Fall 2017 Undergraduate English Courses
354:420 Seminar: Film Theory
PREREQUISITES: 01:359:201 or 359:202 AND 01:354:201,202,OR 210
01 TTH4 CAC 05261 FLITTERMAN-LEWIS MU-301
TH 7, 8 FILM SCREENING MU-301
Ever since the first public screening of motion pictures for a paying public took place (on December 28, 1895 in Paris), people have been asking the film-theoretical question "What is Cinema?" At the same time, they also asked—in different but precise ways—"What is Film Theory?" This seminar will attempt to answer both questions by looking at the work of different film theorists in relation to other critical approaches to the cinema (historical, biographical, literary-critical, etc.) to establish how each defines its object, how each conceives of cinematic specificity, and how each understands its critical traditions. We will read the major texts of film theory in conjunction with screenings of different films, from the theory of the cinematic text (Vampyr) and cinematic language (Breathless), to Soviet Montage (Strike) and theories of cinematic realism (Bicycle Thieves), symptomatic analyses of ideological production (Young Mr. Lincoln) and dream and the unconscious (Last Year at Marienbad and L'Atalante), to cinematic point of view (Notorious) and fascination (Irma Vep). Key terms: Theory of the cinematic text, textual analysis, the cinematic apparatus, cinema and ideology, feminist and psychoanalytic theory, semiotics, historical overview of film theory. One presentation, one midterm, one paper, and a final exam, with some short in-class writing.