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Media and Film Studies Major

Media and Film Studies Major

Media and Film Studies

We live in a media-saturated world. Print media, television, cinema, the Internet, and radio are central to the ways in which we now communicate, educate, and create art. Studying film and media allows us to better understand how media connects us to the world and how we interact with each other. After graduation, an MFS student is well prepared to join this evolving media-based world in which we live.

Media and Film Studies at Birmingham-Southern College is an innovative, interdisciplinary program that is grounded in Film and Media Studies while being informed by other disciplines in the social sciences, the humanities, and the arts. The program also stresses the ways in which academic study and artistic practices are mutually informative. Students in the MFS program develop and apply their skills in critical thinking, oral communication, and persuasive writing, in the true liberal arts tradition.


    What is Media and Film Studies?

    Media and Film Studies at Birmingham-Southern College focuses on the critical examination of film and film production; the historical and cultural understanding of text; and the analysis of the psychological, sociological, and political impacts of mass media. In addition to film, the course of study represents all forms of media and media production, including art, digital systems, print and broadcast news, the trade press, television, photojournalism, the Internet, and emerging information systems, as well as social media.

    As a Media and Film Studies major at Birmingham-Southern, you will take a core set of courses before selecting one of two concentrations: Media Production and Media, History, and Society.  The tabs below provide details on both core requirements and concentrations.


    Core Requirements

    Media and Film Studies majors will be required to take a set of core courses designed to provide a foundation in the historical, theoretical, critical, behavioral, and analytical study of various media. The core consists of seven courses:

    MFS 100 Introduction to Media Studies (1) 
    An introduction to critical analysis of mass media in the context of contemporary culture and social institutions, including an examination of how mass media, such as film, television, advertising, the internet, and others, affects and reflects cultural values, political attitudes, personal identity, and behavior. Students learn basic media literacy by developing conceptual tools for thinking critically about mass media, with a special emphasis on (1) how various media shape and convey meaning; and (2) the impact that the form, function, and institutional production of media have on local, national, and global communities. Offered yearly in the fall.

    MFS 210 Film Analysis (1)
    An introduction to the fundamental concepts and tools of film analysis. The course focuses on learning to isolate, describe, and analyze stylistic elements of film, as well as film narrative and narration. This course serves two purposes: provide the necessary descriptive and analytic tools to excel in upper-level film courses; and deepen the student's appreciation of cinema by encouraging the viewing of films as richly textured works of art. (Satisfies Disciplinary Foundations requirement in fine and performing arts.)
    Offered yearly in the fall.

    MFS 220 Film Production I (1)
    An introduction to narrative video production. The course asks students to employ the conventions of classical storytelling to produce projects that are clear, coherent, thoughtful, and emotionally engaging. Students will also learn how to properly use video production equipment, including HD video cameras, professional audio and lighting equipment, and Final Cut Pro editing software.

    MFS 250 History of Documentary Film (1)
    An introductory survey of documentary film. The course will focus on some of the major developments in documentary practice, while also considering a number of theoretical issues in the documentary tradition, including the problem of objectivity, the relationship between the documentary image and reality, and the mixing of iction and non-fiction modes. The goals of this course are to introduce students to the important historical trends and concepts and to help develop the critical and analytical skills needed to understand the structure, style, and rhetorical strategies of documentary film (A Leadership Studies designated course).

    MFS 310 Film and Media Theory (1)
    A survey of film and media theory from the silent era to the present. The course focuses on several key theorists and their ideas about the nature and function of cinema/media, as well as the relationship between texts, spectatorship, and culture. Throughout the semester, we will properly situate these theories in their historical context and examine the influence they have had on subsequent theorists and practitioners. (Satisfies Disciplinary Foundations requirement in fine and performing arts.)
    Prerequisite: MFS 100 or MFS 200.

    MFS 470 Seminar and Senior Conference (1)
    An interdisciplinary seminar in a special topic designed to engage all three areas of concentration.

    MFS 490 Independent Project or Internship (1)
    Check out the Career Preparation tab for more information about the Senior Seminar and Independent Project requirements for the major.

    In addition to the core courses, you will individualize your major by taking four additional electives in one of two concentration areas described in the tab below.


