Graduate Certificate Program in Culture and Media

This information is also available for download in .pdf format, here.

For a list of recent student documentaries produced in the Culture and Media Program click here. 

For more information, please visit our Program in Culture and Media website.

For information on public programs at the Center for Media, Culture, and History, please visit the CMCH website.


Certificate Program in Culture and Media

The Departments of Anthropology and Cinema Studies offer a specialized joint course of study leading to a New York State Certificate in Culture and Media for NYU graduate students who are also pursuing their PhD degrees in Anthropology, Cinema Studies, or Comparative Literature.

The program’s philosophy takes a broad approach to the relationships between culture and media in a number of domains including: ethnographic film’s significance for the fields of anthropology and cinema/media studies; problems in representation of cultures through media; the development of media in indigenous, Diaspora, and non-Western communities; the emerging social and cultural formations shaped by new media practices; the political economy shaping the production, distribution and consumption of media worldwide; and the impact of new media technologies on these processes.

This graduate program provides a focused course of studies integrating production with theory and research. Training in this program will enable students to pursue the following:

-Production work in state-of-the-art digital video based on their own research, resulting in a twenty-thirty minute documentary. Student works have shown in festivals worldwide, won multiple awards, and are in distribution. For a list of recent student documentaries click here.

-Ethnographic research into the social practice of media in a range of communities and cultures. Students from the program have done PhD research on the development of media in diverse settings, from the emergence of film and TV in Papua New Guinea, to circulation of religious media in Northern Nigeria.

-Teaching the history, theory, and production of ethnographic documentary and related issues.

-A career in media requiring an understanding of anthropology, such as specialized programming and distribution of ethnographic film and video, community-based documentary production, management of ethnographic film/video libraries and archives, or work in new media.

Each year, two student works are selected for a pitch session at the prestigious SILVERDOCS documentary festival.



Faye Ginsburg

David B. Kriser Professor of Anthropology
Director, Center for Media, Culture and History
Director, Certificate Program in Culture and Media

Cheryl Furjanic
Director, Video Labs

Noelle Stout
Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology

Pegi Vail
Associate Director, Center for Media, Culture, & History

Cinema Studies

Toby Lee
Assistant Professor, Cinema Studies
Co-Director, Program in Culture and Media

Robert Stam
University Professor, Cinema Studies

NYU Kanbar Institute of Film and Television

Marco Williams
Associate Arts Professor, Film and Television 

The program also arranges supervised internships for course credit, tailored to individual research and professional interests. Students work in a variety of programming and production positions for institutions, such as: The American Museum of Natural History Margaret Mead Film Festival; The National Museum of the American Indian, Film-Video Center; The Museum of Modern Art, Department of Film.

The Anthropology Department has a film and video screening theater that seats up to forty. Our excellent and expanding study collection of over 2000 ethnographic/documentary film and video works -- from direct cinema to experimental genres -- includes most of the classics, important recent works, and a unique and comprehensive collection of works by indigenous media makers from all parts of the world.
The Department of Cinema Studies has a collection of over 38,000 videos and 3000 16mm prints at The George Amberg Memorial Film Study Center, and New York University's Avery Fisher Music and Media Center has over 2000 documentaries as well as other films available to students in its video library facility. In addition, some of the best film, video and broadcast libraries are available in New York City.

The program works closely with the Center for Media, Culture, and History, directed by Professor Faye Ginsburg. The Center sponsors fellows, screenings, lectures and conferences, and integrates concerns of faculty and students from the Program in Africana Studies and the Departments of Anthropology, Cinema Studies, History, and Performance Studies as well as other programs. The Center addresses issues of representation, social change, and identity construction embedded in the development of film, television, video, and new media worldwide. For more information about the Center, visit the website.
The Center for Media, Culture, and History:


The Center for Religion and Media, directed by Faye Ginsburg and Angela Zito, was inaugurated in 2003 as one of ten Centers of Excellence funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts; it seeks to develop interdisciplinary, cross-cultural knowledge of how religious practices and ideas are shaped and spread through a variety of media. For more information about the Center, visit the website. The Center for Religion & Media:


Students cannot take courses in the Culture and Media program unless they are enrolled in the PhD. program in Anthropology or the M.A/Ph.D program in Cinema Studies at NYU.  To complete the Certificate Program, they must:

(1) take the curriculum outlined below;
(2) design and complete a project in ethnographic film or video in the form of either a production or original research; and
(3) complete their M.A. in Anthropology or Cinema Studies. Students wishing to pursue a Ph.D. can integrate the Certificate Program into their studies for the advanced degree in consultation with their Dissertation Committee. Students with prior training in media may be able to substitute other courses from the extensive curriculum offered in Cinema Studies, Anthropology, or media production – including other forms such as photography and new media.

