Courses | St. Lawrence University Film and Representation Studies


211. Introduction to Film Studies.

This is the first course in a sequence that examines the structures, techniques, history and theory of film. Questions of history and theory are treated only in passing; the prime focus is on learning to identify, analyze and articulate what we see when we watch a film. The course studies the terminology used to describe film techniques and applies this terminology to the films viewed. The goal is to pass from close analysis of film technique and film construction to interpretation. Students learn not only how a film is constructed, but also how the techniques employed contribute to its values and meaning. Fulfills HU Distribution (2013 curriculum).

221. Latin America in Film.

This class examines how Latin America is represented in films by directors from Hispanic America, Brazil, Europe and the United States. The films form the basis of conversation and research on themes related to contemporary history, interethnic conflict, traditional gender roles and immigration. The class is conducted entirely in Spanish, though some of the theoretical and technical readings on film are in English. Fulfills HU Distribution (2013 curriculum).

222.  Documentary Filmmaking.

Students study style and technique in the documentary film, and make a short documentary film. In looking at documentary films, the course discusses questions of truth and value as they come into play for filmmakers and filmgoers. In making documentary films, we consider how to collect and represent different truths and values. Fulfills ARTS Distribution (2013 curriculum).

232. Chinese Culture through Fiction and Film.

This course is designed to introduce the history and culture of China from its earliest beginnings to the late 19th century, covering Chinese institutions, philosophical trends, religions, literature, arts, and special topics such as gender and family, love and friendship, dream and soul, among others. Materials include Confucian and Taoist classics, Buddhist scriptures, literary and artistic works and films, as well as modern scholarly publications. All readings are in English. No knowledge about China and Chinese language is required. Fulfills HU Distribution (2013 curriculum). Fulfills DIV13 Distribution (2013 curriculum).

234. Chinese Literature and Film.

This course provides an overview of Chinese literature and film. The first half surveys traditional Chinese literature with a focus on masterpieces in the golden ages of various genres. The second half introduces modern Chinese literature with a focus on film, including representative works by well-known writers Lu Xun and Ba Jin, and famous film directors such as Zhang Yimou, Chen Kaige, Wang Xiaoshuai and others. The aim is to enhance students' interests and skills in reading and analysis of Chinese literature and film, and improve students' understanding of the history, society and culture of China. All works are read in English translation. Fulfills HU Distribution (2013 curriculum).

239. Media Industries.

This course surveys the historical development of traditional media industries such as newspapers, magazines, books, television, radio, film, music recording, video games, as well as the issues related to the emergence of digital technologies epitomized by the Internet. It likewise focuses on the historical evolution of two other closely related fields—advertisement and public relations. Fulfills SS Distribution (2013 curriculum).

240. Culture and Identity in the Digital Age.

In this course, we ask: what does it mean to live in a networked world, where our offline lives are increasingly and irrevocably tied to digital spaces? The popularity of phrases like "in real life" represent a common view of the physical world as something wholly distinct from and superior to the digital realm. Still, the digital realm has proven to have very real consequences, which increasingly structure individuals' opportunities and experiences in everyday life. Beyond the vast array of cat memes and Bieberisms, the World Wide Web provides seemingly endless opportunities for social interaction, identity construction, community building, and indeed, the (re)production of systemic inequalities and political polarization. With these concerns in mind, this course will examine the role digital media and communication technologies play in the organization and maintenance of present-day social life. Fulfills SS Distribution (2013 curriculum).

