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Summer Sessions

Perspectives in Film

May 06, 2009

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    Thomas Schoeneman

Shaded from the Oregon Sun

The Portland summer sun is intense outside, but inside the room it’s cool and dark. A movie draws to a close, credits roll, lights slowly come up, and an engaging discussion begins. This isn’t a scene from a local movie theater, it’s one of Tom Schoeneman’s Perspectives in Film courses at Lewis & Clark College.

Schoeneman’s film courses are unique to summer sessions. “Some students are really interested in film but haven’t developed habits of how to watch a film.”

Schoeneman, a professor of psychology, began teaching summer film courses in 1991. This summer Schoeneman will teach two film courses: one focusing on Orson Welles and the other on Alfred Hitchcock.

“Controversial and Subversive”

In a typical film class, Schoeneman begins with a short presentation, followed by the film viewing and class discussion. Art major Miles Sprietsma, an avid film fan, has attended two of Schoeneman’s summer film classes. “The discussions were always very interesting and arguments were common. I enjoyed the arguments (all light-hearted, of course).” The lively discourse continues afterward via threaded discussions on the class web site.

In his courses, Schoeneman highlights the thematic and narrative aspects of films, and how the story is told through images and sound. Students also learn about cinematic devices such as lighting and editing.

Sprietsma says, “I’ve wanted to be a filmmaker for many years now and this course helped me understand the other side of film. I always looked at the technical side of film before taking this class. I now understand more about film theory, which will help me with my work.”

Summer Atmosphere

Schoeneman enjoys the summer atmosphere at Lewis & Clark. “It’s more relaxed around here during the summer; the weather’s nice, and it just feels different. The students still work hard, but their focus is clearer, not as diffused.”

Summer Sessions provide a change from Schoeneman’s ordinary schedule. Schoeneman explains, “The classes are psychology classes because I’m a psychology professor, but the courses are really interdisciplinary. We cover a lot of ground in the humanities and social sciences. It’s fun to do something different.”

Students enjoy special advantages while taking summer film courses. Says Sprietsma, “I think that if this class was offered during the school year, it would be packed. I also got to know Tom–I think that it would have been a little more difficult to get to know him if he had other classes going on. I love his teaching style, and I really wish that I was a psychology major so that I could take more of his classes.”

Chaos to Paleontology

Schoeneman’s film studies are just two of the more than 30 courses offered at Lewis & Clark this summer. Courses range from Physics 105: Astronomy, which fulfills general education requirements for Science and Quantitative Reasoning (category B) to Field Paleontology, which includes extensive field work around the state of Oregon.

An assortment of students wander the wooded paths of Lewis & Clark during the summer. They include Lewis & Clark students meeting graduation requirements, high school seniors getting a head start on college, undergraduates visiting from other schools, and lifelong students exercising their love of learning. Summer students enjoy small class sizes, the ability to focus on just one or two courses, and Portland’s beautiful summer weather.

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