Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1 hour / session
Recitations: 1 session / week, 1 hour / session
A screening of each week's required film(s) follows the 2nd lecture of the week.
This course is an introductory survey of classic films. Emphasis falls equally on cultural and on artistic matters: on films as anthropological and historical artifacts that articulate the values and assumptions of specific societies and eras and on films as works of art. The course aims to sharpen students' analytic skills, to give them a sense of the history and cultural significance of movies, and to improve their writing.
Supplementary readings will also be assigned.
Film clips will be shown during lectures, and the complete version of each week's film will be screened following the week's second lecture.
Prior to some lectures, students are assigned to watch videos of Prof. Thorburn's lectures from the 2007 version of the class. This frees up lecture time for further discussion and more in-depth analysis.
This course satisfies the criteria for communication intensive subjects in the humanities, arts, and social sciences (HASS-D/CI). Students are required to write a short (1–2 page) response to some aspect of the material in the first two weeks, and three short papers, totaling a minimum of 20 double-spaced typed pages, devoted to films studied during the term.
All students must revise and resubmit at least one of their first two papers, and they are encouraged but not required to revise both. Only the grade received on the revised version of the paper will count toward the final grade in the term. Revisions must be submitted within one week of the date on which papers are returned.
A list of suggested topics will be provided for each of the papers. Students may depart from these suggestions, but the alternative must be approved by their recitation instructor.
A central goal of the recitation hour in the course is to strengthen students' powers of oral expression. Attendance at recitation is mandatory. Every student is expected to participate actively in discussion and to give at least one short presentation to the class. This presentation will may be part of a group project, in which two or three students will work as a team to lead class discussion of a particular film or a topic relevant to the course.
Exams consist of a 30-minute quiz, a one-hour midterm test, and a three-hour final exam. The quiz will consist of short identification items. Both the midterm and final will include essay questions as well as an identification segment. Material covered in lectures and in the assigned reading will supply most of the identification questions.
The course grade is weighted 40% for exams, 50% for essays, and 10% for oral expression, with specifics as follows:
|WEEK||LEC #||TOPICS||REQUIRED FILMS||KEY DATES|
|I. THE SILENT ERA|
Porter, The Great Train Robbery
Griffith, A Beast at Bay
Keaton, Cops, The General
|Close reading exercise due|
Chaplin, The Immigrant, Easy Street, Modern Times
|3||5–6||Film as a global and cultural form; German film||Murnau, Nosferatu, The Last Laugh||Paper 1 due|
|II. HOLLYWOOD GENRES|
|4||7–8||Hollywood in the 1930s|| |
Capra, It Happened One Night
Hawks, His Girl Friday
|5||9–10||Hitchcock||Hitchcock, Shadow of a Doubt, Rear Window|
|6||11–12||The Musical|| |
Donen/Kelly, Singin' in the Rain
|7||13–14||The Western||Ford, The Searchers||Paper 2 due|
|8||15–16||Film in the 1970s||Altman, McCabe and Mrs. Miller|
|III. INTERNATIONAL MASTERS|
|9||17–18||Renoir and poetic realism||Renoir, Grand Illusion|
|10||19–20||Italian Neorealism||De Sica, Bicycle Thieves||Paper 3 due|
|11||21–22||Truffaut and the New Wave||Truffaut, The 400 Blows|
|12||23||Kurosawa's Rashomon||Kurosawa, Rashomon|
|13||24||Summary perspectives: film as art and artifact|