Fil 3803: Film Theory, 3 cr hr




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FIL 3803: Film Theory, 3 cr hr.
Fall 2011 * Tuesdays 11:00 – 3:20 * CU 109
School of Communications and Multimedia

Florida Atlantic University

Prof. Stephen Charbonneau

Office: CU 215

Office Hours: Thursdays 1 – 3 pm

Phone: 297-3856

Email: scharbo1@fau.edu
COURSE TEXTS

Film Theory: An Introduction, Robert Stam (Blackwell, 2000)

Film Theory & Criticism, Leo Braudy & Marshall Cohen (Seventh Edition; Oxford, 2008)

Additional Readings on Blackboard


COURSE DESCRIPTION

This course is an introduction to the development of film theory from the “classical” period of Sergei Eisenstein and Andre Bazin, through the semiotic turn in the sixties, and finally to the post-structuralist, postmodernist, and “post-theory” developments in the final decades of the twentieth century. Fundamentally, we are concerned with a history of different and competing schools of thought pertaining to an ontology of cinema, its relationship to society, and its impact on the spectator. Key topics for the course include formalism, realism, authorship, sociology, semiotics, psychoanalysis, feminism, and cultural studies.


REQUIREMENTS

Course requirements include:

 Readings from the course textbooks (Film Theory; Film Theory & Criticism), as well as additional readings available on Blackboard;

 Attendance at lectures and course screenings;

Participation in discussions;

 Reading Response Notebook (Due December 6th)

 Three exams (September 22nd, October 27th, December 6th).
Robert Stam‟s Film Theory: An Introduction will provide us with a basic historical overview in support of our weekly class meetings. Additional weekly readings from Leo Braudy and Marshall Cohen‟s Film Theory & Criticism will allow us to review and digest the theories firsthand. Taken together, these two texts will provide you with the necessary tools to critically engage the major film theories. The purpose of the lectures will be to review information unavailable in the assigned readings as well as to situate the theories to be read within a particular historical context.

Attendance is mandatory. Students are permitted only one absence from class sessions. Severe illness or family emergencies require appropriate documentation to merit being excused from class. Two or more absences will result in a lowering of the student‟s final grade. Excessive absences will result in an automatic failure. Please note: a late arrival is the equivalent of an absence.


Consistent participation in class discussions is also mandatory. Participation can come in many forms, whether it is in response to a question regarding the readings or a response to one of our screenings. This is especially important in a course on film theory, where the complexity of the readings necessitates an in-class dialogue to both clarify and explore the nuances of each theorist‟s argument.
All three exams will test your comprehension of the assigned readings and lectures. The first test will cover Weeks 1 through 3; the second test will cover Weeks 4 through 8; and the third test will cover Weeks 9 through 14. Review guides will be distributed in Weeks 4, 9, and 15. Each exam will be accompanied by an essay assignment (5 pages) to be turned in on the day of the exam.
Academic Misconduct

Academic misconduct includes cheating, plagiarizing, and deliberately interfering with the work of others. If you use the ideas or words of someone else, you must cite the original information in your paper. Invented or plagiarized work can result in failing the the course and may result in possible disciplinary actions at the department, college, and University level.


Students at Florida Atlantic University are expected to maintain the highest ethical standards. Academic dishonesty, including cheating and plagiarism, is considered a serious breach of these ethical standards, because it interferes with the University mission to provide a high quality education in which no student enjoys an unfair advantage over any other. Academic dishonesty is also destructive of the University community, which is grounded in a system of mutual trust and places high value on personal integrity and individual responsibility. Harsh penalties are associated with academic dishonesty. For more information, see http://www.fau.edu/regulations/chapter4/4.001_Code_of_Academic_Integrity.pdf
Application of Americans with Disabilities Act:
In accordance with University policy and the ADA, should you require individual accommodation to enable fulfillment of course requirements you must first register with the FAU Office for Students with Disabilities (561-297-3880), and you must notify me of your requirements immediately. Additional information is available at www.osd.fau.edu.

