Course Descriptions

Rutgers Cinema Studies course descriptions for Winter and Spring:

Winter 2015-2016

Cinema Studies

01:175:266:01       Cult Films in American Culture (Nigrin)

                               12/23,28, 29, 30, 1/2-1/18 9-12:10PM

This lecture-discussion course focuses on the "cult" film from its origins in the 1920s to its evolution in American culture. Close analyses of cult films will be paired with readings by J. Hoberman and Jonathan Rosenbaum, Sigmund Freud, and others. According to Freud, for example, social organization for the primordial horde came about as a result of the incest taboo and the law of exogamy. Several of the films to be screened depict scenes that violate this organization and break the taboo. This course will explore how and why these violations permeate cult films. In addition, many cult films are open-ended metaphors for contemporary social anxieties. We will examine how some of these counter-culture films are a reaction to late '60s and '70s American society. Finally, this course will include in-depth analyses of the structure of celebrated American cult films ("mise-en-scene," editing, narrative form, set design, sound, and special effects) including: The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Eraserhead, Night of the Living Dead, Cat People, and others.
Warning: some films may contain nudity, sexual situations, violence, profanity, substance abuse, and disturbing images.

Spring 2016

01:354:201:01       Introduction to Film I (Williams)       W 11:30-12:50PM; F 1:10-5:50PM
                               SAS Core
Code: Arts and Literatures (AHp)
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, camera movement, etc.) and editing (continuity editing, other forms of editing), to sound (diegetic sound, coming from the fictional world, or nondiegetic sound, etc.).

Requirements include two exams (a midterm and a final) and two papers (one 3-5 pp., one 5-7 pp.).

01:354:202:01       Introduction to Film II (Koszarski)       MW 4:30-5:50PM; W 6:10-9PM
                               SAS Core Code: Arts and Literatures (AHp)
What is it that makes a great film a great film? 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, Polonski , Tim Burton 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. Students will compose guided response papers weekly. Final exam.

01:354:205:01       Cinema Today (Belton)       MW 4:30-5:50PM; W 6:10-9PM
                               SAS Core Code: 21st Century Challenges (21C), Arts and Literatures (AHp)
Anticipations of the new millennium spawned a series of apocalyptic films in the late 1990s (Armageddon, Deep Impact) that reflected a larger cultural anxiety about the future. The post-apocalyptic cinema of the new millennium recognized those anxieties and sought to manage them, providing ways of understanding 9/11, the Iraq war, and an unspecified, general social malaise by addressing the themes of trauma, memory, loss, temporal destabilization, trust, betrayal, and death as well as providing fantasy as an escapist alternative. This course surveys contemporary cinema from 2000 to the present and includes film such as Fahrenheit 9/11, The Hurt Locker, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, There will be Blood, No Country for Old Men, The Departed, Amour and other films.

01:354:316:01       American Cinema II (Belton)       MW 2:50-4:10PM; M 6:10-9PM
A survey of American cinema from the mid 1940s to the present. Designed as a history of American cinema, this course will focus on the way in which the movies express the conflicting forces which shape American experience and identity. Some attention will be paid to the institutional aspects of the film industry, such as the studio system, the star system, and the "system" of genres. But the chief focus of the course will be upon the study of individual films and the way in which they represent or deal with larger cultural concerns.
We will screen films directed by Frank Capra, Nicholas Ray, John Ford, Arthur Penn, Terence Malick, Steven Spielberg, Brian De Palma, Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, and others.

01:354:318:01       Films From Here: Cinema of NY & NJ (Koszarski)       MW 1:10-2:30PM; M 6:10-9PM
Hollywood makes films for everyone, but writers and directors based in New York and New Jersey have always had an agenda of their own. Even during the classic studio era, local filmmakers avoided Hollywood generalities in order to address their own concerns and their own audiences. We will look at the oppositional cinema they created as an "answer" to Hollywood, the golden age of "live from New York" television, and the creation of America's post-studio era independent cinema. Students will prepare a directed research project and submit regular response papers on films screened in class, ranging from the work of Griffith and Micheaux to Stanley Kubrick and Martin Scorsese.

01:354:360:01       Film Noir (Flitterman-Lewis)       TTh 4:30-5:50PM; TH 6:10-9PM
This course will consider the film noir- the hard-boiled detective thriller- in terms of gender, power, and sexuality. Whether it is seen as a genre (with a specific set of conventions regarding iconography, character types, plot motifs, and narrative organization) or a cycle of films (marked by a distinctive nocturnal visual style and a thematics of chaos and cynicism amplified by dramatic texutal effects), the single defining constant in the film noir is the female character, the femme fatale. The noir woman is encoded as threatening, dangerous and even deadly to the hero, no matter what specific action is developed in the narrative. Whether this takes the form of external social menace through murder and deceit, or psychological terror in which her very presence is threatening to the male, the femme fatale is primarily defined by her desireable but dangerous sexuality. Obviously, this suggests definitions of masculinity as well, and makes what is traditionally considered a "masculine" genre a privileged site for the examination of complex gender relations. We will view such classic film noirs as Double Indemnity, Gilda, The Maltese Falcon, Mildred Pierce, and Lady from Shanghai (among others) from the triple perspective of relations of gender, power and sexuality.
Attendance at both lectures and weekly screenings is required; a midterm, a final, and a term paper.

