Department of Film Studies
Statement of Pedagogical Mission

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Mission of the Film Major:

The mission of the film studies major is to deliver the finest undergraduate film, television, and media education through our distinctive blending of history, analysis, and production. The major explores moving image art by looking at what is on screen using the language of filmmakers. We highlight studio-era cinema as the foundation of visual storytelling. Our emphasis is firmly on cinema as an audience-centered artistic practice. We consider the creation and analysis of the moving image to represent compatible reverse processes—creator to film to audience, or audience to film to creator. No matter the level of the course or the nature of the discussion, we maintain a direct route from our intellectual activity to filmmakers’ choices and audience experiences. In contrast to graduate programs, which separate practice from study or teach methods of scholarship, we teach about the films themselves in a jargon-free classroom.

Mission of the Film Minor:

The film studies minor offers the same fundamental orientation as the major, but in a more flexible format that accommodates different course clusters. Its mission is to deliver a substantial and encompassing curriculum in film and media studies through an interdisciplinary approach that highlights global culture.

Our Pedagogical Goals:

Our broad goal is to foster the critical understanding of cinema and television as art forms. To all students, both general education and majors, we offer a unified perspective that enables students to think critically about form and the choices that visual storytellers must face. This orientation toward intensive aesthetic analysis is unique in undergraduate film and media programs. No other liberal arts film program features such a broad and deep background in analysis and history coupled with sensitivity to film's immediate and direct power over audiences.

Our majors develop a critical and creative approach to the medium based on a strong visual vocabulary, extensive viewing and a grasp of film production. Production and studies are mutually reinforcing in this environment. Our 16mm and digital production courses facilitate deeper comprehension of film and television's formal complexities and demand a higher level of critical and analytical thinking. Likewise, students steeped in history and analysis bring a robust visual vocabulary and awareness of formal problem-solving to the tasks of filmmaking. Upon graduation, majors know how to make a movie; are experienced in all forms of film and television writing; understand film history; can offer original solutions to artistic problems; and are capable of extending our knowledge of the moving image.

Our major demands and rewards original critical thinking. We believe that true learning involves synthesis, discovery, and original thought. Our students must face the challenge of defining and resolving artistic, historical, and analytical problems on their own, while also learning to work in collaboration. We encourage students to develop a personal vision, take risks, problem-solve, and learn from failure as well as success.