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Courses

The following information is from the 2018-19 Vassar College Catalogue.

Film: I. Introductory

175 Introduction to Screen Arts 1Semester Offered: Spring

An introductory exploration of central features of film and television aesthetics, including formal and stylistic elements, such as color, lighting, editing, sound, narrative structure, etc. Students will be exposed to a wide spectrum of types of films and television shows, including: silent, abstract, non-narrative, foreign, and documentaries, and the artistic choices manifested by each. We look at issues pertaining to production, distribution, and exhibition. Subjects are treated topically rather than historically, and emphasis is placed on mastering key vocabulary and concepts. Sophia Harvey, Erica Stein. 

Two 75-minute periods plus outside screenings.

180 The Detective Film 1Semester Offered: Fall

To prepare students for college-level writing, this course uses the detective film as the framework for learning how to write about motion pictures and for the development of critical reading, research, and writing skills. The figure of the detective is one of the most iconic archetypes in American cinema from the silent era to the present. We examine the detective film through the lenses of genre, adaptation, sound studies, gender politics, and authorship. We also explore how the genre has adapted and responded to its socio-cultural or ideological contexts in movies such as The Big SleepBlade Runner, and The Silence of the Lambs. Throughout the semester, students write and revise a series of short papers, culminating with a final research paper. In these assignments, students consider such issues as the relationship between characters and their environment, why certain detectives (i.e., Sherlock Holmes and Phillip Marlowe) have maintained their appeal over different historical periods, and how popular film genres can challenge or reinforce cultural norms and attitudes. Alex Kupfer. 

Open only to first-year students; satisfies college requirement for a First-Year Writing Seminar.

Two 75-minute periods accompanied by film screenings.

Film: II. Intermediate

210 World Cinema to 1945 1Semester Offered: Fall

An international history of film from its invention through the silent era and the coming of sound to mid-century. The course focuses on major directors, technological change, industrial organization, and the contributions of various national movements. In addition to the historical survey, this course introduces students to the major issues of classical film theory. Sophia Harvey, Erica Stein. 

Prerequisite(s): FILM 175 strongly suggested but not required.

Two 75-minute periods plus outside screenings.

211 World Cinema After 1945 1Semester Offered: Spring

An international history of film from mid-century to the present day. The course focuses on major directors, technological changes, industrial organization, and the contributions of various national movements. In addition to the historical survey, this course explores the major schools of contemporary film theory, e.g., auteurism, semiology, Marxist theory, feminism. Mia Mask, Erica Stein. 

Prerequisite(s): FILM 210, and permission of the instructor.

Two 75-minute periods plus outside screenings.

212 Genre: The Musical 1Semester Offered: Fall

Examines the development of American film musicals from The Jazz Singer to the present day. The course looks at major stars such as Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly, and Judy Garland, and the contributions of directors such as Vincente Minnelli and Bob Fosse. Students examine the interrelationships between Broadway and Hollywood, the influence of the rise and fall of the Production Code, the shaping hand of different studios, the tensions between narrative and spectacle, sincerity and camp. Reading assignments expose students to a wide range of literature about film, from production histories to feminist theory. Sarah Kozloff. 

Prerequisite(s): FILM 175 or FILM 210 and permission of the instructor.

Two 75-minute periods plus outside screenings.

214 Genre: The War Film 1

An examination of how American films have represented World War I, World War II, the Vietnam War and the Gulf Wars. Films chosen include both those made while the conflicts rages (Bataan, 1942), and those made many years later (Saving Private Ryan, 1998, and Three Kings, 1999). This class focuses on such issues as: propaganda and patriotism, pacifism and sensationalism, the reliance on genre conventions and the role of changing film technologies. For comparison, we look also at documentaries, television, "home front" stories at war-time poetry, posters, and music. Reading assignments cover topics such as the government's Office of War Information, the influence of John Wayne, the racism of the Vietnam films, the ways in which the Iraq war movies have been influenced by the genre. Sarah Kozloff.

Prerequisite(s): FILM 175 or FILM 210 and permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2018/19.

Two 75-minute periods plus outside screenings.

