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Bryan Singer shakes up Critical Studies

by Valerie Turpin
The Bryan Singer Division of Critical Studies will be the first division at the USC School of Cinematic Arts to be named for one of its alumni. (Photo/David James)
Photo: The Bryan Singer Division of Critical Studies will be the first division at the USC School of Cinematic Arts to be named for one of its alumni. (Photo/David James)

From George Lucas and Steven Spielberg to Sumner Redstone, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Ray Stark, the USC School of Cinematic Arts’ (SCA) foundation has literally been built through the names of its friends and alumni.

Now filmmaker Bryan Singer ’89 joins the ranks of these entertainment industry powerhouses with a major donation to the school — a $5 million gift to name the Critical Studies division, from which Singer received his bachelor’s degree. The Bryan Singer Division of Critical Studies will be the first SCA division named for one of its alumni.

“We are thrilled and extremely grateful for Bryan’s generosity and vision in naming SCA’s Division of Critical Studies,” said Dean Elizabeth M. Daley. “His gift is not only a fitting recognition of the division’s importance for the next generation of scholars and media makers, but validation of Critical Studies as a unique path to understanding and mastering the art and practice of cinema.”

Offering bachelor’s, master’s and PhD degree programs, the Bryan Singer Division of Critical Studies provides a range of courses on the study of media, from big-budget blockbusters to YouTube clips to immersive experiences. In addition, the division offers courses that explore the business and cultural impact of the moving image in the United States and the rest of the world.

Students from all six divisions at SCA, as well as the greater university population, will be able to take courses in the Bryan Singer Division of Critical Studies to enhance their understanding of media’s impact on the world, and in doing so, become prepared to follow a variety of paths after graduation.

“In a way, I began my career in the Division of Critical Studies at USC,” Singer said. “Watching great films and learning how to think about film from the faculty transformed me as an artist and as a person. I am honored to give back to the division and the school [that] gave me so much.”

Singer’s gift will provide a lasting source of funding to enable the division to grow, as well as provide meaningful support for students, faculty and staff.

Since graduating from SCA in 1989, Singer has become one of the most successful filmmakers of his generation, with projects that have grossed more than $2 billion at the worldwide box office. His debut film, Public Access, was a Grand Jury Prize winner at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival. Two years later, Singer gained widespread attention with the mystery/thriller The Usual Suspects. He then tackled the popular X-Men series, leading to a franchise that has continued for more than a decade.

Singer has also worked in television, directing the pilot and executive producing the Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning series House, as well as the Emmy and Golden Globe-nominated series Dirty Sexy Money.

Singer’s upcoming film is Jack the Giant Slayer for Warner Bros. He is currently in preproduction for X-Men: Days of Future Past, which he will produce and direct.

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