01:354:392:01       Theories Women & Film (Flitterman-Lewis)       TTh 1:10-2:30PM; T 6:10-9PM
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 Vagabond, Daughters Of The Dust, and Jeanne Dielmann. Attendance at both lectures and weekly screenings is required; a midterm, a final, and a term paper.

01:175:267:01       American Film Directors (Nigrin)       TTh 5:35-6:55PM; Th 6:55-8:35PM
A course focusing on the films of Stanley Kubrick, Orson Welles, John Frankenheimer, David Lynch, Val Lewton, Andy Warhol and others. In-depth analyses of the structure and content of films which include: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Moonrise Kingdom, Cat People, The Magnificent Ambersons, Mulholland Drive, 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.

01:175:377:01       Topics In World Cinema: Spanish Film (Martin-Márquez)       MW 2:15-3:35PM; Screenings TBA
Filmic Identities: Spain and Argentina: Cinema may contribute powerfully to the construction of social identities, and the interaction between films and audiences is oftentimes especially complex during authoritarian regimes and in their aftermath. In this course we will examine films produced from the 1960s to the present in Spain and Argentina, both of which have experienced periods of dictatorial rule, in order to explore their intervention in processes of identity production (as inflected, for example, by race/ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, dis/ability, national formations, political affiliations, and religious belief). Taught in English. Quizzes, two exams, and a final paper.

01:175:377:03       Topics In World Cinema: German Film (Mandt)       MW 1:10-2:30PM; Screenings TBA
Desire and Film Adaptation: In this seminar, we will examine the relationship between literature and film in contemporary adaptations, focusing on the topics of gender relations and erotic desire. Recent debates have come to challenge the widespread "the book was better" attitude by considering an adaptation to be less an attempted copy of a "source" or "original" than a dialog between a text and a film (Robert Stam). We will focus on the possible consequences of these debates for the way we think about the relationship between a novel and its film version. By exploring famous prose texts from the German-speaking world and their impact on international cinema, we will examine gender and sexuality. Beginning with primary sources and reading them on their own terms, we will then analyze connections and contrasts between the texts and their adaptations. Moreover, we will study films that deal with the topic of adaptation. In these cases we will ask how they invite us to rethink the very idea of adaptation. Finally, we will reconsider the concept of adaptation in the light of the discussed examples and also try out adapting a literary passage into a short screenplay.

The readings include modern classics by Franz Kafka and Arthur Schnitzler, post-war and contemporary writings by Ingeborg Bachmann, Bernhard Schlink, and Nobel Prize laureate Elfriede Jelinek. We will view films by Stanley Kubrick, Michael Haneke, Spike Jonze, and David Lynch.

01:175:377:04       Topics In World Cinema: Italian Film (Welch)       MW 2:50-4:10PM; Screenings TBA
Contemprary Italian Cinema: After the Apocalypse: This course provides a historical introduction to the past forty-five years of Italian cinema, focusing on films that portray the end of the world. They deal with zombies, nuclear wastelands, post-industrial landscapes, but also with the crisis of language, the breaking up of society, the uncertainty of modern man. The apocalypse can be explicit (Ferreri, Lenzi, Bava) or implicit (Moretti, Crialese, Antonioni), it can be depicted using atomic bombs and lethal plagues, or be concerned just with its emotional consequences, with the intimacy of a collapsing universe. We will situate the films in the historical and cultural contexts that have shaped the past several decades of Italian social life, in the attempt to understand why the apocalypse is a necessary post-modern metaphor and how it is not limited to a sub-genre of science fiction. We will watch some films strictly belonging to the Italian post-apocalyptic filone, and many others that show no (apparent) connection with the genre.
Films by: Moretti, Benigni, Lenzi, Ferreri, Crialese, Antonioni, etc.
Lectures, discussions, and readings in English.
Films in Italian with English subtitles.

01:175:377:05       Topics In World Cinema: Cinema & City (Yanni)       T 10:20AM-1:20PM; W 6:40-9:30PM
This 200-level class will present a visual and historical analysis of urban space as seen through the medium of cinema. This is primarily an architectural history class, but the subject goes beyond individual buildings--the subject here is the city and its representation. Movies illustrate theories of urban planning; on-location shooting can reveal aspects of urban life, and fanciful set designs can expose the unrealistic goals of some architects. Themes to be explored include the contrast between the country and the city (Sunrise), the city as a disciplinary space (Metropolis), dystopian cities (Blade Runner), the city as a modernist totality (Things to Come), the hyper-real world of New Urbanism (The Truman Show) and climate change and sustainability (Wall-E.)
There are no pre-requisites for this class.
COURSE STRUCTURE
Each week will include two 120-minute meetings. One class meeting will begin with a discussion of a film, followed by a lecture that introduces the student to themes in architectural and urban history for the following week. We will watch clips of the main films and related moving pictures during class time. Students should be eager to participate in class discussions. The other class session will be a mandatory film screening.
EVALUATION
This course requires active class participation (20%). Students are expected to attend all lectures and screenings. Students must be prepared for discussion at class sessions. There is one group project (20%). There is a midterm (30%) and a final (30%).