215 Genre: Science Fiction 1Semester Offered: Fall

T​he course presents a survey of global science-fiction cinema from its beginnings in the silent period to the advent of digital technologies. Topics include subgenres (end of the world, time travel, space exploration, cyborgs), the relation of science-fiction films to their ​socio-political context and their function in popular culture​. We contextualize these topics within discourses of postmodernism, postcolonialism, and feminism. Screenings may include: Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1927, Germany), Robocop (Paul Verhoeven, 1987, USA), Enthiran (S. Shankar, 2010, India), Cyber Wars (Kuo Jian Hong, 2004, Singapore) and Nuoc ​2030 (Nghiem-Minh Nguyen-Vo​, 2014, Vietnam).​ Sophia Harvey.

Prerequisite(s): FILM 175 or FILM 210 and permission of the instructor.

Two 75-minute periods plus outside screenings.

216 Genre: Romantic Comedy 1

This class studies the genre of romantic comedy in American film from the "screwball comedies" of the 1930s (It Happened One Night, Bringing Up Baby) to the resurgence of the genre in the 1990s and the 21st century. The course focuses on the work of major stars such as Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and Meg Ryan, as well as the contribution of such directors as Ernst Lubitsch, George Cukor, Preston Sturges, Howard Hawks, Billy Wilder, or Nora Ephron. We place these films in the context of other representations of romance---such as Shakespeare's comedies---and in the context of the changes in American culture, particularly in the role of women. Readings lead students to a deeper understanding of the history of American film, genre, and the star system. Sarah Kozloff.

Prerequisite(s): FILM 175 or FILM 210 and permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2018/19.

Two 75-minute periods plus outside screenings.

217 Video Art 1Semester Offered: Fall and Spring

(Same as ART 217) Video continues to document, illuminate, and instruct our lives daily. New channels of accessibility have opened it to a broad range of alternative practices, always in relation to its online or televised utility. In this studio, students make videos to better understand the affects and formal potential of video as an opportunity for critique. Technical experimentation covers the major tools of video production and post-production. Workshops examine set, keying, montage, sound, pacing, composition, and the cut. Regular assignments address a range of structural problems, at once conceptual and plastic (topics include the question of the subject, politics of visibility, satire, abjection, abstraction, psychedelia, performance and humiliation). Work by artists who have harnessed or perverted video's components is screened bi-weekly. Abigail Gunnels.

Prerequisite(s): permission of the instructor.

Two 2-hour periods.

218 Genre: The Western 1Semester Offered: Fall

This course offers an historical and cultural exploration of the Western film genre. There is emphasis on the relationship between the Western and the central myths of the American experience. The changing nature of masculinity, the representation of violence, and the roles designated to women are addressed. The course examines Westerns directed by filmmakers D. W. Griffith, John Ford, Howard Hawks, George Stevens, John Huston, Fred Zinnemann, Sidney Poitier, Sam Peckinpah, and Clint Eastwood. Mia Mask.

Prerequisite(s): FILM 175 or FILM 210 and permission of the instructor.

Two 75-minute periods plus outside screenings.

220 Chinese Film and Contemporary Fiction 1

(Same as CHIN 220) An introduction to Chinese film through its adaptations of contemporary stories. Focus is on internationally well-known films by the fifth and sixth generation of directors since the late 1980s. Early Chinese films from the 1930s to the 1970s are also included in the screenings. The format of the course is to read a series of stories in English translations and to view their respective cinematic versions. The discussions concentrate on cultural and social aspects as well as on comparison of themes and viewpoints in the two genres. The interrelations between texts and visual images are also explored. Wenwei Du.

Prerequisite(s): one course in language, literature, culture, film, drama, or Asian Studies, or permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2018/19.

