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Willamette University

900 State Street
Salem, Oregon 97301

503-370-6300 voice

Film Studies View this department's website

The film studies program is designed:

  • to encourage a broadly interdisciplinary and critical assessment of the roles that film and the visual media play in our lives,
  • to introduce students to the development of filmic traditions,
  • to provide them with the critical tools necessary to make informed judgments about the visual representations they encounter,
  • to offer a practical introduction to the construction of filmic works, and
  • to broaden thinking about film and media studies beyond the context provided by the Hollywood model.

Since the study of film and media has rooted itself independently in so many areas, the methodologies it employs also vary widely. Accordingly, film study at Willamette is designed to connect students with multiple critical and methodological approaches and to encourage theoretical inquiry as well as creative engagement with the practical problems of visual representation.

The Film Studies major is well-suited to contribute to the critical social engagement that the liberal arts seek to foster as well as to prepare students for career opportunities or advanced study in filmmaking, non-print journalism, and media criticism.

Requirements for the Film Studies Major (10 Credits)

10 credits, no more than three of which may be taken in a single department. This limit does not apply to the senior experience.

A basic history of cinema

  • FILM 210 (W) History of Cinema: The Rise of Classical Narrative

One course in media and society

  • RHET 232 (AR) Persuasion, Propaganda, and the Mass Media
  • RHET 320 Mass Media and Society

One introductory course that involves students in the process of making film

  • ARTS 216 (CA) Video Art I
  • ENGL 135 (CA; W) Creative Writing (Screenwriting only)
  • RHET 125 (CA) Creating Visual Rhetoric

Two courses engaging issues of film theory

Senior Project

A senior project, approved by the Film Studies faculty, which might be a creative or critical project. It might be satisfied by:

  • FILM 499 Senior Project, or
  • With the cooperation of faculty in another discipline and the approval of Film Studies faculty, through the successful completion of a project or seminar approved for the purpose and worth at least one credit in another department such as ARTH 496, ENGL 490, HUM 497, THTR 499 or the like. A single paper will not normally be approved as satisfying two different senior requirements and a proposal for a senior project in connection with a course in another discipline will require notification to and approval by both faculties.

Four additional credits

Including at least one credit from each of the following three groups. No class may be counted twice.

Film art and society

  • ANTH 335 Visual Anthropology
  • ENGL 336 (AR) Visible Evidence: The History and Theory of Documentary Film
  • IDS 327 (AR, W) the American Story and the Legacy of Vietnam
  • RHET 320 Mass Media and Society
  • FILM 335 Spectacular '68

Film Production

The following with permission, if elements of film work can also be included for the petitioning student:

National and Transnational Film

Courses currently in the curriculum that should contribute to a Film Studies Major

Requirements for the Film Studies Minor (5 Credits)

Four credits from the following: (3)

Indicators of Achievement

As noted in our self-study, the faculty approval process created a more complicated set of requirements than our original proposal contained. Thus, our requirements have a slightly more problematic connection with our goals than originally intended. An early agenda item for us in the assessment/revision process is to address this issue.

Student Learning Outcomes for the Film Major

  1. Student should develop a broadly interdisciplinary approach to an understanding of film and its role in society
  2. Student should be conversant with the history of international cinema and be able to use that history to provide context for other works they encounter
  3. Students should be competent in employing theoretical and disciplinary tools in the analysis and assessment of film and filmic images
  4. Students should have basic competence in some format associated with visual media—digital video, digital music, screenwriting, photography, or animation
  5. Students should be competent in developing critical responses to cinematic work based upon aesthetic or cultural values other than the entertainment model that dominates the mainstream Hollywood distribution system


Course Listings

FILM 210 (W) History of Cinema: The Rise of Classical Narrative (1)

A study of the development of traditional narrative cinema. The course will consider films ranging from the early primitive period to the 1950s, including particularly the contributions of Griffith, of the German and Soviet silent schools, of France between the wars and of Hollywood throughout the period.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered

  • Offering: Alternate falls
  • Instructor: Nolley

FILM 335 Spectacular '68: Cinematic Approaches to a Revolution (1)

This course explores an international sampling of cinematic approaches to revolution leading up to, during, and immediately following May '68. Historical and theoretical readings supplement weekly screenings of films by Bunuel, Godard, Antonioni, Jodorowsky, and others. Semiotic, Situationist, auteur, feminist, and other film theories contribute to daily classroom, blog, and formal paper discussions. 

Prerequisites: FILM 210 or consent of instructor.

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Cox

FILM/SPAN 345 Peninsular Cinema (1)

This course explores both feature and short films by Peninsular filmmakers. Its historical trajectory runs from the advent of cinema on the Iberian Peninsula in the late nineteenth century, through the Franco dictatorship and the subsequent transition to democracy, to the present. It interrogates, on the one hand, the cinematic medium as a particular form of cultural expression and, on the other, the concept of cultural pluralism -- a cinema of las Espanas -- through this singular form. Conducted in English. Students wishing to receive credit in Spanish must produce all written work in this language.

Prerequisite: SPAN 340, SPAN 352, SPAN 355 or SPAN 356, or consent of instructor

  • Offering: Fall
  •  Instructor: Cox

FILM 499 Senior Project (1)

Development of a senior thesis or project approved by Film Studies faculty and developed in a group seminar as well as advanced independent work.

Prerequisite: Film Studies major and senior standing.

  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Staff