Course Descriptions

Course Descriptions for Fall 2021

01:175:201 Intro to Film 1

This course introduces students to the close analysis of film and provides students with tools for understanding how films “work” at the levels of form, theme, and culture. Through close readings of individual films, we will see how spectators’ experiences and interpretations are shaped powerfully by cinematic techniques such as lighting, editing, sound design, and camera movement, among others; and by historical and cultural questions related to genre, authorship, and the politics of race and gender. Particularly because films engage with the assumptions, expectations, values, and habits of their audiences, this course is as much about understanding how films work as it is about understanding how we experience them.


01:175:265:01 American Experimental Film (Nigrin)

In-depth analyses of the structure and content of films by Andy Warhol, Maya Deren, Stan Brakhage, Sidney Peterson, Kenneth Anger, Bruce Baillie, 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. Warning: some films may contain nudity, sexual situations, violence, profanity, substance abuse, and disturbing images.


01:175:320:01 World Cinema I (Williams)

A survey of the history of world cinema (including American cinema, to the extent that it participates in the global evolution of the medium), from its beginnings in the 1890s to post-World War II developments such as Italian Neorealism.


01:175:322: Science Fiction Film (Williamson)

This course surveys the science fiction genre in the history of American cinema. Our focus will be on the range of ways in which science fiction has been called upon to think through questions about the changing landscapes of science and technology in both American culture and the cinema. The sci-fi genre experiences intense popularity during periods of significant techno-scientific transformation—from the electrification of the United States in the late 19th century to the computerization of life in the late 20th—which in turn fueled innovations in the science and technology of motion pictures. These exchanges between film and culture make the sci-fi film a particularly rich space for experimenting with the real and imagined impacts of cycles of innovation. Drawing on the history of science, art history, literature, and film theory, we will approach science fiction in American cinema, not simply as a future-oriented and quite fanciful genre, but as a profound and illuminating mode for teaching audiences about what the cinema is, how moving images work, and how the nature of techno-scientific innovation bears on enduring concerns about what it means to be human.


01:175:360:01 CLASSICS OF GERMAN CINEMA (Karl)

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.


01:175:377: Topics in World Cinema: Hitchcock and Beyond (Fresko)

This course will examine questions of cinematic authorship (in addition to other theoretical concerns) through one of the medium’s most influential figures: Alfred Hitchcock. We will trace Hitchcock’s formal and thematic development across major films from the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s and then place this body of work in dialogue with filmmakers such as Michael Powell, Luis Buñuel, Brian De Palma, Dario Argento, Chantal Akerman, Bette Gordon, and more. Themes relating to voyeurism, psychosis, perversion, surveillance, paranoia, gender, sexuality, and reflexivity will feature prominently. In addition to gaining insight into authorship and the workings of the cinematic apparatus more generally, students will also develop proficiency with frameworks for critical analysis, including genre, ideology, form, psychoanalysis, feminist critique, and queer theory among others.


01:175:398: Internship in Cinema Studies (Nigrin)


01:351:203: Screenwriting for Film

Screenwriting for Film focuses on a more in-depth look at cinema scripting as a craft. In addition to learning how to write for film, students will read film scripts and screen selected works. Instructors also hold first-hand knowledge of the film industry, and bring their experiences directly into the classroom.


01:351:308: Playwriting

Students study different playwriting genres throughout the course, and the course features thoughtful reading choices that reflect in-class discussions. Dynamic, visceral, exciting. This is what writing for the stage and live performance are all about. In this class, you will explore, character, setting, site-specific work, and the poetry of writing imaginatively and without fear for live presentation. Whether you're interested in theatre, dance, or music, this workshop is designed to creatively unleash your imagination and explore the unique challenges of thinking about and making live work.


01:351:314: Documentary Filmmaking

 In this course, documentary films are understood to be character driven non-fiction narratives created from the selecting, organizing and presenting of factual material. This course focuses on the importance of story-telling in documentaries and teaches students about the various filmic techniques, elements and choices needed to create their own successful short film.  Students will learn how to conduct an interview, film additional visual material and b roll, utilize archival footage, and layer sound, music and image into a compelling film.

Professor Nigrin's Experimental Filmmaking class

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