Courses in Film and Visual Studies

List of Courses Approved for Graduate Credit

Graduate Student Course Offerings for Film and Visual Studies – 2018-2019

 

Please visit https://ves.fas.harvard.edu/courses-list and https://my.harvard.edu/ for most up to date information on course schedule.

 

VES 138D Directors Directing
Fall Term, Wednesdays, 12:00pm - 5:45pm
Karthik Pandian and David Levine
This video and theater production course engages students in the directing of performance and the performance of directing. This dynamic will be introduced to students through the presentation and analysis of moving image and performance work that thematizes direction itself. Students will then engage in an active practice of studio work and research, culminating in individual and collaborative projects in video and performance. Course Notes: Previous experience with film, video or theater required as evidenced by at least one of the following: a college video production course, college acting class or college theater production. Interested students must attend first meeting of class during shopping week to speak with teaching staff about course enrollment procedure. Class Notes: The first meeting of this class will take place in Farkas Hall 203.
 
VES 174 Art of the Real: Rethinking Documentary
Fall Term, Mondays, 3:00pm - 5:45pm
Dennis Lim
What defines the documentary, and why have these definitions proved so mutable and even contentious over the years? This seminar will undertake a historical survey of the documentary from the silent era to the digital present, paying special attention to the formal, aesthetic, and ethical questions that have shaped its evolution. Looking beyond the canon and beyond traditional notions of non-fiction, the class aims to provide students with an expanded view of the real in cinema. Course Notes: There are mandatory film screenings for this class from 12:00pm to 2:00 on Mondays, preceding the class meeting, which is from 3pm to 5pm.
 
VES 186M A Deep History of Arts of the Secret
Fall Term, Wednesdays, 9:45am - 11:45am
Laura Marks
The arts of the secret carry out operations on the universe, understood as an interconnected, deeply folded whole. People with special knowledge—secret societies, enslaved peoples, and persecuted minorities—create and use secret arts, including alchemy, talismans, Baroque curiosity cabinets, ornament and abstraction, performative media, and algorithmic apps. We will practice embodied methods to unfold their secrets. Theories and methods will draw on Islamic Hermeticism, Sadrā, Deleuze, Focillon, Simondon, Moten, Steyerl, and others.
Course Notes: There are mandatory weekly screenings for this class on Wednesday evenings in the Carpenter Center Lecture Hall from 7:15 PM-10:00 PM.
 
VES 192 Cinema and French Culture from 1896 to the Present
Fall Term, Tuesdays, 12:00pm - 2:45pm
Tom Conley
Focuses on relations of cinema to French culture from the silent era to the age of video. Explores film in dialogue with cultural and historical events, development of a national style and signature, a history of criticism. Correlates study of cinema to cultural analysis. Takes up Renoir and poetic realism, unrest in 1930s, France and other filmic idioms (Italy, Hollywood, Russia), new wave directors, feminist and minoritarian cinema after 1980.
Course Notes: This course has mandatory weekly film screenings on Tuesday evenings from 7:15 to 10:00 and weekly mandatory discussion sections.
 
VES 196R Directed Research: Studio Course
Fall Term, Wednesdays, 6:00pm - 8:45pm
Andy Graydon
This course is intended for students who have developed the beginnings of a practice they are prepared to pursue. The motive is to assemble a group of disparate artists who come together to exchange thoughts across disciplines: painting next to photography next to writing next to filmmaking, and so on. Course Notes: Recommended for concentrators in Visual and Environmental Studies in their junior and senior year but also open to others with permission of the instructor. This course was formerly numbered VES 96r. Interested students must attend first meeting of class during shopping week to speak with teaching staff about course enrollment procedure. This course is from 6pm to 9pm.
 