ASSESSMENT

Participation 15%

Reading Response Notebook 15%

Exam One 20%

Exam Two 25%

Exam Three 25%

Class Schedule

WEEK ONE - INTRO TO FILM THEORY / EARLY SILENT FILM THEORY

Tuesday, August 23rd

Course Introduction

Screenings: Sherlock, Jr. (d. Buster Keaton, 1924 US), Rear Window (d. Alfred Hitchcock, 1954 US)

Readings: Stam (1-33)

“The Means of the Photoplay,” Hugo Munsterberg (Blackboard)


WEEK TWO – FORMALISM, MODERNISM, SOVIET MONTAGE

Tuesday, August 30th

Discuss Stam and Munsterberg

Lecture


Screenings: At Land (d. Maya Deren, 1944 US); Battleship Potemkin (d. Sergei Eisenstein, 1925 USSR)

Readings: Stam (33-55)

“Beyond the Shot / The Dramaturgy of Film Form,” Sergei Eisenstein

(13-40)
WEEK THREE – POST-WAR REALISMS: EXISTENTIAL & CRITICAL TAKES

Tuesday, September 6th

Discuss Stam and Eisenstein

Lecture

Screening: The Best Years of Our Lives (d. William Wyler, 1946 US)

Readings: Stam (72-83)

“Film & Reality,” Braudy & Cohen (141-146)

“The Evolution of the Language of Cinema / The Ontology of the

Photographic Image / The Myth of Total Cinema,” Andre Bazin (41-53, 159-166)

“Basic Concepts,” Siegfried Kracauer (147-158)
WEEK FOUR – THE QUESTION OF AUTHORSHIP & NEW CINEMAS

Tuesday, September 13th

Review Guide handed out

Discuss Stam, Braudy & Cohen, Bazin, Kracauer

Lecture

Screening: The Bad & the Beautiful (d. Vincente Minnelli, 1952 US)

Readings: Stam (83-102)

“The Film Artist,” Braudy & Cohen (445-450)

“La politique des auteurs,” Andre Bazin (Blackboard)

“Notes on the Auteur Theory in 1962,” Andrew Sarris (451-454)


WEEK FIVE – CINEMA & SOCIOLOGY: INDUSTRY, INSTITUTION, & THE

REPRESENTATION OF THE SOCIAL

Tuesday, September 20th



TEST ON WEEKS 1-3

Discuss Stam, Braudy & Cohen, Bazin, Sarris

Lecture

Screening: A Face in the Crowd (d. Elia Kazan, 1957 US)

Readings: Stam (64-72)

“The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” Walter

Benjamin (665-685)

“Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception,” Theodor Adorno

& Max Horkhiemer (Blackboard)
WEEK SIX – CINEMA & SEMIOTICS: LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION, &

ENUNCIATION

Tuesday, September 27th

Discuss Stam, Kracauer, Benjamin, Adorno & Horkheimer

Lecture


Screening: The Birds (d. Alfred Hitchcock, 1963 US)

Readings: Stam (102-119)

“Some Points in the Semiotics of the Cinema / Problems of Denotation in

the Fiction Film,” Christian Metz (65-77)

“System of a Fragment (on The Birds),” Raymond Bellour

(Blackboard)


WEEK SEVEN – CINEMA & PSYCHOANALYSIS: DREAMS, APPARATUS, &

FILMIC PROCESSES

Tuesday, October 4th

Discuss Stam, Metz, Bellour

Lecture


Screening: Blue Velvet (d. David Lynch, 1986 US)

Readings: Stam (158-169)

“Ideological Effects of the Basic Cinematographic Apparatus,” Jean-Louis

Baudry (Blackboard)

“Identification, Mirror / The Passion for Perceiving / Disavowal,

Fetishism,” Christian Metz (694-710)



WEEK EIGHT – CINEMA & IDEOLOGY: RESISTANCE, REVELATIONS, & THE

METZ-LACAN-ALTHUSSER” PARADIGM

Tuesday, October 11th

Discuss Stam, Baudry, Metz

Screening: Strange Days (d. Kathryn Bigelow, 1995 US)

