College adds cinema studies minor
The College has added a new cinema studies minor to the American studies department in response to overwhelming professor and student interest.
“Last year, Colby hired [Associate Professor of Cinema Studies] Steve Wurtzler…with the express intent of bringing forward a curricular program in cinema studies,” Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty Lori Kletzer said. “We had a really good sense that there was considerable student interest… [which] had built up over a number of years.”
In previous years, the English, history and American studies departments have incorporated a diverse selection of courses in cinema studies as a part of their normal curricula. Some JanPlan programs have explored the discipline, studying Japanese anime and another taking students to the Sundance Film Festival.
Students and departments have also organized film series in the past on a variety of topics. The Queer International Film Series is currently hosting showings. Various academic departments hold film series relating to topics within their areas of study, such as the German studies program’s German film series.
“My [arrival at the College] isn’t about creating this from scratch,” Wurtzler said. “There were all of these people offering these classes and there was all this interest among the students that’s been out there simmering. Bro’s decision for creating a faculty line for someone like me was about bringing all of these resources together.”
The cinema studies minor consists of six courses. Students begin by taking an introductory course and continuing with courses on the history of cinema, international cinema and other interdisciplinary courses to explore the breadth of the field. The final course is an “advanced level course on film theory, the topics of which will change from year to year,” Wurtzler said. During the current school year, Wurtzler taught Introduction to Film Studies, Documentary Film and a seminar entitled “Hollywood Blacklist.”
“The faculty voted and approved the minor and the very next morning there were two students here who wanted to sign up,” Wurtzler said.
Though it is officially located in the American studies department, cinema studies is an interdisciplinary field. It includes technological, economic and artistic components, as well as the analytical thinking that is characteristic of a liberal arts field. Kletzer said that the College placed the cinema studies minor within the American studies department “because some of the faculty members who were involved in getting cinema studies started were in American studies….Right now it’s an administrative convenience.”
With this field of academic study beginning as a minor, it is possible that it may grow into a larger program. Student interest will measure the success of the minor and will determine the future of this discipline at the College. “One of its strengths is that it’s interdisciplinary, so it could well take the path that other interdisciplinary programs have taken and go from a minor program to major,” Kletzer said. “That’s all a question of resources…As we take on where we want to grow and where we want to be over the next three to five years, I’m certain that there will be really good efforts to…consider resources for cinema studies.”
As of April 14, 14 students had signed up for the cinema studies minor. “That’s growing every time I open my email,” Wurtzler said.