VES 197K Cinemas of Resistance: Political Filmmaking Across the Globe
Fall Term, Mondays, 12:00pm - 2:45pm
Kate Rennebohm
Film change the world? What can the history of engaged film and media-making teach us about politics, and vice-versa? This course will study instances of political filmmaking from around the world: early 20th century avant-garde filmmaking, anti-colonialist and anti-imperialist cinemas, feminist and queer filmmaking, Indigenous cinemas, and more. Students will learn about different political movements, international histories of film theory and film form, and the ongoing legacies of cinemas of resistance. Course Notes: There are mandatory weekly screenings for this course on Fridays 12:00 PM-2:45 PM.
 
VES 209R Curation, Conservation and Programming
Fall Term, TBA
Eric Rentschler
For research and independent projects in the archives, collections, and exhibitions of the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, the Harvard Film Archive, or the Harvard Museums and other campus arts institutions. Open only by petition to the Department; petitions should be presented during the term preceding enrollment, and must be signed by the instructor or staff member with whom the project is to be done.
 
VES 252 Sonic Ethnography
Fall Term, Tuesdays, 3:00pm - 5:45pm
Ernest Karel
This is a practice-based course in which students record, edit, and produce anthropologically informed audio works which interpret culture and lived experience. Listening sessions will provide a broad context of contemporary work using location recordings, and readings will situate the practice within the growing field of sound studies. In their projects, students will experiment with technical and conceptual strategies of recording and composition as they engage with questions of ethnographic representation through the sensory dimension of sound.
Class Notes: This course has weekly labs on Mondays from 6pm to 8:45.
Recommended Prep: Experience in media production helpful but not required.
 
VES 271 Proseminar in Film and Visual Studies: Theory
Fall Term, Tuesdays, 9:45am - 11:45am
Laura Marks
This proseminar presents useful theories and methods for film, media, and visual culture. Beginning with aesthetics and theories of perception, we will hone skills in object-based and embodied forms of inquiry. We will work on medium specificity and intermediality, media ecologies, archives and archaeologies, and the attention economy. We will learn to research across time and space, including non-Western theories and cross-cultural research methods. We will develop skills for outputs from publishing to public programming.
Course Notes: Required of all Film and Visual Studies graduate students as well as graduate students intending to declare a secondary field in Film and Visual Studies. Interested students must attend first meeting of class during shopping week to speak with teaching staff about course enrollment procedure. Related Sections: Films TBA
 
Visual and Environmental Studies 301. Film and Visual Studies Workshop
Eric Rentschler 
 
VES 305 FVS Dissertation Group
Laura Frahm
2018 Fall Term, Mondays, 3:00pm - 5:45pm
A dissertation writing course offered to graduate students within the Film and Visual Studies program in their final year of the dissertation. The course will include discussions of individual chapters, professional development components, as well as dedicated writing sessions in the months leading up to the submission of the dissertation. Class Notes: Offered to Film and Visual Studies graduate students in their final dissertation year. This course meets from 3:00 to 5:00.
Visual and Environmental Studies 310. Reading and Research
Members of the Department
Note: Conducted through regular conferences and assigned writing. Limited to students reading specifically on topics not covered in regular courses. Open only by petition to the Department; petitions should be presented during the term preceding enrollment, and must be signed by the instructor with whom the reading is to be done. All applicants for admission should first confer with the Director of Graduate Studies.
 
Visual and Environmental Studies 320. Directed Study
Members of the Department
VES 330R Teaching Workshop
Fall Term, TBA
Eric Rentschler
This course serves as an introduction to teaching in Visual and Environmental Studies, as well as a forum for designing instruction. There will be an emphasis on discussions of hybrid methodologies between research and practice.
 
VES 351HFA Film Study Center Non-Fiction Filmmaking Workshop
Fall Term, Tuesdays, 6:00pm - 8:45pm
Lucien Castaing-Taylor
A graduate workshop for Film Study Center non-fiction film and video projects. Students must complete both parts of this course (parts A and B) within the same academic year in order to receive credit. Course Notes: Admission Limited to Critical Media Practice graduate students and Film Study Center fellows. This course meets 6:00 to 9:00. 
 
