Film studies regards video material in all its formats and platforms as vital art forms and cultural artifacts that can be rigorously analyzed. Students are also increasingly involved in video production, and that activity is scheduled to grow as the film studies program adds faculty and a new production facility.
Although they draw on literary and artistic traditions, films and other video materials have always had their own identifiable properties and conventions. Film studies courses pay particular attention to the history, analysis and interpretation of video as a key form of modern culture. Film studies courses provide students with background in the theory and criticism of moving images, because without some knowledge of how filmmakers create images, we miss both a deeper level of enjoyment and the opportunity to explore the technical, stylistic, and rhetorical devices that films employ to create and convey meaning.
Film studies invites interdisciplinary approaches. Course offerings in film studies at Lawrence are drawn from various language departments: Chinese, English, French, German, Russian, and Spanish; there are also film courses in the Departments of Anthropology, Art and Art History, History, and Theatre Arts and in the Conservatory of Music. Students taking courses in film studies have access to a wide range of interpretive methodologies, national cinemas, film styles and genres, and they can combine an interest in film with almost any discipline in the liberal arts.
Film & History Journal
Lawrence University hosts Film & History: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Writing in 1979, the eminent historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. (who served on the Advisory Board of the journal until his death, in 2007), argued for the centrality of film to the understanding of American history--and by extension for the centrality of arts peculiar to the history of each culture. That vision lies at the heart of Film & History's cross-disciplinary approach to film and television, which sees audio-visual media as a window on the "surfaces" and "mysteries" not just of American life, but of life -- past and present -- throughout the world.