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English (ENG)
Film Studies
  • FILM-C 292 An Introduction to Film (3 cr.) Nature of film technique and film language; analysis of specific films; major historical, theoretical, and critical developments in film and film study from the beginnings of cinema to the present. 
  • FILM-C 350 Film Noir (3 cr.) Film noir is a term originating with the French to describe certain Hollywood films from the 1940s and 1950s that seem to express a dark vision of American culture.  These films often share certain characteristics such as:  private detectives; femmes fatale; and dark, shadowy, ambiguous worlds of crime.  The term film noir, however, is as shadowy, as amorphous, as the films themselves.  Is film noir a period, a genre, a category, or a style of filmmaking?  Film scholars and critics don't always agree on a definition.  However we describe them, films noir continue to intrigue and provoke us.  This course will look at the historical and cultural use of the term, and some of the detective and pulp fiction that influenced film noir.  We will read what several important critics say about noir.  We will watch several of the most influential Hollywood films noir made after 1941, including The Maltese Falcon, Double Indemnity, Laura, Kiss Me Deadly, and Touch of Evil.  In addition, we will look at neo noirs, such as Chinatown, Blade Runner, Pulp Fiction, and Devil in a Blue Dress.  Finally, we will think about film noir as a discourse, as a set of ideas circulating around these films, which might tell us something about American culture. 
  • FILM-C 351 Musicals (3 cr.) Why should we care about this seemingly quaint, esoteric genre in which characters burst into song here in our supposedly advanced era?  Musicals are often regarded as in effect a historical genre. They are seen as speaking a dead language (pre-rock Broadwayese and Tin Pan Alley) as breaking the narrative of the classical Hollywood-style film, and of being excessively and cutely associated with show business, fairy tale realms, and folklorish Americana. Musicals are these things, and much more. We will look at the evolution of the one genre that didn't exist in silent cinema, and how it affected the development of the Hollywood studio system.  We'll sample the works of Busby Berkeley, Astaire, and Rogers, Minnelli, Kelly, and Garland as well as a few of the better Broadway adaptations, as well as a bit of the musical revival that our current decade has had to offer (and that seems to have been successful). We also look at evolutions of the genre in the last three decades, beginning with Cabaret (1972) and extending to mediations on the form like Pennies from Heaven (1981), up to the neo musicals (Moulin Rouge!, Chicago, etc.) of recent times. You'll come away with a head-pulsing understanding that there couldn't be cinema and media as we know them without musicals. It's an essential genre. Students will learn how to talk about and recognize genre in its textual, historical, and cultural aspects. You will learn how to analyze film texts, how to research and think about the evolution of the genre and how to discuss that in a specific film. You will learn how musicals fit into the overall framework of entertainment, film art, and popular culture of the past eighty-some years and how to think critically about them and to analyze and communicate your own responses to the genre. 
  • FILM-C 352 Biopics (3 cr.) We will study one of the richest, but most underappreciated of film genres, the film biography, better known as the biopic. You will learn to discuss biography as a genre; to assess mythmaking in the telling of lives; to analyze the ways that biographical films work cinematically; and to see how, as a dynamic form, the biopic continues to produce portraits of what it means to distinguish oneself in the world. 
  • FILM-C 361 Hollywood Studio Era 1930-1949 (3 cr.) This class deals with a vitally important period in film history as related to American history during the Great Depression, World War II, and the immediate postwar years. We will learn the various elements of filmmaking as practiced in a self-contained production system under which each cinematic component--from camerawork to acting to costuming to editing--had a department dedicated to it. We will learn about audiences and moviegoing during a time when movies were the national pastime in America and in many other countries. We will learn how to identify studio style, genre, to analyze the significance of stars and acting codes. We will study the roles of the actor, the writer, the producer, and the director in this system in which talents were signed to long-term contracts and were essentially owned by the companies. In writing, oral discussions, and exams, you should be able to analyze films of the Studio Era on several levels: What do they have to say as products of an American entertainment industry during two turbulent periods in America? What is the "classical cinema" and how does it combine what Richard B. Jewell calls "some standardization" with "a certain amount of freshness, of innovation, of novelty" demanded by the public? How do we recognize house style, individual authorship, and the differences between them? What is genre? And how do we write about and discuss these elements? 