221 American Avant-Garde Film 1Semester Offered: Fall

This course offers a survey of American avant-garde film in all its modes, ranging from experimental work like Jennifer Proctor's Jen Proctor: A Movie, to surrealist-influenced documentary like Joshua Yates's The Bags, to innovative narrative cinema like Agnes Varda's Lions Love (…and Lies). While the course covers major avant-garde movements like mytho-poeticism and structuralism, it is organized thematically rather than chronologically. The course is divided into three units, each of which interrogates one of the terms in the title. The first unit explores films that expand our perception of what it means to be American and challenge received ideas about individual and collective identity. The second unit examines how the avant-garde constitutes itself both in opposition to commercial film and as its own industrial form. The third unit investigates film itself – how and why medium specificity and technology are important to these moving images. Assignments include an historical presentation, a short analytic essay, a take-home exam, and a final position paper on the future of the American avant-garde film. Erica Stein.

Prerequisite(s): FILM 175 or FILM 210, and permission of the instructor.

Two 75-minute periods accompanied by film screenings.

230 European Women's Cinema 1

(Same as WMST 230)  This course examines contemporary European culture and history through film; various critical theories (feminist, queer, post-colonial), are studied and applied to films, through selected readings and other relevant resources. Using a multidisciplinary approach, the purpose of this course is to provide critical models for interpreting social and cultural constructions of meaning. We consider the ways in which images of women and the concept of "woman" are invested with culturally and historically specific meanings that intersect with other categories of difference/identity such as: class, sexual orientation, excess, war, and the state. Essential to the discussion of difference will be the analysis of the cultural and linguistic differences introduced by the otherness of film itself, and of the specific films we study. Cinematic interpretive skills are developed through visual and linguistic exercises, group projects, and film-making. Film directors may include: Lina Wertmüller, Liliana Cavani, Margarethe von Trotta, Monika Treut, Ulrike Öttinger, Claire Denis, Coline Serreau, Céline Sciamma, Gurinder Chadha, Ngozi Onwurah. Rodica Blumenfeld.

 

Prerequisite(s): WMST 130 preferable but not obligatory.  

Open to Sophomores and above.

Not offered in 2018/19.

Two 75-minute periods plus outside screenings.

231 Minorities in the Media 1

This course examines the dynamics of race, class, gender and sexuality as they are represented in American society. Throughout the semester, we will analyze films, television programs, videos and advertisements, as well as other mediated discourse, to assess the way categories of "minority" identity have been constructed in mainstream society. In addition to examining images of those persons collective known as "minorities," we will consider the representation of those defined as "majority" Americans. In addition to scholarship by black British cultural theorists, African American scholars, critical race theorists and sociologists, this course enlists scholarship from the growing field of whiteness studies. Issues and topics may include "model minorities" (Henry Louis Gates, Jennifer Lopez, Rahm Emmanuel, Tiger Woods, Ellen DeGeneres, The Williams Sisters, Barack Obama), global advertising, racial profiling, police brutality (Rodney King, Abner Louima, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell), Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice), the Proposition 209 conflict, the WNBA, gay marriage, Islamaphobia, and the representation of the Middle East. Readings, screenings and papers required. Mia Mask.

Prerequisite(s): FILM 175 or FILM 210 and permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2018/19.

Two 75-minute periods, plus outside screenings.

232 African American Cinema 1

(Same as AFRS 232) This course provides a survey of the history and theory of African American representation in cinema. It begins with the silent films of Oscar Micheaux and examines early Black cast westerns (Harlem Rides the Range, The Bronze Buckaroo, Harlem on the Prairie) and musicals (St. Louis Blues, Black and Tan, Hi De Ho, Sweethearts of Rhythm). Political debate circulating around cross over stars (Paul Robeson, Sidney Poitier, Dorothy Dandridge, Eartha Kitt, and Harry Belafonte) are central to the course. Special consideration is given to Blaxploitation cinema of the seventies (Shaft, Coffy, Foxy Brown, Cleopatra Jones) in an attempt to understand its impact on filmmakers and the historical contexts for contemporary filmmaking. The course covers "Los Angeles Rebellion" filmmakers such as Julie Dash, Charles Burnett, and Haile Gerima. Realist cinema of the 80's and 90's (Do the Right Thing, Boyz N the Hood, Menace II Society, and Set it off),is examined before the transition to Black romantic comedies, family films, and genre pictures (Coming to America, Love and Basketball, The Best Man, Akeelah and the Bee, 12 Years a Slave, The Great Debaters). Mia Mask.