241. New Media: Conflict and Control.

The focus of this course is to explore and explain the increasing role of new media tools in conflict and democracy, as well as to take a deeper look at the paradoxical potential for surveillance that these technologies also afford. As seen through the recent examples from the Arab Spring and Occupy movements, social media can serve an integral function in democratic mobilizations. At the same time, digital media have also been effectively employed by governments and cooperating institutions to assert both direct and indirect forms of control.Thus, this course will explore the many ways in which social media afford journalistic, communicative, and controlling functions. How and to what effects new media technologies are leveraged is thus contingent upon many interwoven factors. By applying sociological knowledge about conflict and surveillance to the discussion of emerging media, students will learn new and revealing ways to think about the social and political implications of new media technologies. In addition to learning about emerging forms of media, this course will also require all participants to work with new media in both research and discussion. Fulfills SS Distribution (2013 curriculum).

244. Techniques of Screenwriting.

An introductory study of basic technical problems of produced screenplays and formal film technique, along with writing scene exercises, builds toward construction of a short (50-minute) script. Fulfills ARTS Distribution (2013 curriculum).

251. History of the Cinema.

This course examines the development of film technology and film technique from the 19th century to 1960, and the place of the new medium in the evolving cultural-social contexts of the 20th century. Subjects include early experiments in photography; the beginnings of narrative cinema; special effects; new camera dynamics; the development of cinema stars; theories of editing and montage; the introduction of sound; film aesthetics; deep focus photography and realism; and color photography. The course studies films by Lumière, Méliès, Eisenstein, Chaplin, Lang, Renoir, Rossellini, Welles, Truffaut and others. Movements and genres studied include German Expressionism, poetic realism, forms of comedy, film noir, Italian neo-realism and French New Wave.

262. Video Art.

In this course, students will gain foundational skills of four-dimensional (moving) imaging software and to create animated and video based art works. Students will study a range of artists who use video, animation, installation and interactivity in their work, and experiment with the creation of these types of work. By the end of the semester students should have knowledge of industrial standards in editing and effect software, as well as having the ability create art with advanced video functionality. Prerequisite: AAH 131.

263. Austrialian Cinema.

Using Australian films as the primary texts, this course explores how Australian national identity is constructed. We look at what constitutes a national cinema (independent, government-sponsored and Aussiewood), then focus on three variables that heavily determine both the shape of Australian cinema and national identity: the power of nature, the relationship of aboriginal peoples to non-indigenous peoples, and the role of class and gender construction. Topics include white masculinity as it is constructed in relation to both nature and war; feminine(ist) themes; ethnicity and immigration; revising history and national identity to include Aboriginal peoples; and the emergence of a global postmodern cinema.

271. World Cinema.

This course complements Film 251 by exploring the history of film outside Western Europe and the United States. Films for each semester are typically selected from four or five regions: recent regional emphases have included East Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, West Africa and Latin America. Along with developing skills in analyzing film, students read about the history of film in different countries, consider the ways directors fit into both local and global histories of cinema, and explore the social terrain upon which filmmakers work. Offered occasionally. Fulfills HU Distribution (2013 curriculum). Fulfills DIV13 Distribution (2013 curriculum).

281. Music Video.

Music television created new ways of visualizing music, new ways of seeing sound. This course looks at the rise of music video in the 1980s, its predecessors and its influences. While we focus primarily on the history and criticism of music video, the course also contains a substantial production component that includes creating and editing sound and video files. Offered occasionally. Fulfills ARTS Distribution (2013 curriculum).

283. Berlin Hollywood.

Taught in English. Hollywood's fascination with modern German history is evident in the constant stream of films about the Holocaust, Nazism, and World War II. This history influenced not only the themes and images of Hollywood cinema, but also its personnel and production. With the rise of Hitler, many German and Austrian directors, actors, and writers fled Europe for southern California and helped shape the political, cultural, and stylistic direction of Hollywood. This course explores the intersection of German and American history and film culture from the 1930s to the present with a focus on World War II, including its lead-up and aftermath. Also covered are key theories of modernism, mass culture, historical memory, and representations of the Holocaust. Films and texts by Lang, Riefenstahl, Chaplin, Wilder, Brecht, Adorno, Staudte, Spielberg, Verhoeven, Levy, Coen Brothers, and Tarantino. Fulfills HU Distribution (2013 curriculum).

