Fade in on Jim Fleury ‘09, Ph.D, as he begins the latest chapter of his life.
Having recently earned his doctorate in film and media studies from the University of California, Los Angeles, Fleury is excited to accept a one-year position as a lecturer at Washington University in St. Louis.
In his role as the director and instructor of the summer film camp here at Le Moyne, Fleury regularly draws upon his enthusiasm for teaching movies. This two-week long program is part of the Summer Arts Institute, sponsored by the Gifford Family Theatre. The mornings are spent introducing the campers to the study and analysis of film; the afternoons are spent developing their own short films. This summer, the campers studied and created Sci-Fi movies.
While this was Fleury’s eighth and final summer teaching the camp, he has enjoyed the experience immensely. “It is so much fun to help kids develop their creative voice,” he said, “and to just see what interesting projects they come up with.”
At Washington University, he will be teaching film courses as well as designing a class on video game studies, which he will be instructing in the spring. “I’m going to be teaching about the culture, industry, and history of video games,” explained Fleury. “It’s unique to be able to develop my own gaming course.”
Setting the Scene
Fleury’s interest in film started at a young age, renting and watching countless movies. But his passion was further encouraged as a high school student when he took a film studies class. “That really opened up my eyes to movies as a field of study. It was like learning a new language, in terms of the style of film and the language of film,” he said.
From there, he entered Le Moyne as an undergraduate, pursuing an English degree and minors in Film and Education. His goal was to become a high school teacher and instill in his students the love for film that he himself had discovered in high school.
Cut to: The Heights: Where Greatness Meets Goodness
Fleury’s time at the Heights was composed of equal parts greatness and goodness. As an energetic young scholar, he appreciated the opportunity to learn more about topics such as poetry and grammar. The chance to take classes outside his major, due to Le Moyne’s core curriculum, also helped to inform his English studies.
Outside of the classroom, Fleury took advantage of the opportunity to study abroad in England, a decision that he said pushed him to “grow a lot as a student and as a person, having that experience of seeing more of the world.” This experience, he noted, helped prepare him for his future move to California.
Zoom into: Los Angeles, California
Upon graduating from Le Moyne, Fleury moved “literally across the country” to earn his Master’s degree from UCLA. He then moved back to New York to teach English at Liverpool High School and run a film club for students.
He decided to return to UCLA, after two years of teaching, to pursue his Ph.D. “I love teaching, I really do,” he said. “I just wanted to do a little bit more research, as well.”
His research bore fruit in the form of his recent book, The Franchise Era, published by Edinburgh University Press. The book examines the growing presence of media franchises. He explained, “The idea of a ‘media franchise’ just means expanding an idea across multiple products, multiple texts. It could be a TV series, video game, mobile game, anything like that. So [the book] was looking at how digital technologies have played a role in expanding media franchises today.”
Among technologies such as films and streaming services, the book also looks at video games. Fleury discovered his love for video game studies as a graduate student at UCLA, where he took a video game theory class. His interest in studying games, particularly Nintendo ones, is something he hopes to impart to his future students.
To Be Continued
As he prepares for his new position at Washington University, it’s safe to say that Fleury’s story is far from over. Like the media franchises he dedicates so much of his time to studying, his passion for media studies stretches across many different platforms. From film camp to college classrooms, Nintendo games to Sci-Fi movies, it’s difficult to contain Fleury’s energy and drive to just one location or topic. His advice to current students seems to be the words he himself has lived by: “Be willing to take advantage of opportunities that are offered to you. And don’t be afraid to take risks involving those opportunities.”