Mar 02, 2021  
Course Catalog 2020-2021 
Course Catalog 2020-2021

Cinema Studies

William Patrick Day, Director, Cinema Studies Program; Professor of English and Cinema Studies
E. Grace An, Associate Professor of Cinema Studies and French
Rian Brown-Orso, Associate Professor of New Media and Cinema Studies
Kyle Hartzell, Lecturer, Cinema Studies
Jeffrey Pence, Associate Professor of English and Cinema Studies
Geoff Pingree, Professor of Cinema Studies and English
Joshua Sperling, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

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Cinema, modern culture’s primary art form, is also the central component of the media traditions and industries that structure contemporary society. We cannot understand fully how music, painting, literature, and other artistic practices have developed without seeing them in relation to cinema, and we cannot begin to comprehend the full significance of the media in our lives without first studying cinema. Movies, as well as novels, magazines, radio broadcasts, television shows, art installations, and the Internet (to name just a few) comprise what we think of, loosely, as media. Each profoundly influences how we understand and experience the actual world; each stands, in some meaningful way, between us and that world - past, present, and future.

Oberlin’s Cinema Studies Program encourages its students to consider cinema and media within this framework and to explore the “in between” - to think, more precisely, about what mediates the relations among authors and readers, artists and audiences, filmmakers and spectators. It encourages them to pursue the meanings of cinema and other media in the broadest, most interdisciplinary ways, considering movies, for example, as works of art, as cultural forms, and as industrial practices.

Cinema and other media are material forces that enable a global exchange of information, ideas and stories. From the Guttenberg press to Kindle wireless reading devices, from Morse Code to short-wave radio broadcasts, from magic lanterns to movie projectors, from typewriters to computer word processors, from town criers to YouTube, media have integrally shaped human history and society.

Students majoring in Cinema Studies explore not only the “how” of this influence (how, for instance, an ancient poem or a contemporary television program is composed, gains influence, and both reflects and shapes social and cultural attitudes and behaviors), but the “what” as well. They study the materials of art and communication - whether as words spoken, texts written, canvases painted, or celluloid exposed to light - that mediate their understanding of the world, of their own experience, of each other. And they consider media’s “how” and “what” in order to enrich their reflection upon its “why” - upon its moral, political, and cultural purposes, justifications, and effects.

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Transfer of Credit
No more than four full courses or the equivalent of transfer credit may be applied to the Oberlin Cinema Studies major. No more than one 300-level course may be transferred for credit. For approval of transfer credit toward the major and/or toward meeting prerequisites for upper-level courses, students should consult with the Director of Cinema Studies (or his or her designate), preferably with syllabi in hand.
First-Year Seminar Program

First-Year Seminars do not count toward the major. Cinema Studies faculty teach several of these small, intensive courses, however (FYSP 128 Media and Memory, FYSP 157 The Sense of Time and Place, and FYSP 171 Media and Meaning are examples). They provide one means of preparation for the study of cinema, and are invaluable to first-year students in the College as they develop skills in critical and creative thinking, reading, viewing, analysis, writing and discussion.

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Majors and Minors