Paris: Cinema and Media Studies

A neon sign for Cinema Majestic Bastille at night

Program Term:


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The College’s Winter Cinema and Media Studies program in Paris provides undergraduate students with an opportunity to explore the study of film and related media at the University of Chicago’s Center in Paris.

    This program is open to students of all majors and includes two courses that can be used to satisfy the general education arts requirement (arts core). Any student with an interest in film, particularly French cinema, is encouraged to apply. The program courses will make use of the rich cultural resources of Paris and the French film-making tradition to enhance the educational experience of learning to analyze and interpret films as works of art. Program participants will also take a French language course, which runs at a normal pace through the quarter and is designed to help students connect with French (and Parisian) culture.

    Apart from classroom work, the Cinema and Media Studies program offers a series of excursions to sites of artistic and historic interest within and in the vicinity of Paris. Indeed Paris itself, with its wealth of cinemas, museums, libraries, and theaters, its lively art, film, and literary scene, its rich traditions of creation and critique, plays a central role in the program and students will be expected to make full use of its cultural resources.

    The following courses were taught in Winter 2024:

    • CMST 14578: Media Technologies 
      Katherine Buse 
      This course offers tools for understanding and theorizing media by attending to technology. Students will learn to think about the materiality of media, asking how media technologies—such as television, the mp3 format, or a mobile phone app—influence the contents or meanings they transmit, as well as the ways in which discourses and practices shape the nature of media and its technical infrastructures. What forms have culture and knowledge taken as the emergence of new media has reconfigured lived experience, social life, and power relations? We will consider the ways in which technology extends beyond the realm of machinery—how practices, regulations, beliefs and environments become part of the systematic deployment of media from content moderation to the cooling of servers. Examples of media discussed in class will include student-curated collections of social media content, videogames and television by French creators, and even infrastructural systems, including a failed project to create an automated train system in Paris.
    • CMST 14503: Cinema in Theory and Practice 
      Maria Belodubrovskaya 
      This course looks at film theory through the lens of film practice. Readings, screenings, and exercises focus on fundamental cinematic parameters and their complex practical uses. We look at several masterpieces of French cinema to compare film theory to film practice, read testimonies from filmmakers, and develop sophisticated skills of film appreciation, critique, and analysis.
    • CMST 14505: Visual Style in Still and Moving Images 
      Thomas Lamarre 
      The aim of this course is first to introduce students to the world of French-language animation and comics (BD or bandes dessinées) by providing a historical overview of both forms. In addition, the course provides an alternative genealogy of cinema by exploring how common techniques and elements of style have emerged through ongoing processes of adaptation, coproduction, and intercommunication between still and moving images, between comics and animation. Screenings will highlight animated films inspired by popular BD as well as films directed by “bédéistes” who have moved into the world of animation production. The final unit will consider how French comics and animation in recent years have repurposed Japanese manga and anime techniques and styles, rather swiftly and resourcefully.

    All participants also take a French language course.

    Headquarters for the College’s study abroad programs in Paris is the University of Chicago Center in Paris, the University’s research and teaching arm in Europe. Situated in the thirteenth arrondissement, the Center in Paris is part of an ambitious intellectual project along the river Seine, including the Bibliothèque Nationale and a new home for Université Paris Cité. The Center in Paris features classrooms, offices for faculty and graduate students, computer facilities, a small library, and an apartment for the faculty director. For participants in Chicago’s programs, the Center in Paris provides a focus for academic activities, a central meeting place, and a continuing Chicago “presence” within one of the major capitals of Europe.

    Students in the Paris Cinema and Media Studies program are housed in a residence hall within the Cité Internationale Universitaire (Cité). The Cité, a park-like residential complex in the fourteenth arrondissement, is the international student campus in Paris, though French students also live there. Students reside in single rooms with a private bath and have access to Cité facilities, including a library, theater, laundry, and athletic facilities. Students will have access to common kitchens in the residence halls and can purchase inexpensive meals at the Cité’s restaurant universitaire.

    It is important to recognize the cultural context of student housing in France and understand that the amenities of dormitory facilities may vary. Although some of these differences may take some getting used to, remember that cultural differences extend to all aspects of your experience abroad. Having realistic expectations for your term in Paris will help you approach the study abroad experience with a positive attitude.

    Participants in the Paris Cinema and Media Studies program remain registered as full-time students in the College. They receive one credit for each of the four courses offered through this program. The first two courses can be used toward the College’s general education requirement in the arts (arts core), while the third course may be used as either an elective or within the Cinema and Media Studies major. The first two courses may also be eligible for credit within the Cinema and Media Studies major if the arts core requirement has already been fulfilled and with approval from the department’s Director of Undergraduate Studies. The use of these courses in related or interdisciplinary majors may be possible, though students will have to submit a specific petition to the appropriate undergraduate program chair. The language course will normally count as an elective. Course titles, units of credit, and grades are placed on the College transcript.

    Study abroad students pay regular College tuition, a program fee, and a nonrefundable study abroad administrative fee. The tuition and program fee are paid in conformity with the home campus payment schedule, and the nonrefundable study abroad administrative fee is submitted when accepting a place in a program. Precise figures for the Paris Cinema and Media Studies program during the 2024–2025 year are listed below:

    Winter tuition: as set by the Bursar’s Office

    Study abroad administrative fee: $675

    Paris Cinema and Media Studies program fee: $5,960

    Program fee includes:

    Out-of-pocket expenses include:

    • round-trip airfare to and from the program site
    • passport/visa fees
    • transportation on site
    • meals
    • course materials
    • personal entertainment and travel
    • communications (including cell phone usage)
    • health insurance and upfront payments for care
    • other miscellaneous expenses 

    Previous program participants report spending in the range of $200 to $250 per week on meals and incidentals while on the program, though frugal students may spend less, and others could spend much more. Bear in mind that the cost of living in Paris is relatively high and that, while it is possible to live frugally, it is also possible to run short of money if you are unwary. It is therefore essential that you budget your funds prudently, apportioning your resources so that they last for the duration of the program. If you are planning to travel before or after the program or on weekends, you should budget accordingly.

    Study abroad students retain their financial aid eligibility. For more information about financial aid resources, please see our general Tuition, Fees, and Funding section.

    The Paris Cinema and Media Studies program is open to University of Chicago undergraduate students only. Applications from outside the University are not accepted.

    The program is designed for undergraduates in good academic and disciplinary standing. While the program stipulates no minimum grade-point average, an applicant’s transcript should demonstrate that they are a serious student who will make the most of this opportunity. Because the Cinema and Media Studies courses are taught in English, there is no language prerequisite, although students are encouraged to take French on campus before the program begins.

    Each application is examined on the basis of the student’s scholastic record and personal statement. If you are interested in applying for this program please fill out the online application.

    To discuss the Paris: Cinema and Media Studies program and the possibility of participating, please contact Damaris Crocker De Ruiter.