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FSCP 81000 – Seminar in Film Theory, Professor Amy Herzog, Monday, 11:45am-3:45pm, Room C-419, 3 credits  [27040] Cross listed with  THEA 81600 & ART 89400

This class will provide an overview of significant movements, debates, and figures in film theory. 

Readings will span both classical and contemporary film theory, addressing a range of approaches including realism, structuralism, auteur theory, genre criticism, psychoanalytic film theory, feminist and critical race theories, and third cinema.  The class will examine writings on cinema in their historical and national contexts, looking at the ways in which film theory intersects with political, cultural, and aesthetic trends. 

The final sessions of the course will focus on recent developments in film theory, in particular the debates surrounding cognitive approaches to film, the evolution of digital technology, and the writings of philosopher Gilles Deleuze.  In each case, new theoretical work on cinema will be read in relation to the complex history of film criticism. 

In addition, the class will examine the field of film theory alongside related fields of aesthetics and representation (e.g. art history and photography, television studies, cultural studies, visual studies, postmodernism), exploring the ways these disciplines have overlapped.

Each seminar meeting will involve close analyses of readings related to a particular topic or theme. Screenings will be conducted in class. Ideally, students will also view supplemental films that are suggested, and attend screenings and discussions in venues around the city. 

Students will write either two ten-page analysis papers, performing close readings of theoretical texts, or one twenty-page research paper on a topic in film theory. Each student will also be responsible for a short, illustrated presentation, meant to facilitate our discussion of the readings for that class (these presentations were a highlight of the course this fall; the students approached them quite creatively). We will also post questions and responses to the readings on a course blog.


FSCP 81000 – American Film of the 1970s,  Professor William Boddy, Tuesday, 11:45am-3:15pm, Room C-419, 3 credits  [27041] Cross listed with ART 89600 & THEA 81500 

Course description and learning goals:  This course explores the explosion of creative American filmmaking around the 1970s from a new generation of directors, writers, and actors working within traditional Hollywood genres, including the gangster film, the Western, and film noir.  During a period of unusual economic uncertainty for the film industry, studios enlisted fresh creative talent and storytelling forms to reach new audiences during a period of disruptive social and political change. While the focus of the course will be on the major innovative works from 1970s Hollywood, we will also consider the impact of the European art cinema, the role of émigré creative personal working in America, and the influence of documentary and avant-garde filmmaking and critical practices on the wider film culture of the 1970s.

Required readings: The required texts are David A Cook, Lost Illusions:  American Cinema in the Shadow of Watergate and Vietnam, 1970-1979  (Berkeley:  University of California Press, 2000) and Thomas Elsaesser, Alexander Horwath, and Noel King, eds., The Last Great American Picture Show  New American Cinema in the 1970s  (Amsterdam:  Amsterdam University Press, 2004). Additional readings indicated on the class schedule are available via ERes at the Graduate Center Library. 

Requirements:  In addition to participation in seminar discussion, each student will submit ten short response essays to the films and readings to Blackboard, write a 15 page research paper on a topic approved by the instructor, and prepare a brief oral presentation of the research project to the seminar. 

Class schedule/readings available in the Certificate Programs Office (Room 5110)

FSCP 81000 - African Cinema: Toward an Alternative Globality, Professor Peter Hitchcock, Wednesday, 2:00-5:00pm, Room C-419, 3 credits [27042] Cross listed with ART 89600, THEA 81500 & AFCP 80000

Although films have been made in Africa since the 1920s, it is only since the great anti-colonial and independence movements in the middle of the century that significant African cinemas began to emerge in their own right.  In part, African cinema aesthetics developed through specific political dimensions precipitate in the socio-economic conditions of decolonization and nationalist expression.  African cinema’s further provocation unfolds in the ways in which it has built on traditional narrative story-telling forms (not just oral tales in general, but unique genres, like those of the griot).  Whether or not such genres can be visualized remains the challenge in much of African cinema, but more than this, there are sustained and critical pressures at work that greatly inhibit independent and indigenous film making of all kinds. 

What are the aesthetic priorities of African cinema?  How are these compromised or reoriented by the realities of national and international limits on production, distribution, and exhibition?  Does indigenous cinema guarantee perspicacity or is such vision distorted by the continually racist and ethnicist assumptions of the international public sphere?  What are the ironies of auteurism on the continent?  What are the changed parameters in aesthetics and politics that drive new film production in the region?

As well as serving as an introduction to the main trajectories of African film making, this course will focus on particular examples of African cinema that demonstrate both the interventions and the contradictions of its art in recent years.  Although this course is not intended to bridge the creative schisms between cinema of sub-Saharan Africa and North Africa it will provide guidelines for further work in that regard.  Crucially, the class will investigate to what extent an African visual style is possible as a distinctive aesthetic along with the necessity to “Africanize” and transform cultural codes associated with Western technology and expansion. 

Profoundly dialogic, African cinema projects an answerability (responsibility) according to a complex set of micro and macrological contexts. We will consider, for instance, how the defeat of apartheid inspires new and critical South African film. 

We will also come to terms with the impact of new technologies on African film form and substance, particularly video and digital video, and the emergence of Nollywood as a distinct mode of production and distribution.  In this regard we will emphasize the genealogies of African cinema not simply as locally engaged, but as posing an alternative globality.A class presentation and a term paper are required in consultation with the instructor.  Students will be encouraged to use theoretical frameworks and an interdisciplinary approach that can integrate their specific research interests. 

Suggested reading/viewing schedule available in the Certificate Programs Office (Room 5110).


SPAN 85000 - Lorca, Buñuel, Dali: Literature & Cinema [27180] W, 4:15-6:15pm,  Professor Paul Julian Smith

This course, which is taught in Spanish, treats the drama of Federico García Lorca, selected silent and Spanish-language films of Buñuel, and fine art works by Dalí. It involves close reading of these texts and analysis of the voluminous and contradictory body of criticism on them. The course addresses such themes as tradition and modernity; the city and the country; and the biopic in film and television. The question of intermediality, or the relation between different media, will be examined in its historical and theoretical dimensions. The course will graded by final paper (50%), midterm exam (25%), and final presentation, weekly postings to course website and oral contribution to class (25%).  COURSE IS OPEN TO PH.D. STUDENTS ONLY

See Also:

ART 77300  - Memorials to New Media [27469] W, 2:00-4:00pm, Senie, Harriet

MALS 71200 - The Culture of Fashion: New York, Fashion Capital  [27464] M, 6:30-8:30pm, Paulicelli, Eugenia Cross-listed with IDS 82300 & WSCP 81000