Course Descriptions

Course Descriptions for Spring 2020

01:175:202: 01/02 INTRODUCTION TO FILM II (Fresko) SAS Core: Arts and Literatures (AHp)

"The discipline of film studies has a rich and varied history, and as film study moves into a digital age it continues to evolve as a body of knowledge. This course provides an introduction to the many areas of research that have been foundational to the field: from early attempts to define the medium, to arguments about its realistic and transformative properties; from critiques of the Hollywood culture industries to the study of film through frameworks of genre and authorship; from Marxist analyses of the cinema’s ideological function to psychoanalytic elaborations of the “apparatus” and the dynamics of spectatorship. What are the fundamental properties that define motion pictures as a medium? What are the cinema’s psychological, affective, and social effects? How do we understand filmic representation with respect to race, gender, and sexuality? And what are the implications for the study of film today, when movies are more often streamed on digital platforms than projected in cinemas? These and similar questions will guide our study of a diverse body of films and the critical theories that have been developed to account for the medium’s various political, economic, cultural, and aesthetic uses. By learning how to “read” a film and utilize terminology specific to the study of cinema, you will begin to critically understand film as art form and a product of culture. To this end, we will generate a shared vocabulary by which we can all speak and write with intelligence, confidence, and specificity about the how the cinema makes meaning and impacts on multiple levels."

 

01:175:267 AMERICAN FILM DIRECTORS (Nigrin)

A course focusing on the films of Stanley Kubrick, Orson Welles, John Frankenheimer, David Lynch, Val Lewton, Alfred Hitchcock, Peter Bogdonovitch, and others. In-depth analyses of the structure and content of films which include: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Psycho, Cat People, The Magnificent Ambersons, The Last Picture Show, 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.

 

01:175:321 WORLD CINEMA II (Sclafani)

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.
This course satisfies the Core Curriculum Learning Goals Arts and Literatures (AHp), Diversities and Social Inequalities (CCD).

 

01:175:377:01 TPCS IN WORLD CINEMA: AMERICAN ANIMATION (Williamson)

This course explores how American animated films by everyone from Winsor McCay in the early 1900s to Walt Disney and Tim Burton have shaped and been shaped by American culture. Deeply concerned with the labor and vision of individual artists, American animation reflects essential questions about the medium’s potential as an art of movement and transformation, an art of time, and an art of dreams, all of which are wrapped up in broader discourses on American ideals and ways of life. Our goal for the semester is to understand how animators have grappled with these questions using innovative formal and stylistic techniques that bring inanimate materials – drawings, puppets, and other objects – to life. To do this we will examine the many contexts that have shaped a wide range of films, from early hand-drawn animations and experimental films, to visual music films, realist animations, and contemporary computer animations. In the process, we will consider how American animated films intersect with the politics of race, class, and gender, as well as with other arts and media, including dance, painting, and comics.

 

01:175:377:02 TPCS IN WORLD CINEMA: FILM AND LITERATURE IN SOUTH ASIA (Gangopadhyay)

Shakespeare in Bollywood? The idea seems incongruous! And yet, Bombay filmmaker Vishal Bharadwaj has reinvented Macbeth, Othello and Hamlet 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 “art” films like Satyajit Ray’s Charulata (1960) to popular Bollywood adaptations of Jane Austen such as Aisha (2010), in order to understand the range and diversity of adaptation in South Asia.

