Introduction to Film Studies: English 233 (2005)
This course introduces students to basic concepts in film analysis and criticism. We will develop terms that allow us to talk about film with some degree of precision. Among these will be narrative, genre, and various technical aspects of film-making such as cinematography and editing. We will also address issues in film criticism such as spectatorship and pleasure. Learning to think and write about films will be our main objective. In addition to class time, there will be weekly readings and quizzes. Students will also be responsible for viewing films for the class. Grades will be based on quizzes, several short writing assignments, participation, and a final exam.
Films: Students are responsible for seeing the films for the course on their own time. Viewing quizzes will be conducted at the beginning of class every Thursday.
Writing Assignments: All writing assignments are due at the beginning of Monday’s class. Late essays will not be accepted. Essays must be typed, double spaced, with 1 inch (2.5 cm) margins, a 12 point font, and only your name (in English) and student number at the top. One page means one page, not half a page. Refer to chapter seven (Manuscript Form) of the Corrigan book for other formatting information and examples.
Policy on Plagiarism: Anything you copy from someone else’s work must be attributed to them with a footnote and proper citation. See Corrigan Chapter 7. Quotations should be kept as brief as possible and not be used to substitute for your own writing and thinking. Anything copied from someone else (including information taken off the internet) and not attributed to them is plagiarism and a form of cheating. This includes texts as short as a phrase or part of a sentence. It also includes passages in which you might change a few of the words but leave the meaning essentially the same. When in doubt, always footnote. Failure to do so leaves you liable to penalty. Students caught plagiarizing—either when the assignment is graded or afterward—will be given zero and failed in the course.
Evaluation: 30% quizzes; 30% written assignments; 30% Exam; 10% participation
Texts: A Short Guide to Writing about Film Timothy Corrigan
Reading Packet (RP)
Schedule by Week
1. Introduction Monday: Review and Screening (Before the Nickelodeon)
Thursday: Screening first film (Good Morning Vietnam)
2. Writing about Film Good Morning Vietnam (Levinson 1987)
Reading: Corrigan: Chapter 1
Assignment: 1-2 page “review” of Good Morning Vietnam
3. Watching and Writing The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover (Greenaway 1989)
Reading: Corrigan: Chapter 2; Kracauer: “Basic Concepts”
Assignment: 1-2 pages. Pick one visual element of The Cook…and use it to explain the overall meaning of the film.
4. Classic Narrative Stagecoach (Ford 1939) The Great Train Robbery (Porter 1903)
Reading: Corrigan: 34 – 45; Turner 67 – 78
5. Mise-en-Scene The Crying Game (Jordan 1992)
Reading: Corrigan: 45 – 54
6. Cinematography The Grand Illusion (Renoir 1937)
Reading: Corrigan: 54 – 62
7. Editing and Sound Do the Right Thing (Lee 1989)
Reading: Corrigan: 62 – 77
8. Alternative Film Style Floating Weeds (Ozu 1959)
Assignment: 2 pages. Explain three ways that Ozu defies the rules of the Classical Hollywood Narrative Style and to what effect.
9. Genre: The Western The Searchers (Ford 1955)
Reading: RP Turner: 78 -92
10. Genre: The Western The Wild Bunch (Peckinpah 1968)
Reading: RP Tompkins
11. History The Best Years of Our Lives (Wyler 1946)
Reading: RP Rosenstone
12. Pleasure Meet Me in Saint Louis (Minnelli 1944)
Reading: RP Dyer: “Entertainment and Utopia”
Assignment: 2 pages. Use Dyer’s thesis to analyse Meet Me in Saint Louis as an historical film AND a film of the Second World War.
13. Spectatorship Blond Venus (von Sternberg 1932)
Reading: RP Turner: 109 – 120
14. Stars The Seven Year Itch (Wilder 1955)
Reading: RP Turner: 94 – 109
15. Performativity Desperately Seeking Susan (Seidelman 1985)
Reading: Madonna: “Material Girl”; Turner 67 - 78