Over the past four decades, Montclair's English Department has established a comprehensive body of courses dedicated to film history and aesthetics. These rich and varied offerings give students an understanding of the growth and development of the cinema—the 20th century's most vital art form. The courses also provide a strong grounding in "media literacy," guiding students to adopt an informed and active approach to the rapidly expanding range of mass-produced and artist-made moving images that dominate contemporary culture.
Montclair's film studies courses are inclusive and far-ranging. They examine Hollywood studio productions, independent films, and international cinema, considering narrative films, documentaries, animations, and avant-garde works. In the entry-level course, Introduction to Film, which satisfies the General Education requirement in Fine and Performing Arts, students learn concepts and terms necessary for a close reading of films, while viewing cinema within specific historical and cultural contexts. Students also learn to apply key critical methodologies to film, including authorship, genre, and production modes. Thus, Introduction to Film allows students to analyze film as an art form with its own unique terminology, and as a cultural product with important links to the time and place of its making.
In addition to Introduction to Film, students can select from twelve intermediate and advanced film studies courses, offered on a rotating basis. These include "genre "courses (Major Film Genres), "national cinema" courses (American Film I and II) and "period" courses (Contemporary Film). As well, Special Topics in Film Studies courses focus on issues touched on in survey courses: recently, they have included Women and Gender and Cinema, Film and the City, International Art Cinema, Action Cinema, and Hollywood, Politics, and the Blacklist. The critical and analytical skills fostered in film studies courses have direct application to many disciplines in the humanities, the social sciences, and the arts.
All film studies courses include film screenings, lectures, and discussions