Course Descriptions

Course Descriptions for Spring 2021

01:175:202 Intro to Film 2

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 many questions that have been foundational to the field: What are the fundamental properties that define film 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 use terminology specific to the study of cinema, students will be able to discuss with intelligence and confidence how movies make meaning and impact us on multiple levels.

Instructor: FRESKO


01:175:267 American Film Directors

A course focusing on the films of Stanley Kubrick, Orson Welles, John Frankenheimer, David Lynch, Val Lewton, Alfred Hitchcock, and others. In-depth analyses of the structure and content of films which include: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Psycho, 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.

Instructor: NIGRIN


01:175:321 World Cinema II

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.

Instructor: SEN


01:175:377:01 Latin American Film: Emotion and Engagement

Revolutionary vampires in Havana fight the mafia to gain control of a potion that will allow them to enjoy the Cuban sun; a young indigenous couple suffers the terrible persecution of their community in Mexico; an Argentine taxidermist planning a lucrative heist confronts humans’ fraught relationship to non-human animals. 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 in which different types of filmmaking (fiction, documentary, animation and hybrids) and a variety of cinematic genres (comedy, melodrama, horror and exploitation, noir) have been deployed by Latin American filmmakers to create politically-engaged cinema. Although extraordinary films have been produced throughout Latin America, this semester we will pay special attention to works from three countries: Cuba, Mexico, and Argentina. This will also allow us to explore in greater depth the complexities of each context.



01:175:377:02 Modern French Cinema

This course surveys the history of French cinema from World War II to the present. These are tumultuous years; they include the "New Wave" of the late 1950s and 1960s (works of Resnais, Godard, and others), the return to traditional forms in the 1970s and 1980s (but often with untraditional content, as in the disturbing comedies of Bertrand Blier), the "New New Wave" that followed (films by Olivier Assayas and Claire Denis, among others), and the radically diverse cinema of the present day. Films screened will be examined both in their historical-political context and as works of art and/or entertainment. Please note that several films contain adult themes and situations, and occasional (full) nudity. [This course fulfills Core Requirements AHp]

Instructor: WILLIAMS


01:175:377:03 Classics of Italian Cinema

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 cinematic representation and production, and societal values (e.g., gender, family relations, and national identity vs. local cultures), while refining close-analysis skills. No knowledge of Italian is required.

Instructor: GAMBAROTA


01:175:425 Senior Seminar in Cinema Studies:

The Documentary: Truth and Fiction in the Cinema

Description: This course explores the categories of truth and fiction in the cinema through the lens of the documentary. Our focus will be on the history and legacy of an international film movement known as cinéma vérité, which challenged conventional notions of documentary “truth” and “objectivity” in the 1960s and 1970s. By examining core concepts and techniques of the movement—for example, its experimentation with improvisation, participation, and provocation—we will develop an understanding of how and why cinéma vérité filmmakers tried to revolutionize documentary modes that had dominated much of the 20th century. In the process, we will consider how cinéma vérité continues to influence documentary filmmaking and the broader politics of race, gender, activism, and knowledge in film and related media. The documentary will serve two broader functions in this capstone seminar: 1) Each week will be devoted to using the documentary as a way to think through a foundational category in cinema studies—e.g., realism, spectatorship, ideology, postmodernism, race—so that students develop a deeper understanding of how broad conversations in the discipline are negotiated in a specific subfield. 2) The various ways in which documentaries use evidence, questioning, and argumentation will be used as frameworks for helping students develop their own analytical skills for using evidence, developing questions, and making arguments while writing in the discipline.

Instructor: WILLIAMSON

Professor Nigrin's Experimental Filmmaking class

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