Readings: Stam (130-140)

“Cinema/Ideology/Criticism,” Jean-Luc Comolli & Jean Narboni

(686-693)

“Ideology, Genre, Auteur,” Robin Wood (592-601)
WEEK NINE – FEMINISM: PATRIARCHAL CINEMA, COUNTER-CINEMA, &

VISUAL PLEASURES

Tuesday, October 18th

Review Guide handed out

Discuss Stam, Comolli & Narboni, Wood

Lecture

Readings: Stam (169-179)

“Female Stars of the 1940s,” Molly Haskell (501-514)

“Visual Pleasure & Narrative Cinema,” Laura Mulvey (711-722)

“Women‟s Cinema as Counter-Cinema,” Claire Johnston (Blackboard)
WEEK TEN – INSCRIBED BODIES: RACE AND THE POLITICS OF

REPRESENTATION

Tuesday, October 25th



TEST ON WEEKS 4-8

Discuss Stam, Haskell, Johnston, Mulvey

Lecture

Screening: Bamboozled (d. Spike Lee, 2000 US)

Readings: “Colonialism, Racism, and Representation: An Introduction,”

Robert Stam & Louise Spence (751-766)

“Black Spectatorship: Problems of Identification and Resistance,”

Manthia Diawara (767-776)

“The Oppositional Gaze,” bell hooks (Blackboard)

“You Must Never Be a Misrepresented People: Spike Lee‟s Bamboozled,” Jamie Barlowe (Blackboard)


WEEK ELEVEN – TEXT, MIND, SOCIETY: COGNITIVE PROCESSES & SOCIAL

PRAGMATICS

Tuesday, November 1st

Discuss Stam & Spence, Diawara, hooks

Lecture


Screening: The Purple Rose of Cairo (d. Woody Allen, 1985 US)

Readings: Stam (235-247)

“A Case for Cognitivism,” David Bordwell (Blackboard)

“Jean-Louis Baudry and „The Apparatus,‟” Noel Carroll (189-205)


WEEK TWELVE – CULTURAL STUDIES AND SITES OF RECEPTION

Tuesday, November 8th

Discuss Stam, Bordwell, Carroll

Lecture


Screenings: Selection of fan films

Readings: Stam (223-234)

“In My Weekend-Only World: Reconsidering Fandom,” Henry Jenkins

(Blackboard)

Excerpt from Production Culture: Industrial Reflexivity and Critical

Practice in Film and Television, John Caldwell (Blackboard)
WEEK THIRTEEN – RETURN OF AESTHETICS: PHILOSOPHY & FILM

Tuesday, November 15th

Discuss Stam and Staiger

Lecture


Screening: Taxi Driver (d. Martin Scorsese, 1976 US)

Readings: Stam (256-262)

“Photograph and the Screen / Audience, Actor, and Star / Types; Cycles as

Genres / Ideas of Origin,” Stanley Cavell (304-314)

“Preface to the English Edition / The Origin of the Crisis: Italian Neo-

Realism and the French New Wave / Beyond the Movement-Image,” Gilles Deleuze (216-240)


WEEK FOURTEEN – THE END (OR PERSISTENCE) OF CINEMA

Tuesday, November 22nd

Discuss Stam, Cavell, Deleuze

Lecture


Screening: Tarnation (d. Jonathan Caouette, 2003 US)

Readings: Stam (314-330)

“Digital Cinema: A False Revolution,” John Belton (Blackboard)

“The End of Cinema: Multimedia & Technological Change,” Anne

Friedberg (802-813)

WEEK FIFTEEN –COURSE REVIEW

Tuesday, November 29th

Course Evaluations

Review Guide handed out

Discuss Stam, Belton, Friedberg
WEEK SIXTEEN – FINALS WEEK

Tuesday, December 6th



Final Exam on Weeks 9-14

10:30-12:00 pm

Reading Response Notebooks Due at the Beginning of the Testing Period



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