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Popular Cinema Studies program expands faculty, course offerings

Thursday, October 28, 2010
Popular Cinema Studies program expands faculty, course offerings
By Katie Land, news editor

As a still-young major, Oakland University’s Cinema Studies program has grown rapidly, boasting new events, new courses and a new professor in the past year alone.

The program, unique among universities in Michigan, has sparked an interest in a field that is growing quickly within the state.

Launched in the fall 2009 semester, the program’s course offerings have been greatly expanded, a new faculty member has joined the mix, and more than 60 students have chosen the major, up from an anticipated 20 students in the second year.

“We've also received university funding to renovate classroom space, purchase film production equipment and acquire important library resources,” said Kyle Edwards, director of the Cinema Studies Program. “The university's support in these areas has been very gratifying and will improve the educational experience of our current and future students.”

The newest addition to the program is Hye Seung Chung, assistant professor, who specializes in Asian cinema and race and ethnicity in American cinema. Chung has worked as a postdoctoral fellow of Korean Studies at the University of Michigan, a visiting assistant professor of Comparative Literature at Hamilton College, and an assistant professor of American Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

“Although I enjoyed teaching films from interdisciplinary perspectives at other universities, my ultimate goal has always been to find a home in a Cinema Studies program, an environment where I can realize my full potential as a film and media scholar,” she said. “Although this is only my first semester at OU, it has already been my best teaching experience of my entire career.”

Chung currently teaches a number of courses including a film history class focused on New Wave cinema of the 1960s and 1970s. She intends to offer some special-topic courses soon, such as The Cold War in American Film and Television, History of Korean Cinema, and Sex and Violence in American Cinema. She will also launch ENG 260: Masterpieces of World Cinema, a brand new general education course.

She hopes to open students’ eyes to different cultures, societies and peoples through film. For example, this semester Chung has taught both a Czech New Wave film about the Holocaust and a revolutionary Cuban film set during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

“I think that these films really impressed my students, since they do not conform to the stereotypical notion of political propaganda that most Americans expect from cultural productions in communist countries,” she continued. “These films are innovative, sophisticated and complex works of art. Such exposure has helped to generate sensitive discussions about the meaning of artistic freedom in different societal contexts.”

Additional opportunities have been offered to students, including the chance to work on director and producer Michael Manasseri’s movie, “Sucker.”

As production interns, students were able to participate in nearly every aspect of production, from building sets and securing locations to shooting several scenes on Oakland’s campus and assisting with post production editing work over the course of the summer.

Students armed with a cinema studies degree will be prepared to begin a career in the field or move on to graduate coursework in cinema studies, higher education, curatorial, research and archival positions.

Possible career options include film criticism, education, production, film archiving, screenwriting, story editing, film-related public relations, advertising, marketing and legal representation. These graduates also would be suited to pursue professional degrees in law and business.

For more information on the cinema studies major, visit the website, or contact Edwards at edwards2@oakland.edu.