Film Studies

Wesleyan University has long been a leader in undergraduate Film Studies. Since the 1960s, scholars in both the humanities and the social sciences have recognized cinema as the most important of the new forms of art developed in the 20th century--one which has had a profound and pervasive effect on all of modern culture. The growth of Film Studies as an academic discipline testifies to the importance of examining film not just as a cultural artifact, but also as an influential art form and an industry of global significance.

The model of scholarship in the Wesleyan Film Studies Department is in the liberal arts tradition of wedding history and theory with practice. All film majors study the motion picture in a unified manner, combining historical, formal, and cultural analysis with filmmaking at beginning and advanced levels in 16mm film, digital video, and virtual formats. A unique emphasis on the study of the medium, its industry, aesthetics, and technology distinguishes Film Studies courses from classes in other departments that approach film as a cultural text.

Why Wesleyan?

A video testimonial from Joss Whedon '87,
creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and writer/director of The Avengers
A video testimonial from Miguel Arteta '89,
director of The Good Girl and Youth in Revolt


A major asset to Film Studies at Wesleyan is the Wesleyan Cinema Archives, where a wide range of primary historical documents are collected reflecting a variety of fields within the liberal arts. Students have full access to these materials, which are also used by scholars from around the world, by biographers, and by media experts. In addition to materials on film, the Cinema Archives also cross-references materials in American Studies, Gender Studies, Literature, and Music. Archive collections include the papers of Ingrid Bergman, Frank Capra, Jonathan Demme, Clint Eastwood, Federico Fellini, Kay Francis, William Hornbeck, Elia Kazan, Roberto Rossellini, John Sayles, Martin Scorsese, Gene Tierney, Raoul Walsh, John Waters, and others, including our own alumni.

In addition to the Wesleyan Cinema Archives, the Rick Nicita Gallery provides a location to showcase a variety of film related materials to the public. More information on the Gallery, as well as the exhibition it is currently hosting, can be found at the Rick Nicita Gallery page.

Cinema Archives
Wesleyan Film Series