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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Film and technocultural studies to consolidate programs

At the end of last month, the film studies (FMS) and technocultural studies (TCS) program committees unanimously agreed on a consolidation of the two majors to create a new cinema and technocultural program.

This new program serves to address the changes in film due to advances in digital media and film technology. It will be an equal partnership of the two majors in an effort to create a better coordination of course offerings.

While the program is still in the initial proposal stage, committee members from both majors believe the merge can only stand to benefit students.

“We think that the consolidation will be beneficial for both programs both in terms of curricular and intellectual synergy,” said Jaimey Fisher, associate professor of German and film studies committee member, in an e-mail interview.

The merge is particularly significant for FMS, which as a program and not a department means the major does not currently have faculty of its own. FMS has had to rely on other departments to share professors to teach classes for the program.

“If the merge does go through, I would like to see an emphasis put on finding faculty that have more specialized experience that pertains to film studies,” said Pamela Orebaugh, senior film studies and English double major and academic peer advisor in the film studies major.

FMS majors frequently take classes looking at film through the lens of a different department, women and gender studies, Japanese, German etc., instead of focusing purely on film itself, Orebaugh said. This knowledge, while valid, could benefit from a boost in classes specializing in various aspects of film.

Some criticize the FMS major due to its lack of production courses.

“Most importantly, in my mind, is the prospect of production courses for film studies students,” Fisher said. “I have heard from many students over the years that they would like more production courses, but we have never been able to offer them because we have no faculty or real facilities of our own. The consolidation of the program will address this urgent need.”

Jesse Drew, director and associate professor of the technocultural studies program, said the university will not be hiring new faculty due to the consolidation.

“This merge will bring together faculty working on similar and related matters, which should yield productive dialogue about both our teaching and research,” said Fisher.

The university will continue to offer majors in FMS and TCS as well as the FMS minor.

“The majors for now will remain intact, but they will be run by the new cinema and technocultural studies program,” Drew said. “In the future it might be merged into a singular major, but for now the merge has more to do with the governing structure.”

While there is support for the strengthening of the majors by placing them under one program, a consolidation into one major finds less approval from some.

“Having taken courses in both fields through my major, I think it’s going to be slightly problematic to merge the two since there are fundamental ideological differences between them,” Orebaugh said. “There is a reason people are in one major or the other. If they can marry the two into a successful major that would be great, but I’m not sure it’s possible.”

There are distinct theoretical differences between film and technocultural studies, Orebaugh said.

“While cinema is a significant part of TCS, the program will not be limited due to this change,” Drew said. “Students in TCS that are studying animation or sound will still be able to focus on their chosen tracks.”

The committees are currently focusing on collecting feedback from other departments and students, Fisher said.

Fisher and Drew encourage students to contact them with comments or questions regarding the cinema and technocultural program.

KATIE LEVERONI can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

1 COMMENT

  1. Pam makes a lot of great points. In order for me to be able to form an educated opinion on the matter, I would really like to see a detailed outline in which the pros and cons of a potential merger are delineated. Does anyone know of one? Is there a proposal floating around somewhere?

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