Film and Media Cultures

The MALS concentration in Film and Media Cultures is devoted to intensive analysis of the development and presence of international and national cinema as a medium and art form, from the silent era to the contemporary state of digital moviemaking. Students are introduced to various films and filmmakers, genre and themes, old and new technologies, and this study occurs in New York, a city whose unparalleled  film resources include Lincoln Center Library of Performing ArtsLincoln Center TheaterMOMASilvercup StudiosAnthology Film ArchivesBAMcinématek, and Film Forum, among others, in addition to the very streets of New York, where so much history is celluloid in composition. Whether analyzing and writing about the latest films from Iran, Korean gangsters, Buster Keaton’s art of survival, Apocalypse Now, anime, or any representative art or artist, the MALS student is introduced to various cinematic canons, as well as to relevant sets of theoretical film discourse.

Degree Requirements

MALS students take four classes within the program — Introduction to Graduate Liberal Studies, two core courses in their chosen concentration, and the thesis/capstone project — and choose their remaining electives from among courses offered across the doctoral and certificate programs in the Social Sciences and Humanities at The Graduate Center.

This master's degree program requires the following coursework for a total of 30 credits:

  • A required introductory course [MALS 70000: Introduction to Graduate Liberal Studies] (3 credits)
  • Two required core courses, which may be selected from three core courses in Film and Media Cultures [MALS 77100, MALS 77200 and MALS 77300] (6 credits)
  • 18 credits from courses of the student's choice that are relevant to the student’s concentration or studies
  • A master's thesis/capstone project, which may also contain a creative component [MALS 79000] (3 credits)

Core Courses

MALS 77100 Cinema Aesthetics, 3 credits
Cinema Aesthetics provides students with the skills and vocabulary necessary to analyze cinematic texts by acquainting them with basic film techniques, strategies, and styles. Central topics to be studied may include narrative and non-narrative forms, mise-en-scène, composition and color, camera movement, editing, film sound and music, genre, spectatorship, and seriality and other televisual modes. In addition, students will become familiar with a variety of historical and contemporary critical perspectives on film form as well as essential bibliographical sources and fundamentals of research in the field.

MALS 77200 Film Histories & Historiography, 3 credits
Film History & Historiography surveys the cinematic medium from its inception to the present day with a focus on major historical, cultural, technological, and industrial developments. These may include: the growth of international silent cinema, Hollywood and the industrialization of film in relation to Bollywood, Nollywood, and the development of other sites of film production, nonfiction and nontheatrical traditions, European New Waves, Third Cinema, independent film movements, and the rise of television, digital, and streaming cinema. The course will also cover different strategies and theories of historiography that reflect the research interests of the students in the class and may include a unit linked to a local archive under the auspices of the New York Public Library’s research divisions. The semester will include instruction on research methods taught in conjunction with the Mina Rees Library staff.

MALS 77300 Film Theories, 3 credits
Film Theories provides students with a survey of theoretical writings on film, ranging from “classical” to contemporary texts, concerned with the aesthetic, social, cultural, political, and psychological aspects of the cinematic, audio-visual medium. Of primary concern will be questions about the structure and function of cinematic and televisual media, the nature of audio-visual representations, their relationship to other art forms, and theories of spectatorship, especially as these questions are raised by the various schools of thought, including feminism, queer theory, critical race studies, phenomenology, Marxism, narratology, psychoanalysis, and cultural studies. Students will focus on the analysis of primary theoretical texts in relation to weekly screenings.

Elective Courses

Electives can be chosen among courses offered across most of the doctoral and certificate programs in the Social Sciences and the Humanities at The Graduate Center.

For related coursework in Film and Media Cultures, students may look to offerings in the certificate programs in Film Studies and Critical Theory and the doctoral programs in Art HistoryComparative Literature, and English.

Library Resources

Visit the GC Mina Rees Library's Film and Media Cultures Research Guide.
Students' contact for Film and Media Cultures research is reference librarian Roxanne Shirazi.

Associated faculty

Other faculty, who have taught core courses or electives for this concentration or supervised theses and capstones, include Jerry Carlson (Comparative Literature, French), Giancarlo Lombardi (Comparative Literature, French), and Edward Miller (Theater and Performance).

Film and Media Cultures Concentration Faculty

Leah Anderst - Assistant Professor -  profile photo

Leah Anderst

Assistant Professor

  • Liberal Studies

Assistant Professor

  • Film Studies
Marc Dolan - Professor -  profile photo

Marc Dolan


  • English


  • Liberal Studies


  • Film Studies


  • American Studies


  • Biography and Memoir