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Film Studies Minor

Department of Literature and Language


 FALL SESSION (08/26/19 - 12/06/19)

ENGL 3290 Introduction to Film

Holtmeier (online)

Wessels (on campus)

“As good a way as any towards understanding what a film is trying to say to us is to know how it is saying it” (André Bazin). This course introduces core concepts of film analysis, which are discussed through examples from different national cinemas, genres, and industries. The coursework covers a wide range of styles and historical periods in order to assess the multitude of possible film techniques (camera techniques, editing, shot selection, etc.), organizational principles such as narrative structuring and documentary, and introduces formative film theories. Along with questions of film technique and style, we consider the notion of the cinema as an institution that comprises an industrial system of production, social and aesthetic norms and codes, and particular modes of reception. Required coursework entails both films and readings and requires students to watch, analyze, and write about film in new ways. Films will be screened Tuesdays at 4:40pm.

Required Text:

The Film Experience: An Introduction, Timothy Corrigan and Patricia White


ENGL 3350 Film History


Emerging in the late nineteenth century, at the height of technological change and imperial politics, cinema is sometimes called one of the first global mediums. This course offers a historical survey treating all kinds of cinema, including narrative, documentary, and experimental films and their hybrids. We will range widely in time and space, watching films made in a variety of styles and genres from the United States, Germany, France, Britain, Italy, the Soviet Union, China, etc. Cautioning against a simple understanding of cinema history as a history of technological progress, the course will explore a variety of ways in which filmmakers in different countries developed different ways of telling stories visually. We will also consider how experimental, documentary, and narrative films responded to contemporary issues, such as urbanization, modern technological innovation accompanied by widespread poverty, changing notions of gender, etc. Together, the films considered in this course do not constitute a comprehensive list, but offer a chronological, geographical, stylistic, generic, and thematic overview. Films will be screened Thursdays at 4:40pm.


ENGL 4290 Film Genres: The Western


Beginning with questions of genre more broadly, this course will trace the evolution of the western genre from early cinema to contemporary examples. We will examine westerns from America and around the world to consider how the western is shaped by history, politics, and culture. Through screening films and reading texts drawn from Latin America, Europe, Australia, and East Asia, we will consider the interrelation of national and global factors that have led to the emergence and the adoption of the western as a popular genre. Films screened may include: My Darling Clementine (John Ford, 1946), Django (Sergio Corbucci, 1966), The Ballad of Little Jo (Maggie Greenwald, 1993), and Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee, 2005). Films will be screened Wednesdays at 4:40pm.


ENGL 4340 Topics in Film Studies: The Video Essay


The video essay has emerged as a popular critical form with the rise of screen communication via hosting sites like YouTube and various forms of social media. Video essays often dissect films, television, video games, or other media, using their own images and sounds reconfigured to make an argument about them, while others creatively highlight themes and ideas through remixing the material. More recently, video essays have been accepted as a critical form of scholarship, peer-reviewed and published by digital journals. We will study the proliferation of methods, types, and styles of this new form of critical audio-visual composition and build the skills to create our own. No previous production experience is required, but through this course you will learn the principles of editing video using Adobe Premiere. By the end of the course you will create a video essay that contributes to this growing field of practice.


ENGL 4507/5507 Lit and Film: Cybernetic Screen Fictions


This course will explore the convergence of twentieth-first century narrative and technology through literature, film, and video games. In particular, we explore the influence of cybernetics on the arts, or the feedback loop created between animal and machine. Accordingly, we’ll look at the ways in which the novel has enlarged and redefined its territory of representation and its range of technique and play. With film, we will examine how digital technology communicates the interface between human and machine, and how it alters classical formal practices to communicate this relationship. Finally, we look to the influence of both literary and filmic traditions on games and the role of play within digital storytelling.  We’ll engage in media-specific analysis, which attends to the specificity of form as well as to citations of one medium in another, and finish the course by producing critical or creative technotexts that engage with the interface between written work and screen technologies.

Required Texts:

If on a Winter’s Night A Traveler, Italo Calvino 

Crash, J. G. Ballard

House of Leaves:  The Remastered Full-Color Edition, Mark Danielewski 

Writing Machines, N. Katherine Hayles 

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