VES 355R Advanced Critical Media Practice
Fall Term, Mondays and Wednesdays, 12:00pm - 4:15pm
Lucien Castaing-Taylor
This course is for graduate students pursuing the PhD Secondary Field in Critical Media Practice as well as other students creating artistic or interpretive media projects that are complementary to their scholarship.  Open to any media or subject matter, the course is centered around exhaustive, constructive critique of independent projects, supplemented by workshops, screenings and visiting artists. Recommended Prep: Interview with instructor and project proposal.
 
EAFM 151 Documenting China in Film and Photography
Fall Term, Wednesdays, 12:00pm - 2:45pm
Jie Li
How have cameras borne witness to modern Chinese history and contemporary China’s transformations?  In this course, we will analyze documentary photography and cinema taken in China from the early 20th century to the present day, through the lenses of both Chinese and foreigners.  We will interrogate the visual “evidence” that camera images can offer, look into their production and reception histories, as well as discuss the ethics, aesthetics, and politics of representation.  Although we will give special focus to major historical events such as the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Cultural Revolution, and the 1989 Tiananmen protests, we will also examine visual documents of contemporary Chinese society such as migrant labor, demolitions, the One Child Policy, and environmental issues.  Audiovisual texts will be complemented by theoretical and contextual readings, and the final project for the course will be writing a proposal for a documentary project of one’s own.
 
EAFM 204 Three Times + 1. Transitional Moments in Film and Media Culture in Japan: Seminar
Fall Term, Mondays, 12:00pm - 2:45pm
Alexander Zahlten
This seminar will focus on transitional moments in the history of film and media culture in Japan. We will explore the deep transformations of the years 1927, 1963, and 1995––with an additional focus on 1968––and their connections to media-historical shifts that include magazines, TV, animation, music, the experimental arts and other media / genres. We will also take a step back to consider the theory and methods of historiography of media, both generally and in the specific case of Japan.
 
HAA 101 The Making of Art and Artifacts: History, Material and Technique
Fall Term, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 3:00pm - 5:45pm
Francesca Bewer
To what extent do the availabilty of materials and development of material technology influence artistic choice and innovation?  How was a particular work of art made, and why does it look the way it does?  The course will explore these and other questions of materiality through a combination of close looking at objects in the Harvard Art Museums' collections, hands-on experimentation with a range of artist's materials and techniques, and discussions of related readings.  Among the goals of the course are for students to gain a better understanding of the dynamic relationship between makers and the materials and techniques they use; to be able to better recognize traces of artistic processes in works of art; and consider the implications of alterations that can occur in objects over time.  The course will be taught by the Harvard Art Museums' research curator for conservation and technical studies in collaboration with staff of the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies - professionals who routinely consider questions of materiality and how they effect the way we understand, interpret, preserve and present works of art.
 
 

Spring 2018

Graduate Student Course Offerings for Film and Visual Studies – Spring 2019

Please visit https://ves.fas.harvard.edu/courses-list and https://my.harvard.edu/ for most up to date information on course schedule.

 

 
VES 109 Artist-Curators and Collections
Spring Term, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 1:30pm - 5:45pm
Dan Byers
Harvard’s collections, archives, and libraries hold vast repositories of visual and material culture. How have artists engaged collections to create new works, and to curate critical, idiosyncratic, and subversive exhibitions? This class will create a dialog between visits to the university’s varied collections guided by their curators, librarians, and archivists and case studies of 20th and 21st century artist-curated exhibitions and artworks that adopt the logic and form of collections. Will include visiting artists and curators. Class Notes: This course meets from 1:30-4:15. Recommended Prep: Pre-req: At least one course in VES or History of Art and Architecture, or the permission of the instructor. Interested students must attend first meeting of class during shopping week to speak with teaching staff about course enrollment procedure.
 
