Dear Colleagues. What follows is a proposal for a Center for Film Studies at IUP that I have submitted to Dr. Atwater. He has told me about his admiration for the plan several times, and several collaborators listed on the document have said they’re eager to work on it as well. I think this Center would provide a great way for us to set up inter-disciplinary programs for a specific semester or longer. Through exploring some of the grant possibilities listed, we could invite speakers to campus, bring film programs, organize symposiums for students from various disciplines, or some combination of these.
Please look over this document if you have a chance and let everyone looking at this blog know your programming ideas. Then, let’s get together so we can plan courses and events that will give our students a richer experience in a number of areas.
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Proposal for Establishing
The IUP Film Studies Institute
Institutional Background –
IUP, the fifth largest university in Pennsylvania, is one of the nation’s best. For more than fifteen years, IUP has won national recognition for both quality and affordability. Recognition of IUP for its high academic standards and competitive costs can be found in leading publications: Arco’s Dollarwise Guide to American Colleges; Barron’s 300; Best Buys in College Education, by Edward Fiske, education editor in the New York Times; Changing Times; Kiplinger’s Personal Finance; Money Magazine’s Money Guide; Consumer’s Digest’s Top 100 College Values, and Two Hundred Most Selective Colleges: The Definitive Guide to America’s First-Choice Schools. IUP regularly places its students in rigorous and prestigious internship programs all over the world, from the New York Stock Exchange, to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to the European Union Parliament. IUP’s global partnerships offer exchange opportunities in all disciplines in every corner of the world.
IUP aspires to become a national role model as a mid-size university that has a carefully crafted doctoral mission but still emphasizes undergraduate education, combining the best features of the major research universities and the teaching institutions. IUP does not forsake the importance of undergraduate teaching in relation to professional research and publication.
Besides being an internationally respected institution, IUP has a history of quality service to the citizens of Pennsylvania. IUP’s current enrollment is approximately 14,000 students, more than 70 percent from the Western Pennsylvania region. The student body at IUP represents every county in Pennsylvania, as well as 47 states and more than 100 foreign countries.
The Institute for Film Studies—The Vision
For many years, IUP has been excellently positioned to offer great programming in film studies as yet not exploited. First, within the university, we offer courses in film studies, film making, and related creative work in a number of departments: English, History, Communications/Media, Art, French and German, Religion and Philosophy, Theater, Sociology, the Honors College, the Women’s Studies Program, and the African American Cultural Center. Currently, the English Department Program for Majors Committee is completing work on a Concentration in Film Studies for undergrads and several graduate students are either writing or preparing dissertations that focus either entirely or partially on film. Ph.D. recipient Heather Duda, now teaching at Ohio’s Rio Grande College, has just published her dissertation, Monster Hunters: Mad Men or Men of God, with MacFarland Press.
In addition, Indiana is the childhood home of famed actor Jimmy Stewart, whose outstanding career covered six decades and numerous genres as he worked with some of the greatest film directors ever in some of their most outstanding productions. Through the Jimmy Stewart Museum, the community has gained international recognition and attracted several of Stewart’s former colleagues to share their memories with the community. Over the years, the IUP English Department has frequently collaborated with the Museum, usually by providing discussion leaders for showings at film series in the Museum’s excellent small theater. But the potential for what the Museum and University could achieve together has barely been explored. Next spring (2009), the English Department will finally offer its first course focusing on the films of Jimmy Stewart.
Jimmy Stewart’s career thus provides Indiana and IUP with limitless material for study and promotion. The broad range of Stewart’s films provide a picture of American culture and society in relation to many crucial decades throughout the turbulent twentieth century, marking changes in genres, film styles, and many areas of American life. The same issues could naturally be explored by offering courses focusing on the careers of any number of actors, directors, or genres. But Stewart’s integral association with Indiana makes his work the most logical choice as the basis for film studies at IUP, and it would be hard to find a figure whose body of work offers more rich opportunities.
The logic for establishing such a course, which should be offered at least once a year at IUP, also provides the basis for establishing a Film Studies Institute. Film is far more than entertainment: it is also an art form and a business. Most importantly, it is a highly visible cultural element, accessible to millions around the globe on a daily basis. Therefore, scholars look at film not merely for purposes of praising or condemning any given work, though we are certainly interested in defining what we find to be most valuable. But, more significantly, films provide excellent tools for understanding the cultures that produced them: their histories, goals, values, fears, attitudes, and beliefs. In other words, by studying how film communicates and how it reached the screen, we can gain a better understanding of who we are. In this way, film studies is an interdisciplinary form.
