FWIS 199: Jews on Film
An interview with Melissa Weininger, Instructor
What do you think is interesting/distinctive about this FWIS course?
Jews on Film uses a narrow focus, cinematic representations of Jewish life in different periods and places, to encourage students to think about larger questions. For example, this year students will explore the topic of immigration both through films about Jewish immigration to the United States, but also by participating in activities around immigrant communities in Houston. This course connects film and the Jewish experience to current events and other communities. In that way it helps students think and write critically on a larger scale and helps them to connect their own personal experiences and identity to broader academic and social questions.
What, specifically, are you excited about teaching in your FWIS this semester?
I love teaching and discussing films with my students, both on a critical scholarly level and a pop cultural level. We’ll learn a lot of academic language for writing about films, but I also love to talk about what students like and don’t like, and how they feel about the films. Specifically, I always get excited to show students great films that they wouldn’t otherwise see, like A Serious Man or Exodus (I love to introduce everyone to Paul Newman!). I’ll also add that I love learning things from my FWIS students as well: I like to hear about their favorite contemporary or classic movies, and they always teach me a lot of useful slang.
What advice do you have for first-year students (about FWIS or their first semester in general)?
Use your resources, especially your professors. We are human beings, and we care about your well-being, both academic and personal. If you are overwhelmed or can’t make a deadline, or even if you just have some ideas for your next paper you want to discuss, talk to your professors! We understand the pressures and difficulties of transitioning to college, and we are here to help you. My door is always open.