Art & Culture

Cinema Studies Program

Cinema Studies Program

The study of moving images at the University of Pennsylvania has changed significantly since students participated in Eadweard Muybridge’s pioneering animal locomotion studies of 1886. But the Penn Cinema Studies Program still holds fast to the spirit of innovation and curiosity that Muybridge’s work exemplifies. Few programs at Penn resonate more strongly with the university’s commitment to local and global engagement and integrated knowledge. Film, television, and new media are thoroughly hybrid forms. They intersect in rich and varied ways with photography, music, literature, advertising, commercial products, and other forms of communication. Media demand interdisciplinary study, and the Penn Cinema Studies curriculum offers courses covering a range of national, historical, and theoretical approaches.

Cinema Studies began accepting majors in 2004. The program quickly grew to include an active culture of majors and minors, a graduate certificate, and one of the most ambitious public events programs of any film and media studies program in the country (we host dozens of filmmakers, scholars, and industry professionals every semester). Reflecting the hybrid nature of the field, the program’s faculty offers courses on everything from early silent cinema to YouTube. An eclectic sampling of courses includes World Film History, Romantic Comedy, Documentary Film, Copyright and Culture, the Road Movie, YouTube and the Online Video Revolution, Introduction to Television, Film Festivals, Shakespeare and Film, Television Fan Culture, the Hollywood Film Industry, Mythology and the Movies, Animation, Indian Cinema, Nazi Cinema, and Middle Eastern Cinema. Students may also take screenwriting and production courses, although the focus remains on providing students with a liberal arts education rooted in the humanities. An important part of a Penn Cinema Studies education is the opportunity to study in global contexts and professional environments, and Cinema Studies majors may attend the Cannes Film Festival, study media in Beijing and London, and intern with writers, directors, producers, distributors, and exhibitors. Cinema Studies alumni have gone on to earn PhDs, to become filmmakers, and to start small internet media companies.

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