Course Descriptions

Course Descriptions for Spring 2014

Rutgers Cinema Studies Courses: Spring 2014                                                                                                        

16:195:522  &                         

16:470:670:01             Grad Sem: Film Theory and World Cinema (Naqvi)              W 4:30-7:10,172 Coll Ave Sem

This course will serve as an introduction to film theory and criticism from the inception of cinema to the present. It seeks to help students develop the vocabulary and analytical skills essential for teaching and research within cinema studies and to expose them to international film movements. We will focus on a variety of theoretical concerns, including the interrogation of realism, auteurism, genre, avant-garde and third cinema movements, psychoanalytic and feminist approaches, spectatorship and subjectivity, star studies, (post)national cinema, and the impact of digital technology. Each week we will view a film, which will be discussed in class together with the required readings. Please note that the screenings will take place in the German House Seminar Room; films are also available for on-site viewing at the Douglass Media Center (Kilmer Library). The course is taught in English and all readings (Balázs, Arnheim, Vertov, Eisenstein, Kracauer, Adorno, Metz, Althusser, Mulvey, Mayne, Silverman, etc.) are available in English, although students are encouraged to read the original where possible. This course is necessary for completion of the graduate certificate in film studies.


Cinema Studies

01:175/050:267:01                American Film Directors (Nigrin)         T TH 5:35-6:55, RAB 001 (Douglass)

TH until 8:00 and other required screenings

A course focusing on the films of Stanley Kubrick, Orson Welles, John Frankenheimer, David Lynch, Maya Deren, Terrence Malick, Wes Anderson, and others. In-depth analyses of the structure and content of films, which include: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Moonrise Kingdom, Cat People, Tree of Life, The Magnificent Ambersons, and others. Emphasis on the "mise-en-scene," narrative form, set design, sound, and special effects in the films of these celebrated filmmakers.

Warning: some films may contain nudity, sexual situations, violence, profanity, substance abuse, and disturbing images.

Course Objective: By the end of this course students will have a better understanding of film analysis and will be able to apply this understanding to other films and filmmakers.

Course Requirements and Grading: Attendance is mandatory. Class Participation: 15%, Attendance: 10%, Exam #1: 25%, Exam #2: 25%, Exam #3: 25%                                                                                                                            


01:175:425             Senior Seminar in Cinema Studies      (Flitterman-Lewis)                 T TH 4:30-5:50, MU 301

                                                                                                                                                                  screenings T TH 6:10-9:00

This is the capstone course for the Cinema Studies minor; it will emphasize problems and issues in the discipline that are not widely treated elsewhere at Rutgers.  The emphasis is both interdisciplinary and theoretical.  The course will begin with a discussion of theory and methodology, with particular attention to the approach known as “textual analysis.”  We will define that peculiar object, the “cinematic text,” from the standpoint of contemporary film theory and will continue with in-depth readings of such films as Gigi, The Birds, The Most Dangerous Game, Young Mister Lincoln, Cat People, and Touch of Evil (among others) for which model textual analyses exist.  Our focus will be the critical paradigm of author-spectator-text so central to current debates, and we will incorporate social and feminist analysis into the more theoretical aspects of the project.  The latter part of the course will focus on television using critical/analytical approaches derived from film theory, and we will discuss meaning in television in terms of both its similarities and differences with the institution of cinema.  Students will choose a topic for an extended research paper to be worked on in consultation with the instructor throughout the semester.      


English-Film Studies

01:354:201:01             Introduction to Film I (Sen)                 MW 5:00-6:20 screening, M 6:40-9:30, TIL 103C

In the past 100 years, our culture has come to be dominated by visual rather than oral or print media. Our ideologies, opinions, and lives are increasingly defined by visual narratives, among which film is so far the most sophisticated and powerful example. Therefore, the objective of this course is to introduce students to the language of visual media and to critical tools for discussing and writing about films. Understanding how films work, and how they are meaningful for their audiences, will contribute to your enjoyment of more films and different kinds of films. 


The course is divided into two sections. In the first part, the study of forms introduces students to the primary visual, aural, and narrative conventions by which motion pictures create and comment upon significant social experience as seen in a variety of films. Techniques of mise-en-scène, framing, image composition, photographic space, editing, sound, narrative structure, and point of view will be discussed as components of cinematic style and meaning. In the second part, the study of contexts introduces students to alternative and critical ways of reading films in relation to the social and cultural contexts in which they are produced and received. Significant topics include analytical tools propounded by well-known film-scholars as well as the role of genre, authorship, and the star system in the history of film criticism. In this section we will also review alternative forms such as nonfiction film and non-western cinemas.


