Course Descriptions

Rutgers Cinema Studies Courses: Fall 2014

Cinema Studies

01:175:265:01       American Experimental Film (Al Nigrin-PTL)                       TTh 5:35-6:55PM; RAB 001

screening Th 6:55-8:00, RAB 001

A survey course focusing on the history and development of the various American experimental cinema movements from its beginnings to the present. In-depth analyses of the structure and content of films by Andy Warhol, Maya Deren, Stan Brakhage, Sidney Peterson, Kenneth Anger, Bruce Bailie, Yoko Ono, and others. Emphasis on the “mise-en-scene,” editing, narrative form, sound, and special effects in the films of these celebrated experimental filmmakers. By the end of this course, students will understand what experimental films are and how they are made, will understand film analysis and be able to apply this understanding to other films by these and other filmmakers.

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

Requirements: attendance, three exams, class participation.

01:175:377:01/01:563:393 Israeli Society through Film (Yael Zerubavel)                  M 2:50-5:50, Bildner Center

This course examines the development of Israeli film since the 1960s and through it addresses major social, cultural, and political issues that are central to Israeli society. Topics include immigrant and Israeli identities, the kibbutz and the urban culture, the memory of the Holocaust, the impact of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, gender constructions, religiousdiversity and ethnic traditions.

Requirements: attendance, participation, screening, response papers, one ten-page research paper.

English-Film Studies

01:354:201:01             Introduction to Film I (Anastasia Saverino-PTL)                                TTH 2:50-4:10, MI 100

                                                                                                                                            screening, W 6:10-8;30, MI 100

Film provides a means for communication that is central to modern ideology, identity, and creative expression. The focus of this introductory course is the formal means by which this dominant medium conveys meaning, including the elements of sound, editing, and mise-en-scène. You will gain familiarity with films that have gained recognition for innovative style, accomplished technique and cultural impact, and will become proficient with analyzing, discussing and writing about them.

01: 354:315:01      American Cinema I (Richard Koszarski)                                                TTH 2:50-4:10, MU 301

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

This class traces the history of film in the United States from its beginnings in Thomas Edison’s West Orange laboratory to the collapse of the Hollywood studio system model in the late 1940s.  Topics include the development of screen narrative, the coming of sound, censorship issues, exhibition practices, and the influence of European films and filmmakers.  Screenings feature the work of Griffith, Hawks, Murnau, Welles and others.   Response essays, term paper and final exam required.

01:354:330:01       Critical Methodology: Film & Authorship (John Belton)  MW 2:50-4:10, MI 100

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

If a film director does not write his or her stories or screenplays, can she or he still be considered an author?  Given that film is a highly collaborative medium, can traditional notions of authorship (i.e., an author generates a work) be applied to this medium?  This course surveys theories of authorship, from Romantic notions of auteurism used in the 1950s and 1960s to validate film as an art form to anti-Romantic revisions of that paradigm in auteur-structuralism, transforming romantic theory’s a priori creative author figure into an a posteriori construction produced by the spectator to identify the particular bundles of oppositions that structured a group of texts associated with the author figure. In this formulation, the author is the product of critical activities on the part of the spectator.  The course then goes on to examine the post-structuralist concept of the fiction of the author/author of the fiction, understanding the author as a feature of the process of subject construction that takes place within every text.  Finally, the course turns to the dilemma of minority authors. In the wake of the “Death of the Author,” minority voices, threatened with a loss of agency, struggle to reclaim the status of the traditional (“Romantic”) author.  Films to be screened will include those of Howard Hawks, Otto Preminger, Oscar Micheaux, Spike Lee, John Waters, Julie Dash, Amy Heckerling, Kathryn Bigelow, and others.

01:354:350             Major Filmmakers (Richard Koszarski)                                                 TTH 4:30-5:50, MI 100

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

Using the work of actor-director Clint Eastwood and the writer-directors Joel and Ethan Coen, this class will examine the ways in which filmmakers with disparate backgrounds and interests were able to accommodate their personal vision to the changing fortunes of the American film industry in the post-studio era.  Screenings include Unforgiven, Mystic River, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, and others.  Two term papers required.

01:354:392:01       Special Topics: Digital Cinema (Anastasia Saverino-PTL)                               TTH 1:10-2:30, MU 301

                                                                                                                                                screening TH 6:10-8:30 MU 301

This course explores the impact of digital technology on production and distribution, and its role in shaping the imaging and sound practices found in the contemporary cinematic landscape from the 1990s to the present.

Students will develop the ability to identify the various ‘effects’ of the cinema and digital media through the use of critical theory, become versed in current debates surrounding new screen technologies, and gain knowledge of contemporary industrial conditions. Furthermore, students will: 1) Be able to synthesize and use a wide variety of film and media theories; 2) Judge which kinds of theory are relevant in the development of the research they wish to pursue; and 3) Understand cinema and media theory alongside contemporary imaging and sound practices in an historical context.

