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 24 (responding to the readings discussed on January 19), 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 25). 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 Bookstore, 4870 Cass.
Readings from this textbook will be designated by: (BC).
Other readings will be available and linked online.
Jan. 10, 12: INTRODUCTION
Edgar Ulmer, Detour (1945)
Guy Maddin, My Winnipeg (2008)
Jan. 19: MODERNITY AND THE SILENT FILM
Early Cinema (short films, 1895-1910)
Jan. 24, 26: EISENSTEIN, VERTOV, AND MONTAGE THEORY
Dziga Vertov, Man With a Movie Camera (1929)
Jan. 31, Feb.2: BAZIN AND REALISM
Andrea Arnold, Fish Tank (2009)
Feb. 7, 9: PSYCHOANALYTIC FILM THEORY
Alison Maclean, Crush (1992)
Sophie Fiennes, The Pervert's Guide to Cinema (with Slavoj Zizek) (2006)
Feb. 14, 16: FEMINIST FILM THEORY
Michael Powell, Peeping Tom (1961)
Feb 21, 23: THEORIZING FILM SOUND
Jacques Tati, Playtime (1967)
Feb. 28, March 2: GENRE THEORY AND AUTEUR THEORY
Howard Hawks, Only Angels Have Wings (1939)
Howard Hawks, Bringing Up Baby (1938)
March 7, 9: NARRATIVE THEORY AND STYLISTICS
Tony Scott, Domino (2005)
March 21, 23: CINEPHILIA
Nicholas Ray, Bigger Than Life (1956)
Abel Ferrara, Mary (2005)
March 28, 30: STANLEY CAVELL AND FILM THEORY
John Cassavetes, A Woman Under the Influence (1974)
April 4, 6: PHENOMENOLOGY AND THE BODY OF THE FILM
Jane Campion, The Piano (1993)
April 11, 13: GILLES DELEUZE AND FILM THEORY
Michaelangelo Antonioni, Red Desert (1964)
April 18, 20: FILM IN THE DIGITAL AGE
Gaspar Noé, Enter the Void (2009)
April 25: CONCLUSIONS; BEYOND FILM
Screening of music videos
Michel Chion, from Audio-Vision: "Television, Video Art, Music Video"
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.