    Areas of Concentration

    In addition to the core requirements, you will individualize your major by taking an additional three units from one of the following concentrations and an additional unit from the other concentration:

    Media, History, and Society

    AR 324/424 Photography as Witness: Photojournalism and the Art of Visual Narrative
    EH 204 Writing For The Media
    EH 248 Monsters, Monarchs, and Monastics: Legacies of Medieval Literature in Popular Culture 
    EH 305 Journalism Workshop
    EH 349 Literature and the Arts
    EH 384 Literature of the American Indian
    EH 420 Studies in the Drama 
    HON 215 Discovering Photography
    HON 284 Psychology of Mass Media 
    MFS 201 History of American Media
    MFS 270 Special Topics in Media and Film Studies
    MFS 300 Media and Society
    MU 122 Music in Film
    PL 263 Philosophy of Film: Cinematic Wisdom West to East
    PS 111 Humor and the Cynical Political Mind
    PS 195 Talk Talk Spin Spin: Politics, Media, and Political Culture
    PS 345 American Political Behavior
    PS 473 Selected Topics: Politics Through Documentary 
    PY/PS 369 Political Psychology
    PY 417 Senior Seminar: Research in Psychology
    RE 230 Christian Scriptures in Literature, Art, and Film

    Media Production

    AR 222 Camera Mechanics and Composition
    AR 324/424 Photography as Witness: Photojournalism and the Art of Visual Narrative
    CS 170 Introduction to Computing 
    EH 204 Writing for the Media
    EH 305 Journalism Workshop
    HON 215 Discovering Photography
    HON 216 Printmaking: History and Process
    MFS 221 Film Production II
    MFS 222 Screenwriting
    MFS 270 Special Topics in Media and Film Studies
    MU 158 Music Technology


    Career Preparation

    Media and Film Studies graduates have been accepted into the most prestigious graduate schools in the country, including University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Chicago, UCLA, and USC. MFS students at BSC have gained wonderful film and media experience in and around Birmingham. Take a look at what some of our students have been up to while completing their studies at BSC:

    Internships and Job Placements

    Film and Entertainment:

    • Flight 33 Productions in Los Angeles
    • The Sidewalk Film Festival
    • Red Mountain Entertainment
    • Freelance Film Production for Vulcan Materials Company
    • Twitch TV
    • Lewis Communications
    • Whole Lotta Music


    Broadcasting and Journalism:

    • WBRC Fox 6
    • Game Day Bunker
    • WHNT Huntsville
    • Weld

    Independent Projects

    Film and Media Production:

    • Future Perfect: Birmingham Museum of Art 60th Anniversary (accepted into the Sidewalk Film Festival)
    • Welcome to Golden Flake (accepted into the Sidewalk Film Festival)
    • Relative (accepted into Sidewalk Film Festival)
    • The Golden Girls of Magic City: An Examination of Women in Television Broadcasting
    • A Disoriented Experience: Viewing Sports in Restricted Narration
    • Robin and Finch
    • Visual Media Assets and Theory: Iron Tribe Fitness Denver, Colorado

    Research Papers:

    • Independent Cinema and the Sundance Film Festival
    • Multiple Friends Did Not Lead to an Arrested Development: How Comedies Shifted Back into Single Camera Work
    • Film Adaptations of Snow White: The Influences of Screenwriting Manuals
    • The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: A Transmedia Love Story
    • Science Fiction Film in Astronomy Education: A New Approach
    • The Food Advocacy Documentary: An Engaged Aesthetic in the Digital Age


    • “Seinfeld: The Kebab Truck”
    • “A Modest Exodus” *Finalist at Sidewalk Film Festival

    MFS Faculty

    A truly interdisciplinary program, the faculty members teaching courses for the MFS major span the entire campus and include the following:

    Dr. Teddy Champion
    Program Director, Media and Film Studies
    Office phone: (205) 226-7841

    Robert Corna
    Instructor of Media and Film Studies
    Box 549028

    Pamela Venz
    Professor of Art
    Box 549021
    Office phone: (205) 226-4933

    Kevin Shook
    Associate Professor of Art
    Box 549021
    Office phone: (205) 226-2949

    Sandra Sprayberry
    Robert E. Luckie, Jr., Professor of English
    Box 549028
    Office phone: (205) 226-7832

    Amy Cottrill
    Associate Professor of Religion
    Box 549025
    Office phone: (205) 226-7830

    Vincent Gawronski
    Associate Professor of Political Science
    Box 549007
    Office phone: (205) 226-4847