Senior Staff Writer
Most students experience film in their everyday life, whether it is accessed via social media, a show on Netflix, YouTube video, or commercial advertisement. This habit and frequent exposure to film reveal an aspect of 21st century culture. However, the role of film in the Davidson curriculum remains elusive without a major program and only an interdisciplinary minor.
As the course catalog states, “Combining introductory and advanced courses in film and media studies with electives from the humanities and the social sciences, the interdisciplinary minor seeks to create critically sensitive readers of film and media while fostering insight into one of the principal forms of art and communication in the contemporary era […] Experience in film or video production helps to prepare students to function more effectively and participate more actively in the ever-developing multimedia culture of the 21st century.”
Currently, the interdisciplinary Film and Media Studies minor offers a few of its own departmental courses and also includes overlaps with various departments, such as English, music, anthropology, sociology, French, German, Spanish and Chinese. The inherent nature of film as interdisciplinary complicates its creation into a major.
Film made its way into the curriculum in the 1990s and has continued to grow since its initial incorporation. In its history at Davidson, film’s predominant focus is supposed to be film as a medium, as opposed to film content and professional emphasis, according to Dr. Paul Miller, associate professor of English.
Miller teaches courses with a focus on film and media, including “Film as Narrative Art” and “Documentary Film.” He said, “The moving image has a curious history with the liberal arts. It’s curious how it will work its way into the curriculum. The broader question I think is how fast, when, and how well it happens, but whether it happens should not be the question. It seems pretty obvious to me that [the Film and Media Studies major will be created] with computers and the moving image having a huge effect.”
A possibility for students interested in majoring in film is going through the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies to create a major. Of the CIS majors from the classes of 2007 through 2016, Film and Media Studies comprised about 3%. The top majors were “independently fashioned” majors, neuroscience, and public health, all according to a document created by the CIS.
“It’s a mystery to me how we still don’t have a film studies major here at Davidson,” said Dr. Neil Lerner, professor of music and co-coordinator of the interdisciplinary minor. “I do think we turn away prospective students who are interested in majoring in film.” Lerner has suggested that the college create a film studies program similar to that of peer institution Wesleyan University. The film studies program at Wesleyan University has produced filmmaker alumni such as Mike White, Michael Bay and Matthew Weiner, creator of the award-winning AMC show “Mad Men.”