This fall, Duke will introduce a new major concentration and minor within the Visual and Media Studies major: Cinematic Arts. The new change will provide students interested in film and film studies with the opportunity and focused resources to explore this topic in depth.
According to Joshua Gibson, current director of the Arts of Moving Image program and associate professor of the practice in Art, Art History and Visual Studies, this change comes after many previous attempts to create a more focused cinematic arts program.
“It’s been difficult to create a stand-alone film major at Duke,” Gibson said. “You can’t create a new major without new faculty and right now in the certificate program, all the faculty are either non-regularly working faculty or faculty members in other departments.”
As such, the addition of the major concentration and minor in Cinematic Arts marks a huge step toward the possible creation of a stand-alone film major. It also lays the foundation for what Gibson envisions as a globally-oriented film program at Duke.
“In creating this new major concentration, I think it’s an opportunity to sharpen the focus on what film is at Duke,” Gibson said. “We have a lot of faculty in other departments that teach world and global cinema in different ways. Because of this, Duke is uniquely positioned to make global cinema our strength and can differentiate us from other film schools.”
Beyond creating the pathway for an increased film presence within Duke’s curriculum and course offerings, Gibson also believes that this change will attract a new set of artistically inclined students that Duke hasn’t always been able to attract.
“We get lots of students who apply to Duke with impressive artistic portfolios in film, but oftentimes that doesn’t translate to students actually coming to Duke because we don’t have a major here for that,” Gibson said.
Logistically, this new major concentration and minor will result in some key changes for students. A student pursuing the Cinematic Arts concentration will graduate with a transcript that indicates a major in Visual and Media Studies with a concentration in Cinematic Arts. To obtain this major concentration, a student would have to take more classes than what the major currently requires.
Understandably, the extra courses required will consist of more film-focused courses. Current AMI certificate students will also have the option of declaring the new Cinematic Arts major concentration or minor. The minor in Cinematic Arts will essentially have the same requirements as the current certificate, minus the Capstone requirement. Interestingly, despite the changes in course requirements, no new classes will be added — current classes will simply be renumbered and relisted — nor will any new faculty be brought on, making this change a zero-budget move for the university.
Beyond the change in required coursework, the entire Visual and Media Studies department at Duke will experience changes as well. The AMI certificate will cease to exist in its current form, and AMI will transition into a conceptual Center for Cinematic Arts.
This new Center for Cinematic Arts will act as a central hub, connecting the curricular (such as courses and Duke in L.A.) with the co-curricular (Freewater Productions, Studio Duke, Duke Create) and the career-based opportunities on campus (DEMAN, alumni networking). With this hub, students will be able to more easily access all the resources they need to excel within the arts.
Gibson hopes that any and all students consider enrolling in either the major concentration or the minor.
“I believe, particularly in 2020, where media is as omnipresent as it has ever been — regardless of what a student wants to do in the future — becoming a media literate citizen is a vital thing,” Gibson said. “A minor in Cinematic Arts helps you become that.”
More details, such as the exact requirements of the new major concentration in Cinematic Arts, will be included in the forthcoming official announcement. For any questions regarding this change, you can reach out to your academic advisor or Joshua Gibson directly.
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