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Master of Arts Program in Cinema and Media Studies

Master of Arts in Cinema and Media Studies

From 1976 to 2019, the Master of Arts program in Cinema and Media Studies at the College of Staten Island admitted qualified students into a challenging two-year curriculum that spanned core knowledge in media history, theory, criticism, and production to develop research, writing, and media-making skills in preparation for careers in academia, the arts, or media-related professions.

While this program ceased accepting applications in 2019, we recognize the significant achievements of both the students who participated in this program, and the faculty members who developed curriculum, taught courses, and supervised thesis projects for the dozens of students who completed the master’s degree. Many of these students continued their education in Ph.D programs, undertook careers in K-12 education, or began working in film and media industries.

For more information about MA in Cinema and Media Studies graduates, see the sections below on Thesis Topics, the George Custen Memorial Award for Outstanding Scholarly Achievement, and Alumni/a/x.

Select Theses Titles

  • 2017
    Anita Gilette, Cinematic Engagement: Gratifications of Binge-Watching Serial Narratives
  • 2015
    Laura Christensen, "Could You Not Do That Please?”: Shit Girls Say and the Spread of Online Misogyny During the American Political War on Women, 2011-2012
    Ximena Aliaguilla, Power and Prowess Under the Gaze: The Sexualized Female Body in the Contemporary Cinema of Pedro Almodóvar
  • 2014
    Michael Fischetti, Walt’s Children: The Walt Disney World Online Fan Community
    Lauren Neglia, The Representation and Reception of Cajun Culture in Mainstream Media
  • 2013
    Joe DeAngelo. Never on a Sunday: A Revelatory Narrative Concerning Moving Picture Theaters and Blue Law Enforcement in New York City, 1906-1909
    Martha Diaz, David Lynch's Cinema of Re-enchantment
    Kathryn Hennessy, Ferdinand [screenplay]
  • 2012
    Beste Atvur. The Use of Music in Fatih Akin's Cinema
    Michael C. Bongiorno, Cracking the Cinematic Mirror: Reexamining the Avant-Garde Cinema of David Cronenberg
    Mike Caravalla, Too Late for Tears [screenplay]
    Richard Minaya. At the Margins of Society with Tomás Gutiérrez Alea: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Cuban Cinema
    Brian Spach, Visual Conscience: Accountability Journalism and Its Role in Society
  • 2011
    Moshe Shushan, Ultra-Orthodox Identities in Israeli Cinema
    Ellen Grasso, Doris Day: Bridging First- and Second-Wave Feminism in 1950s' Hollywood
  • 2009
    Ksenia Adamovitch, Evolution of Genre, Nascence of Nation: The Crime Drama in Post-Soviet Russia
    YoungJames Kenny, The Cameraman [screenplay]
  • 2008
    Antonio Golàn, The American Dream in Hollywood Drug Films
    Norie Taniguchi, Silent Films in Modern Japan: The Art of Benshi, Jun'ichiro Tanizaki, and the Work of Akira Kurosawa
  • 2006
    Amit Kumar, Low-Budget Libido Cinema: The Genesis of Sleaze Films in India
  • 2005
    Zeynep Kocer. The Representation of Femininity in Turkish Internal Migration Films of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s
    Christopher Nuzzi, A Cinema of Salvation: Science Fiction Film and the Messianic Protagonist 1926-2003
  • 2004
    Zahra Asgary, Iranian National Cinema and "Western Film Festivals"
    Catherine R. Burke, Actors as Authors in the Early Hollywood Sound Period, 1929-1931: Three Case Studies
    Seth Friedman, Pulling Back the Curtain: The Misdirection Film in Its Contexts
    Romulo Fernando Tejera, Encountering Fascist Imagery in American Films

George Custen (1950-2003) was the founding chair of the Department of Media Culture, after serving as Chair of the Department of Performance and Creative Arts since 1992. He earned his doctoral degree in 1980 from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. His books, Bio/Pics: How Hollywood Constructed Public History (Rutgers University Press) and Twentieth Century's Fox: Darryl F. Zanuck and the Culture of Hollywood (Basic Books) are interdisciplinary classics that bridge cinema, media and communications studies. This award was created in honor of George's contribution to the department.

