Film Studies

Film history, genre, theory, and criticism

Photo of associate professor Kwakiutl Dreher speaking about the shortfilm ANNA

Craig Chandler, University Communications

The Film Studies Program in the Department of English at UNL spans multiple disciplines and offers an undergraduate major and minor as well as graduate work. The program aims to present the world of cinema in all its diverse forms—from the classical period to the contemporary moment, from Hollywood cinema to international traditions, and from a variety of historical, aesthetic, and critical approaches. We strive for our students to better understand the histories of cinema, to interpret the myriad films constituting these histories in more complex ways, to make film culture part of their lives as engaged citizens, and even to potentially create films of their own.

In this context, imaginative reasoning is crucial to our pedagogy, as we seek to teach students how to view and think about films not only from one’s own, culturally-situated, perspective but also and especially from the perspective of those who made the films and the cultures that informed them. Doing so requires that we employ empathetic understanding.

By training students in their ability to imagine with empathy why a given film was made, how it might have been viewed by its intended original audience, and what effects it might have had and still has on others whose experiences differ from ours, our Film Studies courses directly contribute to fostering the Department of English’s core values of engaging with a broad array of real and imagined communities and thereby, we hope, inspire students to affirm diversity, embrace the need to fight for social justice, and instill a desire for civic engagement.

Why Film Studies?

Film Studies is the exploration of film through cultural, theoretical, historical and critical lenses. Film history, genre, theory, and criticism help us investigate film as an art form, as popular culture, and as a major medium of communication.

Opportunities for Students

UNL Film Club logo with motto Good Film Hunting

UNL Film Club

The UNL Film Club is a space for students, regardless of majors or affiliations, to have an open discourse about cinema and to meet other like-minded individuals, as well as introduce students to a broader array of films. Follow us on Instagram @UNLFILMCLUB for more information and content!

Castro Scholarship in Film Studies

The Libano Fabio Castro Scholarship in Film Studies is awarded to a junior or senior pursuing a major in Film Studies and a minor or major in any area of Ethnic Studies. The scholarship is in honor of Libano “Lee” Castro, who loved cinema all his life but could not afford to attend college until he retired in his 60s, when he took (and loved) a film studies course. Send your 2-page (maximum) self-nomination (brief description of your interest in Film Studies and Ethnic Studies and what the award would mean to you) to by February 15.

Douglas C. Beckwith Film Studies Excellence Award

The Beckwith Award, one of the Department of English’s annual writing contests, gives $500 for the best essay written by a Film Studies major or minor nominated by their Film Studies instructor. This award is named in honor of cinephile, lawyer, comedy writer, and UNL alum Dr. Douglas C. Beckwith, who grew up in Albion, NE and received his B.A. in English from UNL in 1973. His passion for film blossomed at UNL, and he was especially influenced by English professor emerita June Perry Levine, who taught the university’s first film studies course in 1970 and founded the Film Studies program.

Careers in Film Studies

Our film studies alumni have gone on to succeed in numerous areas related to cinema. Here is just a sampling of those successes:

  • Senior Vice President of Marketing, Disney Channels Worldwide
  • Tenure-track faculty (professor) members at London School of Economics, York College, William Smith College, University of Texas at Austin, and Queens College, among others
  • Librarian, UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center
  • Director of the Albanian National Film Archive (AQSHF)
  • Film Archivist, UCLA Film and TV Archive
  • Production Manager, BuzzFeed Motion Pictures
  • Co-Producer, Co-Executive Producer, and VP of Acquisitions & Development at Grindstone Entertainment Group (Lionsgate subsidiaries)
  • Film Director, Bota (Armenian Entry for Best Foreign Language Film, 88th Academy Awards)
  • Special Effects CGI Director for Steven Spielberg
  • Producers of feature films, including Beast No More, Lords of Dogtown,
  • Screenwriters for films and television series
  • Location Director for television series – Shots Fired and Outcast on Fox and Cinemax
  • CEO, Far From Everything Films – feature film production
  • Sound Mixer
  • Assistant Director
  • Entertainment Reporter, Omaha World Herald
  • Columnist, Omaha World-Herald

We are proud of our film studies majors’ and minors’ academic achievements and creative work. Past UNL Film Studies students have presented their films at the Cannes Film Festival, won fellowships for graduate study (such as the Leta Stetter Hollingworth Fellowship at Columbia University), and received Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships, among other honors.