Programs / Graduate Program

Designated Emphasis

The Designated Emphasis in Film & Media Studies provides curricular and research resources for students who want to concentrate on Film & Media within their respective disciplines and have their work formally recognized in their degree designation. Designed to bring together faculty and students from different departments, the D.E. is administered by the Graduate Group in Film & Media Studies and provides a unique context for rigorous cross-disciplinary research. Students applying to the D.E. must be prepared to integrate high-level Film & Media research into their coursework, qualifying exam, and dissertation.

Requirements for Admission

Any UC Berkeley Ph.D student in good standing may apply after completing either the Film Theory seminar (Film & Media 200) offered each fall semester, or the Film Historiography seminar (Film & Media 201) offered each spring semester. Students must be admitted to the D.E. prior to taking their Qualifying Exams.

Requirements for the Designation

Students admitted to the Designated Emphasis Program must complete the following requirements before completion of their degree:

  1. A minimum of three graduate seminars in Film & Media must be taken at Berkeley:
  • Film & Media 200;
  • Film & Media 201;
  • Film & Media 240 or a graduate seminar cross-listed with Film & Media.

Note: Independent study courses are not acceptable to fulfill this requirement.

  1. A member of the Graduate Group in Film & Media must be a formal member of the Ph.D. Qualifying Examination committee. Under most circumstances, the Film Graduate Group member in the student’s home department will serve in this function. A member of the Graduate Group may also serve as the outside member of the qualifying exam committee.
  2. A Film & Media topic must be included as a subject on the Qualifying Examination.
  3. A member of the Graduate Group in Film and Media must be a formal member of the dissertation committee.
  4. The dissertation must contribute to the study of film and moving-image media.

Upon completion of these requirements and the dissertation, the student will receive a designation on their transcript to state that they have completed a “Ph.D. in (…) with an Emphasis in Film & Media.”


Please note that descriptions will vary according to the instructor. Additional seminars with substantial film or visual culture components are offered by various departments each semester.

Film & Media 200: Film Theory

This course will provide an advanced introduction to the by-now substantial field of Film Theory. Equal attention will be given to the classic texts of early and of contemporary Film Theory, and to the theoretical issues raised in each. It will not be the governing assumption of this course that an implicit teleology underpins the development of Film Theory, leading from primitive to ever more sophisticated formulations; consequently, while we will of course read that discipline’s founding texts through the prism of the late twentieth century, we will also complicate its contemporary debates through the work of figures like Benjamin, Eisenstein and Kracauer. Although the theoretical category to which we will most insistently return will be spectatorship, it will be formally as well as narratively and ideologically specified, and complicated through the related notions of “race,” “gender,” “class,” “nation” and “history.” We will read texts by Siegfried Kracauer, Walter Benjamin, Bela Belazs, Andre Bazin, Sergei Eisenstein, Jean-Louis Baudry, Christian Metz, Laura Mulvey, Stephen Heath, Linda Williams, Thomas Elsaesser, Tom Gunning, Mary Ann Doane, Kaja Silverman, and Gilles Deleuze.

Film & Media 201: Film Historiography

The seminar provides both a theoretical overview of film historiography and an introduction to specific examples and methods of historically oriented film research. One focus of the seminar will be an introduction to methodological aspects to film-archival research. Students will become familiar with campus libraries, film collections, and archival resources, especially Pacific Film Archive. The seminar’ s theoretical project will be to develop a repertoire of historiographical questions that can help shape research information into historical narrative. On the one hand, we will examine metahistorical writings on film history from the past two decades for an understanding of the questions undergirding various kinds of investigations. On the other, we will examine interesting case-historical examples dealing with film technology, style, studio history, exhibition, spectatorship, and cultural history.

Film 240: Special Topics (selected titles):

Sample titles from recent seminars:

Silent Film Comedy, Horror Film, Film Noir, The Courtroom Film, Racial Melodrama, Griffith, Eisenstein, Resnais/Renoir, Fellini, The Dialectical Image, Weimar Cinema, Italian Neo-Realism and Marxism, Caravaggio: Film and Painting, Narrative Theory in Literature and Cinema, Film and Modernism, Avant- garde, Psychoanalysis and the Socio-Political, Theory of Cultural Studies, Feminist Film Theory, Cinema, Nation, Memory, Third Cinema

Applying for the Film Designated Emphasis

Applications to the Designated Emphasis program are accepted in fall and spring semesters for admission in the following semester. Please email the Graduate Assistant to request the current application. The deadlines are April 1 for admission the following fall semester, and November 1 for the following spring semester. Only a limited number of students will be admitted. Please submit the following materials to the Film DE Graduate Advisor at Check back approximately one month after the deadline to check your status if you have not been notified.

  • A completed Film & Media Studies D.E. Application with the following materials: 
    • A succinct one-page statement about your research interests and background in film
    • A writing sample (maximum 25 pages), ideally relating to a film topic.
    • A current, unofficial copy of your UC Berkeley transcript.
    • At least one letter of recommendation from a faculty member from your home department. 

Film & Media Graduate Group Faculty

Jinsoo An
Ph.D., UCLA, Associate Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures (Korean Studies)
Professpr An research interests encompass Korean film history, East Asian cinema, film genre, authorship, history and memory, film historiography, language and cinema, and film censorship.  His current research focuses on the cinema of South Korean director, Kim Ki-young (1919-1998). 

