Film Studies

About the Major

Department/Program Description.

The Film Studies Department explores the motion picture in a unified manner, combining the liberal arts tradition of cultural, historical, and formal analysis with filmmaking at beginning and advanced levels. The department offers a major and a minor.

Admission to the Major.

The requirements for admission include a minimum overall academic average of B (85.0) and the successful completion by the middle of the sophomore year of two designated entry-level courses with a grade of B+ or better in each. Entry to the major is possible only after completion of these two courses and application to the film major. To apply, students must meet with the department chair by the first semester of their sophomore year and place their names on the list of potential majors. Students on this list will receive an application form. Students who do not meet with the department chair will not receive an application or be considered for the major. Film studies faculty will evaluate applications based on performance in film studies classes (including but not limited to grades) and any other factors deemed pertinent.

Because of the prerequisites and major requirements, students transferring to Wesleyan after their first semester sophomore year are not able to declare the film studies major.

Major Requirements.
  • All students must take two designated prerequisite courses and earn a grade of B+ or better in each to be eligible for the major.
  • After entry to the major, students must take the required production course.
  • Students must also take a minimum of SIX film studies electives.
  • In their senior year students must either take senior seminar or undertake a thesis project.
  • Students may count a maximum of 16 credits in any single department toward the 32 credits required for graduation. Credits that exceed this limit will count as overscubscription.

Additional Options

Selection of options is dependent upon students not exceeding 16 total film credits (the maximum allowed in any department by the University prior to oversubscription).

  • Students have the OPTION to take two senior theses courses for an honors project (one in fall, one in spring).
  • Students have the OPTION to take up to three additional film/digital production courses. (Note that a senior thesis film counts as two additional production courses.)
  • Students have the OPTION to take up to three additional screenwriting/television writing courses. (Note that a senior thesis screenplay/teleplay counts as two screenwriting/television writing courses.)
  • Note that OPTIONAL COURSES count toward graduation but not toward fulfillment of the major.

Please see our departmental web site for further information regarding the specifics of our major

Please be aware that cross-listed courses must be counted in all departments in which they are listed.

Course offerings vary from year to year and not all courses are available in every year. With prior approval by the department chair, one history/theory course from another institution may be transferred to the Wesleyan major. The department does not offer group or individual tutorials other than senior thesis projects, but uncredited opportunities to work on individual senior films are available. Consult the chair of film studies for further details. The Film Studies Department does not offer credit for internships.

Students may become involved in film studies in ways other than class enrollment. The College of Film and the Moving Image houses the Wesleyan Cinema Archives.  The Film Board (composed of Wesleyan students) runs the Wesleyan Film Series. The College of Film also hosts the Wesleyan Freshman/Sophomore Filmmaking Club.

Prerequisite Classes.

  • FILM304 History of World Cinema to the 1960s
  • FILM307 The Language of Hollywood: Styles, Storytelling, and Technology

Required Courses After Entry into the Major.

  • FILM450 Sight and Sound Workshop or FILM451 Introduction to Digital Filmmaking in junior year
  • A department-designated seminar during senior year or a senior thesis project

Required Film Studies Electives (minimum of SIX from this list):

  • FILM301 The History of Spanish Cinema
  • FILM302 Italian Cinema, Italian Society
  • FILM303 Falling Anvils and Flying Pigs: The History and Analysis of Animated Cinema
  • FILM308 The Musical Film
  • FILM309 Film Noir
  • FILM313 Early Cinema and the Silent Feature
  • FILM314 Directorial Style: Classic American Film Comedy
  • FILM315 Myth and Ideology in Cinema: Hollywood Sex, Race, Class, Culture
  • FILM319 Television Storytelling; The Conditions of Narrative Complexity
  • FILM320 The New German Cinema
  • FILM322 Alfred Hitchcock
  • FILM324 Visual Storytelling: Cinema According to Hollywood’s Master Storytellers
  • FILM325 National Cinemas: Eastern Europe
  • FILM330 The Art and Business of Contemporary Film
  • FILM331 Videogames as/and the Moving Image: Art, Aesthetics, and Design
  • FILM341 The Cinema of Horror
  • FILM342 Cinema of Adventure and Action
  • FILM343 History of the American Film Industry in the Studio Era
  • FILM346 Contemporary East Asian Cinema
  • FILM347 Melodrama and the Woman’s Picture
  • FILM348 Postwar American Independent Cinema
  • FILM349 Television: The Domestic Medium
  • FILM350 Contemporary International Art Cinema
  • FILM352 From Caligari to Hitler: Weimar Cinema in Context
  • FILM355 Newest German (and Austrian) Cinema
  • FILM360 Philosophy and the Movies: The Past on Film
  • FILM365 Kino: Russia at the Movies
  • FILM366 Elia Kazan’s Films and Archives
  • FILM367 Frank Capra’s Films and Archives
  • FILM368 Archiving the Moving Image: History and Methods
  • FILM370 The Art of Film Criticism
  • FILM381 Martin Scorsese
  • FILM385 The Documentary Film
  • FILM386 The Long and the Short: Fritz Lang in Berlin and Hollywood
  • FILM387 Seminar on Television Series and Aesthetics

Optional Film/Digital Production Courses

Maximum of THREE from this list:

  • FILM150 Documentary Advocacy
  • FILM441 Video Art
  • FILM456 Advanced Filmmaking (Fall, must be taken with FILM457)
  • FILM457 Advanced Filmmaking (Spring, must be taken with FILM456)

Optional Film/Television Writing Courses Maximum of THREE from this list:

  • FILM409 Senior Thesis Tutorial (Fall, must be taken with FILM410)
  • FILM410 Senior Thesis Tutorial (Spring, must be taken with FILM409)
  • FILM452 Writing About Film
  • FILM454 Screenwriting
  • FILM455 Writing for Television
  • FILM458 Visual Storytelling: Screenwriting
  • FILM460 Scripting Series for the Small Screen

Note: The oversubscription rule limits students to a maximum of 16 credits in a single department before oversubscription occurs, at which point further credits earned in the department cannot count toward the 32 credits required for graduation.