The UCI launches its doctorate. Program in Film and Media Studies

The UCI School of Human Sciences welcomes its first cohort of doctoral students. students in the Film and Media Studies program. The newly launched Ph.D. The Film and Media Studies program provides students with the opportunity to study and develop original research on film, television, and digital media. Rooted in the critical methods of the humanities, film and media scholars focus on interpreting stories and theories of media and their cultural contexts.

In Orange County and nearby Los Angeles, UCI provides access to the rich cultural offerings and research institutes of Southern California. Students may choose to supplement their Film and Media Studies degree with interdisciplinary graduate certificates in Asian American Studies, Chicano/Latino Studies, Critical Theory, Feminist Studies, Latin American Studies, and/or Visual Studies.

Learn more about the program through the following collaborative Q&A with Lucas Hilderbrand, Chair and Professor of Film and Media Studies and Kristen Hatch, Director of Graduate Studies and Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies.

What makes the UCI Ph.D. Film and Media Studies program unique from other similar programs?

Our faculty has expertise in all areas of film and media studies: film, television, and digital media (including video games and social media). Our program provides students with extensive foundational training in all three areas of the discipline while providing core courses that train students to understand the stories and structures of power and difference embedded in the media.

We look forward to nurturing new generations of scholars deeply invested in understanding the relationships between culture, identity, history, and power in film and other media. We are particularly interested in highlighting the perspectives of those who have been pushed to the margins of media technology, industries and moving image texts.

How does the study of film and media theory complement the practical aspects of film and media education?

Our program focuses on researching the histories, theories and contexts of film and media, but we have designed the program to allow for production training to facilitate theory-practice approaches. We have also developed foundational internships to train students in instructional strategies and professionalization for careers within and beyond academia.

What type of research does the UCI PhD in Film and Media Studies do? Program focused on?

Although we vary widely in our research on film, television and digital media, our professors share a deep commitment to understanding the relationship between media and power, although we approach this from different angles. We have areas of expertise in television, video games, postcolonial and decolonial theory, queer and feminist studies, and critical race theory. Many of our faculty engage in rigorous archival research. We are fortunate to be only an hour away from many important archives for film and media research.

How is the PhD in Film and Media Studies at UCI conducted? A program that breaks the boundaries in the field?

Through their innovative scholarship, our faculty has helped shape the discipline of film and media studies. For example, Fatimah Tobing Rony’s founding book, The Third Eyee (Duke University Press, 1996), helped invent the field of ethnographic film studies. by Victoria E. Johnson Heartland Television (New York University Press, 2008) defined the field of television and cultural geography. At Bambi Haggins Laughing madly (Rutgers University Press, 2007) has shaped the study of race and comedy. by Lucas Hilderbrand inherent vice (Duke University Press, 2009) is fundamental in the field of video studies. At Bo Ruberg’s Video games have always been queer (New York University Press, 2019) has set the terms of the debate for queer studies of video games. These were only their first books. We continue to publish research that redefines our discipline.

What are some exciting PhD course offerings students can expect?

In their first year of study, students complete a three-part series—Film Studies in the fall, Television Studies in the winter, and Digital Media and Video Games Studies in the spring—which provides an overview of the discipline of film and media studies. . In their second year, they take three additional courses – Historiography, Media/Power/Culture, and Critical Approaches to Film and Media Studies – which help them develop more specialized knowledge and methodologies for FMS scholarship.

In addition to these core courses, students can take a range of optional seminars on more specialized topics (such as Celebrity and Stardom, Play and Game Studies, and Latinx Media). They also have the opportunity to do directed readings with individual teachers.

What non-academic careers can film and media studies scholars expect after graduation?

In addition to providing a strong selection of graduate seminars, our program offers a one-year professionalization internship in which students develop the skills and knowledge they will need for academic and non-academic careers. Depending on their areas of research, students will be well positioned for careers in the film, television, and video game industries, as well as in film and media archives and museums.

What are some examples of research emerging among faculty in the Department of Film and Media Studies?

Our faculty has published or is in the process of publishing books on digital noise, child stars, broadcasting politics and activism, the film The Battle of Algiers, video game theories, sports television, political criticism, visual biopolitics, sexual technologies, Latinx transnational television, and gay bar cultures in America.

Professors develop exciting new research on topics including stardom and celebrity, racial projects and film politics, Latinx media activism, the history of public television, and digital media tactics in Palestine.

What future for film and media studies at the UCI?

Film and media studies is already one of the most popular majors in the humanities. As media continues to evolve – technologically, industrially, and in our lives – the need for people with expertise in film and media studies will continue to grow. In 2015, the Society for Cinema and Media Studies produced a comprehensive report which demonstrated that there are not enough graduate programs to train the number of faculty needed to teach in this growing field. And a 2019 MIT report further demonstrated the continued growth of film and media studies departments and majors across the country.

We recognize the need to understand film and media across mediums or platforms as these distinctions continue to blur. We also approach the media as sites and reflections of power in our culture.