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College adds new film minor

Molly Lamping | Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Saint Mary’s women now have one more option to choose from when selecting an area of study or picking up an extra class: film studies.

The minor, which was approved by the College’s Administrative Council in the spring of 2005, is still in the planning stages. While no courses are offered this semester, Ted Billy, professor of English at Saint Mary’s and a key player in the development of the film studies program, hopes to have courses ready in the spring.

“We recognized that film was the one major art form in the 20th and 21st centuries that was not addressed in any systematic way by the current curriculum at Saint Mary’s College,” Billy said of the reasoning behind the development of the minor. “Our students generally love to see films and to respond to them, but we believed that they needed some guidance with regard to how to ‘read’ a film as a text.”

In order to teach students how to think about film in this manner, the College will offer mandatory class requirements in three major categories: Film Interpretation and Criticism, The Political Economy of Films and Film Production/Visual Art.

Modeled after the successful Women’s Studies Program and Justice Education Program at Saint Mary’s, the Film Studies Program plans to offer 14 courses, spanning the three major areas of the discipline. Completion of the minor requires 15 credit hours, Billy said.

The idea of offering students some sort of film-related program has been in the works for about two years, Billy said.

Currently, the Departments of Communication and Performance Studies, English, History, Art, Sociology, Modern Languages, Religious Studies and Political Science are all teaching or are planning to teach a course that is related to the study of film. However, Billy said any faculty member from any discipline willing to offer a course “with a significant film component” is welcome to do so.

Any new course requires the approval of the Program Committee. This committee is comprised of Billy, professor of art Doug Tyler and professor of Department of Communication, Dance and Theatre Vicente Berdayes. Each faculty member represents one of the three major categories of the Film Studies Program.

“Because Film Studies is a brand-new program, we are only on the ground floor,” Billy said of student involvement.

Prior to pre-registration for the spring 2006 semester, all Saint Mary’s students will be contacted and informed of the requirements of the minor. Billy encouraged any Saint Mary’s students interested in the Film Studies Program to contact him for more information on how to become a part of the newest area of study for Saint Mary’s women.