Film & Representation Studies Courses

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.

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.

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. Also offered as LTNT 234.

236.        Buddhism and Daoism through Literature and Film.

This course examines the essence of Buddhism and Taoism by exploring the rich, colorful, and fascinating religious world in Asian literature and film. Topics include Taoist fairytales, dream adventure, traveling in the netherworld, longevity practice, salvation, retribution, chan/zen, magical arts, as well as religious ideas in film and their relationship with modern society.  By taking this course, students will acquire a fundamental knowledge about Buddhism, one of the three major religions in the world, and Taoism, the wide-spreading Chinese philosophy and religion; savor wisdom and mysticism in the east, which are included mainly in the Taoist classics, Chan/Zen Buddhism, and literary works; enjoy the best literary works and films in Asia; acquire useful knowledge about scholarly works; and develop skills of critical thinking and scholarly research.  Also offered through Asian Studies.

239.        Media Industries.

This course surveys the historical development of traditional media industries such as newspapers, magazines, books, television, radio, film, music recording and 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. Also offered as PCA 239.

244.        Techniques of Screenwriting.

An introductory study of basic technical problems and formal concepts of screenwriting. The study of produced screenplays and formal film technique, along with writing scene exercises, builds toward construction of a short (50-minute) script. Also offered as ENG 244 and PCA 244.

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.

255.        Popular Culture.

This course introduces students to key themes in the study of popular media and to debates about the role of media in contemporary societies. It also introduces methodologies used to study culture and asks students to apply them to case studies from music, sports, comics, fashion, television, cyberculture, film or advertising. Emphasis is on various cultural expressions of ethnic subcultures in the United States and their complex negotiations with the dominant culture and their co-resisters in a global/local struggle over meaning. Also offered as GS 255.

263.        Australian 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. Also offered as GS 263.

269.        Digital Media and Culture I.

A combination studio/seminar that explores the major theoretical issues surrounding the continually evolving culture of digital technology and the effects on various aspects of contemporary life including: aesthetics and perception, creative production, morality, contemporary art discourse, visual culture, entertainment, identity and other forms of social effects/affects. Studio projects will investigate the creative potentials of social media software, digital painting, photography, and video. Projects will respond conceptually to theoretical issues that are being discussed in class. An emphasis on individual voice, creativity, and methods of idea development will be encouraged throughout the term. Brainstorming and critique are common, and will follow the Harkness Method of student-centered discussion and inquiry to help students learn to think critically, listen analytically, and interact respectfully. Also offered as AAH 269.

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.

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. Also offered as MUS 281.

302.        Theories of Global Cultural Studies.

An introduction to the growing field of cultural studies through examination of its major theoretical paradigms, particularly as these bear on the question of unequal global power relations. These may include Marxism, critical theory, post-structuralism, feminist theory and emerging work in postmodernism and post-colonial studies. Students explore strategies for “reading” cultural practices and texts not simply as reflections of reality, but as political interventions, expressions of desire, attempts to persuade and producers of power. Through a combination of theoretical criticism and analysis of specific materials, students prepare to undertake independent research with an informed understanding of how cultural studies challenge and enrich traditional social science and humanities approaches. Prerequisite: GS 101 or 102. Also may be counted toward the minors in Native American Studies and Peace Studies. Also offered as GS 302.

306.        AW: Advanced Screenwriting Workshop.

An extension and intensification of ENG 244. Students are expected to work independently on the preparation of two feature-length screenplays. Workshop format emphasizes the revision and editing process. Prerequisite: ENG 244. Also offered as PCA 306 and ENG 306.

310.        Culture & Media.

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. This class surveys some of the important intellectual contributions to this inquiry – media theories and seminal studies. At the same time, it follows some of the most significant contemporary debates that reflect the symbiotic relationship between the media and our own culture. Also offered through Performance and Communication Arts.

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.

340.        Blogging the Globe: News Analysis and Investigative Journalism.

This course fosters the tools necessary to be critical readers and viewers of the news in a complex, globalized media environment while also giving students the opportunity to become investigative journalists themselves. In addition to examining patterns In how global events are covered in mainstream and independent/alternative media outlets in the U.S. and elsewhere, the course explores deeper structural issues concerning discourse, ideology and the representation of “other” cultures; the relationship between media, corporate and state power; and the role of institutions in defining the bounds of “legitimate” knowledge. Students in the course contribute to The Weave, an online public Intellectual project, by researching and blogging about underreported stories. Prerequisite: GS 101 or 102. Also offered as GS 340 and PCA 312.

369.        Digital Media and Culture II.

A continuation of Digital Media and Culture I. New and more complex software will be introduced. Students will be expected to spend time developing innovative and complex ideas and forms and advancing their vision(s) via digital media processes. This is a combination studio/seminar course and includes videos, readings and reflections, and written analyses. New visions of authorship will be encouraged as will continual encouragement to consider how one’s work could function in a socially transformative way. Brainstorming and critique are common, and will follow the Harkness Method of student-centered discussion and inquiry to help students learn to think critically, listen analytically, and interact respectfully. Depending upon student interest and experience, this course may be offered in conjunction with AAH 269 by instructor permission only. Prerequisites: AAH 131, 269. Also offered as AAH 369.

404.        French Film.

This course combines an historical view of the French cinema, an introduction to the techniques of film analysis and an examination of the major issues in film theory. Topics include the pioneers of cinema, the “classical” films of the 1930s and ’40s, the films of the “nouvelle vague” in the ’50s and ’60s and recent trends in film production. The work of filmmakers such as Renoir, Clouzot, Truffaut, Beineix, Godard and Resnais is studied. Also offered through Film and Representation Studies and European Studies and as FR 404.

439.        Literature, Film and Popular Culture in Contemporary Spain.

After the Franco regime (1939-1975), Spaniards began to explore and question cultural, historical and sexual identity. This course examines post-totalitarian Spanish literature, arts and popular culture made possible by the political transition to democracy. The aim is to use the theoretical framework of cultural studies as a means of understanding contemporary Spanish culture. Materials analyzed include films, television programs and commercials, novels, short stories, magazines and popular songs. Also offered as SPAN 439.