MA courses

MA Course Descriptions 2022-2023

Note: 600-level indicates MA, 800-level indicates PhD. Several courses are offered to both MA and PhD students.

Fall  Winter 


FMST 601 Methods in Film and Moving Image Studies

Instructor: Luca Caminati
Monday 1:15pm-5:15pm

This is a mandatory course in the Film Studies MA Program. It is designed to help students develop research, writing and presentation skills appropriate to the discipline of film studies. In addition to technical and practical matters, the course helps students develop productive and original research questions by examining notable issues in the field. Course materials examine the ways that film history, criticism, and textual analysis have been and can be written, encompassing a range of ways of seeing, interpreting and understanding cinema and the moving image.

FMST 610/810 Topics in Cinéma Québecois

Instructor: TBA
Thursday 6:00pm-10:00pm

FMST 630 Topics in Film Theory: Classical Film Theory

Instructor: Martin Lefebvre
Thursday 1:15pm-5:15pm

This seminar will focus on some of the major figures of what is now referred to as "Classical Film Theory". The course is addressed first and foremost to students interested in the history of film theory and the development of ideas about film from the silent period to the 1960s.

Classical Film Theory concerns a period in the study of the cinema that pre-dates the full-blown emergence of a discipline of films studies; one that, for the most part, precedes the development of a film studies curriculum in universities, the emergence of specialized academic journals, the rise of professional film studies associations, etc. Thus film theory was left to a group of individual thinkers often initially trained in either philosophy, psychology, art history, sociology, or other disciplines within the Humanities, and in some instances to filmmakers themselves, who worked in isolation, but whose vision nonetheless introduced some of the most important and lasting debates about the nature of film and its relation to reality and the other arts.

The course will center on the writings of 5 important figures of Classical Film Theory: Hugo Münsterberg, Sergei M. Eisenstein, Rudolf Arnheim, André Bazin and Siegfried Kracauer. Students will be asked to read the works of these theorists which will then be discussed in class. Lectures will situate the different theories in their intellectual context. And since film theory doesn't develop out of "thin air", but in relation to films, films and film excerpts will be screened so as to contextualize and/or exemplify the work of each of the theorists considered.

FMST 665/865 Topics in Film & Moving Image Studies: Platform Cultures

Instructor: Marc Steinberg
Tuesday 1:15pm-5:15pm

This course examines the streaming platforms and their cultural impacts. Grounding the course in readings from film, media, and communication studies, we will examine the general state of writings around platforms, as well as the blind-spots of platform research. This will include attention to geopolitics (platform imperialism), attention to the new manners in which film and media industries globalize (in both production and circulation), the ways that nations or regions are born out of particular media platform configurations, and the impact of earlier formats such as broadcast television on streaming platforms. This course will introduce students to crucial texts in the expanded field of platform studies (from analyses of Netflix to theories of platform capitalism), while also extending debates from film and media studies to address lacunae in current platform analyses.

FMST 665/865 Topics in Film & Moving Image Studies: Opacity - A Poetics of Feeling

Instructor: Erin Manning
Wednesday 1:15pm-5:15pm

In Édouard Glissant’s Poetics of Relation, there is a startling scene on the beach, that very beach which still carries the resonances of the middle passage, of bodies lost to the count. Walking along it on his daily stroll, Glissant remarks on a presence, a man. This presence is oblique, opaque, one might say, following Glissant’s important work on what registers infrathinly, making a difference without “counting.” The man is neurodiverse, a presence “unhinged,” a figure troubling the “peace.” Glissant remarks briefly on the figure and continues his walk. But the figure remains, haunting his magnificent book on the poetics of feeling that shimmers in the interstices of what counts for existence.

The opaque in Glissant is many things. In an important sense, it is a critique of transparency, of Enlightenment principles. But to hold it to this would be to miss its force. For the opaque is precisely what cannot fit into a pre-ascribed sense-making theory. The opaque is the relational, the poetics that insists that there be a “consent not to be a single being.” What is it to make sense in this poetics of feeling?

Feeling, in process philosophy, is not subjective. It is not what a subject does. Feeling is what propels subjectivity into act. Alfred North Whitehead speaks of his philosophy as a “critique of pure feeling,” doing so in a necessary riposte to Immanuel Kanta’s “critique of pure reason.”

To have a world motored by feeling is, arguably, to displace the transparency of the colonial project, to shift the contours of what has been made to count.

The class is a proposition to enter into this complexity and to read and think carefully across its interstices. To do so will be to read slowly and carefully into problematics that will be considered to be “approximations of proximity”, not adjacencies given in advance. What I mean by that is that to read Glissant beside Whitehead is not to make sense of Whitehead through Glissant or vice versa but to engage in an ethics of the differential where thought produces inflections that are irresolvable (infinitely opaque).

