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MA courses

MA Course Descriptions 2023-2024

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


FMST 601 Methods in Film and Moving Image Studies I

Instructor: Luca Caminati

Monday 1:15pm-5:15pm

Room: FB 250

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 605 Topics in Canadian Cinema: “New” Canadian Documentary

Instructor: May Chew

Wednesday 8:45am-12:45pm

Room: FB 250

This seminar explores the social, political, historical, and cultural forces behind contemporary nonfiction production and reception in Canada. We will examine key modes of the genre, including cinema vérité, ethnographic, autoethnographic, reflexive, essayistic, activist, participatory, and experimental approaches, while broadening our ambit of nonfiction media to include installation, interactive documentary, and other emergent platforms. Importantly, we will consider how documentary functions as aesthetic and technological practice as well as epistemology and discourse. Using the 1960s as a departure point, the course will critically assess the role of documentary—and the legacy of John Grierson, social realism, and the National Film Board—in constructing national identity. By examining the lineage of documentary as ‘national genre,’ we will also explore how ‘new’ directions for nonfiction media production and engagement continue to adopt and adapt enduring understandings of citizenship and participation.

Our approach to the category of “Canada” will be a critical and anti-colonial one. Canadian documentary media is a contact zone wherein forces of liberalism/consensus as well as resistance frequently collide. It is often such collisions that allow the nation to momentarily coalesce as something stable and inherent. Accordingly, one of our main areas of focus will be media by Indigenous, feminist, queer, Black and diasporic filmmakers whose works advance conceptual, aesthetic, and political tools (decolonization, Indigenous sovereignty, queer and racialized subjectivities, transnational imaginaries, counter-archival approaches, etc.) that can help us reconceptualize nation, cultural production, and power.

FMST 635 Topics in Aesthetics & Cultural Theory: Cinephilia and Gender Cultures

Instructor: Rosanna Maule

Tuesday: 6:00pm-10:00pm

Room: FB 250

The term cinephilia (literally “love of cinema”) connotes a cinematic culture expressed through idiosyncratic viewing rituals and affective responses to films. This seminar offers a conceptual as well as a historical analysis of cinephilia, focusing on its gender-informed manifestations.
The first part of the course will introduce to the concept of cinephilia and its emergence in different times and contexts of cinematic reception. The second part of the seminar will concentrate on cinephile practices produced and circulated by feminist and LGBTQ film and media collectives, filmmakers, film festivals, and fan communities.  

FMST 645 Topics in Film Genres: Global Melodrama

Instructor: Katie Russell

Wednesday: 1:15pm-5:15pm

Room: FB 250

Melodrama is at once an “umbrella genre” for studio-era film production, and it is a genre unto itself. Melodrama is international in scope, although it has significantly different histories in different regions. We will examine melodrama from a variety of perspectives, including narratology and aesthetics, its relationship to histories of disempowerment and social justice, and its role as a critical methodology. Films from the US, Europe, South America and Asia will be screened, and we will read a variety of writing on melodrama by critics and scholars from various global perspectives, examining the ways in which melodrama helps to negotiate social contradictions in different social formations. We will also inquire into the relations between melodrama as a film genre and writing on affect theory (Berlant) and the “Cultural politics of Emotions” (Ahmed). Students will be expected to give class presentations and write final research papers.

FMST 665 Topics in Film & Moving Image Studies: Narrative Theory

Instructor: Martin Lefebvre

Thursday: 1:15pm-5:15pm

Room: FB 250

The aim of this seminar is for students to acquire advanced knowledge of narrative theory, as it pertains especially — though not exclusively — to filmic narratives. Students will read work in the various traditions of narratology (from studies in narrative grammar to narrative poetics ; from Russian Formalism to French structuralism) and will have the opportunity to apply narratological concepts in studies of films and excerpts of films. Narrative will be examined as a form of discourse and a way to mediate and communicate human experience. Although prior knowledge of narrative theory isn't a prerequisite, the seminar will likely be most enjoyed by students who are attracted to theory (as opposed to film history or film criticism).


