Cinema & Media Studies Becomes a Department
The University of Pennsylvania Board of Trustees has approved the establishment of the Department of Cinema & Media Studies (CIMS), making it the 28th academic department in the School of Arts & Sciences as of July 1, 2023.
“For the past two decades, the School has had a strong presence in the fields of cinema and media studies, with outstanding faculty who bring a range of experience and expertise,” says Steven J. Fluharty, Dean of the School of Arts & Sciences and Thomas S. Gates, Jr. Professor of Psychology, Pharmacology, and Neuroscience. “Now they’ll come together as our newest department, adding to the range and depth of our humanities offerings.”
For the first time, CIMS will be able to set independent hiring priorities and recruit new faculty, creating an official academic home for researchers who, to this point, have been spread across several other departments at Penn.
Ultimately, this centralization will mean new courses and research directions based on the expertise of new hires, as well as a new Ph.D. program in Cinema & Media Studies approved last spring by the University’s Graduate Council of the Faculty. Although the CIMS Graduate Certificate option will continue to be available for students in other graduate programs, master’s and doctoral students can now become part of the department itself, participating in the full graduate curricula currently under development. The change will also benefit undergraduate CIMS majors, who, starting next year, will experience an updated set of core requirements that better reflect what is currently happening in the field, and who will have a natural home in the new department.
Ian Fleishman, Associate Professor of Cinema & Media Studies, is the inaugural chair of the new department. “Cinema & Media Studies at Penn has been on the cutting edge of the discipline since its inception,” he says. “We’ve been a home away from home for students and faculty interested in the study of a wide range of cultural phenomena—from film and television to other audiovisual and installation art, a broad variety of material texts, as well as digital and environmental media.”
Affiliated faculty cover a wide range of geographies, chronologies, and methodologies from history and theory to screenwriting and production. Fleishman himself has a background in French and German cinema and studies queer cinema. Other core faculty include:
• Scott Burkhardt, Lecturer in Cinema & Media Studies, who is an award-winning screenwriter and teaches screenwriting for TV.
• Peter Decherney, Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Endowed Term Chair in the Humanities and Professor of Cinema & Media Studies, who studies the institutionalization of Hollywood and is an award-winning documentary and virtual reality filmmaker. He has directed films about global migration and on the political role of artists in Myanmar, Kenya, Ethiopia, and the U.S.
• Nicola Gentilli, Associate Director of the Penn Cinema & Media Studies Program and director of the Penn-in-Cannes summer program.
• Shannon Mattern, Penn Presidential Compact Professor of Cinema & Media Studies, whose writing and teaching focus on archives, libraries, and other media spaces; media infrastructure; sites where data intersect with art and design; and media that shape sensory experiences.
• Meta Mazaj, Undergraduate Chair and Senior Lecturer of Cinema & Media Studies, who studies critical theory, Balkan cinema, new European cinema, film, and nationalism.
• Rahul Mukherjee, Graduate Chair of Cinema & Media Studies and Dick Wolf Associate Professor of TV and New Media, who studies media’s role within politics and technology.
• Karen Redrobe, Elliot and Roslyn Jaffe Professor of Cinema & Media Studies, who studies film and media theory, war and the academy, violence and media, community media, animation, experimental film, feminism, and moving images in contemporary art.
• Kathy Van Cleve, Senior Lecturer in Cinema & Media Studies, a novelist, screenwriter, film producer, and teacher who studies the business of film.
• Chenshu Zhou, Assistant Professor of Cinema & Media Studies, who studies a variety of questions related to cinema and media in China, such as exhibition and moviegoing, cinema ontology, screen cultures, media archaeology, and media infrastructure.
“We have deep ties to other programs, centers, and departments at Penn, as well as to the wider Philadelphia community,” Fleishman says. “We look forward to cultivating these ties further now that we are an independent department with our own faculty lines, exciting possibilities for future hires, and independent masters and doctoral programs for the study of cinema and media.”