L93 4503/U89 4503/U98 4503
Summer 2002 Frank Grady
Eads 215 firstname.lastname@example.org
Though the term "genre" is borrowed from literary analysis, its applications in the cinema are both numerous and familiar: knowing something about a film's genre not only provides us with clues about how to respond to its characters and story, but often determines whether we want to see it in the first place. The film industry, too, relies on concepts of genre in the production and marketing of movies, and a trip to Blockbuster shows how filmmakers and film audiences speak a common language of genre--we know where to look for the westerns, the horror films, and the erotic thrillers, and we have a pretty good idea of what we'll find when we get there.
This semester--rather, this week--we will watch and discuss several films in several well-defined genres (westerns, sci fi, film noir) from the 1950s and the 1990s--two relatively conservative decades--and try to determine the ways that genre films succeed (or fail) by both satisfying and frustrating our expectations as viewers. Along the way we'll also learn something about film language and technology, film theory, and the entertainment industry, and ultimately we'll try to come to some conclusions about the role that popular films play in contemporary culture.
Since this course proposes to fit a semester’s worth of credit into little more than a week’s worth of time, the workload will necessarily be intense (though of course brief). We will start on time every morning. We will watch two films each day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, along with assorted clips, and there will be substantial reading to do for every day. We’ll also take plenty of short breaks and an hour for lunch each day. Your grade will be based on two hour-long exams (25% each, one on Wednesday morning and one on Friday afternoon), one 5-6 page essay due the week after the class ends (30%), and your record of vigorous class participation, including group work and in-class writing (20%).
· Richard Maltby and Ian Craven, Hollywood Cinema: An Introduction (Blackwell, 1995)
· Michael Rogin, Independence Day, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Enola Gay (British Film Institute, 1998)
A course reader containing five or six additional essays will be available;
a copy will also be placed on reserve in the library.
MONDAY, JUNE 3
Hollywood Cinema, pp. 1-58 ("Introduction," "Entertainment")
AM: SHANE (1953; 117m)
NOON (1952; 85m)
TUESDAY, JUNE 4
Hollywood Cinema, pp. 107-43 ("Genre")Judith Hess Wright, "Genre films and the Status Quo"
Robin Wood, "Ideology, Genre, Auteur"
Garry Wills, excerpt from John Wayne’s America, pp. 251-61
AM: UNFORGIVEN (1992; 131 m)
SEARCHERS (1956; 119m)
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 5
Science fiction, science, and fiction; Film and psychoanalysis; First hour exam
Hollywood Cinema, pp. 286-360 ("Time," "Narrative")
Susan Sontag, "The Imagination of Disaster"
Margaret Tarrat, "Monsters from the Id"
AM: THE THING (FROM ANOTHER WORLD) (1951; 87m)
PLANET (1956; 98m)
THURSDAY, JUNE 6
Film, politics, ideology
Michael Rogin, Independence Day
Hollywood Cinema, pp. 360-411 ("Politics")
David Halberstam, excerpt from The Fifties, pp.131-43
AM: INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1956; 80m)
DAY (1996; 145m)
FRIDAY, JUNE 7
Film industry; Film noir; Film theory; Second hour exam
Hollywood Cinema, pp. 59-101, 132-38 ("Industry")
Laura Mulvey, "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema"
Eileen Meehan, "Holy Commodity Fetish, Batman!"
AM: DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944; 106M)
ROCK WEST (1992; 98M)
Check out this indispensable online film resource: the Internet Movie Database
Your classmates’ favorite films
Suggested essay topics