Show The Graduate Center Menu


Fall 2018

FSCP 81000/ Film History II: Visual Historiography, [3 credits], Cross-listed with MALS 77300 and THEA 71600
Tuesday, 11:45am-3:45pm (C419)
Instructor: Michael Gillespie
This class engages with how cinema complicates, renders, and critiques the idea of history. In this way, this class will examine how cinema narrativizes or enacts a writing of history in the terms of ‘visual historiography.’ If historiography is the study of the writing of history, then this class will consider the cinematic writing of history with attention to narrativity, the purpose of historical narratives, and the significant values and meanings attributed to history. Furthermore, the class will focus on the emplotment of history by the visual and the significant epistemological questions about the shared impulse of narrativity between history and film as visual art. We will explore questions of truth and authenticity, temporality, the production of historical knowledge, memory and remembrance, trauma, and power. Our focus will take a critically disobedient approach in the sense that we will treat the films as historiographic interventions while also avoiding the fidelity concerns that most often shadow discussion of film and history. Thus, these films will be treated as distinct acts of visual historiography that consequentially confound and enliven our understanding of history and the critical capacities of visual art.
FSCP 81000/ Genre and Global Conflict, [3 credits], Cross-listed with THEA 81500 and MALS 78500
Wednesday, 4:15pm-8:15pm (C-419)
Instructor: Ria Banerjee

This course will examine the interaction between a film’s employment of genre and the conflicts it depicts, defined broadly and globally. We will begin with the opening premise that genre fundamentally affects subject matter, so any analysis of film involves attention to the interpellation of form and content. War, an enormity of violence, seems to ask for “serious” filmic forms such as the documentary or drama; what happens, then, when it appears in forms that appear on the surface to be less serious, frivolous even?

This redefinition of the parameters of a “war film” means that we will begin the course with a rigorous discussion of what the term means to us as a class using a classic of the genre such as Apocalypse Now. We will then consider the way that other genres have deployed conflicts: for instance, the American Civil War in the classic Western, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, and the fantasy thriller Pan’s Labyrinth set in Franco’s Spain. World War II will inevitably form a bulk of our investigations. We will range from documentary film with a turbulent reception history like Night and Fog, to the depiction of Vichy France in the romance Casablanca, and World War II intrigue in The Third Man. Class discussions will also cluster around the Partition of India in 1947, a displacement of fourteen million people that is considered one of the bloodiest recent upheavals. We will discuss the ways that it is invoked in big budget Bollywood musicals like Earth versus in Ritwick Ghatak’s low budget indie trilogy from the 1960s. Can comedy accommodate serious conflicts? We will approach this question by discussing the Crusades and holy war in light of the self conscious silly-serious medievalism of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Other genres we might consider include historical romances (Gladiator), horror/sci-fi (District 9), and animation (Waltz with Bashir), keeping an eye on the different conflicts they reference. Television has contributed its own powerful note to this question of genre; time permitting, we will consider treatments of conflict in The Twilight Zone and Prisoners of War (Hatufim), among others.

Since we will range widely in both genres we consider and the conflicts shown on film, students will be asked to present on one conflict of their choice from the syllabus; they will also contribute weekly to blog posts and class discussions. Final paper of 15-20 pages with view to publication in a suitable academic forum.
FSCP 81000/ Aesthetics of Film, [3 credits], Sponsored by MALS (MALS 77100)
Tuesdays, 4:15pm-8:15pm (C-419)
Instructor: Leah Anderst

Film Aesthetics provides students with the basic skills necessary to read and analyze the formal and stylistic components of film, both historical and contemporary. This course introduces the student to various genre of narrative cinema and categories of film (for example, silent comedy, melodrama, film noir, documentary, animation, and experimental, among others) produced in the United States and internationally. As students survey the work of important film theorists and apply it to films screened in class, they will master the fundamental vocabulary of film analysis and will learn to recognize the techniques and conventions that structure the cinematic experience – narrative systems, mise-en-scène, cinematography, editing, sound, genre – in order to understand how these various components combine to yield film form and have developed over the history of the form.

Each student will lead discussion on one of our weekly readings and write two formal papers: a scene analysis essay due around the midterm point, and a longer seminar paper at the end of the semester on a topic of their choosing related to our course screenings, readings, or topics. This second paper will require a project proposal as well as an annotated bibliography of research sources. Readings for the course will be drawn heavily from Film Art: An Introduction by David Bordwell and Kristen Thompson (11th edition) as well as additional articles provided. 

FSCP 81000/ Islam, Media, and Politics in the Middle East [3 credits], Sponsored by MAMES (MES 74900)
Wednesdays, 6:30pm-8:30pm, Room 6114
Instructor: Bilge Yesil

This course examines politics, religion and culture in the Middle East through the lens of media forms and practices. It analyzes how Middle Eastern media shape (and are shaped by) global cultural flows and national and inter-regional politics. Topics include but are not limited to political activism and democratization; consumerism and modernity; youth, media and civic participation; women, media use and female empowerment. Taking into consideration the heterogeneity of media and political systems across the region, the course pays special attention to the articulation of national identity, modernization and Islam in various countries. The course also covers Islamophobia in the United States and Europe, and examines its historical roots, its connections with colonialism and Orientalism, and media representations of Arabs and Muslims in Western media. Special attention is paid to September 11 and the War on Terror, and the “migrant crisis” in Europe and rise of right-wing nationalism. The course is based on mini lectures, class discussions and presentations, occasional guest speakers and screenings (documentaries, films, reality TV shows, music videos, etc.). Students do not need to have prior knowledge of media history, theories or methods.