Nicholas Baer
Ph.D., Berkeley; Assistant Professor of German
Professor Baer’s research examines film and digital media in conjunction with traditions of modern thought, with a particular emphasis on aesthetics, critical theory, and the philosophy of history. He teaches courses on philosophy and film, psychoanalysis, the Frankfurt School, media archaeology, and theories of media.

Weihong Bao
Ph.D., University of Chicago; Associate Professor of Film & Media and East Asian Languages & Cultures and Pamela P. Fong and Family Distinguished Chair in China Studies
Professor Bao’s teaching and research interests cover comparative media history and theory, media and environment, early cinema, war and modernity, affect theory, propaganda theory and practice, and Chinese language cinema of all periods and regions.

Rizvana Bradley
Ph.D. from Duke University; Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies and Affiliated Faculty in the History of Art Department and the Center for Race and Gender at the University of California, Berkeley 
Professor Bradley’s book, Anteaesthetics: Black Aesthesis and the Critique of Form, was published in 2023 by Stanford University Press. Her scholarly work has been published in Diacritics: A Review of Contemporary Criticism, Film Quarterly, Black Camera: An International Film Journal, Discourse: Journal for Theoretical Studies in Media and Culture, TDR: The Drama Review, Rhizomes: Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledge, and Women and Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory, and her art criticism has also been published in The Yale Review, Artforum, e-flux, Art in America, and Parkett. Bradley has curated a number of academic arts symposia, including events at the British Film Institute, London, the Serpentine Galleries, London, and most recently, the Stedelijk Museum of Art, Amsterdam.

Natalia Brizuela
Ph.D., New York University; Assistant Professor of Spanish and Portuguese
Prof. Brizuela has areas of research that lie at the intersection of Latin American literature and visual technologies new media, specializing in Argentine, Brazilian and Chilean literature and culture.

Abigail De Kosnik
Ph.D., Northwestern University, Associate Professor in the Berkeley Center for New Media (BCNM) and the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS)
Professor De Kosnik researches television, film, and new media, focusing on the intersections of media and technology with race/ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and nationality. Specific areas of interest include: fandom; piracy; diversity in media; repetition in media; linkages between film, television, social media and performance theory; hip-hop and digital sampling; Philippine media; transnational media flows; transmedia; and histories of internet use.

Mary Ann Doane
Ph.D., University of Iowa; Class of 1937 Professor of Film & Media
Prof. Doane teaches courses on film theory, psychoanalytic theory, technology and media, cultural theory, feminist theory, the avant-garde, and film and modernity. Doane works in the areas of film theory, feminist film studies, cultural theory, and semiotics, and has also written on photography, television, and digital media.

Jacob Gaboury
Ph.D., New York University, Associate Professor of Film & Media 
Professor Gaboury’s teaching and research interests include the history of computing and digital image technologies, media archaeology, digital game studies, science and technology studies, queer theory, and media theory.

Deniz Göktürk
Ph.D., Free University of Berlin; Associate Professor of German
Prof. Göktürk has taught courses on transnational cinema, world cinema/global cities, and German cinema.

Anne Nesbet
Ph.D., Berkeley; Professor of Slavic; Film & Media
Professor Nesbet teaches courses in film history, film theory, and Russian and European cinema before WWII. Her research interests include Eisenstein, Soviet cinema, and children’s literature

Greg Niemeyer
MFA, Stanford University; Associate Professor of Art Practice
Prof. Niemeyer teaches new media and creates digital media installations.

Linda Rugg
Ph.D., Harvard; Professor of Scandinavian
Professor Rugg has teaching and research interests that include Swedish literature and culture, 1870 to the present; August Strindberg; Ingmar Bergman; autobiography, including visual autobiography, and literature and the visual arts.

Mark Sandberg
Ph.D., Berkeley; Professor of Scandinavian; Film & Media
Professor Sandberg works on serial and global format television, silent cinema, Scandinavian film history, museology, and pre-cinematic visual culture. He teaches courses on film historiography, cinema and architecture, silent comedy, and Scandinavian film and television.

Miryam Sas
Ph.D., Yale University; Associate Professor of Comparative Literature; Film & Media
Prof. Sas is interested in experimental film, Japanese film, critical theory, twentieth century Japanese, French, and English literature, and the visual and material cultures of modern Japan.

Rhiannon Noel Welch
Ph.D., UC Berkeley, Associate Professor of Italian Studies and Affiliated Faculty in Film & Media
Professor Welch’s teaching and research interests at once locate and complicate the bounds of Italian literature and cinema, focusing on formal and ideological relations to broader cultural spaces and phenomena, such as urban modernity; fascism and postwar ‘redemption’; race and the biopolitics of capture; colonialism and its afterlives; migration and diaspora; oceans, ecology and climate change; and elemental film and media.

Kristen Whissel
Ph.D., Brown University; Associate Professor of Film & Media
Prof. Whissel works on American modernity in early cinema, including representations of the Spanish-American wars, new technologies at World’s Fairs and expositions, and the “white slavery” scandals.

Damon Young
Ph.D., Berkeley, Associate Professor, French; Film & Media
Professor Young researches and teaches on film and media theory; art cinema, with a focus French and francophone; critical theory; digital media technologies; and queer studies and gender & sexuality in relation to film and media.