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Our Mission

The Society for Cinema and Media Studies is the leading scholarly organization in the United States dedicated to promoting a broad understanding of film, television, and related media through research and teaching grounded in the contemporary humanities tradition.

SCMS encourages excellence in scholarship and pedagogy and fosters critical inquiry into the global, national, and local circulation of cinema, television, and other related media. SCMS scholars situate these media in various contexts, including historical, theoretical, cultural, industrial, social, artistic, and psychological.

SCMS seeks to further media study within higher education and the wider cultural sphere, and to serve as a resource for scholars, teachers, administrators, and the public. SCMS works to maintain productive relationships with organizations in other nations, disciplines, and areas of media study; to foster dialogue between media industries and scholars; and to promote the preservation of our film, television, and media heritage. We encourage membership and participation of scholars and those in related positions not only in the US but around the world.

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What Is Cinema and Media Studies?
Over the course of the 20th century and into the 21st, cinema, television, and related media have become increasingly central both to individual lives and to the lives of peoples, groups, and nations. Sound and screen media have taken their place beside other crucial areas of human communication and creativity such as literature, music, art, and performance to form distinctive modes of expression, necessitating specialized analysis and criticism.

SCMS scholars study film, television, and related media from a variety of critical, theoretical, and analytical approaches. As humanities scholars, we distinguish ourselves from those pursuing social science methodologies and mass communication approaches to media, while recognizing important and productive links. Cinema and Media Studies emphasize the cultural and historical importance of media and focus on the production, circulation, and reception of texts and representations, which are analyzed in terms of aesthetics, meanings, and uses. Cinema and Media Studies is an inherently interdisciplinary field, and faculty are housed in a number of different departmental configurations, including Radio-TV-Film, Communications, English, History, Theater, Comparative Literature, Visual Arts, Music, American Studies, Journalism, area studies, and more.

Cinema and Media Studies education may culminate in Bachelor's (BA), Master's (MA) and Doctoral (PhD) degrees. Undergraduates who pursue training in Cinema and Media Studies may be part of a designated program or department of Film and Media Studies or departments of English or Communications, the latter of which is among the fastest-growing concentrations on campuses around the country. Besides encouraging a better understanding of the way media function in national and international life and culture, training in Cinema and Media Studies helps to prepare students for careers in a variety of media-related fields. Most of those who pursue graduate degrees in Cinema and Media Studies go on to scholarly careers, as well as positions in film and media production, programming and exhibition, archiving, and criticism.

What is SCMS?
The Society for Cinema and Media Studies, founded in 1959, represents nearly 3000 scholars in over 500 institutions located in 38 nations. Through our conference, journal, awards, and working groups we support and encourage the humanities-based study of film, television, and related media as centrally important aspects of global culture and creative endeavor.

The Executive Board of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies recently completed a study of our membership.  The data was made possible thanks to our new website and, of course, to your participation.  View the 2011-2012 Membership Report here.  

Conference: SCMS organizes an annual conference, held in a different location each year, as an opportunity for scholars to convene as professional colleagues and to present and discuss current research. Proposals for papers, panels, workshops, and screenings are evaluated and selected by a Program Committee with an eye towards promoting the best scholarship and creative work in the field of Cinema and Media Studies. Meetings of the various committees, caucuses, and scholarly interest groups take place during the conference, and awards are presented each year. The conference takes place in the spring; proposals are due in August of the preceding year.

Academic Journal: Cinema Journal is the leading scholarly publication in the field of Cinema and Media Studies. It is peer-reviewed and published quarterly, with an acceptance rate of approximately 15%. Besides scholarly articles representing the best of Cinema and Media Studies research, Cinema Journal also publishes reviews of significant work in the field as well as an "In Focus” section that examines topics of relevance to Cinema and Media Studies research and pedagogy. The editor of Cinema Journal is appointed by the Board of Directors for a renewable five year term, and the journal's editorial board is nominated by the editor and approved by the Board of Directors.

Awards: SCMS sponsors annual competition for awards that recognize superior performance in pedagogy, scholarship, and service to the field. 

Working Groups: The professional goals of SCMS are accomplished through a system of working groups. 

  • The Board of Directors works with the President and Officers of the organization to represent the interests of the membership, to carry out its major activities, to decide on policy issues, and to develop new directions and initiatives.
  • Standing Committees (with three-year terms of appointment) make recommendations to the Board on issues of ongoing scholarly and professional significance.
  • Annual Committees (one-year terms of appointment) carry out conference and awards activities. 
  • Caucuses work towards full inclusion of under-represented groups and support their activities.
  • Scholarly Interest Groups (SIGs) bring together those with a shared interest in particular aspects of Cinema and Media Studies.  
  • The Graduate Student Organization represents the interests of graduate students within the organization and the profession.

Get Involved
Any SCMS member can join a Caucus, a Scholarly Interest Group, or the Graduate Student Organization (graduate students only) by contacting its chair. Members of Standing and Annual Committees are appointed by the President on recommendation of the Board, normally in the spring. Anyone can suggest a name to the President for consideration, including one's own. Officers and members of the Board are elected each year for staggered three-year terms. Calls for nominations (including self-nominations) go out in the fall.

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Society for Cinema and Media Studies | 640 Parrington Oval | Wallace Old Science Hall, Room 300 | Norman, OK 73019 | 405-325-8075 | office@cmstudies.org