Staff Writer

F&M approved film and media studies as a new major offered by the College Feb. 11. The major, which is being run through the theater, dance, and film (TDF) department, is the result of two years of effort on the part of film professors and TDF, and is expanding the opportunities to study film on campus.

Despite the availability of film and media studies as a minor for 18 years, F&M did not offer a major in the subject. “There was only one TDF professor dedicated to teaching film and media studies,” said Dirk Eitzen, TDF professor. Since a major ordinarily consists of about a dozen courses, a single dedicated professor is not enough to sustain one. Two years ago, the College added a second tenure-track line in film and media studies. The TDF department immediately began working on a proposal for a major.

After the major was proposed, it was sent to F&M’s Educational Policy Committee (EPC), where it was reviewed and slightly revised. Following that, the revised major was submitted to the College’s full faculty for a vote.

“At a faculty meeting, the new major was unanimously accepted,” Eitzen said.

The major consists of the following required courses: TDF 169 (Introduction to Film and Media Studies), TDF 162 (Foundations of Motion Picture History), TDF 267 (Film History), TDF 363 (Film Theory Seminar), TDF 490 (Senior Project in Film and Media Studies), as well as two workshops, an additional 300-level film history, criticism, or
theory course, and three electives in film and other related subjects as approved by the course director. There are currently seven students enrolled as film and media studies majors.

The adoption of the new major has brought several benefits to the department, including a new, larger production space in the basement of Stager Hall complete with a computer editing lab and equipment room. Additionally, TDF is now able to hire visiting professors to teach film courses.

“We have also been given a programming budget that permits us to bring professional filmmakers to campus every semester and also to take students to film festivals every year,” Eitzen said. “We just returned from an exciting week-long excursion, over Spring break, to South by Southwest Film Festival, in Austin, Texas.”

Film courses have been taught at F&M for nearly 40 years.

“In the 70s and 80s, a government professor, Sid Wise, taught film history courses on a regular basis,” Eitzen said. “When Jon Enos was hired to run the College’s media services department, he set up a small television studio in the basement of Stager and taught the first production courses at the College, as part of the theatre curriculum.”

A minor in film and media studies became available around 1995, about two years after Eitzen was hired as F&M’s first professor dedicated solely to film studies.

Eitzen is excited for the new major and sees it as a victory for the liberal arts experience at F&M.

“Movies are such an important part of our culture and such an important means of exploring the world and sharing information today, that it is critical that a liberal arts education include opportunities to study and explore the medium, both through creative work and critical and historical scholarship,” Eitzen said.

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