Building the Film Studies Institute in a way that will bring greatest benefits to IUP and the community will require developing a structure involving faculty from around campus to regularly cooperate in developing coursework and extra-curricular programming that will fully exploit the interdisciplinary possibilities of film studies. It will also require finding consistent institutional support from organizations and individuals beyond the campus and community. The rest of this proposal will present plans for achieving these goals.
The idea for IUP’s Film Studies Institute is that its Board of Directors will include members from the Departments of English, Art, History, Communications/Media, Political Science, Theater, Religious Studies, Philosophy, Sociology, Domestic Sciences, Geography, and Anthropology. It should ideally also include representatives from the programs and Centers of Women’s Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, African-American Studies, Asian Studies, and the Honors College. Together, these Board members choose an academic focus for a semester or academic year, such as “faith in America”, “American labor”, “family and community”, “political ideology”, or “questions of war and peace”. Having selected a topic, the Board members can then discuss scheduling events including film series, guest artists, and other possibilities listed below. A film series related to IUP’s freshman common reader may be devised in order to involve more faculty and students campus-wide.
Events should provide both artistic and academic enrichment to our campus and region and increase Indiana’s and IUP’s attractiveness as a location for understanding film (and American) history and culture.
Film studies is a popular concentration for both graduate and undergraduate students, and its status on campus makes it a logical choice as a basis for a major inter-disciplinary program. Not only are film studies programs flourishing at various institutions around the country, but the IUP English Department is now set to officially define a Film Studies track for undergraduates with specific advising for interested students. The IUP Center for Film Studies has brought artists to campus such as producer Marie Cantin, writer/director Michael Miner, underground filmmaker Nick Zedd, documentary filmmaker Maria Smarz-Koszanowicz, and experimental filmmaker John Alan Gibel. Each of these artists has met with hundreds of students in a variety of classes across campus, providing ideas for creative work as well as practical career information. Several of them have also presented their work to the general public at the Indiana Theater where they also took time for audience discussions.
The Center for Film Studies has also worked with Tim Harley, Director of the Jimmy Stewart Museum, to provide discussion series in which several faculty members have used their expertise to discuss Stewart’s films with the general public. Through the Center for American Studies, we hope to increase the popularity of these events by combining them with greater opportunities for scholarship and broadening their appeal.
IUP President Tony Atwater has also provided impetus to the Center’s activities by supporting a film colloquium on the Western as part of his pre-inauguration activities in September 2005. For these events, we screened the first silent films shown in Indiana in possibly more than eighty years with live musical accompaniment, performed by pianist Sebastian Burch of Kent State University. Vanderbilt scholar Sam Girgus and National Public Radio Film Commentator Pat Donnelly also provided their insights.
In addition to scholarship, IUP has also produced filmmakers such as Don Swanson, John Trevellini, and Lori Felker. With increasing motivation from professors such as Allen Partridge in Communications/Media, and others, a greater number of students are developing talent and skills to move on in this area. A growing number of students in the Theater Department will be working to produce film scripts as well.
Current Status of Film Studies at IUP
Like many universities, IUP currently offers a wide variety of courses that either focus directly on the academic study of film, teach aspects of filmmaking, or incorporate film within a course devoted to composition, literature, or other topics. Some examples of these follow.
In the English Department, the Program for Majors committee is currently constructing a new undergraduate curriculum that will offer an official Concentration in Film Studies as one option within the major. This concentration will consist of four courses: Introduction to Film Studies (a retitling of the current Art of the Film); Film History (a new course that will replace the existing Advanced Film); Film Theory; and Major Figures in Film. Other concentrations within the new program will offer relevant courses as well such as Gays and Lesbians in Film and International Film. In addition, students in the Department’s senior Honors course often elect to work on individual projects that focus on film studies or include them in some fashion.
