Skip to Main Content
Skidmore College
MDOCs title


Nicky Tavares and Maryam DeWitt

MDOCS offers courses on documentary theory and practice through a curriculum designed to work alongside existing academic programs on campus. A gateway course provides an overview of the principles of documentary traditions. In addition, courses in the distinct documentary traditions led by Skidmore faculty or documentary practitioners introduce and develop the skills of documentary production. We also partner with departments (including Art History, English, Philosophy and Sociology), cross-listing relevant courses.

For students and faculty developing independent or class projects across the curriculum, MDOCS offers practica, master classes and workshops. In addition, technical support and documentary production resources are available in the MDOCS DOCLab (Library #113).

Community members are invited to audit a Documentary Studies course
 based on instructor's permission. Please call (518-580-5271) for more information.
NOTE: All courses listed as DS count towards Skidmore College's Media and Film Studies Minor.

Current Offerings:  Spring 2018 and Fall 2018


Principles of Documentary

Sample Image
Eileen McAdam (Sound & Story of the Hudson Valley)
hosts Jay Kernis (CBS) in Principles of Documentary,
spring 2015.

DS 201: This 200-level, 3-credit course is the gateway to the Documentary Studies Collaborative. This course introduces local, national, and global documentary traditions in film, sound, photography, and exhibition through readings, screenings, classroom discussion, and engagement with practitioners. Students engage with theoretical and practical issues related to documentary work, including critical analysis of existing work and of the distinct ethical and aesthetic concerns associated with developing and telling stories that matter. The course emphasizes how the narrative, analytical, and structural frames of audio, visual, and written media shape the work, its audience, and impact. Rather than focusing on the production of a documentary in any one form, students get a hands-on experience of various media and an overview of technical aspects to help them prepare for extended work in one or more documentary media.

Storytelling Toolkit

DS 110-116: Storytelling Toolkit courses are 1–2 credit workshop classes that prepare students for documentary fieldwork within a given documentary tradition or medium. These courses will serve students whether they are interested in working on evidence-based or purely creative projects. Although it is recommended that students take Principles of Documentary to prepare for these courses, there is no prerequisite. Rather, it is expected that students complement or build from work done in either Principles of Documentary or other coursework.

Skills covered in these courses include: Video Production, Audio Production, Photography, Interviewing, Exhibition, Web Design  and Mapping

Topics in Documentary Studies

DS 251 & 231: Topics courses (3–4 credits) offer courses blending theory and practice in documentary research, production and presentation.  Courses include Archival Storytelling, Form and Content in Documentary Film Production, Festival Programming, Participatory Documentary, Socially Engaged Art and Community Media, From Story to Screen: Crew Based Film Doc and Narrative Production, and Documentary Practice in Photography.

Independent Studies

DS 371: Independent Study in Documentary Studies (1–4 credits)

An opportunity for qualified students to pursue independent study or research in Documentary Studies under the supervision of an appropriate faculty member. The written study proposal must be approved by the MDOCS Director. Prerequisites/corequisites: previous study related to the area of the internship experience.


DS 399: Professional Internship in Documentary Studies (1–4 credits)

Professional opportunity for advanced students whose curricular foundations and cocurricular experience have prepared them for more autonomous professional work related to documentary studies. With faculty sponsorship and the director’s approval, students may extend their educational experience into such areas as filmmaking, sound recording, exhibition, archives, and other professional areas. Prerequisite: previous study related to the area of the internship experience.