Prerequisite(s): FILM 210 and permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2018/19.

Two 75-minute periods plus outside screenings.

233 The McCarthy Era and Film 1

This class focuses both on the history of anti-communist involvement with the American film industry and on the reflection of this troubled era in post-war films. We trace the factors that led to The House on Un-American Activities Committee's investigation of communist influence in Hollywood, the case of the Hollywood Ten, the operation of the blacklist and its final demise at the end of the 1950s. We look at films overtly taking sides in this ideological conflict, such as the anti-Communist I Was a Communist for the FBI and the pro-labor Salt of the Earth, as well as the indirect allegories in film noirs and science fiction. Reading assignments are drawn from a wide range of sources, including HUAC transcripts, government documents, production histories, and genre studies. The course concludes with a look at how more contemporary films such as Good Night and Good Luck have sought to frame our understanding of this era. Sarah Kozloff.

Prerequisite(s): FILM 175 or FILM 210 and permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2018/19.

Two 75-minute periods plus outside screenings.

238 Music in Film 1Semester Offered: Fall

(Same as MUSI 238) A study of music in sound cinema from the 1920s to the present. The course focuses on the expressive, formal, and semiotic functions that film music serves, either as sound experienced by the protagonists, or as another layer of commentary to be heard only by the viewer, or some mixture of the two. Composers studied include Max Steiner, Bernard Herrmann, Jerry Goldsmith, Danny Elfman and others as well as film scores that rely upon a range of musical resources including classical, popular, and non-Western music. Specific topics to be considered this semester include music in film noir and the movie musical. Brian Mann.

Prerequisite(s): one course in Music (not performance) or Film.

Two 75-minute periods plus outside screenings.

240 Foundations 1Semester Offered: Fall and Spring

This is a course about becoming a better finder, reader, and teller of audiovisual stories. Through a series of exercises and projects we explore the foundational elements of film production. The Department.

Prerequisite(s): Corequisite or  FILM 210.

No technical experience is required.

One 3-hour period.

254 Emotional Engagement with Film 1

(Same as MEDS 254 and PSYC 254) While movies engage our emotions in psychologically significant ways, scholarship on the psychological allure and impact of film has existed primarily at the interdisciplinary margins. This course aims to bring such scholarship into the foreground. We begin with a careful examination of the appeal and power of narrative, as well as processes of identification and imagined intimacy with characters, before taking a closer analytical look at specific film genres (e.g., melodrama, horror, comedy, action, social commentary) both in their own right and in terms of their psychological significance (e.g., why do we enjoy sad movies? How do violent movies influence viewer aggression? How might socially conscious films inspire activism or altruism?) In addition to delving into theoretical and empirical papers, a secondary goal of the course is to engage students as collaborators; brainstorm and propose innovative experimental methods for testing research questions and hypotheses that emerge in step with course materials. Dara Greenwood and Sarah Kozloff.

Prerequisite(s): for Psychology majors - PSYC 105; for Film majors - FILM 175 or FILM 210; for Media Studies majors - MEDS 160.

Not offered in 2018/19.

Two 75-minute periods plus outside screenings.

255 Four Italian Filmmakers (in English) 1Semester Offered: Fall

(Same as ITAL 255) Close analysis of the narrative and visual styles of Bernardo Bertolucci, Federico Fellini, Gianni Amelio and Nanni Moretti, in the context of post-war Italian cinema and culture. Theoretical literature on these directors and on approaches to the interpretation of film-such as psychoanalytic film theory, feminist theory, deconstruction, and post-colonial analyses of dominant discourses-aid us in addressing questions of style and of political and social significance. Cinematic interpretive skills are developed through visual and linguistic exercises, group projects, and film-making. Conducted in English. Rodica Blumenfeld.

Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors. May be counted towards the Italian major.

Two 75-minute periods and two film screenings.

