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The Mass Media

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February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

New Cinema Studies Minor Available to Students in Fall

A new cinema studies minor is available to University of Massachusetts Boston students as of the fall 2015 semester, drawing on existing film-related courses and resulting in the creation of new ones. A long time in the making, the final push for the minor was made over the past 18 months by a working group spanning multiple departments.  

“We watch movies, it’s a pretty sweet deal,” jokes Professor of English Sarah Hamblin, the new director of cinema studies.

She says most of the program is organized around critical historical and cultural analysis, and so is in line with skills invested in by many College of Liberal Arts (CLA) majors, such as American studies, English, art, and sociology.

“Cinema is a major art form and commercial industry, so there are a lot of connections to be made with [those majors].”

Cinema studies is a six-course minor. Students are required to take at least two foundational courses, the first being Foundation of Cinema Studies, an art/English class. There is a choice between two historical surveys, before 1950 or after. Electives include existing cinema studies courses and additions like Stillness in Motion, American Independent Cinema, Global Art Cinema, internships, and more. 

Hamblin predicts the minor will be up on WISER in the next couple of weeks. Similarly, a page on the UMass Boston website with more information can be expected around the same time. Cinema studies advisers will be providing services to students in the upcoming session in early April.

Initial film production offerings are sparse, because equipment is costly, but Hamblin hopes to expand into this territory later as the minor grows. There is the potential for partnerships with other universities, enabling students to take their production courses, but talk is only in the early stage.

At a similar stage are internship partnerships. Candidates are the Brattle Theater in Cambridge, for students interested in arts management; Boston Film Festival and other area festivals; the Massachusetts Film Office, involved in the regional industry; and New England Studios in Devens, MA. 

“Boston has an incredibly rich and vibrant film culture.”

“We are looking to take advantage of what is on our doorstep, and give students the opportunity to get into different industry areas.”

More courses are being developed, such as the ones by Sarah Keller, a cinema studies scholar and associate professor of art, and Denise Khorm, assistant professor of American studies.

The minor received official approval from internal UMass Boston governance during the second week of March, and from the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education a few weeks prior.

Groundwork was steadily laid over the past decades with the increasing number of film-related courses. Initial discussion for the minor was prompted between Pamela Annas, associate dean of liberal arts, and Cheryl Nixon, department chair of English.

Sarah Hamblin chaired a working group within the College of Liberal Arts to build around existing cinema studies courses to create a coherent program. 

“There have been a lot of people working on this.”

This group worked with faculty from departments across the CLA, such as English, art, American studies, sociology, and theatre arts to get the minor up and running. Cinema studies courses are offered from even more departments, like Asian American studies, modern languages, Iberian studies, Africana studies, and more. 

“This minor is fundamentally interdisciplinary, and global in its approach.”