  • 2018 — Judit Papp
  • 2017 —Anita Gilette
  • 2016 — Spencer Debenedictis
  • 2015 — Ximena Aliaguilla and Laura Christiansen
  • 2014 — Michael Fischetti and Joseph Luciano
  • 2013 — Martha Diaz and Kathryn Hennessy
  • 2012 — Michael Bongiorno and Beste Atvur
  • 2011 — Kristie Falco, Ellen Grasso, and Moshe Shushan
  • 2010 — Andrew Palladino
  • 2009 — Usman Shaukat
  • 2008 — Norie Taniguchi
  • 2007 — Antonio Golan
  • 2006 — Amit Kumar and Sally Milner
  • 2005 — Catherine Burke
  • 2004 — Seth Friedman

Ksenia Adamovitch (MA, 2009) is a documentary producer, writer, and director based in Moscow. After graduation, she became director of the annual Russian Documentary Film Festival in New York City.


Michael Bongiorno (BA, Cinema Studies, 2007; MA, 2012) was a co-recipient of George Custen Award for Excellence in Cinema Studies; his thesis was "Cracking the Cinematic Mirror: Reexamining the Avant-Garde Films of David Cronenberg."" In April 2012, he participated in the conference "Monsters: Subject, Object, Abject" at the University of Manchester, UK, and in April 2013, he curated four special events on movement in cinema for the Council for the Arts & Humanities for Staten Island.


Mike Caravella (BA, Cinema Studies, 2008; MA, 2012) has worked in the film industry on various independent films and video/TV productions. In 2013 his short film Rivered Me..., shot during his time in the graduate program, was screened at Anthology Film Archives' New Filmmakers Winter Series. He is pursuing a career in filmmaking while stage-managing The Huffington Post’s live online news show HuffPost Live.


Hye Seung Chung, is Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies at Colorado State University. She earned a PhD from UCLA, and is the author of Hollywood Asian: Philip Ahn and the Politics of Cross-Ethnic Performance (Temple University Press, 2006) and Kim Ki-duk(University of Illinois Press, 2012). Her writing has appeared in Asian Cinema, Cinema Journal, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Journal of Popular Film and Television, Journal of Film and Video, and Post Script.


Martha Diaz (MA, 2013) was co-recipient of the George Custen Award for Excellence in Cinema Studies; her thesis was "David Lynch's Cinema of Re-Enchantment." While still in the master's program, she presented papers at the annual graduate student conference at the Department of Cinema Studies at San Francisco State University in 2011, the Mid-Atlantic Popular and American Culture Association conference, and CSI's first graduate student conference in Cinema and Media Studies in 2013. After graduation, she was chosen for a position in the Teaching Assistant Program in France, to teach English at the secondary level.


David Scott Diffrient (MA, 1999) is Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies at Colorado State University. He earned a PhD from UCLA, and has published articles in Cinema Journal, Film & History, Historical Journal of Film, Radio, and Television, Journal of Popular Film and Television, Post Script, and other journals. His is author of M*A*S*H: TV Milestones (Wayne State University Press, 2008), and co-editor of Screwball Television: Critical Perspectives on Gilmore Girls (Syracuse University Press, 2010).


Stamos Dimitropoulos (MA, 2012) has interned for the Academy Award-winning documentary production company of director Alex Gibney, Jigsaw Productions. After the completion of his studies in New York he returned to Athens, Greece, where he participated in the 18th Athens International Film Festival with his thesis short film, The Death of a Nation. He currently works as a freelance editor.


Seth Friedman (MA, 2004) is Assistant Professor of Media Studies in the Department of Communication and Theatre at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. He earned his PhD in Communication and Culture from Indiana University in 2009. Essays derived from the work he began at CSI have been published in The Journal of Film and Video and Quarterly Review of Film and Video.


Antonio Golàn (BA, Cinema Studies, 2004; MA, 2008) is currently a PhD candidate at Indiana University, where he is studying rhetoric and public culture. His work focuses on the public memory of the Spanish Civil War and Franco dictatorship within Galician political culture; he is also interested in how public memory in the U.S. shapes popular perceptions of capitalism. He received the George Custen Award for Excellence in Cinema Studies in 2007.


Omar Hammad (MA, 2009) has taught Communications classes at CSI, Marymount Manhattan College, St. Johns University and St. Paul's School of Nursing. He was named as the first Coordinator of TransferNation, a program that debuted in fall 2012 at Brooklyn College, to help transfer students ease into the college. In 2013, he was employed by the CUNY Start Program at the College of Staten Island, which prepares high school and GED graduates for college-level reading, writing, and mathematics. He is pursuing a doctoral degree at Rutgers University.