256 American Television History 1Semester Offered: Fall

(Same as MEDS 256) This course surveys the history of television in the United States from the 1940s to the present. It examines the social and industrial significance of television and its impact on issues such as class, race, gender, consumerism, and national identity. We investigate changes in televisual aesthetics and narrative paradigms and the ways that television responded to significant cultural, political and technological changes in American society. Throughout the semester we draw upon a range of critical frameworks including media industry studies, genre theory, and celebrity studies as we address topics such as the attempts to develop alternate models of broadcasting, networks' efforts to bolster television's cultural status, media convergence, and the formal characteristics of different television genres. Screenings include I Love Lucy, The Twilight Zone, Star Trek, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The Simpsons, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Orange is the New Black. Alex Kupfer.

Prerequisite(s): FILM 175  or FILM 210  for students registering for FILM 256. MEDS 160 for students registering for MEDS 256.

Two 75-minute periods plus outside screenings.

260 Documentary: History and Aesthetics 1Semester Offered: Spring

Beginning with an exploration of film pioneers such as Robert Flaherty and Margaret Mead, the course also examines the impact of John Grierson on documentary production in both Great Britain and Canada. In addition, the development of cinema verité is traced through the work of such filmmakers as Jean Rouch, Richard Leacock, Robert Drew, D. A. Pennebaker, Frederick Wiseman, and the Maysles Brothers. Other topics might include city-symphonies, domestic ethnographies, and mockumentaries. Screeings may include: Nanook of the North (Robert Flaherty, 1922), Chronique d'un ete (Paris 1960) (Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin, 1961), Primary (Robert Drew, 1960) Jane (D.A. Pennebaker, 1962), Boxing Gym (Frederick Wiseman, 2010), and This is Spinal Tap (Rob Reiner, 1984). Mia Mask.

Prerequisite(s): FILM 175 or FILM 210 and permission of the instructor.

Two 75-minute periods plus outside screenings.

265 German Film in English Translation 1Semester Offered: Spring

(Same as GERM 265) Topic for 2018/19b: Cinema Behind the Wall: Films from East Germany. 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, films from the former GDR still offer a broad understanding of life during the Cold War in East Germany and the enduring legacy of this period in world history. The films from the state-owned DEFA studios are rich in themes, structures and styles; in beautifully crafted films, inventive filmmakers tested the limits of censorship and reflected on the political complexities of artistic production in the East Germany. The course explores a diversity of film genres and styles, including Westerns, musicals, and science fiction movies. We consider a variety of issues, such as continuities and breaks with Weimar cinema and the Nazi past; Communist Party politics and the succeses and failures of socialist realist aesthetics; gender and sexuality; consumer culture in a socialist context; the enduring cult power and nostalgia of DEFA films in Germany today; and questions of German "national" cinema after unification. Silke von der Emde.

Readings and discussions are in English, and all films have English subtitles.
Open to all classes.

Readings and discussions are in English, and all films have English subtitles. Open to all classes.

Two 75-minute periods.

266 Genre: Asian Horror 1

(Same as ASIA 266) This course examines contemporary Asian horror. Using a variety of critical perspectives, we will deconstruct the pantheon of vampires, monsters, ghosts, and vampire ghosts inhabiting such diverse regions as Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong, and the Philippines to explore constructions of national/cultural identity, gender, race, class, and sexuality. We will ground these observations within a discussion of the nature of horror and the implications of horror as a trans/national genre. Sophia Harvey.

Prerequisite(s): FILM 175 or FILM 210, and permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2018/19.

Two 75-minute periods, plus outside screenings.

282 Media Industries: Fox 1Semester Offered: Spring

(Same as MEDS 282) This course explores the history of Twentieth Century-Fox and Fox Broadcasting Company from its emergence in the 1910s to its present day position as one of the world's largest media conglomerates. It uses Fox to explore changes in aesthetic paradigms, storytelling techniques, and the ways that media industries engage with important cultural, political and technological changes in American society.

Throughout the semester, we compare different critical frameworks used to discuss the history of the Hollywood Studio System such as media industry studies, genre and auteur theory, and celebrity studies. We apply these wide-ranging methods to a series of overlapping historical case studies on topics including F.W. Murnau, John Ford at Fox, and the FOX network's efforts to reach underrepresented audiences. Screenings include Sunrise, How Green Was My Valley, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, M*A*S*H, The Simpsons Movie, In Living Color, and Star Wars. Alex Kupfer.