VES 119 Material Research: The Bauhaus Studio
Spring Term, Mondays and Wednesdays, 3:00pm - 5:45pm
Katarina Burin and Laura Frahm
In connection with the Bauhaus Centennial, this intensive research-based making course will explore the legacy of Bauhaus influence on art and design education in the United States by drawing from a wide range of archives, collections, and historical sites. Integrating studio and seminar instruction, we will examine Bauhaus pedagogy through weekly archival visits, guest lectures, material workshops, and studio practice. Our research will culminate in an exhibition that combines materials from collections, drawings, and objects alongside the student projects generated as a result of our investigations. Course Notes: This course is for graduate students and advanced undergraduate students. Interested students must attend first meeting of class during shopping week to speak with teaching staff about course enrollment procedure.
 
VES 159 Anti-Aesthetic Anthropology: Sighting, Sounding, Sensing, Stilling
Spring Term, Mondays and Wednesdays, 12:00pm - 4:15pm
Lucien Castaing-Taylor
Course Notes: Prerequisite: At least one previous course in film production or the permission of the instructor. Interested students must attend first meeting of class during shopping week to speak with teaching staff about course enrollment procedure.
 
 
VES 163R Moving Images: Advanced Projects in Film and Video
Spring Term, Thursdays, 1:30pm - 5:45pm
Karthik Pandian
This is a workshop for undergraduate and graduate students pursuing self-directed projects in film, video and moving image installation. Students will be responsible for conducting research that culminates in the completion of an ambitious work or series of works in moving image. Regular screenings, readings, discussions, presentations, field trips and group critiques will help students develop their practice as well as find their stakes in the field of production.
Recommended Prep: Prerequisites: At least one previous moving image production course or equivalent experience.
 
VES 173L Documentary in the 21st Century
Spring Term. Mondays, 3:00pm - 5:00pm
Dennis Lim
This class will survey the contemporary documentary landscape and explore some of the most pressing questions facing the field in a time defined equally by an unprecedented ubiquity of documentary images and a rhetoric of post-truth. Topics include the role of digital technology, the documentary image as it relates to global crisis, the documentary turn in contemporary art, the proliferation of documentary-fiction hybrid films, and the revitalization of observational and ethnographic modes of filmmaking. Course Notes: There are mandatory film screenings for this class from 12:00pm to 2:00 on Mondays, preceding the class meeting, which is from 3pm to 5pm.
 
VES 183 Art Cinema/Counter Cinema: The Rebirth and Revolution of Post WWII Japanese Cinema, 1950-1979
Spring Term. Wednesdays, 12:00pm - 2:45pm
Haden Guest
This class explores one of the richest and most turbulent period in the history of Japanese cinema, looking closely at the resurgence of Japanese films on the international scene in the 1950s and the reinvention of filmmaking as a radical and revolutionary practice during the period around 1968. The work and career of key Japanese directors will be closely studied, including Akira Kurosawa, Hiroshi Teshigahara, Shohei Imamura, Nagisa Oshima, Shuji Terayama, and Shinsuke Ogawa. Recommended Prep: Prerequisite: VES 70: the Art of Film or another film and visual studies course. Related Sections: Films Tuesdays, 12:00 PM-2:45 PM.
 
VES 187S Marking Smooth Space: The Ship, the Sea, and the Limits of Representation
Spring Term, Tuesdays, 12:00pm - 2:45pm
Bernhard Siegert
Course investigates the media operations and cultural techniques that define seafaring – like ship design, navigation, naval tactics, whaling, radio, radar etc. – that have turned the sea into an object in art, literature, anthropology, geopolitics, and the sciences in the first place. A special focus will be placed on the history of the seascape from the 15th to the 20th century.
 
