Among the examples that could be mentioned here are the very recent cases of the Université du Québec à Montréal, which in 2010 inaugurated a new specialization, “Cinéma et images en mouvement,” in its master’s in communication program; and that of the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), which has offered, also since 2010, a “Ph.D. in Critical Practice in Film & Digital Media.” We might also mention York University in Toronto and its “Ph.D. in Cinema & Media Studies,” and Concordia University in Montreal and its “Ph.D. in Film and Moving Image Studies,” both of which were inaugurated in 2008. This is a very short list from among dozens of other similar cases (in North America at least) which share the juxtaposing of cinema with a broader field (“images en mouvement,” “Digital Media,” “Media Studies,” “Moving Image Studies”), which always includes cinema itself, moreover (cinema is also moving images, it is one of the media referred to when one speaks of digital media, etc.).
This desire to broaden the horizons of film studies programs is one of the effects that the changes brought about by the “digital tsunami” have had and continue to have on the field of film studies, as well as on the relations those who work as “film teachers and researchers” maintain with their very object of study. It seems clear, first of all, that cinema’s medium specificity, in this new context, has become more blurred than it ever has been. Since the turn of the century it has been said that the definition of cinema is changing, fluctuating, imprecise, unstable, variable, etc. Hence a certain amount of confusion on the part of most people who work in film studies concerning the boundaries of their discipline.
We could take as an initial example (and symptom) of this phenomenon the case of a research group such as ARTHEMIS (Advanced Research Team on History and Epistemology of Moving Image Study), a research infrastructure which is, according to the way it defines itself, “dedicated to the study of the evolution of film studies as a discipline,” and which has existed since 2007. One sees the apparent paradox: the research group says that it is devoted to the history of film studies as a discipline, but to define itself as a group it makes broader reference to moving image study. It is a little as if the death knell of “film studies as a discipline” had already tolled and, in order to undertake the history of the discipline in question, it would be better to act from the observation post (post mortem?) identified as something like “Moving Image Studies.” “Something like”; indeed the research group does not identify itself directly with MIS (“Moving Image Studies”: a disciplinary field that already exists, in a fairly restrictive manner, as we shall see further on), but rather quite simply proclaims its desire to study the moving image; on the home page of the ARTHEMIS website (see figure 1), one can see that there is a step that has not been taken – that has not yet been taken.