Prerequisite(s): FILM 175 or FILM 210 for students registering for FILM 282. MEDS 160 for students registering for MEDS 282.

Two 75-minute periods accompanied by film screenings.

290 Field Work 0.5 to 2Semester Offered: Fall or Spring

To be elected in consultation with the adviser and the Office of Field Work.

May not be used toward the Major requirements.

298 Independent Work 0.5 to 1Semester Offered: Fall or Spring

To be elected in consultation with the adviser.

Film: III. Advanced

300 Film Research Thesis 1Semester Offered: Fall or Spring

An academic thesis in film history or theory, written under the supervision of a member of the department. Since writing a thesis during fall semester is preferable, film majors should talk to their advisers spring of junior year. In Film, a research thesis is recommended, especially for those students not writing a Screenplay Thesis or enrolled in Documentary workshop, but it is not required. Members of the department.

Prerequisite(s): FILM 210/FILM 211, two additional courses in film history and theory, and permission of the instructor.

301 Film Screenplay Thesis 1Semester Offered: Fall or Spring

The creation of a feature-length original screenplay. Open only to students electing the concentration in film. Senior status required. Students wishing to write a screenplay instead of a research thesis must have produced work of distinction in FILM 317 (Intro to Screenwriting) and FILM 319 (Screenwriting). The Department. 

Prerequisite(s): permission of the instructor.

310 Film Authorship 1Semester Offered: Fall

Topic for 2018/19a: ​Directors:  Sidney Lumet, John Sayles, Debra Granik, Ava Duvernay. This course examines the complications of authorship in film by analyzing various competing theoretical models. Then it tests these models against the work on an auteur. Students are expected to attend screenings, conduct independent research, and keep up with wide variety of historical and theoretical readings. Sarah Kozloff.

Prerequisite(s): FILM 210 and FILM 211.

Note that this class does not replace the major requirement of FILM 392.

One 2-hour period plus outside screenings.

317 Introduction to Screenwriting 1Semester Offered: Fall and Spring

Study of dramatic construction as it applies to film, plus practice in story development and screenwriting. Shane Slattery-Quintanilla (b), Joseph Muszynski (a).

Prerequisite(s): DRAM 102 or FILM 210 and permission of the instructor.

Writing sample required two weeks before preregistration. Open only to juniors and seniors. Same as DRAM 317 in the spring semester only.

One 2-hour period plus outside screenings.

319 Advanced Screenwriting 1Semester Offered: Spring

An in-depth exploration of the screenplay as a dramatic form and a workshop aimed at the development, writing, and rewriting of a feature-length screenplay. Students study the work of noted screenwriters and are required to complete a feature-length screenplay as their final project in the course. Open only to Film Majors who have produced work of distinction in FILM 317. Joseph Muszynski.

Prerequisite(s): FILM 210/FILM 211, DRAM 317 or FILM 317, and permission of the instructor.  Open to Film Majors only.

One 2-hour period plus outside screenings.

320 Filmmaking I 1Semester Offered: Fall

This course explores the theoretical and practical elements of film production. Students learn to analyze scenes in order to better develop their own cinematic ideas. Instructors may emphasize narrative or documentary projects. The Department.

Prerequisite(s): FILM 210, FILM 211 and permission of the instructor. FILM 240 Foundations highly recommended but not required.

One 3-hour period plus a 2-hour Friday lab.

321 Filmmaking II 1Semester Offered: Spring

Using techniques explored in FILM 320, students will develop concepts for a documentary short and a narrative short. The course will also introduce students to collaborative production approaches and workflows. Shane Slattery-Quintanilla.

Prerequisite(s): FILM 320 and permission of the instructor.

One 3-hour period plus a 2-hour Friday lab.

325 Writing the Short Film 1Semester Offered: Fall

Students learn the process of developing short narrative screenplays and shooting scripts. Scripts produced in FILM 327 are selected from those created in FILM 325. The Department.

Prerequisite(s): FILM 320 plus FILM 321 and permission of the instructor.

One 3-hour period.