The final goal of this class is to explore with you a range of great movies from film history (as opposed to more recent films that you find more accessible). Our films will come from major directors like Orson Welles, Jean Renoir, Robert Bresson, and Alfred Hitchcock, as well as highly regarded directors like Billy Wilder, Mike Nichols, John Ford, and Howard Hawks. Some of these films will be in black and white. Some of them will have subtitles. Some have both. All of them are worthwhile.

Note: This course fulfills the Core Curriculum goal: “Analyze arts and/or literatures in themselves and in relation to specific histories, values, languages, cultures, and technologies.”


01: 354:202            Introduction to Film II  (Koszarski)                                        MW 4:30-5:50,

                                                                                                                                                W 6:10-8:50 screening, MU 301

An examination of the development of film style, genre, and technology as it has evolved from the era of the classical studio system through the present. Looking at the work of Kubrick, Godard, Fellini, Dreyer, Polanski, Scorsese, and others, we will analyze how specific elements of mise-en-scene, including editing, sound recording, performance style and cinematography, developed over time within specific national or generic contexts. Mid-term, final exam and term paper required.



 01:354:316            American Cinema II (Koszarski)                                             MW 1:10-2:30,

                                                                                                                                                screening W 6:10-8:50, MI 100

                  A history of the American motion picture industry since the late 1940s, a tumultuous period when broadcasting, blacklisting, anti-trust investigations, digital cinema and the rise of independent filmmaking destroyed the classical Hollywood studio system.  Innovative responses in terms of genre, technology, narrative experimentation and noir cinema will be studied in the work of Welles, Kubrick, Sirk, Scorsese and others. Two research papers and final exam.



01:354:351            Women and Film (Flitterman-Lewis)                                       T TH 1:10-2:30,

                                                                                                                                                screening, T 6:10-9:00 MI 100 

This course will develop a feminist analysis of the cinema from the dual perspective of individual films themselves and their social/cultural context. Using examples from both Hollywood and alternative feminist cinema, we'll trace the development of feminist film criticism and theory, from the landmark articles of Claire Johnston and Laura Mulvey to the current work of Ginette Vincendeau and Mary Ann Doane, among others.  We'll consider such issues as female authorship, the woman viewer woman-as-spectacle and visual pleasure.  Our concern will be to 1) construct a theory of the "female voice" in cinema, 2) define and interpret the function of the woman's image, and 3) understand the concept of sexual difference as a social concept and a phenomenon of the unconscious.  Framing our analyses of filmmaking, film viewing, and films themselves will be the ongoing search for an "alternative language of desire."  Films will include such Hollywood classics as Stella Dallas, Marnie, and Duel In The Sun, and more recent feminist films such as Jeanne Dielmann, Vagabond and Daughters Of The Dust.  Attendance at both lectures and weekly screenings is required; a midterm, a final, and a term paper.


01:354:370:01       Film Genre: Romantic Comedy (Kane-Meddock)             MW 4:30-5:50,      

                                                                                                screening 6:10-9:00 MU 301

This course will offer a survey of the romantic comedy from the early sound era to the present.  We will begin by studying the emergence of the screwball comedy, paying particular attention to the ways in which cultural anxieties about gender, class, and marriage influenced the cycle’s representation of sex, love, and courtship rituals.  We will trace the evolution of the genre, exploring in the process the interrelations between stardom and authorship and the changing nature of cinematic sexuality after World War II.  Finally we will consider issues of generic adaptability, examining how more recent takes on the romantic comedy revise its generic conventions, either to create a more inclusive image of romance or to suggest its frailties.  Screenings include It Happened One Night, Annie Hall, and When Harry Met Sally.


01:354: 392:01 Special Topics: Hitchcock & Wilder (Kane-Meddock)        MW 2:50-4:10, MI 100

                                                                                                                                                screening M 6:10-8:30, MI 100

This course will offer a comparative analysis of the creative output of two of film history’s most celebrated directors.  We will explore the complex nature of cinematic authorship by analyzing key works by Alfred Hitchcock and Billy Wilder, examining form, style, and thematic development across two lengthy careers spent working primarily within the American studio system.  The filmmakers left Europe in the 1930s under very different circumstances and began their careers in Hollywood in very different positions within the industrial hierarchy.  With the perceptiveness of cultural outsiders, each director used the hypocrisies of American culture as inspiration, mocking the vices of their adopted homeland.  Although many of their films proved popular with audiences and reviewers, the commercial and critical failures suggest the limits of classical Hollywood cinema. Screenings include Double Indemnity, Vertigo, Some Like It Hot, and Psycho.


