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Film Studies

The MALS concentration in Film Studies 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 Theater, MOMA, Silvercup Studios, Anthology Film Archives, BAMcinématek, 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 Studies [MALS 77200 I & II, and MALS 77100] (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 Aesthetics of Film, 3 credits
Film Aesthetics provides the student with the basic skills necessary to read a film. The course concentrates on formal analysis of the aesthetic and ideological elements that comprise historical and contemporary cinema. This course introduces the student to various genre of narrative cinema (for example, melodrama, film noir, the Western, and the musical) and different categories of films (such as experimental, documentary, animation and hybrid forms) produced in the United States and internationally. Particular emphasis is placed on the analysis of the film’s aesthetic and ideological contents.  As students survey the work of important film theorists, they will master the fundamental vocabulary of film analysis and will learn to recognize the techniques and conventions that structure the cinematic experience – narrative systems, mise-en-scène, cinematography, editing, sound, genre – in order to understand how these various components combine to yield film form.

MALS 77200 Film History I, 3 credits
History of Cinema I is an intensive examination of film history before 1930 that introduces students to international silent cinema, to the scholarly literature on early cinema, and to the practices of researching and writing film history. Subjects covered will include the emergence of cinema, the cinema of attractions, the narrativization of cinema, theater and early film, sound, color, and the “silent” image, the industrialization of film production, national cinemas of the 1910s, the Hollywood mode of filmmaking, women and African-American filmmakers, and film movements of the 1920s. Students will study the work of such filmmakers as Lumière, Méliès, Porter, Paul, Bauer, Christensen, Feuillade, Weber, Micheaux, Murnau, Dulac, Eisenstein, and others while considering the ways that silent films were exhibited and received in diverse contexts.

MALS 77300 Film History II, 3 credits
History of Cinema II is devoted to intensive analysis of the international development of cinema as a medium and art form from the early sound years (1930 onward) to the present. Students will become familiar with major film tendencies and aesthetic and political developments through a close examination of individual film texts. Subjects covered will include Hollywood filmmaking during the Depression years, French Poetic Realism, Italian Neorealism, melodrama and other postwar Hollywood genres, the rise of global “new waves” (including French, Latin American, and German filmmaking movements from the late-1950s through the 1970s) and modernist tendencies in international cinema. Emphasis will be placed on the major historical currents of each period and on changes in aesthetic, political and industrial context.

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 Studies, students may look to offerings in the certificate programs in Film Studies and Critical Theory and the doctoral programs in Art History, Comparative Literature, and English.


MALS faculty associated with this concentration:

Other GC faculty associated with this concentration:


Library Resources

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