studies
  • A thesis on cinema/media under the supervision of a member of the Cinema and Media Studies faculty

Recent Cinema and Media Studies Thesis Projects

"Speaking Mandarin in New World: The Ethnic Chinese in South Korean Gangster Cinema"
Yan Meng, MAPH '21
Advisor: Salomé Aguilera Skvirsky

“"We’re Transforming Life Itself": Racial Otherness and the Disassembly of the Worker Across Media, from Racial Theory to Sorry to Bother You"
Sana Rahman, MAPH '21
Advisor: Allyson Nadia Field

"The Closeted Cinema: Aesthetics of Queer Alienation in British Neo-Realism"
Connor McHale, MAPH '20
Advisor: Daniel Morgan