Last fall, when Colgate announced that film and media studies (FMST) would be offered as a major, six students reshaped their senior year to complete the requirements.

“I’m the kind of person who gets emotional about a film theory article, and when you find that kind of obsession with a topic, you can’t give it up,” inaugural FMST major Gabby Durr ’19 said.

Durr, like many of the first FMST majors, was already minoring in FMST — the option has been available at the University for 14 years. Associate Professor and Department Chair Mary Simonson described this year’s class as incredibly hard working.

“It’s remarkable for a major to become available in the fall of your senior year and make the split-second decision to pursue it,” Simonson said. “They’re very motivated.”

The FMST major provides students with visual and media literacy skills in a highly interdisciplinary way. “Part of teaching FMST is introducing theories and histories that help students understand the film and media that they are engaging with every day,” Simonson said. “That’s really rewarding because you’re giving students tools to understand their own habits.”

FMST majors Alden DeBouter ’19, Durr, Rachel Hegarty ’19, Tracy Milyango ’19, Kim Ravold ’19, and James Wolfangel ’19 all took a senior seminar class with Ani Maitra, assistant professor of film and media studies. The seminar allowed them to explore their diverse interests through student-led discussions and independent projects. In both research papers and projects, students tackled new media, ethnographic media, and Asian cinema, among other topics.

For DeBouter, majoring in FMST has given him the necessary tools to pursue a career as a documentary filmmaker.

“I believe documentary film is often the most effective way of ensuring that people’s beliefs and stories are represented accurately,” DeBouter said. “The FMST major has prepared me for a career in filmmaking and a career in analysis, both of which I would be happy to pursue.”

As the major continues to evolve, Simonson hopes it will focus more prominently on new forms of media such as virtual and augmented reality — and include a study group.

“Film and media are changing and evolving all the time, so how we teach and what we teach are always going to evolve to reflect the changes in the field,” she said.

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