 
VES 196R Directed Research: Studio Course
Spring Term, TBA
Anna Craycroft
This course is intended for students who have developed the beginnings of a practice they are prepared to pursue. The motive is to assemble a group of disparate artists who come together to exchange thoughts across disciplines: painting next to photography next to writing next to filmmaking, and so on. Course Notes: Recommended for concentrators in Visual and Environmental Studies in their junior and senior year but also open to others with permission of the instructor. This course was formerly numbered VES 96r. Interested students must attend first meeting of class during shopping week to speak with teaching staff about course enrollment procedure.
 
VES 209R Curation, Conservation and Programming
Spring Term, TBA
Carrie Lambert-Beatty
For research and independent projects in the archives, collections, and exhibitions of the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, the Harvard Film Archive, or the Harvard Museums and other campus arts institutions. Open only by petition to the Department; petitions should be presented during the term preceding enrollment, and must be signed by the instructor or staff member with whom the project is to be done.
 
VES 255 Introduction to Critical Media Practice
Spring Term, Wednesdays, 1:30-5:45
Julie Mallozzi
This course is for graduate students interested in pursuing the PhD Secondary Field in Critical Media Practice as well as other students who would like to explore the use of artistic practices to conduct or present research. Students will work individually and in groups to complete a series of exercises in single-channel video, installation, performance, and/or web-based work. Constructive critique will be informed by screenings, visiting artists, and workshops.
 
VES 270 Proseminar in Film and Visual Studies: History
Spring Term, Mondays, 12:00pm - 2:45pm
Bernhard Siegert
Considers film history and the relations between film and history as well as pertinent theoretical approaches to historiography. Critical readings of exemplary film historical studies and careful scrutiny of films both in and as history. Course Notes: Required of all Film and Visual Studies graduate students, as well as graduate students intending to declare a secondary field in Film and Visual Studies. Interested students must attend first meeting of class during shopping week to speak with teaching staff about course enrollment procedure.
 
Visual and Environmental Studies 301. Film and Visual Studies Workshop
Eric Rentschler
Visual and Environmental Studies 310. Reading and Research
Members of the Department
Note: Conducted through regular conferences and assigned writing. Limited to students reading specifically on topics not covered in regular courses. Open only by petition to the Department; petitions should be presented during the term preceding enrollment, and must be signed by the instructor with whom the reading is to be done. All applicants for admission should first confer with the Director of Graduate Studies.
Visual and Environmental Studies 320. Directed Study
Members of the Department
VES 330R Teaching Workshop
Spring Term, TBA
Carrie Lambert-Beatty
This course serves as an introduction to teaching in Visual and Environmental Studies, as well as a forum for designing instruction. There will be an emphasis on discussions of hybrid methodologies between research and practice.
 
VES 351HFA Film Study Center Non-Fiction Filmmaking Workshop
Spring Term, Tuesdays, 6:00pm - 8:45pm
Lucien Castaing-Taylor
A graduate workshop for Film Study Center non-fiction film and video projects. Students must complete both parts of this course (parts A and B) within the same academic year in order to receive credit. Course Notes: Admission Limited to Critical Media Practice graduate students and Film Study Center fellows. This course meets 6:00 to 9:00.
 
COMPLIT 217 15 Things (A Secret History of Italian Design)
Spring Term, TBD
Jeffrey Schnapp
Fifteen Things explores intertwinings between design, science, technology, society, art, and culture by means of the “excavation” of fifteen objects from different periods in the history of modern Italian design, from the turn of the 20th century to the present. Combining micro- and macro-perspectives, it approaches design history from a broad aesthetic, historical, and socio-anthropological standpoint. The seminar combines readings from contemporary Thing Theory, material culture studies, and design history, with materials from literature, popular culture, and media. It is built around a chronologically ordered sequence of case studies of exemplary things: artifacts designed for purposes of sitting, drinking, lighting, walking, moving about, cooling down, cooking and cleaning, writing and calculating, or media viewing.
ROM-STD 168 Futurisms (a comparative history)
Spring Term, TBD
Jeffrey Schnapp
From its foundation in 1909 through WWII, futurism developed into the first international cultural-political avant-garde. Its aim was the revolutionary transformation of all spheres of life and its influence extended from Europe to the Americas to Asia. The seminar adopts a cross-disciplinary and comparative focus; and includes such topics as humans and machines; experimental poetics; futurism's ties to anarchism, bolshevism and fascism. Media surveyed include poetry, performance, music, painting, photography, radio, and film.
 