01:351:308:02       Creative Writing: Form & Tech in Playwriting/Experimental Filmmaking (Nigrin)       

F 1:10-4:10, MU 038

                                                                                                                                                Screenings, TBA

This filmmaking course has a two-pronged approach. The first is to give students hands-on filmmaking experience while learning the fundamental components of experimental film production: use of camera, lighting, editing, special effect and other techniques. The second is to screen and analyze classic experimental films.

The Pre-Production component focuses on the following elements:  preparation/research, budgeting, choosing/using materials (camera, film, etc.), pre-visualizing (benefits/pitfalls), ordering ideas, using still photography and video, location selection (inside/outside), scripting shots, costumes/sets, cast/crew selection, lighting, weather, patience, shooting economically, etc.  Throughout the course, students will develop their own image and text collage-notebooks which will assist them in realizing their own artistic and cinematic visions. Creating these collage-notebooks, or abstract storyboards, trains the students on how to assemble disparate images and information into a sequential whole (cinema).

The Production component primarily focuses on learning how to use and maintain the Super 8mm film and Digital cameras. The goal of this section is to teach students how to focus correctly on still and moving images while maintaining good shot composition (making sure everything in the frame is there for a reason). Students also will be instructed on how to read the camera’s light meter, how to do in-camera editing (pixilation) and other special effects, and how to transcend the limitations of one’s resources.

The Post-Production component primarily focuses on editing.  Each student will be instructed on how to physically assemble various pieces of film using a viewer, tape splices, and a film splicer as well as digitally.  Students will also be taught how to catalog and organize their footage to facilitate the editing process.  Finally, we will also discuss the film industry and the difficulties (both economic and ideological) of becoming an experimental filmmaker.

Warning: some films may contain nudity, sexual situations, violence, profanity, substance abuse, and disturbing images.



01:420:305             French Film in English I (Williams)                                          T  4:30-5:50; class & screening TH

                                                                                                                                                2:50-5:50, Scott 114

This course surveys the history of French cinema from its beginnings to the 1950s, with special attention to its three "golden ages":  the 1920s (films as varied as Napoleon and An Andalusian Dog), the 1930s (films of Jean Renoir, Marcel Carné, and others), and--somewhat paradoxically--the years of the German Occupation during World War II (first films of Robert Bresson, masterworks like Children of Paradise, etc.).  Films screened will be examined both in their historical-political context and as works of art and/or entertainment.  There will be a midterm exam and a final, and students will write one 7-10 pp. paper. Please note that some films contain adult themes and situations, and (occasional) nudity.


Film-Related Courses

01:350:392:            19C Lit & Culture: Our Vampires, Ourselves (Sadoff)    T TH 2:50-4:10, Scott 101

                                                                                                                                                screening, T 6:10-9:00 MU 301

Our focus in this course will be on vampires, parasites, and other modern vermin.  I have called the course “Our Vampires, Ourselves” because I believe that the horror genre does remarkable cultural work for the modern cultural consumer and for the nation at large.  Questions we will ask include: how are nineteenth-century vampires “modern”? Why have their tales lived on to “haunt” us? What kinds of social problems do they address for twentieth- and twenty-first-century spectators? How, then, are vampires “ourselves”? We will screen films by F. W. Murnau, Tod Browning, Bill Condon, Mel Brooks, Kenneth Branagh, Francis Ford Coppola, Werner Herzog, E. Elias Merhige, Alfred Hitchcock, Anthony Minghella, and Pedro Almodóvar. Attendance at screenings is required.


01:013:337/195:377/175:377: Film and Literature in South Asia (Sen)                       MW 1:40-3:00,

                                                                                                                                                screening W 5-8, TIL 103C

Shakespeare in Bollywood? The idea seems incongruous! And yet, Bombay filmmaker Vishal Bharadwaj has reinvented Macbeth and Othello for Bollywood audiences worldwide and to great acclaim. Indian Cinema has drawn on literary texts for its source material since its earliest days. From epics like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata to the modern novel, many of the most celebrated films of South Asia are adaptations of literary works. In this course we will engage with a wide range of South Asian films and the literary works they are based on or “inspired by.”


The relationship between the literatures and cinemas of South Asia is a complex one, because adaptation is more than a matter of simple fidelity to or deviation from the original source. Adaptation is fundamentally also a task of translation—of the correspondences between the written word and film language. In this course we will interrogate especially the poetics and politics of this translation in South Asia. We will explore an array of literary and filmic forms, from “high culture” films like Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali (1955) and Charulata (1960) to popular Bollywood adaptations of Jane Austen such as Bride and Prejudice (2004)and Aisha (2010), in order to understand the range and diversity of adaptation in South Asia.

Professor Nigrin's Experimental Filmmaking class

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