  • FILM-C 362 Hollywood in the 1950s (3 cr.) This course, the second in a series on the history of the sound film, concerns one of the most critical periods of change both in American life and in the American film as art and entertainment. The late forties and early fifties in America brought the end of two decades of depression and world war and the coming of prosperity, suburbs, the baby boom, the Cold War, television, and the first stirrings of the Civil Rights movement. For Hollywood, the era forced the end of the unified mass audience and with it the breakup of the old powerful studios. Now came the (first) age of the blockbuster, of widescreen and stereophonic sound, of youth films, and Method acting, of a measure of psychological realism, and a new division, however, artificial, between art and entertainment films. The fifties are a fascinating period of reinvention and transition. Television, the blacklist, widescreen, Method acting, psychological realism, the decline of the Production Code, the influence of art cinema; iconic films from "Sunset Blvd." to "Some Like It Hot," "Singin' in the Rain" to "The Searchers," "Rebel Without a Cause" to "On the Waterfront." 
  • FILM-C 380 French Cinema (3 cr.) This course will provide students with a broad introduction to the history of French cinema.  France has arguably the most avid, energetic, and versatile film culture of any single nation in the world, including our own.  The academic discipline of Film Studies would simply not exist without the French; critics such as Andr' Bazin, the "auteur" critics of Cahiers du Cin'ma and Positif in the 1950s, and later scholars such as Christian Metz, Raymond Bellour, and Jean-Louis Baudry, who brought semiotics and psychoanalysis in the field were advocates and analysts of the possibilities of film and its meanings in the modern world.  Cinema got its formal start in France.  The first public film screening anywhere was presented by Pierre and Auguste Lumi're in Paris on December 28, 1895.  Among other French contributions to film culture were the first science fiction/fantasy films (of Georges M'li's), the wide-screen lens, the idea of film noir, the Auteur Theory, and the Nouvelle Vague (New Wave), which revolutionized film style around the world in the 1960s. Students will learn the important styles, periods, and directors of French cinema.  They will develop an appreciation for the philosophical and aesthetic ideas informing French film, the cultural and political cultures out of which the films are produced, and the unique cross-pollination between the French and American cinemas. 
  • FILM-C 390 The Film and Society: Topics (3 cr.) Film and politics; race and gender; social influences of the cinema; rise of the film industry. May be repeated once with different topic.
  • FILM-C 391 The Film: Theory and Aesthetics (3 cr.) Film form and techniques; aesthetic and critical theories of the cinema; relationships between film movements and literary and artistic movements; relationships of word and image; analysis of significant motion pictures. 
  • FILM-C 392 Genre Study in Film (3 cr.) Problems of definition; the evolution of film genres such as criminal or social drama, comedy, the western, science fiction, horror, or documentary film; themes, subject matter, conventions, and iconography peculiar to given genres; relationship of film genres to literary genres. Focus on one specific genre each time the course is offered.  May be repeated once with different topic.
  • FILM-C 393 History of European and American Films I (3 cr.) FILM-C 393 is a survey of the development of cinema during the period 1895-1926 (the silent film era). 
  • FILM-C 394 History of European and American Films II (3 cr.) FILM-C 394 is a survey of European and American cinema since 1927. Particular attention paid to representative work of leading filmmakers, emergence of film movements and development of national trends, growth of film industry, and impact of television. 
  • FILM-C 491 Authorship and Cinema (3 cr.) Study of the work of one or more film artists. Attention paid to the style, themes, and methods that make the filmmaker's work unique. Filmmakers studied in the contexts of film traditions, ideologies, and industries that informed their work.  May be repeated once with a different topic.
  • FILM-C 493 Film Adaptations of Literature (3 cr.) Analysis of the processes and problems involved in turning a literary work (novel, play, or poem) into a screenplay and then into a film. Close study of literary and film techniques and short exercises in adaptation. 
  • ENG-W 260 Writing of Film Criticism (3 cr.) Viewing and critiquing currently playing films, with emphasis on genre, authorship, and cinematic and narrative values. Attention to cultural, historical, and ideological contexts. Students view contemporary films. This is a writing course, which teaches the writing of film criticism; students produce first drafts, present them to classmates for peer reviewing, and complete a final draft for grading. Essays spanning film history serve as models for review writing. 
  • ENG-W 302 Screenwriting (3 cr.) P: ENG-W 206 or ENG-W 207, or permission of instructor. A practical course in basic techniques of writing for film and television. Covers the essentials of dramatic structure, story development, characterization and theme, scene construction, dialogue, and, briefly, the practicalities of working as a screenwriter today.