01:354:420             Seminar: Film Theory (John Belton)                                      MW 4:30-5:50, MU 301

                                                                                                                                                screening W 6:10-8:30, MU301

This seminar concentrates on major texts of classical film theory, beginning with Hugo Munsterberg.  It will review the history of classical film theory, from the work of Soviet film-makers/theorists Dziga Vertov and Sergei Eisenstein to that of Europeans Bela Balazs, Rudolf Arnheim, Walter Benjamin, Siegfried Kracauer, and Andre Bazin.  Concerns of classical film theory, such as the relationship of the cinema to the theater and the plastic arts or the notion of film as a kind of language, will be explored both in the readings and in film screenings.  The course will include a brief survey of 1970s film theory, including semiotics (Lotman), psychoanalysis (Metz), and feminism (Mulvey, Doane).  It will end with a survey of contemporary film theory, including essays by Miriam Hansen, David Rodowick, Tom Gunning and Anne Friedberg.

Requirements: Attendance; two papers; final exam.

 

French

01:420:371:01       Topics in French Cinema (in English) (Alan Williams)     T 4:30-5:50, TH 2:50-5:50; SC 114

screening included in TH meeting

We will examine conventional gender roles, sexuality, and their changing meanings in French film from the beginning of sound cinema to the present. In addition, we will study the representations of gay, lesbian, and bisexual characters, mainly in "New Wave" cinema and afterwards. The principal text will be Noël Burch & Geneviève Sellier, The Battle of the Sexes in French Cinema, 1930-1956 (Duke University Press). Please note that some of the films contain adult subject matter. [Taught in English]

01:420:472:01       Advanced Topics in French Cinema (Alan Williams)       TTH 4:30-5:50; Scott 114                                                                                                                                                                      screening TH 2:50-4:20

Taught in French, this course will survey and analyze the major films of Renoir, Carné, Varda, and Truffaut.

Spanish/Portuguese

01:940:347:01/

01:175:377:04       Latin American Film (Susan Martin-Márquez)                                     TTH 2:15-3:35 RAB 104

                                                                                                                                                Screenings, Douglass Media Center

Revolutionary vampires in Havana struggle to gain control of a potion that will allow them to enjoy the Cuban sun; creepy Coffin Joe’s bloody pursuit of Brazilians mirrors the terror of the military dictatorship. Latin American filmmakers have often been on the forefront of efforts to use film to entertain and emotionally engage audiences while heightening their awareness of—and prompting them to take action to resolve—socio-economic problems and political oppression. In this course we will explore the wildly inventive ways different types of filmmaking (fiction, documentary, animation and hybrids) and a variety of cinematic genres (from melodrama to horror) have been deployed by Latin American filmmakers to create politically engaged cinema.                                                                                                                               

Italian

01:560:346:01       Mafia Movies: History of Italian Cinema II (Rhiannon Welch)        TTH 2:50-4:10; MU 211

                                                                                                                                                screening T 4:20-5:50

Through an analysis of historical, anthropological, literary, and cinematic texts, the course explores representations of the Mafia in Italian and American film from the early 20th century to today. How have Italian and American cultural representations of the Mafia converged, diverged, evolved, and/or persisted over the course of the past century? How have the cultural conditions of their production and reception shifted as Italians have ceased to occupy the privileged category of “the immigrant” in the popular American imagination, and as Italy has transitioned from a country of emigration to one of immigration? How has the Mafia evolved from a local organization to a global network in the 21st century, and how has cinema registered this shift? What are the unique origins and challenges of the Italian anti-Mafia resistance? In addition to raising key questions about cultural representation and power (stereotypes; immigration and national identity; racial, gender, and class difference), the course will introduce students to the study of film genres. How do we know a “mafia movie” when we see it? What are some of the essential character types, film techniques, and narrative conventions that distinguish this genre from related genres (film nor, crime fiction, police procedural, and so forth)? (Temporary course number; students who have already completed History of Cinema II as a different topic may take this course.)               

Japanese

01:565:350:01       Japanese Film (Saturo Saito)                                                                    W 10:55-1:55; RAB 206                                                                                                                                                                         Screening M 3:55-5:15, RAB 204

                                                                                                                             

Film-Related Courses

01:050:487: 01      Senior Seminar in American Studies (Michael Rockland)               W 12:35-3:35, 018 RAB

In “Adaptation,” we will look at the process of adaptation—usually from literature to film but sometimes the other way around—most notably in a special made for PBS TV. In this case, the film appeared, then a magazine story based on the film, and, finally, a book related to the film. One of the books in the course is John Irving’s memoir, My Movie Business which principally focuses on The Cider House Rules and the challenges of making pictures out of the writer’s own words.