As mentioned above, the Department’s graduate program is offering an increasing number of film courses as well, and a growing number of doctoral students are choosing to focus on film studies in their dissertations. With the visit of novelist/filmmaker Philippe Claudel in Fall 2008, students in Dr. Slater’s graduate and undergraduate sections will have the opportunity to work together as each class will be studying Claudel’s work. The wiki-site established by French Professor Dr. Marie Olson-Thomas will make it easy for them to share ideas and research and work on collaborative projects. Other web resources such as IUP’s sites make these types of collaborations within or across disciplines increasingly possible. In the future, the Institute for Film Studies will be able to facilitate inter-disciplinary, cross-disciplinary, and even inter-institutional collaborations more effectively as professors meet in advance to decide how they wish to use the Institute’s resources and how its activities will relate to their teaching.
In addition to the courses mentioned above, IUP English instructors incorporate film studies into a number of other composition and literature courses as well. Examples of these include sixteen different courses designed by Professor Rosalee Stillwell. Some of these include
ENGL 101: Studying the Hero’s Journey: Its Archetypes in World Cinema;
Thinking About African American Film Classics;
ENGL 121: From Book to Film;
The Narrative I/Eye in Coming-of-Age Literature and Film;
ENGL 202: Representations of Gender in Popular Culture: The Auditory, Visual, and Written Record;
Advertising, Visual Culture, and Teenage World Culture
Other English instructors who either have or plan to use film studies in their composition and literature courses include Elaine Ware, Jo-Anne Kerr, Judith Villa, Jennifer Woolston, Barbara Kraszewski, Marlen Harrison, Ronald Emerick, Gay Chow, and Michael T. Williamson. In addition, professors Wendy Carse and Reena Dube regularly teach the department’s film studies classes and Drs. Carse, Villa, Stillwell, Slater, and Kraszewski offer Senior Synthesis Film Studies Courses (see attached emails). Finally, besides Dr. Slater, Drs. Ronald Shafer, Christopher Orchard, and Jim Cahalan have also taught film studies courses on the graduate level.
In History, Dr. Paul Arpaia incorporates film studies into his courses on Italy and Nazism and will be reviving the Department’s long dormant Film as History course in 2009. Dr. Arpaia is working to coordinate this course with courses in other majors such as English, Anthropology, and Sociology.
In Sociology, Dr. Robert Heasley uses film studies in his Senior Synthesis course, Men and Masculinities, and also incorporates films from the Indiana LGBT Film Festival into his SOC 251 course: Sexuality. Dr. James Dougherty has worked in film production, producing documentaries, writing scripts, and editing film.
The Department of Communications Media offers several courses relevant to film and moving image production. These include
COMM 201: Internet and Multimedia;
COMM 249: Basic Audio Recording Techniques;
COMM 251: Television Production;
COMM 303: Scriptiwriting;
COMM 305: Electronic Media Programming and Sales;
COMM 325: Women in Media;
COMM 340: Advanced Communication Graphics;
COMM 345: Television Criticism;
COMM 351: Advanced Video Production;
COMM 380: The History of African Americans in Film;
COMM 440: Multimedia Production;
COMM 445: Applications and Techniques of Motion Pictures;
COMM 447: Animation;
COMM 460: Emerging Trends in Communication Technology.
1) To use film studies as a basis for understanding the richness and diversity of American history and culture by incorporating the study of film into the work of several academic majors, programs, and centers..
2) To build on strong basis for film studies already established at IUP and the important connections to American film in Indiana, PA and Western Pennsylvania as a whole.
3) To provide an interdisciplinary organization that will draw on a wide variety of interests and resources to add vitality and diversity to its efforts.
4) To enhance the scholarly and creative activities of IUP undergraduates and graduate students in a variety of disciplines.
5) To provide both artistic and academic enrichment to our campus and region and increase Indiana’s and IUP’s attractiveness as a location for understanding film (and American) history and culture.