Courses [1] & [2] below can count toward their M.A., and courses [3] & [4] can count toward their PhD.

Students should contact Toby Lee at

All students are required to take the following courses:

[1] ANTH GA 1215 / CINE GT 1402
Culture and Media I; History and Theory of Ethnographic Documentary (Ganti/Ginsburg) 4 PTS

[2] ANTH GA 1216 / CINE GT 1403
Culture and Media II; ETHNOGRAPHY OF MEDIA (Ginsburg/Ganti) 4 PTS

[3] CINE GT 2001
Cultural Theory and The Documentary (Toby Lee) 4 PTS

[4] Recommended course or approved elective in opposite dept

[5]/[6] CINE GT 1998 & H56.0080
(Summer documentary production; mid-May to late June; 6pts.)

[7]/[8] ANTH GA 1218-19 & ANTH GA 1218-19
(Prerequisite: Sight and Sound Documentary or equivalent)


CULTURE & MEDIA I (Ganti/Ginsburg)

This course offers a critical revision of the history of the genre of ethnographic film, the central debates it has engaged around cross-cultural representation, and the theoretical and cinematic responses to questions of the screen representation of culture, from the early romantic constructions of Robert Flaherty to current work in film, television and video on the part of indigenous people throughout the world.  Ethnographic film has a peculiar and highly contested status within anthropology, cinema studies, and documentary practice.   In this seminar, we will situate ethnographic film within the wider project of the representation of cultural lives, and especially "natives".  Starting with what are regarded as the first examples of the genre, we will examine how these emerged in a particular intellectual context and political economy. We will then consider the key works that have defined the genre, and the epistemological and formal innovations associated with them, addressing questions concerning social theory, documentary, as well as the institutional structures through which they are funded, distributed, and seen by various audiences.  Throughout the course we will keep in mind the properties of film as a signifying practice, its status as a form of anthropological knowledge, and the ethical and political concerns raised by cross-cultural representation.


In the last decade, a new field — the ethnography of media — has emerged as an exciting new arena of research.  While claims about media in peoples lives are made on a daily basis, surprisingly little research has actually attempted to look at how media is part of the naturally occurring lived realities of people’s lives.  In the last decade, anthropologists and media scholars interested in film, television, and video have been turning their attention increasingly beyond the text and empiricist notions of audiences, (stereotypically associated with the ethnography of media), to consider, ethnographically,  the complex social worlds in which media is produced, circulated and consumed, at home and elsewhere.  This work theorizes media studies from the point of view of cross-cultural ethnographic realities and anthropology from the perspective of new spaces of communication focusing on the social, economic and political life of media and how it makes a difference in the daily lives of people as a practice, whether in production, reception, or circulation.
The class will be organized around case studies that interrogate broader issues that are particularly endemic to questions of cross-cultural media including debates over cultural imperialism vs. the autonomy of local producers/consumers, the instability and stratification of reception, the shift from national to transnational circuits of production and consumption, the increasing complicity of researchers with their subjects over representations of culture, and the historically and culturally contingent ways in which images are read and used. These concerns are addressed in a variety of locations, from the complex circulation of films, photos, and lithographs, to the ever increasing range of televisual culture — from state sponsored melodramas, religious epics and soap operas, to varieties of public television; to the activist use of video, radio, the internet, and small media.


This course considers the actual and possible forms of relation between theories of culture and society and the mode of nonfiction cinema known as (social) documentary. From one perspective, theory is a discourse of explanation that is applied, concurrently or retroactively, to the images of culture presented in documentary films: films present raw material of culture to be theorized aesthetically, sociologically, psychologically, historically, politically, and so on. But at the same time, documentary filmmaking can be conceived as an intellectual discourse, what its founders called “a method of philosophic reasoning” (Paul Rotha), one meant to reflect or challenge certain cultural and social ideas. Despite the order of terms in the title of this course, what theory means to documentary, and vice versa, has always been an open question. This course explores various ways to answer the question.


