About the Program

Past, Present and Future:

The study of moving images at the University of Pennsylvania has changed significantly since our students participated (nude!) in Eadward Muybridge’s Animal Locomotion studies of 1886, but the Penn Cinema and Media Studies still holds fast to the spirit of innovation and curiosity that Muybridge’s work exemplifies. Our program builds on the rich and diverse film historical tradition of the City of Philadelphia, home to film pioneers and organizations that include Siegmund Lubin and the Lubin Manufacturing Company, The Philadelphia Colored Players, The Paul Robeson House, and Amos Vogel (founder of the experimental film society Cinema 16). Penn alumni and supporters include: DreamWorks CEO and former chairman of Universal Pictures Stacey Snider; Lorraine Carrady Quinn of ShoWest and Caribbean Cinemas; Jeff Berg, head of International Creative Management; Shari Redstone, president of National Amuseuments and vice-chairwoman of CBS corporation and Viacom; former president of CBS William Paley; Columbia Pictures president Douglas Belgrad; new media pioneer and former President of Warner Home Video Warren Lieberfarb; Sundance Film Festival director Geoffrey Gilmore; directors Henry Jaglom and Richard Lester; producer / director / writer Jon Avnet; and producers Stephen Bayly, Robert Cort, Leonard Goldberg, Duncan Kenworthy and Marc Platt. They play a vital role in shaping the future of moving images for the 21st century, and the Penn Cinema and Media Studies program offers students a chance to follow in these footsteps, a chance to study and shape the past, present, and future of moving images.

Global, integrated Knowledge:

Few programs at Penn resonate more strongly with the Penn Compact’s commitment to local and global engagement and integrated knowledge. As thoroughly hybrid media that intersect in rich and various ways with photography, painting, drawing, music, and literature, film and video demand an interdisciplinary course of study. Therefore, the Penn Cinema and Media Studies curriculum draws on a rich pool of faculty and offers courses covering a range of national, historical and methodological approaches. Feel free to drop by our offices to make an appointment with the director or associate director to discuss your interests in Cinema and Media Studies at Penn, or to watch one of the many films in our extensive DVD library. Attend our regular colloquia, which are open to students and the general public alike, and feature outstanding local, national and international film and media scholars presenting the very latest research in the field. We look forward to meeting you, and wish you a happy and successful year at Penn.

The Major and Minor:

The Penn Cinema and Media Studies major and minor are traditional humanities programs involving the critical study of film history, theory and aesthetics, rather than film or video production. Although majors and minors will have the opportunity to do some screenwriting and production work, they will primarily engage in the critical study of national cinemas, international film movements, major and minor filmmakers in various traditions, the economic, legal and political forces governing film industry practice, film and media theory, and the relationship between film and the other arts. As a program, we are strongly committed to undergraduate education, and students can be assured that Cinema and Media Studies will provide many opportunities to work closely with a number of faculty members.

Study Abroad

Cinema and Media Studies students also have the chance to study abroad, either through the Penn-in-London program, an opportunity to experience first-hand the preservation and archiving techniques of the National Film Archive, or through the Penn-in-Cannes program, which enables students to attend festival screenings and lectures as well as meet with members of the industry.