301. Masculinities.

This course explores the meaning of masculinity and how maleness is gendered by looking at representation and construction of masculinity in different movies. There is not one version of masculinity but rather multiple masculinities influenced by gender, race, ethnicity, class, nationality, sexuality, disability and subcultures. As such, we will be conducting an intersectional exploration into how masculinity is embodied and lived out in culture and cultural products which in this course is film. The system of masculinity and its dominant form are also not created in isolation. We will explore how notions of femininity interact and influence masculinity and vice versa. The course is interdisciplinary and students will watch 24 movies through the semester to aid examining theories. Exploring on how masculinity is formed, maintained, and represented in movies would be part of assignments.

306. Advanced Screenwriting.

An extension and intensification of ENG/FILM/PCA 244. Students are expected to work independently on the preparation of two feature-length screenplays. Workshop format emphasizes the revision and editing process. Prerequisites: ENG/FILM/PCA 244 and one other 200-level English course. Also offered as ENG 306 and PCA 306. Fulfills ARTS Distribution (2013 curriculum).

310. Culture and Media.

The course goal is for participants to become capable of entering into critical dialogues that analyze our mediated everyday experience. In the movie The Truman Show, Truman Burbank is adopted by a TV corporation and grows up in a world that is exclusively constructed for him by the producer of a television show and his team. In the words of the show's producer, Truman voluntarily accepts the reality of the world with which he was presented. Why? Because he was not aware of the factors that shaped his understanding of the world. We should all ask ourselves to what extent Truman's story is a metaphor of our own human condition. Print or electronic mediating technologies have accompanied humans for more than five centuries and at some point people started questioning the extent to which they influenced, or as we will learn to say, co-constructed our everyday reality. In this class we will survey some of the important intellectual contributions to this inquiry—media theories and seminal studies. At the same time, we will follow some of the most significant contemporary debates that reflect the symbiotic relationship between the media and our own culture. Fulfills HU Distribution (2013 curriculum).

311. Film Theory.

This seminar offers a survey of film theory: its history, its important concepts and figures and its key theoretical movements. We begin with "classical" film theory, including auteur theory, realism, genre theory and political criticism. Much of the course, however, is given to contemporary film theory: semiotics, Marxism, psychoanalysis, feminism/masculinity studies, African-American film studies, postmodernism, postcolonial and global studies. To ground all this theory, we view, discuss and write about an eclectic collection of films. Prerequisite: Film 211 or Film 251.

369. Making Sexualities.

Sexuality culturally operates as a central trope by which we come to "know" ourselves as sexed people (that is, female or male) and how we come to understand our desire. In this course we unpack sexuality from a cultural and gendered perspective—we discuss how we have come to know sexuality culturally, materially and in our everyday lives. In doing so, we explore topics such as the invention of modern notions of sexualities, queer identity, love, pornography and sex work through reading, writing, artistic expression and research. This course is reading- and writing-intensive.

404. History of French Cinema.

The cinema—or the Seventh Art as the French call it—was born in Paris on December 28, 1895 when in the Grand Salon of the Grand-Café (14 Boulevard des Capucines, 8th Arrondissement) the Lumière Brothers projected for 33 paying customers (1 franc each) a program of ten short films. Since that time French filmmakers have made some of the most important films in the history of cinema. This course will be a survey of the films from the most important movements in France: Cinema of Attractions, Early Comedy, Impressionism, Surrealism, Poetic Realism, Cinema of Quality, the Nouvelle Vague, le Cinema du Look. Filmmakers studied will include the Lumière Brothers, Méliès, Max Linder, Feuillade, Dreyer, Jean Vigo, Renoir, Carné, Tati, Bresson, Melville, Truffaut, Godard, Resnais, Kassovitz, Jeunet. Attention: All the work in this course—reading, writing, classroom discussions and presentations—will be conducted in FRENCH.