New film studies and linguistics minors added to curriculum
November 23, 2011 By Elizabeth Trollinger
studies, which was recently added to the curriculum. The image
above comes from the classic film "Cinema Paradiso."
A minor in linguistics was also recently added at Centre. In the
image above, a linguist does research in the documentary "The
Centre is constantly seeking ways to expand its educational offerings, and starting in the spring of 2012, two new minors will be available for students to pursue: film studies and linguistics.
“Centre’s new minors in linguistics and film studies will significantly enhance the range of the courses and the curriculum that we offer to our students,” says Mark Rasmussen, professor of English and chair of the division of humanities. “Students electing a linguistics minor will now have a means to build on their fascination with language to develop a more systematic understanding of language use worldwide, while students in film studies will acquire skills in analyzing and understanding a medium that will play an ongoing role in their lives.”
The minors, approved by the Board of Trustees at their recent fall meeting, will both be interdisciplinary in nature, though the film studies minor will be considered part of the English program, now officially known as the English, Creative Writing and Film Studies program. The linguistics minor, on the other hand, will not be housed under any other program.
Faculty at Centre have used films in their curriculum for several decades, pioneered by emeritus professor of French Charles Vahlkamp — for whom the theater in Crounse Hall is named. Adding film studies as a minor became possible when assistant professor of English Stacey Peebles came to Centre last year, as film studies is one of her areas of expertise.
“Centre has had strong course offerings in film for a long time, and the new minor will offer a way for students to draw some of those courses together and then extend their studies with a selection of new ones,” Peebles says.
The requirements for the minor include five courses: an Introduction to Film class, a Film Theory class and three courses chosen from a list of approved choices that will include classes from programs other than English, such as French, German, Spanish, classics and psychology.
“The introductory course reviews film history and technique, while the theory course takes students through major developments in film scholarship,” Peebles says. “Courses are also planned on film genres, world cinema, famous director/actor partnerships and sound in film.”
Seth Colgan ’14 is excited at the opportunity to study the medium of film.
“Film allows for a great deal of information to be squeezed into the shortest of shots. For me, this makes film more rich and expressive than other media, which really strikes my fancy,” he says.
Colgan is one of many students interested in the film studies minor.
“Students from all majors have wanted film studies for a long time,” says Mark Lucas, professor of English. “This option is going to please a lot of people and make the appreciation of film more sophisticated campus-wide.”
The same can be said for the linguistics minor, as students often fill up the linguistics classes already offered on campus and consistently voice an interest in studying multiple languages.
“There’s been an interest in linguistics on campus for a while,” says associate professor of Spanish Phyllis Bellver, herself a linguistics scholar. “Many students are already studying two or more foreign languages at Centre or are coming in with backgrounds in multiple languages. The linguistics minor is something they want.”
The linguistics minor came as part of a grant Centre received from the Mellon Foundation in 2009 to develop new minors in areas that would enhance the global reach of the curriculum. Five groups were established: Latin American studies, linguistics, East Asian studies, African and African-American studies, and European Studies. The minor in Latin American studies was the first of the five to be approved, and linguistics is the second.
Requirements for the linguistics minor will include Introduction to Linguistics, study of two foreign languages (at least one being an ancient or non-Romance language), four linguistic-related courses and a final capstone project.
“The linguistics minor will be truly interdisciplinary. Students will be able to take philosophy courses, cultural anthropology courses, psychology courses and others because so many areas contribute to the study of linguistics,” Bellver says.
Few colleges of Centre’s size offer any courses in linguistics, much less a minor, so Centre is setting itself apart by adding it as an official area of study.
“For students who are interested in language, linguistics courses put everything about language in context — but they also give students a global, human context for the rest of their studies,” Bellver says.
Both the film studies and linguistics minors will give students opportunities they are already looking forward to.
“I could not be more excited about the added vitality that these two new minors bring to our curriculum and offer to our students,” Rasmussen says.
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Centre College, founded in 1819 and chosen to host its second Vice Presidential Debate in 2012, is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges, at 42nd in the nation, and ranks 27th for best value among national liberal arts colleges. Forbes magazine ranks Centre 34th among all the nation’s colleges and universities and has named Centre in the top five among all institutions of higher education in the South for three years in a row. Centre is also ranked #4 in the nation by U.S. News for its study abroad program. For more, click here.