COVID-19 Updates: Fall Semester

Plans for Fall 2020

After many conversations, the faculty and staff in Film & Media Culture have decided to plan for all of our courses to be taught remotely, with some potential hybrid in-person supplements as health and safety situations allow for. To be clear, while a few courses may have in-person components, we all believe there is a strong likelihood that we might have to quickly shutdown campus due to an outbreak, and/or that a significant number of students, staff, and faculty may need to be quarantined enough to disrupt teaching. Thus to be proactive, we are planning for online teaching to maximize the best pedagogical approach, and make most classes available to students no matter their location.

We know that nobody came to Middlebury to take online courses - and none of us relish teaching in that format. However we have investigated what protocols would need to be in place to make an in-person classroom safe, and we believe they would not be pedagogically effective for most courses. For instance, a 15-person seminar would have to be spread out in a large room like Axinn 229, making it difficult to hear each other, collaborate, and communicate. A group of students learning video production in our studio would be challenged by not being able to touch equipment together. The idea of a large group of people watching a film together for hours in Axinn 232 feels like a relic of a bygone day.
To be clear, our online classes in the Fall will not resemble the “crisis pedagogy” of the Spring semester. We are all doing extensive training this summer to learn best practices in online learning, and thinking through how we will structure our courses. We are also shifting what classes we are teaching to accommodate remote learning. Feel free to reach out to individual faculty to ask about specific courses, or chair Jason Mittell for any departmental arrangements.
We recognize that there are no “good choices” on the table in a pandemic, but we all can only try to do our best. While we long for the days that we can connect personally in Axinn, we are hopeful that we can maintain our community at a distance.
- The faculty & staff of Film & Media Culture
June 24, 2020

Film and Media Culture may not be a familiar academic area to many prospective students. Explore the questions below to learn about the department, and if your question isn't answered, contact department chair, Jason Mittell.

Can Film & Media majors study abroad?

Yes. FMMC majors often spend a semester away from Middlebury on a range of programs. Many of the Middlebury schools abroad offer courses on local or regional film and media that can be transferred as elective credit. We also run an exchange program with the Universities of Nottingham and East Anglia in the United Kingdom, both of which have strong film and media programs. Some students also look to spend a semester at an American film school, such as NYU or USC. Your adviser can help arrange this, but students should be aware that financial aid does not transfer to these programs. Students interested in studying a full year abroad must plan early to complete all core courses in the major prior to their junior year.

How can you make films at Middlebury?

Film and Media Culture has high-end production facilities for creating digital videos. We do not support production using actual film, due to the expense of equipment, film stock, and processing; we have found that teaching videography and digital editing is the most effective way to prepare undergraduates who want to become film creators within the liberal arts context. Students in FMMC have opportunities to produce creative projects in a range of media forms, and can choose to work toward a creative senior project of a video, screenplay, or other media form.

What does it mean to study film at Middlebury?

Middlebury's Film & Media Culture Department treats film as an aesthetic form to be analyzed critically, as well as an art form to be created. We explore films from around the world, spanning over a century of film history. A student graduating with a FMMC major will have in-depth knowledge of a broad range of cinematic traditions, critical approaches, and aesthetic movements.

What is "Media Culture"?

While much of our curriculum focuses on cinema, we cover a range of other media, including television, video art, video games, online video, websites, and emerging digital forms. We treat such media both as aesthetic forms and sites of cultural practice, considering how different media shape social relations and our perspective on the world. In FMMC, media are seen as both creative forms and avenues to understand a culture.

Does Middlebury have a film school?

The Film & Media Culture department is the place at Middlebury to study film production as well as criticism and history. We do not see ourselves as a "film school," as we do not specialize in production and our curriculum is not primarily designed to prepare students for jobs in the industry. Instead, we believe that film and media are a key part of a liberal arts curriculum, and the creative process in all art forms strengthens a student's education. Students can get hands-on education in video production, animation, digital art, and writing for the screen as a component of a broader education in film and media.

Can I take film classes without being a major?

Yes. None of our courses are restricted to majors or minors. Most intermediate and advanced courses do have prerequisites of introductory courses, however, as students need a background in the core concepts and vocabulary of studying film and media before studying production or advanced critical studies.

Why do Film & Media courses have so many hours scheduled?

Most FMMC courses have specific screening times scheduled in our course registration system - screenings are a core component of a course, and are not optional. If students have a conflict with screening times, they may contact the professor in advance of registration to request a waiver allowing them to make-up the viewing on their own, but waivers will be issued by discretion of the professor. Some courses have designated labs, which are required hands-on sessions for production-centered courses.

What can I do after graduating with a Film & Media major?

FMMC students often do go into the film and media industries. In recent years, graduates have found jobs working for film production companies, television stations and networks, advertising agencies, and as freelance writers and editors. Students have also gone into other career areas, from teaching to banking, as all Middlebury graduates can use their liberal arts foundation to explore an array of career options. Film and media students have also pursued graduate education in top MFA and PhD programs. See our alumni section for some profiles of recent graduates.

How can I watch movies at Middlebury?

Besides the numerous screenings tied to FMMC courses, there are two weekly film series in Dana Auditorium: the Free Friday Film Series of recent releases programmed by the student activity board, and the Saturday Hirschfield International Film Series of recent foreign and independent cinema. We also bring in a number of filmmakers each year for public lectures and screenings, and have a collection of over 10,000 DVDs available to view in the library.

Where is Film & Media Culture located?

Film and Media Culture has faculty and staff offices, classrooms, and production facilities in the Axinn Center at Starr Library, in the central campus near McCullough and the Library. We also use the main campus screening facilities in Dana Auditorium.

Department of Film and Media Culture

Axinn Center at Starr Library
15 Old Chapel Road
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753
Fax: 802.443.2805