SPCM 350 - Evaluating Contemporary Film

  • 3 credits
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As seasoned spectators, most of us are familiar with the fundamental look, structure, sound, and feel of contemporary movies. Filmmakers rely on our familiarity with film form to craft movies that we are able to interpret and, hopefully, appreciate. However, most spectators tend to overlook - let alone question or analyze - how the phenomenal language, techniques, and conventions of film form actually function to make us laugh, cry, frightened, curious, aroused, shocked or even disgusted.

Also, rarely do we contemplate the historical background, political and economical influences, and cultural assumptions that help shape the films we watch. Therefore, through introduction, explanation, examples, and discussions of these elements, this course attempts to encourage a more informed, critical spectatorship of contemporary film.

The hope is that the knowledge and insight you gain through taking this course will result in a stronger awareness and deeper understanding of, as well as greater appreciation for, the movies you watch as well as cinema in general.

Textbooks and Materials

Textbooks and materials can be purchased at the CSU Bookstore unless otherwise indicated.


  • Film Art: An Introduction*, 8th Ed.
    Bordwell, David & Thompson, Kristin
    ISBN: 970-0073535067

Online access not needed.


Kit Hughes


Kit Hughes is Assistant Professor of Media and Visual Culture. She specializes in nontheatrical film, useful and orphan media, and histories of technology. Her manuscript project, Television at Work, explores how American business developed workplace television as a medium of industrial efficiency, ideological orientation, and corporate expansion. Her research on sponsored film, workplace media, early video formats, and digital humanities methods has appeared in a range of journals and edited collections, including Film History, Media, Culture & Society, Television & New Media, The Arclight Guidebook, Media Industries Journal, and Film Criticism. Her article in American Archivist on cultural studies approaches to appraisal won the 2014 Ernst Posner Award for most outstanding article published by the journal that year.

Hughes has contributed to several media history digital humanities projects, including Project Arclight (projectarclight.org), Media History Digital Library (mediahistoryproject.org), and Lantern (lantern.mediahist.org), the last of which was recognized with the 2014 Society for Cinema and Media Studies Anne Friedberg Innovative Scholarship Award.

Prior to joining CSU, she taught at Miami University, worked as an archivist at the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research, and volunteered as an AmeriCorps VISTA in Baltimore, Maryland.

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