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Graduate Program

Electives

PPCM students must complete three elective courses as part of the PPCM program. Electives will vary by semester.

Please see below for a list of sample electives, including course titles and brief course descriptions.

Sample Electives (offerings will vary by semester)

Modern Film Theory

This seminar examines major works of film theory, with a focus on 1970s Screen theory through the present. We will discuss theoretical approaches including semiotics, apparatus theory, psychoanalysis, Marxism, genre studies, feminism, phenomenology, and new media studies. The course traces the development of contemporary film theory through multiple and often-competing approaches, with a particular focus on theories of spectatorship. We will examine these theories in relation to pertinent examples of Hollywood, experimental, and world cinema.

Film History: 1989 – Present

This class explores global trends in film history from 1989 to the present. In considering the contemporary period of cinema, we will look at the technical, social, and formal aspects of the medium. Of particular interest will be new digital technologies for production, post-production, and exhibition in both commercial and independent filmmaking (e.g., CGI, HD, Motion Capture, High Frame Rate), all of which are linked to a network culture that emerges after 1989. We will also focus on geopolitical developments and social upheavals such as the end of the Cold War, the events of September 11, 2001, economic and cultural globalization, and the post-2008 financial crisis as all of these altered various national/regional cinemas and genres (e.g., the spy film, the horror movie, the comedy-drama, and action movies). We will screen the works of major figures in late twentieth century and early twenty-first century world cinema from the United States, China, and Hong Kong to Palestine, Iran, India, and Senegal.

Art of Infrastructure

This course will examine the aesthetics of several key typologies of human infrastructure in modern times. Most works of civil engineering and other built manifestations of human organization are typically thought of in the contexts of utility, efficiency and functionality and not as veritable objects of beauty born of design philosophy. This broad overview, everything from sidewalks to transport networks, demonstrates that infrastructure has, counter to common believe, very often been at the forefront of aesthetic thought and has played a formative role in rendering human innovation and ingenuity in visual and physical terms. This seminar is organized typologically and will comprise the reading of one recent scholarly book per week from a broad range of disciplines including the history of architecture, the history of science, history, science and technology studies and the history of art. The course material will be augmented by three field trips to important sites in the Rochester area.

Art and the City: N.Y. in the 70’s

The recession and fiscal crisis of the 1970s was paradoxically a highly productive period of artistic experimentation in New York City. In the wake of the transforming art movements of the 1960s—Pop, Minimalism, and Conceptual Art—the 1970s saw the invention of new and hybrid media—video art, performance art, and site-specific installation works. As the city’s economy became one based on real estate speculation and financial services, artists moved into the abandoned spaces of nineteenth-century industry. SoHo and Tribeca were remade into living and working spaces for artists, art galleries, and alternative spaces such as 112 Greene Street (now White Columns), the Kitchen Center for Video and Music, and Artists Space. By the end of the decade a new artists’ group that came to be known as the Pictures generation began showing in these alternative spaces. In this seminar we will study how the de-industrialization of New York contributed to new kinds of art making and examine how artists used the city.

Architecture, Photography, Modernism / Postmodernism

The subject of this course is inspired by a series of photographs commissioned from Hiroshi Sugimoto for the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Arts’ exhibition “At the End of the Century: One Hundred Years of Architecture”. Sugimoto’s photographs show canonical works of modern architecture shot out of focus, reduced to both icon and phantom. The seminar considers the changing relations between photography and architecture, between image and space, between picture and object from the advent of modernism to the present. The course looks at these relations in the New Objectivity and the New Vision, Surrealism, the International Style, Mid-Century Modern, and ends by considering the uses of the photography of architecture in Conceptual art and the fascination with modernist architecture in contemporary photographic work. Students read critical studies of modernist architecture and photography and plot the relations between these discourses and practices.