326 Documentary Workshop 1Semester Offered: Fall

This course addresses the aesthetic, ethical and theoretical issues of nonfiction film production. Student crews research, develop, and  produce short documentary films. The Department.

 

Prerequisite(s): FILM 320, FILM 321 and permission of the instructor.

One 3-hour period plus a 2-hour Friday lab.

327 Narrative Workshop 1Semester Offered: Spring

Student crews create short narrative films from original student scripts.  Students wishing to submit scripts for production in FILM 327 must have completed FILM 325. The Department.

Prerequisite(s): FILM 325 and permission of the instructor.

One 3-hour period; additional lab time required.

335 Celebrity and Power: Stardom in Contemporary Culture 1Semester Offered: Fall

Celebrity fascinates Americans. It informs popular culture, professional sport and national politics. Yet what defines celebrity? How are stars manufactured by the Culture Industry? Why is the ubiquitous cult of celebrity so important in contemporary Western culture and across global mediascapes? Through classic and contemporary theoretical writings, the course examines stardom and various brands of star charisma. We interrogate conventional forms of celebrity power as well as the conversion of entertainment industry charisma into forms of political charisma and cultural capital (i.e., the careers of Ronald Reagan, Clint Eastwood, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sidney Poitier, Jennifer Lopez, John Leguizamo, the Brangelina trademark, and Beyonce Knowles). The course will address the rise of reality television celebrities. As intertextual signs, stars reveal the instabilities, ambiguities and contradictions within a given culture. The changing configuration of American society is revealed in an examination of celebrity and stardom as social phenomena. This course transverses from Mary Pickford to Oprah Winfrey and beyond. Readings, screenings and writing assignments required. Mia Mask.

Prerequisite(s): FILM 175 or FILM 210, and permission of the instructor.

Two 75-minute periods plus outside screenings.

336 African Cinema: A Continental Survey 1

African national cinemas reflect the rich, complex history of the continent. These films from lands as diverse as Chad, Senegal, and South Africa reveal the various ways filmmakers have challenged the representation of Africa and Africans while simultaneously revising conventional cinematic syntax. This survey course examines the internal gaze of African-born auteurs like Ousmane Sembene (La Noir De, Xala, Mandabi), Djbril Diop Mambety (Hyenes), Desire Ecare (Faces of Women), Manthia Diawara (Conakry Kas), and Mahmat-Saleh Haroun (Bye-Bye Africa). It places these films alongside the external gaze of practitioners Euzan Palcy (A Dry White Season), Jean-Jacques Annaud (Noir et Blancs en Couleur) and Raoul Peck (Lumumba). The films of documentary filmmakers Anne Laure Folly, Ngozi Onwurah and Pratibah Parmaar are also examined. This course utilizes the post-colonial film theory and scholarship of Imruh Bakari, Mbye Cham, Nwachukwu Frank Ukadike and Manthia Diawara. Screenings, readings and papers required. Mia Mask.

Prerequisite(s): FILM 175 or FILM 210, and permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2018/19.

One 2-hour period plus outside screenings.

337 Indian National Cinema 1

(Same as ASIA 337) This course is designed to introduce students to the dynamic and diverse film traditions of India. It examines how these texts imagine and image the Indian nation and problematizes the "national" through an engagement with regional cinemas within India as well as those produced within the Indian diaspora. Readings are drawn from contemporary film theory, post-colonial theory, and Indian cultural studies. Screenings may include Meghe Dhaka Tara / The Cloud-Capped Star (Ritwik Ghatak, 1960), Mother India (Mehboob Khan, 1957), Shatranj Ke Khilari / The Chess Players (Satyajit Ray, 1977), Sholay (Ramesh Sippy, 1975), Bombay (Mani Ratnam, 1995), Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham/ Happiness and Tears (Karan Johar, 2001), Bride and Prejudice (Gurinder Chadha, 2004), and Mission Kashmir (Vidhu Vinod Chopra, 2000). Sophia Harvey.

Prerequisite(s): FILM 175 or FILM 210 and permission of the instructor.

Not offered in 2018/19.

Two 75-minute periods plus outside screenings.

