This class provides an introduction to major trends in the theory of film, from the 1920s to the present. Topics include theories of silent film, formalism (Eisenstein), realism (Bazin), psychoanalytic theory, feminist theory, auteur theory, genre theory, theories of cinephilia, theories of sound, political approaches, film and philosophy, theories of cinematic embodiment, and recent approaches that deal with the currently evolving digital technologies and with the relations of film to new media (video, television, computer games).
The main writing assignments for this class are weekly responses to the theoretical readings. These are due every Monday; in every case, they are responses to the readings that we discussed in class during the previous week. The first response is due on January 25 (responding to the readings discussed on January 20), and they are due every Monday thereafter throughout the semester. All in all, there are thirteen responses due, of which you must do at least ten. (If you do more than ten, the ones with the lowest grades will be dropped).
The only exception to this rule is if you are an English major taking this class in order to fulfill the Writing Intensive requirement. In this case, you need only write five weekly responses. In place of the other five, you must instead write a final paper (10-12 pages), due on the last day of class (April 26). Instructions for the final paper can be found here.
One textbook has been ordered for the class:
Film Theory and Criticism, 7th Edition, edited by Leo Braudy and Marshall Cohen.
It is available at Marwil Books.
Readings from this textbook will be designated by: (BC).
Other readings will be available online.
Jan. 11, 13: INTRODUCTION
Guy Maddin, Cowards Bend the Knee (2004)
Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, Gamer (2009)
Jan. 20: MODERNITY AND THE SILENT FILM
Early Cinema (short films, 1895-1910)
Jan. 25, 27: MONTAGE THEORY: EISENSTEIN AND OTHERS
Dziga Vertov, Man With a Movie Camera (1929)
Feb. 1, 3: BAZIN AND REALISM
Jean Renoir, The Crime of Monsieur Lange (1936)
Feb. 8, 10: PSYCHOANALYSIS AND FEMINISM
Michael Powell, Peeping Tom (1961)
Feb. 15, 17: FEMINISM: LATER DEVELOPMENTS
Douglas Sirk, Magnificent Obsession (1954)
Mitchell Lichtenstein, Teeth (2007)
Feb. 22, 24: MEDIA THEORY, PSYCHOANALYSIS, MARXISM
Fritz Lang, While the City Sleeps (1955)
Sophie Fiennes, The Pervert's Guide To Cinema (2006)
March 1, 3: THEORIZING FILM SOUND
Jacques Tati, Playtime (1967)
March 8, 10: GENRE THEORY, AUTEUR THEORY, NARRATIVE THEORY
Mabrouk El Mechri, JCVD (2008)
Kathryn Bigelow, Near Dark (1987)
March 22, 24: CINEPHILIA
Alex Cox, Revengers Tragedy (2003)
Alex Rivera, Sleep Dealer (2009)
March 29, 31: STANLEY CAVELL AND FILM THEORY
Abel Ferrara, Go-Go Tales (2007)
April 5, 7: PHENOMENOLOGY AND THE BODY OF THE FILM
Robert Bresson, L'argent (1983)
April 12, 14: GILLES DELEUZE AND FILM THEORY
Olivier Assayas, Demonlover (2002)
April 19-21: FILM IN THE DIGITAL AGE
Sally Potter, Rage (2009)
April 26: CONCLUSIONS; BEYOND FILM
Screening of music videos
NOTE: Plagiarism is the act of copying work from books, articles, and websites without citing and documenting the source. Plagiarism includes copying language, texts, and visuals without citation (e.g., cutting and pasting from websites). Plagiarism also includes submitting papers that were written by another student or purchased from the internet. Plagiarism is a serious academic offense: the minimum penalty for plagiarism is an F for the assignment; the full penalty for plagiarism may result in an F for the course.