About Our Program

The Film and Visual Studies concentration engages students in the history, criticism, and theory of film and other visual media spanning a broad range of disciplines and fields in visual and material studies, literature and culture, adaptation, and performance studies. Coursework covers the history of American cinema, film genre and authorship studies, contemporary global cinemas, literary and rhetorical studies, affect and embodiment theory, and minoritarian aesthetics, among other topics and approaches. As an interdisciplinary concentration, Film and Visual Studies also enables students to take applicable classes in the School of Language, Culture, and Society. In addition, we encourage our students to engage with students within and beyond the School of Writing, Literature, and Film.


Students in Film and Visual Studies Create Groundbreaking Research

MA students complete a thesis during their second year of study. Many of these projects result in excellent, thoughtful research that becomes integrated into classroom practice, results in published articles, or evolves into dissertation projects. These are just a few recent thesis projects:

  • Bill Fech, “The soul announces itself: Terrence Malick's Emersonian cinema”
  • Nicholas A. Brown, “Extending and Visualizing AuthStudorship in Comics Studies”
  • Samara Surface, “Its Own Sense of Verisimilitude": The Lizzie Bennet Diaries As a Transhistorical Adaptation of the Semipublic”
  • Matthew Dodson, “The Objects Within: An Applied OOO Literary Criticism” (recipient of the All-University Best Thesis Award)
  • Alexandra Hayley Trowbridge, "In and Out of Touch: Fabricated Histories in Nella Larsen's Passing and James VanDerZee's Studio Portraiture"
  • Charles K. Barkley, "'Her Hypnotic Eyes': Reading the Optical in Aaron Douglas’s Aspects of Negro Life and Nella Larsen's Passing"


Student Opportunities

Our students are offered unique opportunities to engage with film outside of SWLF. Collaborations beyond the classroom include partnerships with the downtown, independent Darkside Cinema for screenings and events, including the annual Oregon State International Film Festival. The Film and Visual Studies track prepares students for professions and professional programs involving visuality and visual arts. The MA faculty in Film and Visual Studies publish widely with major trade and scholarly presses and in top professional journals

Film and Visual Studies Alumni Have Exciting Careers

  • Andrea Schuster (MA, 2021) was accepted to the PhD Program in Film at the University of Iowa

  • Kate Dawson (MA, 2020) was accepted to the PhD Program in Film at Temple University

  • Jess Silbaugh-Cowdin (MA, 2018) was accepted to the PhD Program in Literature at the University of California San Diego

  • Samara Surface (MA, 2016) is a Business Administrator at Invention Development Fund
  • Alexandra Hayley Trowbridge (MA, 2016) is a Freelance Copyeditor
  • Charles K. Barkley (MA, 2016) is an Enrollment Advisor at the University of Chicago
  • Nicholas A. Brown (MA, 2015) is a Graduate Instructor at Texas Christian University
  • Bill Fech (MA, 2014) is a Film and Moving Image Studies graduate student at Concordia University
  • Matthew Dodson (MA, 2014) is a Client Engagement Supervisor at Zillow Group



Graduate Student Spotlight

Rachael garcia

I entered the film studies program with a background in film production and an academic interest in studying hegemonic versus subversive representations throughout global cinema of who is considered a criminal and who is allowed to enact violence. I’ve enjoyed the freedom I’ve had in pursuing my research interests. I began my time in the program researching the relationship between the Department of Defense and Disney’s Marvel franchise and pivoted with my thesis, in which I’m researching the Italian giallo genre within the historical context of Italy’s Years of Lead. I’ve also been pleasantly surprised by how much film production I’ve been able to participate in during my time here. I’ve made a documentary short about shadow casts of Rocky Horror Picture Show and a horror short film The Defense with my peers in a MA Experience course. The Defense screened at the local independent theater here, Darkside Cinema. It was a great experience to see our film on the big screen and get the opportunity for a Q&A.

Over summer I will be directing and filming a documentary about the history and current state of lighthouses off the Oregon Coast, with help from Oregon State Productions and the Marine Science Initiative. Next year I plan to TA film courses, present at conferences, submit my films to festivals, and of course complete my thesis. I feel supported by my advisor and thesis committee, and am really excited to dig deeper into studying giallo films within their political historical context. 


Screening at Darkside Cinema of short film directed by Rachael Garcia, for film course: The Terror of Pleasure: Horror Films, 1919-2023



Our program application deadline is in early January. Watch for applications to open each year in mid-September.