Film Studies

About the Major

Department/Program Description.

Film studies is a department in which the motion picture is explored in a unified manner, combining the liberal arts tradition of cultural, historical, and formal analysis with filmmaking at beginning and advanced levels. 

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 of the designated entry-level courses, FILM304, FILM307, and FILM310. A suitable grade must be earned in each of these courses, and 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.

Students applying to the major who have not received a suitable grade in either FILM304, FILM307, or FILM310, and/or students who do not have an overall GPA of 85 or above, are eligible to have their admission cases arbitrated. If students considering the major believe they may require arbitration, they should consult with the department chair or departmental advisors.

Arbitration involves submitting a letter of interest, written work completed in film studies classes at Wesleyan, and additional materials as requested for review and discussion by the film studies faculty. Faculty members evaluate the arbitration materials, performance in film studies classes (including but not limited to grades), and any other factors deemed pertinent to the case. Arbitration decisions are made on case-by-case bases and are not based on precedent or cutoff limits. Arbitration decisions are final.

Because of the prerequisites and major requirements, students transferring to Wesleyan beginning their junior year are not able to declare the film studies major.

Major Requirements.

To fulfill the major, the student must also complete satisfactorily the additional required courses listed below as Group I, as well as a minimum of six other courses to be selected from Group II. (Note that electives in Group III 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 www.wesleyan.edu/filmstudies/

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 the Film Studies Department in ways other than class enrollment. Film studies runs the Wesleyan Cinema Archives and its majors run the Wesleyan Film Series.


Gateway Classes (A suitable grade must be earned in two of these classes for admission to the major.)
  • *FILM304 History of World Cinema to the 1960s
  • *FILM307 The Language of Hollywood: Styles Storytelling, and Technology
  • *FILM310 Introduction to Film Analysis
Group I Additional Required Courses After Entry into the Major
  • FILM450 Sight & Sound Workshop or FILM451 Introduction to Digital Filmmaking
  • A department designated seminar senior Year
Group II Electives
  • FILM301 The History of Spanish Cinema
  • FILM303 Falling Anvils and Flying Pigs: The History and Analysis of Animated Cimema
  • FILM308 The Musical Film
  • FILM309 Film Noir
  • FILM312 The Western: History and Definition
  • FILM313 Early Cinema and the Silent Feature
  • FILM314 Directorial Style: Classic American Film Comedy
  • FILM319 Television Storytelling; The Conditions of Narrative Complexity
  • FILM320 The New German Cinema
  • FILM322 Alfred Hitchcock
  • FILM324 Visual Storytelling: Cinema According to Hollywood’s Masters
  • FILM325 National Cinemas: Eastern Europe
  • FILM341 The Cinema of Horror
  • FILM342 Cinema of Adventure and Action
  • FILM343 History of the American Film Industry in the Studio Era
  • FILM344 Color and Light in the Cinema
  • FILM346 Contemporary East Asian Cinema
  • FILM347 Melodrama and the Woman’s Picture
  • FILM348 PostwarAmerican Independent Cinema
  • FILM349 Television: The Domestic Medium
  • FILM350 Contemporary International Art Cinema
  • FILM351 Classical Film Theory
  • FILM352 From Caligari to Hitler: Weimar Cinema in Context
  • FILM353 Visual Effects: History and Aesthetics
  • 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
  • FILM385 The Documentary Film
Group III
  • FILM140 Making the Science Documentary
  • FILM150 Documentary Advocacy
  • FILM386 The Documentary Film and Filmmaking
  • FILM452 Writing About Film
  • FILM453 Animation in the Digital Age
  • FILM454 Screenwriting
  • FILM455 Writing for Television
  • FILM456/457 Advanced Filmmaking (Fall/Spring)
  • FILM458 Visual Storytelling:Screenwriting
  • FILM409/410 Senior Thesis Tutorial (Fall/Spring)

*FILM304, FILM307, FILM310: two must be completed before admission to the major.