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Film is a major form of cultural expression, and the study of film is the study of culture, like the history of art or the interpretation of literature. In addition to understanding film culture, Trinity's film studies minor also requires courses in video production, photography, and writing.

The discipline of film studies includes a range of activities, such as film history, film interpretation, and film theory. For many scholars, the study of film is a valuable form of cultural history. Even the most generic films can reveal significant traits about the societies that produce and consume them. Some films go farther, expressing difficult themes through complex forms, in the manner of great works of art and literature. By situating films within an appropriate historical context, we can increase our understanding of the films and the cultures that produced them.

This process of understanding films historically often involves the process of interpretation. Many film studies classes place a special emphasis on developing interpretive skills. Other classes examine questions in film theory, a mode of inquiry that seeks to understand the general traits of film. A film theorist might ask how film differs from painting, or propose a different way of understanding the experience of spectatorship. How the theorist answers those broad questions might shape the way other scholars come to understand individual works.

For more film resources, visit the Coates Library.

Courses

The film studies minor requires 21 semester hours, including the core course in film studies.

Core course in film studies

FILM 1301 - Introduction to Film Studies
This course is an introduction to the artistic, cultural, and scholarly importance of film.

One of the following seven courses

CHIN 3313 - Cities of Strangers: Trans-cultural Chinese Cinema
A cinema course with a focus on genres contributing to the popular imagination about cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Taipei.

FILM 2301 - International Cinema
This course focuses on the cultural and critical analysis of international films as an expression of particular artistic genres and/or styles within specific historical, ideological, and cultural contexts.

ML&L 3303 - Chinese Cinema: A Historical and Cultural Perspective
A study of Chinese culture and socio-political changes in the modern history of China.

ML&L 3311 - French Cinema
This course will examine a variety of French films from the 1930's to the present.

ML&L 3321 - German Cinema
This course will examine German films from the silent period in the early 1920's to the present.

SPAN 3321 - Spanish Cinema
An examination of a variety of Spanish films from 1960 to the present with a focus on their artistic qualities, the history of the Spanish cinema, and the depiction of Spanish culture and literature in the films.

SPAN 3322 - Spanish American Cinema
An examination of a variety of Spanish American films with a focus on their artistic qualities, the history of Spanish American cinema, and the depiction of Spanish American culture and literature in the films.

Study and Practice Coursework

  • Six hours taken from at least two departments from the study coursework list
  • Three hours from the practice coursework list
  • Six hours of electives chosen from either the study or practice coursework list

STUDY COURSEWORK

CHIN 3313 - Cities of Strangers: Trans-cultural Chinese Cinema
A cinema course with a focus on genres contributing to the popular imagination about cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Taipei.

COMM 3325 - Special Topics: Women Journalists in Film and Novel

COMM 3325 - Special Topics: Film Noir

DRAM 2332 - Play Structure and Analysis
This course will introduce students to multiple theatrical models and methods used to understand dramatic structure and to analyze specific plays.

HIST 3372 - Black Images in Film
This course examines the depictions of blacks in American cinema from 1915 to the present.

ML&L 3303 - Chinese Cinema: A Historical and Cultural Perspective
A study of Chinese culture and socio-political changes in the modern history of China.

ML&L 3311 - French Cinema
This course will examine a variety of French films from the 1930's to the present.

ML&L 3321 - German Cinema
This course will examine German films from the silent period in the early 1920's to the present.

PHIL 3357 - Philosophy of Film
A study of issues in the philosophy of film, through reading the work of historical and contemporary philosophers and critics, and studying films.

SPAN 3321 - Spanish Cinema
An examination of a variety of Spanish films from 1960 to the present with a focus on their artistic qualities, the history of the Spanish cinema, and the depiction of Spanish culture and literature in the films.

SPAN 3322 - Spanish American Cinema
An examination of a variety of Spanish American films with a focus on their artistic qualities, the history of Spanish American cinema, and the depiction of Spanish American culture and literature in the films.

PLSI 1332 - Film, Literature, and Politics of the Third World
An examination of political issues and challenges facing Third World societies as expressed through literature and film.

RELI 3318 - Religion and Film
This course introduces some of the many issues and theoretical perspectives in the study of religion and film.

PRACTICE COURSEWORK

ART 2350 - Beginning Photography
A basic course in beginning black and white photography techniques and issues in contemporary photography.

ART 3350 Intermediate Photography
A continuation of focusing on black and white photography techniques and issues in contemporary photography.

ART 4-50 - Advanced Photography
A course that focuses on the continuation of the techniques of black and white photography and issues in contemporary photography.

ART 2352 - Beginning Digital Photography
This course studies the basic principles of digital photography as utilized in creative expression and photojournalism.

ART 3352 - Intermediate Digital Photography
A continuation on the basic principles of digital photography as utilized in creative expression and photojournalism.

ART 4-52 - Advanced Digital Photography
A continuation on the basic principles of digital photography as utilized in creative expression and photojournalism.

ART 2380 - Digital Art
An intensive fine arts studio investigation emphasizing visual problem solving proficiency through the introduction of structured studio problems.

ART 3380 - Advanced Digital Art
A continuation of digital art.

COMM 3340 - Media Writing: Scriptwriting
Understanding and using the written word through conceptualizing, gathering information, researching, writing, and editing a variety of material.

COMM 3342 - Visual Communication: Narrative Video Production
Understanding and using visual communication techniques through conceptualizing, creating, and editing visual media productions.

