This course, the newest in the American Film Decades series, will explore one of the most exciting periods in American film, the 1990s, a time when a booming economy, a simultaneous refinement of and backlash against the mass audience blockbuster, and a proliferation of alternative independent filmmakers brought a new phenomenon known as "Indiewood" or "The Two Hollywoods." The class will study the genres, historical and political currents, filmmakers, and "boutique studios" (with special attention to Miramax and the other specialty divisions) that made the films of the decade as diverse, introspective, and creative as the industry and culture from which they spring. Films under study may include Thelma and Louise, Boyz N the Hood, JFK, Unforgiven, Short Cuts, Groundhog Day, Welcome to the Dollhouse, Everyone Knows I Love You, The Ice Storm, Jackie Brown, L.A. Confidential, The Truman Show, Saving Private Ryan, Fight Club, Magnolia, Three Kings, The Matrix, Eyes Wide Shut, among others. Textbooks are American Cinema of the 1990s, edited by Christine Holmlund, American Independent Cinema by Geoff King, Indiewood U.S.A.: Where Hollywood Meets Independent Cinema by Geoff King, and perhaps a handful of BFI Film Classics/Modern Classics books on individual films. Assignments will consist of three 5-page essays, a midterm, and final exam.
This is a full-summer course (May 10-July 26) online except for once-a-week on-campus film screenings. Questions? Email email@example.com.
This course is an introduction to the study of film as an aesthetic, cultural, and historical form. We examine the vocabulary of cinema, and elucidate various aspects of the filmmaking process. A grounding in the concepts of film studies will enable us to explore how cinema represents reality and chart the multi-faceted relationship between cinema and society.
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 André Bazin, the "auteur" critics of Cahiers du Cinéma 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 Lumière in Paris on December 28, 1895. Among other French contibutions to film culture were the first science fiction/fantasy films (of Georges Méliès), 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-pollenation between the French and American cinemas.
African Americans and Film is an historical overview of the dynamic role African-Americans have played in American cinema. From its beginnings with independent filmmakers George and Noble Johnson’s Lincoln Motion Picture Company, and the films of Oscar Micheaux, early race cinema created an alternative to the racist stereotypes often represented in the Hollywood film. This course will begin with discussions about how African Americans were represented in early motion pictures, and how an emerging race cinema industry developed in response to these ugly images. As Hollywood discovered the race film, African Americans moved more into the mainstream. The struggle remains, however, to find opportunities to represent dignity and to control the images seen by a mass audience. In addition to looking at the historical contribution these films make to American popular culture, African-Americans and Film offers a forum to discuss issues of race, class, and gender, and will perhaps help us come to a deeper understanding of American cultural institutions.
The rise of film studies in the university has been accompanied by the prominence of theories, sometimes endemic to film, but frequently adapted from other disciplines. What the often divergent theories all have in common is a desire to make strong statements about what this complex new medium does and how it works. Film theory has ranged from debates over realism, formalism, and authorship, hypotheses about film as a sign system like language, and how the medium changes with digital technologies and premonitions of the end of cinema (warnings that pop up whenever there is a change to the delivery system, for instance, when sound came in, when widescreens arrived, when video loomed, and now that digital video threatens to eclipse celluloid. Film theory borrows from Marxist political thinkers, psychoanalysts, and literary reception scholars. Feminists have found the cinema to be a major site of gender construction. Accordingly, this course will provide an introduction to the rapidly evolving field of film theory as a part of film study. It will also show how theory is helpful to an understanding of a spectator’s relation to the movies he or she sees, as well as how the development of film has spurred theorists’ constant scramble to keep up with a rapidly changing entertainment and artistic medium.
Assignments consist of weekly journal entries, take-home midterm and final, and a final term paper in which students apply a selected theory to a film of their choice.