FMST 602 Methods in Film and Moving Image Studies II

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 620 AA Topics in Non-European Cinemas: Media, Migrations, Borders

Instructor: Farah Atoui
Tuesday 6pm-10pm

What is the current prevailing discourse on migration, and how is it produced, mediated, and circulated? How does it shape our perception of migrants and refugees, as well as our conception of migration and borders? How is this discourse being challenged, and what is the role of film in this conversation? How does film, as a medium, comment on, oppose, and disrupt this discourse, and open up the discussion on these crucial issues?
In her book, Border and Rule, activist and writer Harsha Walia (2021) argues that dominant representations of migrants and refugees depict them as “the cause of an imagined crisis at the border” whereas mass migration is in reality “the outcome of the actual crises of capitalism, conquest, and climate change.” The migration “crisis,” as Walia incisively observes, is, in fact, a crisis of displacement, resulting from a variety of social and cultural forces, including racialized dispossession, exploitation, criminalization, expulsion, and forced im/mobilization.
This course takes the so-called migration crisis as a starting point to critically engage, from a film studies perspective, with a world marked by intensified forced migration, proliferating borders, and rising racist nationalism. While we will look at how the “crisis” discourse is consolidated (through mainstream media, political discourse, social media campaigns, maps, humanitarian campaigns, surveillance infrastructures etc.), our primary focus will be on oppositional media practices that mobilize the moving image to document/represent experiences of displacement and encounters with borders. These practices mediate counter-images, counter-narratives, and counter-histories that oppose the ones produced by contemporary media regimes to shape public imaginaries.
The approach to this course is grounded in the conception of the (audio)visual field as a site of struggle that is implicated in historic and contemporary racist-capitalist and neo/colonial relations. We will use a critical lens to explore the interplay of media and forced migration with the aim to collectively build our capacities as critical thinkers about migration and borders and critical consumers of media.
Each weekly session will be centered on a film that brings to light a particular aspect of migration and borders. In preparation for the viewing and discussion of the film, we will read a selection of texts drawn from various disciplines and areas of study (including critical migration and border studies, media studies, visual culture studies, film theory, anthropology, art history). These texts will provide us with tools to interpret the aesthetic and political dimensions of the films under consideration.
As we study these films—which range from experimental documentaries and essay films to fiction and videos—our aim will be to develop our ability to analyze films both in terms of form (mode of production, genre, cinematography, narrative structure, sound design, editing etc.) and content (themes, narrative, cultural and historical contexts, dialogue etc.) in order to understand how these elements come together to generate meaning and engage viewers.
Ultimately, our goal is to examine the films in a way that will help us address the following questions:
1) What alternative histories, experiences, and realities is the film making visible? How does the film reveal the border as a crucial component of historic and contemporary racist-capitalist and neo/colonial relations?
2) What artistic processes and aesthetic strategies does the film mobilize to disrupt the flow of images and counter the dominant discourse on migration—both produced by border control regimes? How does it engage the viewers?
3) In what ways does the film renew political imaginaries (of a world without borders) and possibilities (for just and equal living), and become sites for critical knowledge-production, resistance, and social transformation?

FMST 630 A Film Theory: Structural Movement & Metz

Instructor: Martin LeFebvre

Thursday 1:15-5:15pm

The heyday of structuralism in film studies lasted roughly from 1964 to 1980. However, its influence continues to this day. Indeed, it corresponded to important and lasting changes in the study of cinema. Though it was not the sole factor involved, structuralism played a key role in the academic specialization of film studies. This course aims to provide students with an understanding of what structuralism meant in the history of film studies through reading and discussion of a number of key structuralist texts. There will be an emphasis on the work on Christian Metz.

FMST 635 A Topics in Aesthetics and Cultural Theory: Transnational Approaches

Instructor: Masha Salazkina

Wednesday 1:15-5:15pm

This course will introduce students to the critical debates of the past 40 years on the relationship
between geography, politics, and cultural production, focusing on some of the key conceptual
categories that have shaped them (globalization, transculturation, cultural hybridity, critical and
minor transnationalisms, decolonial option, Third World, Global South, etc). The seminar will
then turn to the theoretical and historiographic developments in the discipline of film and media
studies which emerged as responses to these questions: from post-colonialist critiques and Third
Cinema, to the “spacial turn” and World Cinema, and the more recent shifts towards
transnational approaches to production, circulation, and reception of film and media.

FMST 665 B Topics in Film and Moving Image Studies: Film Style: Welles & Hitchcock

Instructor: John Locke

Friday: 1:15-5:15

Room: FB-250

This seminar examines the work of Orson Welles and Alfred Hitchcock. Each week a film by Welles or Hitchcock is screened and then discussed using detailed analysis of video segments. The seminar is about the use of formal analysis to understand film style.

An additional aim of the close analysis of these films is to question familiar critical views about them. These films have been discussed so frequently in the literature that an effort needs to be made to break with the conventional views and look again at the films themselves.

The principal written work required is an essay about a particular Welles or Hitchcock film selected by the student at the beginning of the term. The student concentrates on this one film during the entire term. Students prepare an annotated bibliography related to their selected film and make brief presentations to the seminar.

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