COMM 3342 - Visual Communication: Theory and Practice Montage
Understanding and using visual communication techniques through conceptualizing, creating, and editing visual media productions.

COMM 4350 - Advanced Producing
Special production activities in selected media areas.

DRAM 1320 Introduction to Production Techniques
Introduction to traditional stagecraft.

DRAM 1352 - Acting I
This class will provide acting students a core of techniques from which to further develop their acting skills as individuals and as members of a theatrical ensemble.

DRAM 2310 - Principles of Design
This course is an experiential introduction to the art of design.

DRAM 2314 - Principles of Stage Lighting
An introductory course that explores the use of light as an artistic medium in theatrical productions.

DRAM 2352 - Acting II: Scene Study
This course will focus on scene work from a variety of periods and playwrights.

DRAM 3340 - Directing
This course will teach and develop the skills necessary for directing.

ENGL 3302 - Fiction Writing
Study in the forms of fiction with a primary focus on writing the short story.

Faculty

  • William G. Christ, Ph.D., professor, communication
  • Aaron Delwiche, Ph.D., associate professor, communication
  • Nina C. Ekstein, Ph.D., professor, modern languages and literatures
  • Patrick Keating, Ph.D., assistant professor, communication, chair
  • Rita E. Urquijo-Ruiz, Ph.D., assistant professor, modern languages and literatures
  • Michael T. Ward, Ph.D., associate professor, modern languages and literatures

See Films in San Antonio

San Antonio Film Events

See Films in Austin

Austin Film Events

Academic Resources

As in any field of study, film research is guided by questions. The nature of the sources will vary, depending on the type of question being asked. If we want to know how a film was shaped by a particular director's characteristic style, we might start by watching the director's other films. If we want to analyze a film as a reaction to a political or cultural development, we might start by learning more about the relevant sociocultural context.

It can be useful to divide film research into seven general categories:

  • Watching movies
  • Basic production information
  • Film reviews
  • Scholarly writings
  • Trade journals
  • Archival documents
  • Non-film research

Watching Movies

If your paper is an analysis of a single film, you will probably want to watch the film several times. If your paper has a more historical focus, you might need to watch several films, in order to get a better sense of a certain filmmaking context. In any case, it is important that you budget ample time for film study.

Basic Production Information

As a first step in researching a film, you might need to learn more about some basic production information: who directed the film, what studio produced it, when it was released, and so on. If this information is not obvious from the film's credits, there are various databases and catalogs that can be consulted.

Film Reviews

For almost a century, the film review has been a standard feature of many popular magazines and newspapers. In some cases, these reviews can be useful, offering fresh interpretations of particular works, or providing helpful information about how a film was initially received. However, note that most film reviews do not always qualify as appropriate sources for a research paper, since they are primarily concerned with describing and evaluating the film for people who have not yet seen the film.

Scholarly Writings

In contrast to the everyday film review, the scholarly work spends less time describing the film, and more time on other critical tasks, such as analysis, interpretation, history, and theory. In addition, most scholarly books and articles adhere to more rigorous standards of citation and research. If you are writing a scholarly research paper, you will probably consult these sources more than you will consult film reviews.

Trade Journals

A trade journal is a publication that is designed for consumption by the members of the film industry, among other potential audiences. For instance, working cinematographers make up a large part of American Cinematographer's target audience. Trade journals can provide valuable information about the film industry. If you are writing a paper about technological change, censorship practices, or studio business strategies, then you should consider consulting a trade journal as a primary source.

Archival Documents

Scholars who are particularly interested in the details of filmmaking will often look at documents produced during the process of creating the film such as screenplays, camera reports, contracts, and studio correspondence. Although many of these documents are lost, a surprising amount of material relating to classic Hollywood films can be found in archives.

Non-film Research

A film is always the product of a larger culture. Sometimes, the best film research does not involve film-related material at all. For example, if a film was produced during the 1920s, you might try reading some history books about the politics and culture of the period.As always, the nature of the research will vary depending on the question you are asking.

Production Resources

The communication department has video equipment primarily for the purpose of serving the needs of its video production classes. The equipment storeroom is located on the 4th floor of the Richardson Communications Center. 

Cameras: Several HDV (high-definition video) and DV (digital video) cameras. Each camera can be checked out with a tripod.

Sound: All the cameras include microphones; in addition, we have several booms equipped with Sennheiser microphones. There is also a sound booth available for voice recording.

Editing: Most students edit using Adobe Premiere. Final Cut Pro is also available.

Lighting: Arri fresnel kits, Kinoflo kits, and one Mole-Richardson HMI kit.

Grip: C-stands, flag kits, diffusion, gels, and a doorway dolly with tracks.

Center for Learning and Technology

The AT&T Center for Learning and Technology is another resource allowing students to use editing tools and other production equipment.

TigerTV

Students looking to gain practical experience in video production can get involved with TigerTV, Trinity's own television station. Students who are involved with TigerTV use a variety of other video production tools, including a set of high-definition cameras for use with three-camera recording.

Minor Description: 

The film studies minor, a 21-hour minor, recognizes film as a valuable form of cultural history. The discipline of film studies includes a range of activities, such as film history, film interpretation, and film theory. Production courses play a major role in any film studies program, and Trinity's film studies minor encourages students to take courses on video production, photography, writing, and other practical skills.