Selected Syllabi

LOONY TOONS AND CWAZY WABBITS: A HISTORY OF CLASSICAL CEL ANIMATION: FILM 3910

Shhh! Be vewwy vewwy quiet. I'm hunting wabbits!

With iconic characters like Elmer Fudd, Mickey Mouse, Popeye the Sailor and Wile E. Coyote, classical cel animation has shaped American popular culture. This class will explore the influential role of cel animation in the United States from the 1890's through to the 1960's, as an industrial form that is still enormously influential on contemporary shows like Family Guy and The Simpsons. We'll study the development of cel animation as an industry, production process and series of aesthetic and generic strategies, while we survey technological developments like the role of sound, music and color and the emergence of personality animation with characters like Bugs Bunny and Felix the cat. We'll trace the vexed ways in which animation engaged with, reproduced or transgressed different representations of race and gender and consider the influential role that animation played in World War II propaganda films, and in graphic modernism.

This class can fulfill your genre requirement for Film Majors (PEP required)

 Film-3910-02 17SQ Syllabus

CRIME FILM: MURDER MOST FOUL: Film 3910

How have crime and violence been central concerns in cinema since its beginnings? What kinds of genres and subgenres have formed around the representation of the criminal and violence ? What is the relationship of crime cinema to the formation of modernity, and how does it engage with key technologies like the fingerprint, biometrics and DNA that map and profile the body? How does the crime film engage with issues of race, class, gender and nation? From the gangster film, ‘whodunnit’, film noir and neo-noir, to the heist film, erotic thriller, serial killer film, crime television and the work of Hitchcock, Coppola and Nolan, we will survey a variety of different narrative and generic formulations of the crime film, from juvenile delinquents on the run to murder amongst friends, to the revenge drama. Throughout we will consider the narrative function of “detection” and its relationship to the spectatorial experience of consuming and reconstructing specific questions of the whodunit--  namely, who did it ? and  why ? We'll look at how crime cinema enagages with discourses in criminal law and psychology, including sociopathy, mens rea and actus reus, the insanity defense and the M’Naghton rule. The class will then conclude with an examination of the serial killer in recent cinema, pulp fiction, and television.  Films may include some of the following: Shallow Grave, Cape Fear, Blood Simple, Heavenly Creatures, The Godfather, Goodfellas, Se7en, Oldboy, Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal. This class can fulfill your genre requirement for Film Majors (PEP required)

Film-4910 17SQ Syllabus

Film History: Film 3020

This image is from Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali’s  famous surrealist film Un Chien Andalou (1929) which comes a few seconds before the notorious eyeball slitting shot. Widening our eyes will be a metaphor for this class—we will be learning to see, and to see again through a number of different methodological frames: aesthetic, industrial, theoretical, technological and cultural. This class will introduce you to some key movements or moments in the history of world cinema, from its origins at the end of the nineteenth century through to the present era. It will consider the earliest years of cinema; Russian montage and German Expressionism; the development of the classical Hollywood system and specific genres; the relationship of propaganda media to the Second World War; postwar art cinema; Italian neo-realism; the decline of the studio system and the French New Wave, and finally, the contemporary arthouse film. It will include comparative selections from other influential movements in international filmmaking including French actualités, German expressionism, Soviet montage, the international avant-garde, and Japanese, Italian and New Zealand cinema. The course will also develop your close analysis skills in watching, describing and analyzing film form and aesthetics. By the end of the class you will have the tools necessary to begin to describe, historicize, and analyze the film text. This  class is a requirement for all film majors and minors.

Film-3020 17SQ Syllabus

Los Angeles and Cinema: Film 3910

It is impossible to talk about the City of Angels without talking about its movie business. The history of American cinema is so intertwined with Los Angeles that the term “Hollywood” is used interchangeably with “American film” worldwide. The earliest film pioneers migrated to Southern California in the early twentieth century to take advantage of ideal shooting conditions—over 300 days of sunshine a year—and to evade patent enforcement from the Edison Studios. By the end of the century, natural disasters, punk rock music, ethnic enclaves, and star culture would contribute to what today we can call “Los Angeles Cinema.”

This course will look at the history of Los Angeles Cinema and the complex relationship that American film has had with its host city. We will look at the mythical allure of the region that enticed film showmen to leave the East Coast for the land of sunshine, what Carey McWilliams called “An Island on Land.” We will consider the ways that Los Angeles is depicted by native “Angelenos” and by outsiders. This course will also look at the so-called “hood films,” the city’s penchant for destroying itself on film, and how the late 70s/early 80s Los Angeles hardcore scene fueled a punk aesthetic in independent films. Lastly, we will explore Los Angeles neo-realist cinema and how it contrasts sharply with the glittering image of the city in mainstream American film and television.

Film-3910 17SQ Syllabus