2016-2017 Catalog

Writing in the Discipline - Film Studies


The Film Studies major is comprised of a required core of critical studies courses (FILM 116, FILM 219, FILM 220, FILM 221, and FILM 454), and one of two tracks through the major which students can follow and even combine: critical studies and production. Writing is a vital component of film analysis and it is integrated into all of the courses in both the core and the critical studies track. One course in the critical studies core, however, is intensely focused on the writing process and on giving film majors, at the sophomore level, practice in discipline-specific writing: FILM 219


In the introductory course to the major, FILM 116: Approaches to Film (until January 2013 taught in the English department as ENGL 116), students are introduced to the vocabulary and methodology of the discipline, practicing the close textual analysis basic to the interpretation of film. Students practice competency through class discussion, exams, and the writing of two critical essays. FILM 219 focuses more intensely on the writing process, emphasizing the reading and writing of film criticism and analysis as it introduces the major conceptual frameworks that have long dominated film studies: film authorship, film genres, and national cinemas (the three principal categories for 300-level critical studies film courses). FILM 219 begins with a unit devoted to “The Critical Essay,” where readings both raise major issues in writing film analysis and provide models for student writing. Workshops on writing are dispersed throughout the course so that students have opportunities in class to learn how to critique their classmates’ writing, how to use critiques of their own writing, and how to revise effectively. Students are also introduced to the professional study of film including what constitutes scholarly research and writing on film. Students write at least three critical essays in addition to a major revision of at least one of them. Students are assessed on their last paper in the course. (Details below.) 




  1. All sections will introduce the conventions and practice of critical writing in the discipline and will require at least three essays of varying lengths, one of which must be revised substantially. 
  2. All sections require a library tour, with an introduction by a reference librarian to the major tools---online and traditional---for research in Film Studies. Students will be expected to use this knowledge in their essays which will require attention to secondary sources. 
  3. All sections will require that in their essays students demonstrate their understanding of the critical frameworks from which readings have been drawn. 
  4. All sections will require that students learn and use proper documentation, specifically the University of Chicago Style. 
  5. All sections will require readings from the three conceptual frameworks that have dominated the field of film studies (and that constitute the conceptual framework of the major): film authorship; national cinemas; and film genres. 
  6. Film screenings will cover the three conceptual frameworks enumerated above and will represent a variety of historical periods and international as well as Hollywood films. 
  7. All sections will have a final exam. 
  8. All sections will assess student performance in the course. 



A random sample of one quarter of the final papers written in FILM 219 will be evaluated at the end of the semester by all full-time faculty members. Each of the following four criteria will be assessed as Outstanding, Satisfactory, or Unsatisfactory:  


  1. Critical analysis of a film text based upon an understanding of the conceptual framework of the course. 
  2. Evidence of identification and understanding of the use of secondary sources. 
  3. Evidence of facility in the use of the program’s documentation style. 
  4. Evidence of writing skills. 


Approved by the Committee on General Education November 30, 2012