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Fall 2017 Undergraduate English Courses: Theories and Methods

354:420 Seminar: Film Theory

PREREQUISITES: 01:355:101 AND 01:354:201,202,OR 210

01 TTH4  CAC  06031  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.