With the three perspectives of film analysis, film history, and film theory, which inform the Film Studies curriculum, the teaching and research activities at the Zurich department stand in a liberal arts/cultural studies tradition. Taking into account their development from the 19th to the 21st century, film and cinema are examined as (audio-)visual phenomena in the context of their social and artistic practice, with view to theoretical discourses, and in relation to other constellations and forms of the visual and the acoustic.
In the fall of 2009, the Department of Film Studies celebrated its 20th anniversary with a conference on Filmic Atmospheres (the conference volume was published in the «Zürcher Filmstudien» series by Schüren Verlag, Marburg, in 2012).
After a long and politically interesting prehistory, Film Studies was eventually established as a discipline within the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, and Christine Noll Brinckmann was appointed Zurich’s first professor of Film Studies in the fall semester of 1989. She was head of department for 13 years, until her retirement in 2002. With great dedication, circumspection, and foresight, she instituted Zurich’s degree program in Film Studies and also helped the department achieve national and international prominence in research. The department has since continued to grow, expanding its course offerings and launching new research projects on film and cinema. In 2003, Prof. Margrit Tröhler succeeded Prof. Brinckmann as head of department. A second full professorship was established in the fall of 2007 with Jörg Schweinitz. Two additional professors took up their positions in research and teaching in January 2014: Barbara Flückiger, who had already held a temporary professorship from 2007 to 2013, and Fabienne Liptay, previously assistant professor at Ludwig-Maximilians-Unversität München.
The department is now one of Europe’s teaching and research centers in the field of film studies. It offers a home base as well as a site of exchange to numerous scholars at the doctoral and postdoc levels. The dedicated administrative staff and a well-equipped library and video collection ensure excellent working conditions for research and teaching on the Oerlikon Campus, where the department has been located since 2010.