01:175:377:06       Topics In World Cinema: Russian Film (Brooks)       MW 2:50-4:10PM; Screenings TBA
This course surveys the impressive body of Russian, Soviet, and post-Soviet cinema. It explores both the historical development of film as an artistic medium and cinema's unique position in twentieth-century Russian culture. We will focus on three particular facets of that development: the innovations in silent film of the 1920s, the rise of poetic cinema in the 1960s and 70s, and the transformations of the Russian film industry following the Soviet Union's collapse. The three acknowledged giants of Soviet cinema -- Sergei Eisenstein, Dziga Vertov, and Andrei Tarkovsky -- will receive sustained attention, but we will not stop with them. Working on the geopolitical margins of the Soviet Union, Ukrainian, Georgian, and Armenian directors created beautiful, enigmatic, genre-defying films, which make for provocative comparison with the (no less aesthetically striking) musicals, historical pieces, and melodramas that came from Moscow. Our turn to the present day will refocus on Russia, and via a series of recent cinematic masterpieces, we will examine the country's fitful, violent transition to -- and recent retreat from -- Western ways of life. In sum, this course will engage recurrent thematic concerns of Russian cinema (inter/nationalism, gender and sexuality, the aesthetics of violence) alongside formal ones (the development of montage, the advent of sound film, non-narrative cinema techniques), serving as an introduction to both cinema studies and Russian studies.
We will typically watch one film per week (via scheduled screenings and/or DVDs made available for individual viewing). Additional film clips will be shown in our twice-weekly class sessions. The course's visual materials will be supplemented with secondary materials on film history and Russian cultural history. We will also read Russian contributions to film and narrative theory, with a particular focus on foundational theoretical statements of the silent and early sound era (Eisenstein, Vertov, Pudovkin, Kuleshov) and Tarkovsky's vision of poetic cinema. On the basis of these readings, students will be expected to learn and employ the formal elements of film analysis, and to situate that analysis within a nuanced perspective on post-/Soviet culture. Shorter writing assignments (2-5 pp., variously) will include: open-ended response papers; a dedicated analysis of a particular montage sequence; and an essay on intersections of genre and gender representation. Finally, there will be a longer (8 pp.) final paper on a film/topic of the student's choice (with instructor's approval).

01:175:425:01 Senior Seminar in Cinema Studies (Sen) TTh 1:40-3PM; Screenings TBA

This is a capstone course for all Cinema Studies Majors and Minors. In this iteration of the Senior Seminar, we will focus on the theoretical and historical mutation of "Realisms", as it pertains to cinema studies as a discipline. From the earliest years, film theorists have been engaged in debate over cinema's unique mimetic capabilities: from André Bazin's "myth of total cinema" to Sigfried Kracauer, Rudolph Arnheim and Sergei Eisenstein, we will read a range of critics who have wrestled with the notion of cinema's "true" calling as an art-form. In more recent years, the theoretical turn towards affect and phenomenology has once again compelled us to revisit the question of Realism in the era of New and Digital Media. Beyond theoretical approaches focusing on realism, this course will also consider distinct historical forms of global realisms—Italian Neorealism and its many global avatars, the classical Hollywood cinema, documentary and non-fiction film traditions, as well as certain well-known alternatives to realist film traditions such as Surrealism, Expressionism, Magical Realism, etc. will be critically explored.

Note: This course is open to Cinema Studies Seniors only. Special Permission Required—Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

01:351:308:02       Experimental Filmmaking (Nigrin)-Listed Under Playwriting
Note: Special Permission Required— Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.       F 9:50-12:50PM; 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 effects and other techniques. The second is to screen and analyze a variety of 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. Warning: some films may contain nudity, sexual situations, violence, profanity, substance abuse, and disturbing images.

01:420:471:01       Advanced Topics in French Cinema (Williams)       T 1:10-4:10PM; Th 1:10-2:30P
French Film Comedy – Throughout its history, French cinema has excelled at creating comedies of all sorts. We will screen and study a representative selection of films, read Bergson's Le Rire and other works on the topic, and examine French comic stars and genres. No previous film course is required to take this one. (Note: The course is taught in French, but students who are not French majors may write their final papers in English, though they will still have to do their exams in French.)

Additional course of interest (not for Cinema Studies credit):
01:050:489:01       Sr Seminar in Am Studies: Adaptation (Rockland)       M 10:55-1:55