Departments establish film studies minor

Sarah Kennedy September 18, 2013 0

Elizabethtown College has added a new minor in film studies. The interdisciplinary minor will include courses from many academic departments, primarily English, communications and philosophy.

Students who declare this minor will be required to take an introductory course and a capstone course, but the bulk of the 20 credits necessary to earn the minor are electives. Film studies minors will choose three of many possible electives, including preexisting courses such as Psyche and Film and new course offerings.

The interdisciplinary nature of the film studies minor will allow students to analyze and appreciate films in a multidimensional manner. In addition, because the film studies minor is interdisciplinary, it complements many different majors. “As our film studies minor will cover many genres of film and time periods in film history, this new minor is a fantastic opportunity for students of any discipline,” Visiting Assistant Professor of English Jesse Waters said, who will offer a course on 70s cinema. Students minoring in film studies will interpret and analyze films from various genres, cultures and time periods through the perspective of multiple academic disciplines.

For example, students enrolled in Associate Professor of Theatre Dr. Michael Swanson’s World Cinema, World War II to the 21st Century course will examine films as products of their culture. Students in Waters’ course, A Little Warped: Hollywood Genre-Bending Films of the 70s, might interpret the same films as products of their time.

The goal of the minor is not only to teach students about film techniques and critical analysis, but also to use films to introduce and exemplify intellectual ideas. Films can evocatively present insights about philosophy, ethics, religion, culture and other concepts that are more abstract or removed when studied in other mediums. “It might be argued that you can learn more about the plight of the Kurdish people in Iraq by watching a film such as ‘Turtles Can Fly’ than you could by researching and writing a 20-page term paper,” Ralph W. Schlosser Professor of English and Department Chair Dr. David Downing said.

The minor’s creation was a result of a proposal presented by Dr. Michael Silberstein, professor of philosophy and now director and advisor of the film studies minor, though there has been consistent interest in creating the minor for several years. “This minor started out as a feasibility study in my business writing class a few semesters ago. So, you could say it was student initiative— ‘reel world learning’— that led to the creation of this minor,” Downing said. The minor is a collaborative effort from its foundations, adding to its interdisciplinary nature.

“Film studies is a burgeoning area of academics, which many colleges are now starting to realize is both exciting and viable,” Waters said. Though exciting, the courses included in the minor will approach cinema as an art form in a critical way. “Students will not be earning credits if they can prove they watched ‘Sharknado,’” Downing said.

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