Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College


English 258. Introduction to Film Studies

Current trends stemming from the globalization of the media and its accompanying media synergies make it untenable to view the cinema as a discrete, unitary phenomenon. This course addresses this phenomenon in a parallel manner by bridging the disciplinary divides between film theory, media and cultural studies. Conjoining theoretical and historical approaches to cinematic texts, institutions and audiences, this course explores the multidimensional nature of the cinema and its place in society: (1) as representational spaces with textual properties and reading protocols enabling the creation of “meaning,” (2) as a unique industry driven by political and economic agendas; and (3) as a social practice that audiences “do,” involving relations of subjectivity and power.

As such, we shall survey various approaches to the study of the cinema, and work through crucial questions regarding film analysis (e.g., what is the relationship between film and literature?), the political economy of the media (e.g., is the cinema a democratic institution?) and audience reception (e.g., what is a fan? Why do we adore “stars”?). By engaging these issues, this course will teach you not only how to engage critically with media texts, but also how to “talk” to the powerful media institutions that touch our lives.