Board of Directors –
The Film Studies Institute will have a Board of Directors who will work to accumulate both financial and material resources and plan events. The following administrators and faculty members have all been involved in Center for Film Studies Activities or teaching film studies at IUP and would make excellent Board members, pending their agreement:
Director, Women’s Studies Center
Dr. Paul Arpaia, Department of History
Dr. Gaudet Baghat, Director, Center for Middle Eastern Studies
Dr. Sherill Begres, Department of Philosophy
Ms. Barbara A. Blackledge, Theater Department
Dr. Wendy Carse, Department of English
Dr. Stuart Chandler, Department of Religious Studies
Dr. James Dougherty, Department of Sociology
Dr. Reena Dube, Department of English
Dr. Janet Goebels, Director, Robert C. Cook Honors College
Mr. Tim Harley, Director, Jimmy Stewart Museum
Dr. Robert Heasley, Department of Sociology
Dr. Harvey Holtz, Department of Sociology
Dr. Allen R. Partridge, Communications Media Department
Dr. Carolyn Princes, Director, African-American Studies Center
Dr. Marveta Ryan-Sams, Director, Pan-African Studies Program
Dr. Thomas J. Slater, Department of English
Dr. Theresa Smith, Department of Religious Studies
Dr. Jay Start, Communications Media Department
Dr. Rosalee Stillwell, Department of English
Ms. Jennifer Woolston, Department of English
Dr. Lingyan Yang, Department of English, Asian Studies Program
Proposed Activities –
Grant Writing: Support for filmmaking and film studies opportunities at a university level is available from a number of foundations across the country. The Board of Directors will need to work to develop the foresight for planning activities so that grants can be solicited and obtained. Getting release time for one or two faculty members to apply for grants, or hiring one or two staff members to do, would be tremendously beneficial to the Institute’s success. (See attached lists of possible grant sources.)
Guest Artists/Scholars: An achievable goal for the Film Studies Institute will be to invite guest artists and scholars to IUP to provide commentary for the screening of at least one film, including an audience discussion, and meet with students from a variety of departments. Guest scholars might include Sam Girgus of Vanderbilt, David Bordwell of Wisconsin, or associates of the American Film Institute. Guest artists could include producer Marie Canton, writer/director Michael Miner, both of whom have previously shown and discussed their work at IUP, or other filmmakers working in a variety of forms and from a variety of cultural backgrounds such as those already brought by the Center for Film Studies.
Film Series/Festival/Conference: The auditoriums and theaters at IUP, the Jimmy Stewart Museum, and downtown will be valuable for hosting events that can be a basis for the Center’s activities. A film festival combined with a conference could annually draw hundreds of students and scholars to Indiana. Filmmakers looking to promote new productions might be enticed to come share their work and discuss movies with audiences to include the general public. Media from Pittsburgh and throughout the region could be used to increase exposure for both the filmmaker and the event.
Film series might be a more important aspect of the Center’s activities. These could be scheduled throughout the course of a semester or over several consecutive days. Artists and scholars to provide introductions to the films and lead discussions could come from IUP, other regional campuses, or from greater distances by special invitation. A focus on regularly scheduled film series will provide opportunities for all the academic interests represented on the Center’s Board to shape its programs and also provide faculty across campus multiple opportunities to incorporate the Center’s activities into their teaching.
Conferences could also attract students and scholars by sponsoring essay competitions and promising publication and cash awards to the best work. This publication could occur through an established academic journal such as the IUP Department of English’s Studies in the Humanities or through an annual publication or web site established by the Museum.
Promotion and Publications: The Film Studies Institute should hire a web-site developer and coordinator as soon as possible to begin promoting its program. The site could be used to promote local film series, visiting film artists, events, and their relationship to course work. It could also provide a bibliography/filmography of important works relevant to the semester or year’s theme.
The site could also be the home of a scholarly film journal with submissions reviewed by academics from around the country. Top conference presentations could be guaranteed publication.
Development of a Research Center: The Film Studies Institute might also develop a research center based on a collection of DVDs, books, film magazines, and other sources centered around the history and culture of Western Pennsylvania. In film studies, the research center would focus on materials relating to major film personas from our region such as Jimmy Stewart, Tom Mix, and Gene Kelly. The IUP Stapleton Library already has a strong collection of Stewart’s work on video and DVD and a steadily growing collection of film books. The research center, however, should have its own head librarian/curator with a staff who will be capable of organizing and promoting the collection in a way that will make it attractive to visiting scholars.
Other areas of the collection could focus on films and publications devoted to the area’s ethnic and religious heritages, its labor history, and its contributions to corporate development and philanthropy.
The Center will require base funding of course, and the following is a reflection of a number of funding phases, any one of which can and will produce progress toward a fully developed Center.
Income possibilities are present through grant opportunities from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and other sources; conference registration fees; local and regional business sponsorships.