21L.011 | Fall 2013 | Undergraduate

The Film Experience

Instructor Insights

Instructor Interview

In the following videos and Chalk Radio podcast episode, Professor David Thorburn describes various aspects of how teaches 21L.011 The Film Experience.

Course Overview

This page focuses on the course 21L.011 The Film Experience as it was taught by Professor David Thorburn in Fall 2013.

This course concentrates on close analysis and criticism of a wide range of films, from the early silent period, classic Hollywood genres including musicals, thrillers and westerns, and European and Japanese art cinema. It explores the work of Griffith, Chaplin, Keaton, Capra, Hawks, Hitchcock, Altman, Renoir, DeSica, and Kurosawa. Through comparative reading of films from different eras and countries, students develop the skills to turn their in-depth analyses into interpretations and explore theoretical issues related to spectatorship.

Course Outcomes

Course Goals for Students

  • Understand the historical and cultural significance of movies
  • Explore classic films as works of art and as anthropological and historical artifacts that articulate the values and assumptions of particular societies and eras
  • Augment one’s analytical, writing, and oral expression skills

Curriculum Information



Requirements Satisfied

  • CI-H subject requirement
  • GIR


Every fall and spring semester


The students’ grades were based on the following activities:

  • 40% Tests
  • 50% Essays
  • 10% Oral expression

Student Information


56 students

Breakdown by Year


Breakdown by Major

Variety of majors

How Student Time Was Spent

During an average week, students were expected to spend 12 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:


  • Met 2 times per day (afternoon and evening) 1 day a week for 1 hour per session; 13 sessions total.
  • Eight video lectures were assigned. During weeks in which the video lectures were assigned, there were no evening lectures.


  • Met 1 day a week for 1 hour per session; 13 sessions total.
  • A central goal of the recitation hour was to strengthen students’ powers of oral expression. Students were expected to participate actively in discussion and were required to give a short presentation.

Film Screenings

Screenings of the required film(s) were held once a week in the evenings. 

Out of Class

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2013
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Videos
Lecture Notes
Written Assignments
Instructor Insights