About the Major

Hamilton’s Cinema and Media Studies Program explores the motion picture as an art form, a multifaceted history, and as an “intellectual nexus”—a way of thinking about the world across boundaries. Courses examine crucial contributions to the history of cinema and media from across the globe and reveal how nationality, economic realities, religion, ethnicity, gender, the natural environment, and other social and physical forces are represented within popular, independent, and avant-garde media. Many students put their learning to use in various creative ways, both on and off campus.

Students Will Learn To:

  • Analyze films and other media, regardless of genre, context, language, and geographical origin, for their structure, approach, goals, social and political implications, and aesthetics
  • Apply knowledge of the overall development and history of cinema and media, from a global perspective, in written and spoken work
  • Produce creative work in forms employed in cinema and media studies
  • Demonstrate knowledge of contexts, outside of the specific focus of media, within which cinema and media studies play a role

A Sampling of Courses

2009  watching projection in Glen House backyard

Broadcasting Freedom: Protest, Power, and Black Media

Introduces the media’s role (including print, radio, television, and digital) in defining Black freedom movements, including Garveyism, Pan-Africanism, the Harlem Renaissance, negritude, the Civil Rights movement, and Black Power. Traces the transformation of the political landscape (and soundscape) through radio, television, and digital media, and their role in broadcasting the Black freedom movement for audiences in the United States and beyond. 

Explore these select courses:

The history of cinema as representation and interpretation of "reality," focusing on nonfiction film and video from a variety of periods and geographic locales. Emphasis on the ways in which nonfiction films can subvert viewers'' conventional expectations and their personal security. Forms to be discussed include the city symphony, ethnographic documentary, propaganda, nature film, direct cinema, cinéma vérité, the compilation film and personal documentary.

An exploration and analysis of major contributions to the history of American film comedy, from its origins in slapstick to the flowering of silent physical comedy in the 1910s and 20s (performer/directors Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd); to the sophisticated comedy that dominated the early decades of sound (directors Ernst Lubitsch, George Cukor, Howard Hawks, Billy Wilder); to attempts in the 1960s and 70s to rethink comedy by commercial directors and independent filmmakers working "underground" (George Kuchar, John Waters); to recent work that has built on this tradition.

A history of alternatives to commercial movies, focusing on surrealist and dadaist film, visual music, psychodrama, direct cinema, the film society movement, personal cinema, the New American Cinema, structuralism, Queer cinema, feminist cinema, minor cinema, recycled cinema and devotional cinema. While conventional entertainment films use the novel, the short story and the stage drama as their primary instigations, experimental and avant-garde films are analogous to music, poetry, painting, sculpture and collage.

Meet Our Faculty

Scott MacDonald

Director, Professor of Cinema and Media Studies


film history; documentary, experimental and avant-garde film; cinema and place; institutional histories of organizations that have served independent film; 20th century American literature

Nadya Bair

Assistant Professor of Art History


history of photography; modern and contemporary visual culture; media studies; digital humanities

Katheryn Doran

Associate Professor of Philosophy


American philosophy; the problem of skepticism; contemporary Anglo-American philosophy; environmental ethics

video, performance, installation, photography, electronic media, and history and contemporary practices in each of those areas

Martine Guyot-Bender

Christian A. Johnson Excellence in Teaching Award Professor of French and Francophone Studies


French 20th- and 21st-century literature and film; narrative representation of trauma (war, poverty); social documentary from the 1970s to today; literature and film of the Nazi occupation of France (Patrick Modiano); women writers (Amélie Nothomb, Assia Djebar, Simone de Beauvoir)

Lydia Hamessley

Eugene M. Tobin Distinguished Professor of Music


Dolly Parton; American folk and traditional musics; banjo, music and film; medieval and renaissance music; music and gender

Robert Knight

Associate Professor of Art, Director of Digital Arts


photography, history of photography, video capture and editing, Adobe premiere, art foundations curriculum, and 2D and 4D fundamentals

Celeste Day Moore

Associate Professor of History


African-American history; diasporic and transnational history; race and empire in 20th-century U.S. and France

Kyoko Omori

Associate Professor of Japanese


modern Japanese literature, especially modernism and youth magazine culture; early 20th-century media, especially cinema and radio; and censorship and the Occupation Era, 1945-52

Heidi Ravven

Professor of Religious Studies


Baruch Spinoza, Moses Maimonides, neuroethics, and Jewish studies

Edna Rodriguez-Plate

Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies


Hispanic cinema, contemporary Hispanic Caribbean literature and culture, and Cuban studies

S. Brent Rodriguez-Plate

Professor of Religious Studies, By Special Appointment


religion and media, religion and popular culture, comparative religions, blasphemy and controversial art, religious life in the U.S.

Pavitra Sundar

Associate Professor of Literature


cultural politics of voice; postcolonial studies; sound studies; South Asian film and media studies; feminist theory, especially women-of-color and transnational feminisms

Zhuoyi Wang

Professor of East Asian Languages and Literatures


Chinese cinema and literature

Careers After Hamilton

Hamilton graduates who concentrated in cinema and media studies are pursuing careers in a variety of fields, including:

  • Motion Picture Prop Master
  • Video Editor/Producer, Sports Illustrated
  • Web Designer/Developer
  • Manager, Showtime Cinemas

Explore Hamilton Stories

Scott MacDonald

International Film Fest Publishes MacDonald’s Interviews

A book of interviews by Professor of Cinema and Media Studies Scott MacDonald was the festival publication for Punto de Vista, the international documentary film festival of Navarra.

Yenesis Alvarez '22

Alvarez Honing Career Skills in Dartmouth Bridge Program

For many Hamilton students, a trip to the Howard Diner delivers little more than a late-night meal. But for Yenesis Alvarez ’22, it provided an unexpected academic opportunity. “I remember [during] my freshman year,” she recalled, “this random guy at the diner came up to me and was like, ‘Hey, do you want to learn about our business program?’”

Jason Le ’23

From Pre-Med to Film School

Four years ago, Jason Le ’23 might not have believed it if you told him that he would one day attend film school. As a first-year student, Le intended to major in biology on a pre-med track.


Department Name

Cinema and Media Studies Program

Contact Name

Scott MacDonald, Program Director

Office Location
198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323

Help us provide an accessible education, offer innovative resources and programs, and foster intellectual exploration.

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