Three main texts will be read: Edouard Glissant Poetics of Relation, Alfred North Whitehead “Objects and Subjects” from Adventures of Ideas, and Saidiya Hartman’s Wayward Lives. Woven through these three texts (of which the Whitehead is but a chapter, but will be returned to in our rethinking of what a feeling might be that is excised from a subject as given in advance), we will turn to extracts from Fred Moten’s Stolen Life, Sylvia Wynter’s “On Being Human as Praxis”, and Stefano Harney and Fred Moten’s All Incomplete. My own work on neurodiversity and blackness from For a Pragmatics of the Useless will also be proposed as a way to consider the role the figure of neurodiversity is in an approximation of proximity to blackness not only in Glissant’s account, but more broadly.


FMST 602 Methods in Film and Moving Image Studies

Instructor: Ishita Tiwary
Monday 1:15pm-5:15pm

This is a mandatory course in the Film Studies MA Program. It is designed to help students develop research, writing and presentation skills appropriate to the discipline of film studies. In addition to technical and practical matters, the course helps students develop productive and original research questions by examining notable issues in the field. Course materials examine the ways that film history, criticism, and textual analysis have been and can be written, encompassing a range of ways of seeing, interpreting and understanding cinema and the moving image.

FMST 620/820 Topics in Non-European Cinema: Arab Cinema - The Palestine Question

Instructor: Terri Ginsberg
Thursday 6pm-10pm

Notwithstanding the historical importance of Arab resources to neocolonial economies, and despite the sustained violence perpetrated by developmentalist countries against the Arab world, Arab cinema is one of the least taught and understood within Cinema Studies. Shifting global power configurations vis-a-vis an international resurgence of militant labor has produced conditions for altering this veritable invisibilization. In this seminar, we will analyze and theorize the ensuing change in critical focus, lending particular attention to the representation of Palestine. A studied juxtaposition of selected readings and films will problematize cooptive as well as socially transformative tendencies. Student presentations; final research paper.

FMST 650/850 Topics in Experimental Film And Video: Archives, Found Footage, Remix

Instructor: Katie Russell
Thursday 1:15pm-5:15pm

The art and practice of recycling moving images and sounds has proliferated in the 21st century, and in the process, notions of media archives have become destabilized and expansive. Archives have become charged with the task of remaking history for marginalized communities and identities and have thus become far more fluid than they once were. The aesthetics and politics of making new work out of old are extremely varied, and have undergone several phases of revision with new technologies and new artistic practices, not to mention different archival sources. In this class we will survey the history of found footage and archiveology as they have evolved since the 1950s, and into the digital era. We will examine the sensory properties of archives, dissecting their material vulnerabilities and their relation to cultural histories. Readings from selected film theorists and critics will situate a diverse body of work within the history of the avant-garde, documentary film and new media practices. Together, we will explore critical questions of history and memory, collecting, compilation, techniques of montage and remixing, as well as the ethical, political and historical issues arising from an eclectic group of media works. The archive and the counter-archive are rich concepts as well as actual practices that are intertwined and constantly undergoing shifting senses of purpose and form.

FMST 665/865 Topics in Film and Moving Image Studies: Cavell - Film Philosophy and Beyond

Instructor: Kate Rennebohm
Thursday 8:45am-12:45pm

Stanley Cavell (1926-2018) was a major, if contrary, voice in the last half century of western philosophy, as well as a thinker consistently concerned with film and moving image media. Indeed, Cavell’s work (in conjunction with Gilles Deleuze’s writings on cinema) was formative for the birth of the interdisciplinary sub-field of “film philosophy” in the 1990s and early 2000s, and different aspects of his “ordinary language philosophy” have been taken up by various thinkers in recent years as relevant for a broad range of theoretical concerns in the humanities. The primary goal of this course will thus be to gain a wide-ranging, if non-exhaustive, understanding of Cavell’s corpus. We will focus particularly on his film and media-related writings, framing his approach as a test case for the promise (and limitations) of film philosophy.
Cavell’s interventions cannot be understood without grasping his larger philosophical concerns, however, and so the early weeks of the course will gloss Cavell’s engagements with thinkers including Ludwig Wittgenstein, J.L. Austin, Martin Heidegger, and Sigmund Freud. This will give us the necessary grounding to tackle Cavell’s path-breaking books The World Viewed: Reflections on the Ontology of Film (1971/79), Pursuits of Happiness: The Hollywood Comedy of Remarriage (1981), Contesting Tears: The Melodrama of the Unknown Woman (1996), as well as his writings on film through the early 2000s. As such, this middle section of the course will cover the topics most associated with Cavell’s thought—the ordinary, ethics, skepticism, the modern, aesthetics, genre and medium—in order to draw out their relevance for contemporary issues.
The final third of the course will double down on this latter goal, as we will here trace aspects of Cavell’s work that have not been explored to the same extent in his reception in Film and Media Studies. These include his relevance for recent turns in media theory, his sometimes-controversial engagements with questions of race, queerness, and feminist film theory, and his belief in film and aesthetics’ integrality to politics. Here, as we bring the voices of other thinkers into contact with Cavell’s work (or discover the conversation already happening between them), we will put Cavell’s work under pressure, finding what resources it offers for thinking our current, troubled world.



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