What and why is cinema? These questions have been repeatedly asked by inventors, artists, theorists, and historians since the first photographic reproductions of movement on celluloid were produced over 130 years ago. Cinema has been called a method for scientific study; a tool for mass manipulation; documentary evidence; and a promise for liberation, to name a few. This course acts as an introduction to the ever-expanding field of cinema and media studies. We will study not only the history of moving images since their emergence but how that history was written and rewritten as a consequence of technological, cultural, and institutional conditions. Students will learn key terms for the close analysis and interpretation of media, become conversant in contemporary theoretical debates, and have opportunities to put theory into practice through essays and creative projects. Our objects of study will range from early silent cinema and classic Hollywood to independent cinema and the networked media environments of the present.