Cinema and Media Studies

Cinema and Media Studies

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


Tom Gunning

Early Cinema, Film Style, Film Historiography, Film Culture

Daniel Morgan

Film and Philosophy, Media Theory, Film Style, Aesthetics, Nonfiction Cinema
Jackie Stewart

Jacqueline Stewart

African American Film Cultures, Archiving and Preservation of Moving Images, “Orphan” Media Histories

Sample Courses

CMST 35506 - Long-Take Cinema (Robert Bird)
As a stylistic device, the long take has long been a definitive feature of art cinema. Treating long-take style as a distinct approach to cinematic realism, we will survey its use throughout different cinematic periods and styles and evaluate the claims made by filmmakers for its ethical, metaphysical, and even political valences.

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
  • 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

“A ‘New’ Jargon of Authenticity: The Database Imaginary of 24th Berlin”
Nicholas Fraccaro, MAPH ’10
Advisor: Jennifer Wild

“Looking Back at the Gaze: Ethereal Subjects and Corporeal Faith in ‘Devi’”
Mimosa Roy (Shah), MAPH ’12
Advisor: Tom Gunning

“Modern Masculinity: Gender and Genre in the Films of Joel and Ethan Coen”
Kerry Armbruster, MAPH ’14
Advisor: Dan Morgan

“Anxiety at the Overlook”
Joshua Davidson, MAPH ’15
Advisor: D.N. Rodowick