Film History/Theory 1

Tu 1:00PM - 4:50PM / 407 Cathedral of Learning / CRN 30315

How did film become the quintessential popular media form of the twentieth century?  What can an exploration of cinema’s origins teach us about today’s media landscape?  And what is film studies, anyway?  This seminar will focus on the history and theory of cinema from 1895 to 1960 in order to address these questions.  The texts and contexts we study will be internationally varied and conceptually wide-ranging, from intellectual debates (realism and modernism) to aesthetic questions (narrative and spectacle) to historical movements (Surrealism and Neorealism) to modes of production (classical Hollywood cinema and avant-garde film) to theoretical categories (genre, gender, and spectatorship).  Key thinkers we will encounter include Arnheim, Balázs, Bazin, Benjamin, Deren, Dulac, Eisenstein, Epstein, Kracauer, Münsterberg, Vertov, Zavattini, and others.  Major filmmakers we will study include Arzner, Buñuel, Chaplin, De Sica, Griffith, Hitchcock, Kurosawa, Lang, Lumière, Méliès, Renoir, Sirk, Welles, and others.  No prior knowledge of film studies will be required, so the seminar will necessarily take shape as an intensive immersion experience – film history, theory, and analysis will be engaged simultaneously, on multiple fronts.  By the seminar's end, students will be prepared to pursue further graduate work in film studies, and to discuss crucial questions the discipline poses for related fields such as literary studies, cultural studies, and gender studies.

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Adam Lowenstein

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Course Category

Category D: Designated Courses

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