Zeynep Kocer (MA, 2005) wrote her MA thesis on femininity in Turkish internal migration films. She earned her PhD in Visual and Cultural Studies from Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey, in 2012, with a dissertation on the construction of masculinities in the star image of Yılmaz Güney, the acclaimed director, writer and actor. She authored a chapter in Cinema and Politics: Turkish Cinema and the New Europe (Cambridge Scholars, 2009), and co-authored an article in the European Journal of Cultural Studies (2012). In Fall 2013, she began a fulltime position as Assistant Dr. at Istanbul Kultur University.


Amit Kumar (MA, 2006) entered the doctoral program in Cinema and Media studies at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. His publications include "The Lower Stall: The Sleaze-Sex Film Industry in India," in Spectator (Fall 2006). He is also actively engaged in filmmaking, as a founder of 69 Productions, a group of independent and freelance media makers; and as writer, director and producer of the feature Blemished Light, which was awarded the First Prize for Faculty Screenwriting Award in 2009 by the University Film and Video Association. He was co-recipient of the George Custen Award for Excellence in Cinema Studies.


Sarah Kuntoh (MA, 2004) won a Fulbright scholarship to study at the College of Staten Island. Her thesis was titled Race Representation in Cinema: The Western and African Perspectives. After graduation, she returned to Ghana to teach at the National Film and Television Institute, where she is Head of the BFA program in Editing.


Sally Milner (MA, 2007) was co-recipient of the George Custen Award for Excellence in Cinema Studies. Following graduation, she worked as an assistant in the CSI Library Archives and an adjunct in the Department of Media Culture. In 2010 she registered as a PhD candidate in the Department of Media Film and Communication at Otago University in Dunedin, New Zealand. The working title for her research project is "Changing Empire(s) and the Cinematic Maternal Body: Melodrama and Postwar European Cinema." While working on her doctorate, Sally has worked as a tutor, lecturer, research assistant, and copyeditor.


Richard Minaya (MA, 2012) has presented parts of his master's thesis, "At the Margins of Society with Tomás Gutiérrez Alea: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Cuban Cinema," at three conferences: the Mid-Atlantic Popular & American Culture Association, the Southwest Texas Popular Culture & American Culture Association, and CSI's first graduate student conference in Cinema and Media Studies. After earning his master's degree, Richard worked as a Research Assistant for Columbia University's Urban Field Research Study on Housing Dynamics. He entered the doctoral program in Screen Cultures at the University of Michigan in Fall 2013.


Usman Shaukat (MA, 2009) received the George Custen Award for Excellence in Cinema Studies in 2007. He entered the doctoral program in Communications Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he also taught film production classes. He directed and produced a short film (The Caterpillar, 2012), which deals with the controversial anti-gay marriage amendment to the North Carolina constitution. His essay "Sufi Homoerotic Poetry and its Heterosexualization in Pakistan" was published in Media Authorship, edited by David Gerstner and Cynthia Chris (Routledge, 2012).


Norie Taniguchi (BA, Cinema Studies; MA, 2008 ) received the George Custen Award for Excellence in Cinema Studies. Her 2008 film Women Without Voices screened as part of the International Film School at the 2008 San Sebastian International Film Festival, in San Sebastian, Spain. Taniguchi entered the PhD program at Waseda University, in Tokyo, to continue her research on benshi and "silent" cinema in Japan.

On June 6-7, 2013, students in the M.A. Program in Cinema and Media Studies organized and hosted our inaugural graduate student conference In addition to many of our students, we welcomed participants from a dozen other universities. The conference theme was transmedia storytelling, which the students explained: “Transmedia storytelling, as an object of analysis, has become increasingly relevant due to the increasing use of cross-platform storytelling. While originally defined as looking at the spread of narrative across a variety of media outlets trans-(media) as we envision it can encompass much more. In addition to exploring the traditional definition of transmedia, we wish to explore it more in the sense of media crossing boundaries. Our theme of trans-(media) then includes the following: trans-(national), trans-(itional), trans-(gender), trans-(gressive), trans-(formative), and trans-(media).”


Panel on Pedagogical and Social Consequences in International Media

Panel on Morphing Escapism in a Transmedia Age