339 Contemporary Southeast Asian Cinemas 1Semester Offered: Spring

(Same as ASIA 339) This survey course is designed to introduce students to the dynamic and diverse film texts emerging from and about Southeast Asia. It examines how these texts imagine and image Southeast Asia and/or particular nations within the region. More specifically, the course focuses on the themes of urban spaces and memory/trauma as they operate within texts about Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Timor-Leste. The course reading material is designed to provide (1) theoretical insights, (2) general socio-cultural and/or political overviews, and (3) more specific analyses of film texts and/or filmmakers. Sophia Harvey.

Prerequisite(s): FILM 175 or FILM 210 and permission of the instructor.

One 2-hour period plus outside screenings.

379 Computer Animation: Art, Science and Criticism 1Semester Offered: Fall

(Same as ART 379, CMPU 379, and MEDS 379) An interdisciplinary course in Computer Animation aimed at students with previous experience in Computer Science, Studio Art, or Media Studies. The course introduces students to mathematical and computational principles and techniques for describing the shape, motion and shading of three-dimensional figures in Computer Animation. It introduces students to artistic principles and techniques used in drawing, painting and sculpture, as they are translated into the context of Computer Animation. It also encourages students to critically examine Computer Animation as a medium of communication. Finally, the course exposes students to issues that arise when people from different scholarly cultures attempt to collaborate on a project of mutual interest. The course is structured as a series of animation projects interleaved with screenings and classroom discussions. Thomas Ellman, Harry Roseman.

Prerequisite(s): permission of the instructor.

Two 2-hour periods.

392 Research Seminar in Film History and Theory 1Semester Offered: Fall and Spring

This course is designed as an in-depth exploration of a theoretical topic. Students contribute to the class through research projects and oral presentations. Their work culminates in lengthy research papers. Because topics change, students are permitted (encouraged) to take this course more than once. Preference is given to film majors who must take this class during their senior year; junior majors and others admitted if space permits.

Topic for 2018/19a: The City Symphony and its Afterlives. City symphonies are a recurrent intersection of experimental, documentary, and fiction techniques that use montage to represent a typical day in the life of an urban environment. Or three distinct historical cycles of essay films. Or a sub-thread of the 1920s continental avant-garde. Or fascist iconography adopted by nationalist movements. Or the blueprint for how moving images represent cities. This course studies these elusive and allusive films from their roots in primitive cinema to their recent re-emergence in environmental video and attempts to build a collaborative definition of city symphonies. The course emphasizes the three recognized cycles and canonic symphonies like À propos de Nice (1930), In the Street (1948), and Singapore GaGa (2005), but it also examines the influence of city symphonies on such different movements as Italian Neo-Realism, New American Cinema, and Third Cinema. Assignments include discussion leadership, an analysis paper proposing your own definition of city symphonies, an annotated bibliography, and a research paper. Erica Stein.

Topic for 2018/19b: Horror Cinema. An advanced seminar in American horror cinema. It facilitates in-depth analysis and close readings of classic horror films. This course explores the production, reception, aesthetics and politics of an evolving genre. We begin with the classic 1930's studio monster movies like DraculaFrankenstein and Cat People. Next, we examine Cold War politics and its influence on films like, I Married a Monster from Outer Space. Landmark movies responsible for shifts in the genre's paradigm (like Psycho) are contextualized. We trace the genealogy of zombie movies from the Vietnam era to the present - considering their relationship to the military industrial complex and the prison industrial complex. Teen slasher pictures reached their apex in the Seventies, only to be re-invented in the Nineties for the Scream franchise. Television also exploits the appeal and popularity of teen horror genres with programs like True Blood. The course concludes with post-apocalyptic horror and its expression of millenarian anxiety in films such as AvatarLegion and World War Z. The work of Alfred Hitchcock, Roman Polanski, Brian DePalma, David Cronenberg and Mary Harron, among others, is studied. Mia Mask. 

Prerequisite(s): FILM 210/FILM 211; two additional units in film history and theory, and permission of the instructor.

One 2-hour period plus outside screenings.

399 Senior Independent Work 0.5 to 1Semester Offered: Fall or Spring

To be elected in consultation with the adviser.