Course Descriptions

Course Descriptions for Fall 2015

Rutgers Cinema Studies Courses: Fall 2015

Cinema Studies

American Experimental Film (Nigrin)

     (click title for longer course description)               


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.

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English-Film Studies

 Introduction to Film I (Belton)     

     (click title for longer course description)                                  


MW 2:50-4:10, MI 100

screening, M 6:10-8:50, MI 100

This course introduces students to the basic tools used in the study of film. Its chief focus is on elements of film form, ranging from mise-en-scene (lighting, framing, composition, camera movement, etc.) and editing (continuity editing, alternatives to continuity editing) to sound (diegetic, non-diegetic sound). Films to be screened include those directed by Hitchcock, Welles, Renoir, Eisenstein, Lang, Lester, Godard, Lee, Lynch, and others.

Requirements include two exams (a mid-term and a final), as well as two papers (one 3-5 pages; one 5-8 pages).


Close Readings in Film (Belton)

     (click title for longer course description)       

01: 354:210      

MW 4:30-5:50, MU 301                                         

screening W 6:10-8:50, MU 301

A close reading of six or seven individual films, concentrating on the formal analysis of each film's visual track, sound track, and scenario/narrative construction. Each film will be screened twice and studied for two weeks. Filmmakers include Hitchcock, Renoir, Hawks, Ozu, Bresson, and Antonioni. Requirements: three 5 page papers.


World Cinema ll (Sen)

     (click title for longer course description)           


TTH 12:00-1:20, TIL 258; RC 1 (T), RC 2 (TH) 

screening T 7,8 TIL 252

This course will explore dominant cinematic traditions of the world since the 1950s. In addition to studying the social and cultural contexts within which cinematic texts generate meaning, we will also engage with transnational dialogue between film cultures and movements. We will consider the validity of a number of concepts such as counter cinema, first, second and third cinema, and third-world cinema, focusing in particular on the interplay between local traditions and transnational industrial and artistic practices.

Midterm exam, take-home final exam, weekly responses to films, in-class presentation and participation.


Film and Society (Flitterman-Lewis)                   

     (click title for longer course description)       


TTH 2:50-4:10, MI 100

screening W 4:30-7:30, MI 100

The relation between film and its social context is extremely complex.  Rather than proceeding from a universal common film “language,” films are made and understood according to a wide range of national, ethnic, economic, and cultural differences which affect not only the content but the very “look” and structure of the films themselves. Furthermore, films can treat issues of class, race, and gender according to dominant cultural assumptions, or they can seek to challenge the existing order with a new kind of vision. For French director Jean-Luc Godard, a political film is not a film about politics, but a film made politically. In the cinema, the arrangement of images and sounds, modes of storytelling and narration, and strategies of address all shape our attitudes about the world we live in. Such issues have been increasingly debated in recent years with the emergence of films which offer a radical challenge to entrenched Western notions of reality. This course will explore the intersection of film and society through various examples of just such intervention and critique, establishing a tradition of Counter-Cinema developed in Europe and Latin America, in order to contextualize the work of current African-American filmmakers. Films of Jean-Luc Godard, Glauber Rocha, RW Fassbinder, Spike Lee, Ousmane Sembene, and Julie Dash, among others.

Attendance: Two lectures, one evening screening per week

Means of Evaluation: Midterm, Final, Long paper, class participation


Seminar: Film Theory (Flitterman-Lewis)

     (click title for longer course description)                         


TTH 1:10-2:30, MU 301                                                                                                                                               

screening TH 6:10-8:50 MU 301

Ever since the first public screening of motion pictures for a paying public took place (on December 28, 1895 in Paris), people have been asking the film-theoretical question “What is Cinema?”  At the same time, they also asked—in different but precise ways—“What is Film Theory?”  This seminar will attempt to answer both questions by looking at the work of different film theorists in relation to other critical approaches to the cinema (historical, biographical, literary-critical, etc.) to establish how each defines its object, how each conceives of cinematic specificity, and how each understands its critical traditions.  We will read the major texts of film theory in conjunction with screenings of different films, from the theory of the cinematic text (Vampyr) and cinematic language (Breathless), to Soviet Montage (Strike) and theories of cinematic realism (Bicycle Thieves), symptomatic analyses of ideological production (Young Mr. Lincoln) and dream and the unconscious (Last Year at Marienbad and L’Atalante), to cinematic point of view (Notorious) and fascination (Irma Vep). Key terms:  Theory of the cinematic text, textual analysis, the cinematic apparatus, cinema and ideology, feminist and psychoanalytic theory, semiotics, historical overview of film theory.  One presentation, one midterm, one paper, and a final exam, with some short in-class writing.




Golden Ages of French Cinema

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T 4:30-5:50, TH 2:50-5:50 Scott 114

screening included in TH meeting

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 Un Chien andalou), the 1930s (films of Renoir, Carné, and others), and--somewhat paradoxically--the years of the German Occupation during World War II.  Films screened will be examined both in their historical-political context and as works of art and/or entertainment. (Taught in French.)




Classics of German Cinema (Naqvi)

     click title for longer course description                 

01:470:360:01 / 01:175:377:06      

TTH 4:30-5:50 MU 301 

screening T 6:10-8:50 MU 301

This course introduces students to films of the Weimar, Nazi and post-war period as well as to contemporary German cinema. We will explore issues of social class, gender, historical memory, violence, and conflict by means of close analysis. The class seeks to sensitize students to the cultural context of these films and the changing socio-political climates in which they were made. Special attention will be paid to the issue of style. Directors and films include Robert Wiene (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, 1920), F.W. Murnau (The Last Laugh, 1924), Lotte Reiniger (The Adventures of Prinze Achmed, 1926),  Fritz Lang (Metropolis, 1927), Josef von Sternberg (The Blue Angel, 1929), Leni Riefenstahl (Olympia, 1936), Wolfgang Staudte (The Murderers are among Us, 1946), Billy Wilder (Sunset Boulevard, 1950), Volker Schlöndorff (The Young Törless, 1966), Werner Herzog (Aguirre, 1972), Wim Wenders (Alice in the Cities, 1974), Rainer Werner Fassbinder (The Marriage of Maria Braun, 1979), Fatih Akin (Head-On, 2004), Christian Petzold (Yella, 2007), Jessica Hausner (Lourdes, 2009) and Michael Haneke (Caché, 2005).                                                                                                                           



Professor Nigrin's Experimental Filmmaking class

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