 

01:175:377:03 TPCS IN WORLD CINEMA: CLASSICS OF ITALIAN CINEMA (Gambarota)

This course provides a historical introduction to Italian cinema, concentrating on examples of classical genres and movements, such as the early silent epic, the classics of neorealism, auteurs of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, the commedia all’italiana (comedy, Italian style), and the spaghetti Western. We will examine issues of representation and production of societal values, e.g., gender, family relations, and national identity vs. local cultures. By the end of the semester, students will be familiar with some of the canonical works of Italian cinema, will be able to critically analyze films according to their textual typologies (e.g., generic codes and conventions), to relate them to the specific socio-historical context and processes of production (e.g. film industry, audience expectations), and to communicate their ideas effectively, both orally and in written form, in modes appropriate to the discipline. No knowledge of Italian is required.
This course satisfies the Humanities Core Curriculum Learning Goal (AH, o and p)

 

01:175:425: 01 SENIOR SEMINAR IN CINEMA STUDIES (Welch)

Subtitle: Global Neorealism
On-location shooting, shoestring budget, non-professional actors, and social commentary on the everyday struggles of the so-called ‘common man.’ These are among the hallmark elements of Italian neorealism—a body of films that emerged out of the literal and figural rubble of fascism and World War II, and gave a nation recovering from a bombastic dictatorship a humble new self-image. Few national film movements have been as revered, mythologized, and seemingly self-evident as neorealism. And yet, since its inception, its very status—as a tradition, a school, a genre, and/or as a distinctively Italian set of films—has been fiercely contested. This course explores neorealism itself as a site of numerous transnational transactions, from its origins—in dialogue with Soviet realism and 'escapist' Hollywood—to its resonance in China, Senegal, Colombia, India, and beyond. Students will examine selections from the neorealist 'canon' (films by Rossellini, De Sica, and Visconti), along with a selection of their global intertexts (films may include: Pather Panchali, 1955, dir. Satyajit Ray; Black Girl, 1966, dir. Ousmane Sembène; Still Life, 2006, dir. Jia Zhangke; Wendy and Lucy, 2008, dir. Kelly Reichardt). English-Film Studies

 

01:354:371 FILM MELODRAMA (Flitterman-Lewis)

To some extent, all Hollywood film is melodramatic and for one critic, “the family is Hollywood’s one true subject.” From its beginnings, film melodrama has represented crises in familial relations–whether these be of individual identity, of gender roles and sexuality, or of
family harmony challenged by external forces. Melodrama articulates problems of passion, desire and emotional excess in a form that has come to be understood as “peculiarly American.” We will begin with the notion of genre as a way of categorizing Hollywood production and then look at individual films to determine the ways in which film melodrama combines social, psychic, and artistic elements to dramatize the contradictions of class, race, gender, and family in American culture.Films will include early works that established the tradition ( Way Down East, Broken Blossoms, Sunrise), maternal melodramas (Stella Dallas), melodramas of female desire and sexuality (Guest in the House; Now, Voyager) as well as those 50's films by Douglas Sirk seen to be the culmination of the form (Imitation of Life, All That Heaven Allows, Written on the Wind).
Requirements: A midterm, a final, one paper

 

01:354:385 THEORIES OF WOMEN AND FILM (Flitterman-Lewis)

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.

 

01:470:360:01 CLASSICS OF GERMAN CINEMA (Karl)

SAS Core Code: Philosophical and Theoretical Issues (AHo)
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), Fritz Lang (Metropolis, 1927), Walter Ruttmann (Berlin: Symphony of a City, 1927) Josef von Sternberg (The Blue Angel, 1929), Leni Riefenstahl (Olympia, 1936), Billy Wilder (Sunset Boulevard, 1950), Alexander Kluge (Yesterday Girl, 1966), Werner Herzog (Aguirre, 1972), Rainer Werner Fassbinder (Ali. Fear Eats the Soul, 1974), Wim Wenders (Alice in the Cities, 1987), Harun Farocki (Images of the World and the Inscription of War, 1989), Michael Haneke (The White Ribbon, 2009), Christian Petzold (Barbara, 2012), Maren Ade (Toni Erdmann, 2016), Wolfgang Fischer (Styx, 2019), among others.

 

01:351:308:02: EXPERIMENTAL FILMMAKING (Nigrin)

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. 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.

Professor Nigrin's Experimental Filmmaking class

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