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Summer Film Institute

Cinema Studies

A Great Books Approach to Great Films

What are the Cinema Studies Sessions?

The Cinema Studies program is a not-for credit summer program comprised of two, 4-week sessions dedicated to cultivating the skills necessary to become better readers of Great Films. Over the course of the summer we will develop a number of approaches to the study of film, including consideration and discussion of plot, narrative structure, storyline, and character development. We will study technical aspects of filmmaking such as cinematography, editing, lighting, sound design, set design, acting, directing and screenwriting. We will also read from classic works of aesthetic theory and film criticism.

The program utilizes the primary text, discussion-focused classes traditional to the St. John’s College approach to liberal arts education. Studies are divided between three types of class: Tutorial and Seminar (more on the distinction below.)

Students may choose to take one or both sessions.

What are the components of the program?

  • Seminar discussions (Tuesday and Thursday) will be broad examinations of a single movie per class, for a total of approximately 8 films per 4-week session.
  • Tutorial discussions (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) will involve a detailed analysis of two movies by a single director, per 4-week session (roughly two weeks of study per film.)
  • Lectures, talks, and workshops led by an industry expert or professional will help students appreciate the technical aspects of filmmaking.
  • Evening and weekend screenings of all films covered in the program.

Who teaches the classes?

All classes are taught by full-time St. John’s College faculty, whom we call “tutors” instead of “professors” because their chief role in the classroom is to guide rather than to lecture. No adjunct faculty or teaching assistants will be responsible for any classroom instruction.

St. John’s classes are discussions between students, gently moderated by a faculty member. The tutor begins class with a question in order to inspire a lively discussion focused on the text. Occasionally he or she will interject to maintain the momentum of the class, or to encourage a promising thread of conversation. This process allows students to put forth their own questions and interpretations of the material, as well as to inspect the variety of other interpretations offered by their classmates, and discover new angles of discussion and interpretation.

How big will the classes be?

Class size is limited to 18 students to ensure a more engaged learning environment.

Who can apply?

College students, graduate or undergraduate, and anyone 18 and older interested in exploring cinema and discussing its philosophical, thematic, and technical qualities.

How do I apply?

A complete application needs to include both the application and a letter of interest explaining your past experience with the St. John’s College seminar method of discussion, and/or an account of your interest in studying cinema as a liberal art and engaging in the Socratic method of classroom discussion (as opposed to lecture classes).

Return both the letter of interest and completed application form to, or mail to 

Graduate Institute Summer Programs
c/o St. John’s College
1160 Camino Cruz Blanca
Santa Fe, NM 87505

Application Deadlines

  • Space is still available for the 2016 summer. Applications will be accepted until the program is full. The deposit to secure a space is $500
  • Applications received after the program fills will be put on a waiting list in the order in which they are received and notified if a space opens up.


2017 information coming soon.

Withdrawal Dates and Fees

Participants enrolled in both Cinema Studies sessions (8-weeks) who withdrawal within the first week will be reimbursed 75% of their tuition; within the second week, 50%; within the third week, 25%. Participants who withdraw during or after the fourth week of classes will receive no reimbursement.

Participants enrolled in only one Cinema Study session (4-weeks,) and who withdrawal in the first week, 50% of the tuition will be reimbursed. Participants who withdrawal after the first week of class will receive no reimbursement.

Financial Aid

The Graduate Institute Summer Programs are non-for-credit courses, and therefore not available for financial aid. A small number of stipends will be made available to currently enrolled college students who demonstrate a financial need. This statement must be included in the application.

On Campus Housing/Meal Plans

A limited number of on-campus dorm rooms are available for summer program students enrolled in both Cinema Study Sessions. Those only attending one session can ask to be put on a waiting list, and will be notified if a single session room becomes available. Those interested should contact Scott W. Hannan in the Graduate Institute office for availability and cost.


Contact Scott W. Hannan 505-984-6050 /