The intensive six week summer course teaches students to look at their world and to develop the ability to create compelling and dramatic stories in which real people are the characters and real life is the plot. Through close study and analysis of feature length and short documentaries, and hands-on directing, shooting, sound-recording, editing and re-editing, students will rigorously explore the possibilities and the power of non-fiction story telling for film and video. The course is a dynamic combination of individual and group production work, in which each student will be expected to complete five projects.
While tuition is covered, please be advised that there is a lab fee of approximately $600.


A two-semester seminar that provides training and equipment for advanced graduate students to produce a media ethnography or short documentary. During the fall semester, in-class instruction, lab exercises, and readings introduce digital audio and video production, including shooting and editing with HD cameras, professional audio equipment, and Final Cut Pro non-linear editing systems. Focusing on ethnographic media practices, students also address key representational, methodological, and ethical issues in the production of ethnographic documentary. By the completion of the fall term, students will have chosen a topic and field site for their final projects and completed a short video (5-10 minutes). During the spring semester, students continue to work intensively on their projects by shooting, editing, and screening their footage. The course culminates in a public screening of students’ completed, 20-30 min. ethnographic documentaries. Attendance in class and lab sessions is mandatory, and students who fail to complete all fall assignments will not be allowed to register for the spring semester. Students should come into the class with a well-developed project idea.

THE SEMINAR IS RESTRICTED TO STUDENTS IN THE PROGRAM IN CULTURE AND MEDIA. IT IS LIMITED TO TEN STUDENTS AND REQUIRES PERMISSION OF THE INSTRUCTOR. Culture & Media I and Sight and Sound Documentary (summer session) are mandatory pre-requisites. There is no lab fee, but students are expected to provide their own videotapes. For a list of recent student documentaries click here.


Culture, Meaning and Society ANTH-GA 1222 (Rogers)
This introduction to sociocultural anthropology is designed for graduate students working primarily in other disciplines, and is intended to give them a grasp of specifically anthropological ways of defining researchable questions, collecting data, and drawing inference. In the first half of the semester, we will consider the 20thcentury development of some of the basic concepts and practices that have defined the discipline (notably the culture concept, ethnographic fieldwork methods). In the second half of the semester, we will read a series of recent ethnographic case-studies to further explore current anthropological approaches to a selection of specific topics. These will be chosen largely as a function of student interests, but may include gender, religion, education, among others. *** Open only to non-Anthropology Graduate students.

Documentary Traditions  CINE GT 1400 (Bagnall) Mondays 6:20 – 9 PM
Fourteen sessions are devoted to a comparison of current documentaries with those made in earlier decades to illustrate how the art has responded to social, political, and economic realities and to changes in technology and systems of distribution. Undergraduates who take the course for 3 points are required to keep journals in which they respond to each session and compare observations with those made when viewing at least one documentary of their choice seen outside class, as well as in response to critical essays provided at each session and references in the text. Those wishing to earn an extra point (register for one point of H56.1097 Independent Study) may write a substantial term paper based on a topic approved by the instructor. 

French New Wave CINE GT 1513 (Stam)
This course offers an historical and critical overview of one of the most dynamic and influential film movements within the history of the cinema -- the French New Wave – a movement that has influenced filmmakers all over the world. After examining the philosophical underpinnings of the movement in philosophical existentialism (Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir) and the theoretical underpinnings in the film criticism of Cahiers du Cinema, we will examine key films and directors. We will explore the three core groups that together formed the New Wave, notably 1) the Cahiers directors (Truffaut, Godard, Chabrol, Rivette, Rohmer); 2) the Left Bank directors (Resnais, Duras, Varda, Marker); and 3) Cinema Verite (Jean Rouch, Edgar Morin). While we will focus largely on the films themselves, we will situate New Wave films within a broader spectrum of philosophy, literature, and the art. Some key themes in the course will be: first-person auteur cinema; artistic modernism and the New Wave; the relation between film and the other arts; the revolution in film language; the filmic adaptation of novels; and feminism and the New Wave; race, gender and sexuality; the evolution of style; and the political evolution leading up to the near-revolution of May 1968. The course will approach the New Wave through 1) critical writing, including by the directors themselves; 2) the screening of a chronologically arranged series of feature films; and 3) the analysis of short clips related to the larger themes. The goal of the course is for students to gain an overall sense of the historical importance of the New Wave, of the characteristic styles and themes of the key directors, and of some of the theories that circulated around such films.