EAFM 111 East Asian Media Studies
Spring Term, Mondays, 9:00am - 11:45am
Alexander Zahlten
This course explores the explosion of media in East Asia and the resulting forms of media production, circulation and consumption that transform everyday life, economy and politics. From pop culture phenomena such as K-Pop, fan fiction and internet platforms such as Sina Weibo, 2channel or DC Inside, from mobile phone culture to video games and social networks used in political protests, complex media forms and practices are developing with lightning speed across the region and exerting global influence. The starting point of the course are questions such as: What effects does this intense new media environment have in East Asia? How are ways of thinking and behaving adjusting to completely new forms of media? What are the consequences for the future of East Asia? How do media influence us in ways that go beyond the films, music, games, news or other forms that they supply us with? For Spring 2016 there will be film screenings once or twice a month on Thursdays 5-7 pm. Class Notes: This course will start at 9:45 am.
 
EAFM 127 Frames in Time: Korean Cinema as History and Filmmaking
Spring Term Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:30am - 11:45am
Carter Eckert and Alexander Zahlten
This course will trace the development of Korean cinema from the 1930s to the present, approaching the subject through two alternating lenses: One focuses on cinema as depicting and reflecting historical moments and changes in Korean society, and the other focuses on the transformations of Korean filmmaking and its interactions with national, regional, and global cinemas. During the semester the course will introduce students to a diverse array of key Korean films, including North Korean cinema. Arranged both thematically and diachronically, the films will shed light on both of these perspectives and allow the course to consider how the art and technology of filmmaking in each case has been applied to enhance and explore the subject matter of the film.
 
EAFM 220 Topics in Chinese Film and Media Studies: Seminar
Spring Term, Tuesdays, 12:00pm - 2:45pm
Jie Li
Course addresses the question "What was/is cinema in China?" from shadow puppets to DV documentaries. Topics include cinema's arrival in China, silent film stars, sound film sing-alongs, wartime collaborations, mobile projection teams, revolutionary model operas, and Chinese cinema's transnational connections.
 
HISTSCI 194 Scientific Sites
Spring Term, Mondays and Wednesdays, 12:00pm - 2:45pm
Peter Galison
Course aims to explore scientific-technical sites—places of research, production, teaching, testing, and disposal. Some may be historical (such as disused Cold War relics) others in current use. How are these places shaped by the work that goes in them, how do the sites, in return, condition the work? Our sources will be a mix of site visits, texts (e.g. historical, ethnographic) and films (documentary). Each student will produce both a paper and a short cell-phone filmed video (no experience, we will teach all you need). Open to undergraduates and graduates.
 
 

Nota bene 

  • If there are courses not on this list that you feel should count toward credit in Film and Visual Studies, do not hesitate to discuss them with the Director of Graduate Studies.
  • Courses of interest may also be found at the Graduate School of Design http://www.gsd.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/courses/index.cgi.
  • Harvard has cross-registration agreements with MIT and Brown. You may find interesting and relevant graduate courses there, especially in Comparative Media Studies, http://cms.mit.edu/ and Media and Modern Culture http://www.brown.edu/Departments/MCM.
  • For a list of undergraduate courses of interest see: http://ves.fas.harvard.edu/courses-list. 100-level courses are usually listed as for both undergraduate and graduate students. Many of these courses are available for graduate credit upgrades. For more information, contact the Director of Graduate Studies.
  • Both Yale University and Columbia University have important graduate programs in film. GSAS students have the opportunity to study there, and at eight other universities, through the Exchange Scholar Program https://gsas.harvard.edu/student-life/harvard-resources/exchange-scholar-program