Topics in Documentary Film CINE GT 2002 (Lee)
The term "expanded documentary" points both to the ways in which traditional documentary practices have diversified and transformed over the last few decades, particularly with changes in media technologies, as well as to different ways we might re-examine other film, media and art traditions through the lens of documentary practice. In this course, we consider how the documentary impulse functions in film, video, animation, sound; in the gallery, in the archive, in public space, in cyberspace; in forms linear and nonlinear, online and off. We also investigate the role of documentation in relation to performance and social practice art. In tracing these variations of documentary practice over time, we approach these expanded forms of non-fiction media not as addenda to documentary traditions, but rather as opportunities to reflect critically on those traditions, to connect present developments to historical precedents, and to pry open our sense of documentary as form, endeavor and practice. (Cross-listed with CINE-UT 417)

Nonfiction Film History CINE GT 2307 (Streible, TBA)
This course introduces students to the study of nonfiction film. It explores the history and theory of nonfiction cinema, including—but not limited to—documentary film. The established milestones of the international tradition of documentary—from the romantic mythmaking of Robert Flaherty to the leftist collectives and state propaganda projects of the 1930s and 1940s, through cinéma vérité of the 1960s and the activist and personal styles of recent decades—are considered. But the course also places documentary in a broader context that includes forms of nonfiction typically segregated from the traditional conception of documentary. Some are somewhat familiar forms, such as actualities, travelogues, and newsreels. Others have been largely ignored by scholars until quite recently: sponsored, industrial, educational, scientific, and medical films; home movies and other amateur films; outtakes and other archival footage. Viewed both as discrete works of cinema and as artifacts of social and cultural significance, such orphaned films pose problems of history, culture, and aesthetics that challenge traditional conceptions of making, viewing, and studying films. Students read primary historical sources, as well as new scholarly approaches to the global history of nonfiction film, and to the possible uses and meanings of this vast archive.

Adv. Sem. Paradigms of Globalization CINE GT 2835 (Choi)
This course examines multiple histories, structures, theories and key concepts of globalization, linking them with issues in the nation-state, post/modernity, post/colonialism, cultural imperialism, post/Fordism, empire, and trans/national identities. It brings together different forms of knowledge from anthropology, sociology, cultural studies, and political economy to bear on film and media studies troubled by geo-cultural uncertainty and convergence. ***Those students interested in taking this seminar should email JungBong Choi at  The email  should  state  your  status  in  the  grad  program,  any  relevant  past courses/ reading/ research, your particular interest in the seminar, and particular project, if any, that you would like to work on during the seminar.

Adv. Sem. Comparative Post-colonialism CINE GT 3207 (Stam)
Alongside and in the aftermath of the "culture wars" in the United States, many battle lines, national and transnational, have formed around such inter-related issues as "postcoloniality," "comparative imperialism,""critical race" and so forth. Challenged and debated from many directions, the terms themselves have become subject to diverse political force-fields, in some ways becoming sliding signifiers onto which diverse groups project their hopes and fears, their fantasies and anxieties. Our seminar will focus on the ways these debates are articulated differently in three zones: the Anglo-American, the French and Francophone, and the Brazilian Lusophone. What will interest us specifically will be the process of translation through which the debates are filtered. How do the debates"travel" and what happens to them during the voyage? What happens in the movement from one geographical space and cultural semantics into another? How do these movements translate? What are the different vocabularies? How do the terms themselves shift political and epistemological valence? What happens, then, when "multiculturalism" or"postcoloniality," for example, are seen through other national grids, or enter other "intellectual fields?" How are "out-of-place" ideas reinvoiced, indigenized, co-opted, contained, hybridized, recontextualized, resisted? What is elided or added, or subtly changed, in the process of cross-cultural translation? How do the debates get grafted onto other, preexisting debates? What are the mirrors and grids and prisms through which the debates are seen? What is the role of national narcissism and exceptionalism? What anxieties and Utopians come into play when debates travel? Our approach throughout will be transdisciplinary, drawing on cultural studies, media studies, literary theory, and so forth.We will address the ways that popular culture can filter and reframe the debates. Popular culture, in this sense, will be invoked as illustrative of our larger themes but also as a form of intellectual/cultural agency in a globalized world. ***Those students interested in taking this seminar should email Robert Stam at by April 15. The email should state your status in the grad program, any relevant past courses/reading/research, your particular interest in the seminar, and particular project, if any, that you would like to work on during the seminar.