Spring 2021 Offerings

  • This course examines cinema as a technology, mass medium, business, entertainment, art form, and cultural product. First we will explore the origins of the motion picture, then narrative and narration, performance, mise-en-scène, cinematography, editing, and sound. Next, we’ll look at a specific Hollywood genre, how it has changed over time, and why. Finally, we will examine documentary and avant-garde cinema. This course is about the analysis of cinema in its many forms, and an exploration of culture through an audiovisual medium.

    FLAG: Writing

    Meetings: Wedesdays 9:00am - 12:20pm OR Fridays 12:40pm - 4pm

    Separate discussion required, see PROWL for times



  • A historical and aesthetic introduction to how television, video games and content developed for the web use and transform the elements of film language to shape and reflect cultural values and attitudes, especially as they have to do with representations of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, class, faith and religion, and disabilities.

    Meetings: Monday 12:40pm - 4:00pm OR Wednesday 4:10pm - 7:00pm

  • A critical and historical survey of the major developments, trends, movements, personalities, and aesthetic innovations in World Cinema from 1955 to 1990.

    Meetings: Monday 9:00am - 12:20pm Monday OR 12:40pm - 4:00pm OR Thursday 9:00am - 12:20pm OR Friday 9:00am - 12:20pm

  • This class traces the history and development of documentary film, video and digital media. Focus will be on the evolution of non-fiction forms with special regard to issues of subject matter and style, truth vs. reality, politics and justice, identity and ethics.

    The form has been shaped (and continues to be re-shaped) by technological advances, cultural shifts and upheavals as well as the vagaries of the ever-changing marketplace. Over the years it has influenced fiction filmmaking while simultaneously adapting fictive story-telling techniques for its own purposes.

    As students gain an overview of the history and ongoing re-invention of the genre they will hone their own critical and analytic skills through screenings, discussion and essay writing.

    Meetings: Tuesday 7:10pm - 10:00pm

  • Emphasizing current movies and media, the course is designed to challenge students to widen their perspectives and assumptions about film, including the ways cinema engages with the wider world

    Meetings: Tuesday 7:15pm - 10:00pm

  • Course Description   

    The “video essay” has emerged in recent years as a new form of digital communication and entertainment. Media scholars, non-professional critics, and YouTube personalities are using the videographic form to express ideas about media of the past and present. This course will blend analysis and practice. We will closely examine the various types of video essays on film, TV, video games, and other online media. We will also make our own video essays, developing our skills with editing software while enhancing our knowledge and perception of audiovisual techniques. In a flexible, experimental setting, and with no previous experience required, students will learn to use video to make an argument, to comment on media, or simply to explore the video format in a creative way. At the end of the semester, students will have the option to exhibit their work to larger groups on campus or online.  


    Class Format  

    Online. Combined short lectures (asynchronous), readings, and discussion/workshops. 


    Tuesday 12:40pm - 4:00pm

  • Film, Media and Social Justice: Race, Gender, and Contemporary Hollywood

    This course will look at contemporary issues of race and gender in Hollywood by integrating theory, feminist texts, and personal narratives from media scholars and industry specialists to understand our current moment. Students will engage deeply with current issues through readings, writing assignments, oral presentations, and a final research project.

    Thursdays, 12:40pm - 4:00pm

  • Course Description 

    Tuesday 2:20pm - 3:50pm OR Thursday 2:20pm - 3:50pm

  • Introduces students to groundbreaking and influential films from China, while providing an historical context in which to place them.

    Wednesday 4:20pm - 7:20pm

  • Introduces students to the ‘70s, an important period in film history, with a close look at filmmakers who engaged with their historical moment to make films that continue to influence filmmakers around the world

    Wednesday 4:10pm - 7:00pm

  • Students will examine the central themes and style of one of cinema’s most important maverick auteurs: Elia Kazan (b. 1909 Constantinople, d. 2003 Manhattan) and several New York Filmmakers that he influenced (particularly Martin Scorsese and Spike Lee).  Particular emphasis will be placed on the perspective of the Hollywood outsider and innovations in film style, acting, and story-telling that challenge Hollywood models.  

    Thursday 4:10pm - 7:00pm


  • This course explores the work of several celebrated international filmmakers whose films share a common, if surprising, theme: heat, humidity, and summertime. Through close readings of their films alongside queer theory, affect theory, psychoanalysis, poetry, and genre theory, we will draw connections across these works: what draws cinema to water, to weather, to the sun and the beach? What kinds of borders and boundaries do these films draw between the intricacies of human life and the nature that surrounds it?

    Tuesday 4:10pm - 7:00pm

  • Students will examine major trends and developments in American Comedy before and after World War II focusing on the tensions between visual and verbal wit (the slapstick vs. dialogue traditions), and the use of comedy as a vehicle for social comment and criticism. 

    Tuesday 4:10pm - 7:00pm

  • The course takes as its starting point the question: how queer is TV? From there, students will investigate questions such as what does it mean to queer TV? What does it mean to queer a text? What is camp?

    Thursday 4:10pm - 7:00pm

  • This course investigates the intersection between science fiction and biopolitics. At the heart of many Science-Fiction films lies the biopolitical question of what counts as life and how that life managed and politicized?  In other words, how do certain science-fiction films tell stories about the socio-political valence of embodied being? Robots, artificial people, genetic clones, and contagion narratives, to cite some examples, are tropes that help underscore where the limits of sociability lie: Who gets to belong to a given group or society?  Who can exert free will, and how are rights suspended or dispensed accordingly?

    Thursday 9:00am - 12:20pm

  • This course investigates the ways that time-based media (movies, TV shows, and video games) use time to think about time. We examine a variety of media texts through a variety of lenses (philosophical, theological, ethical, and scientific) as well as media and disabilities studies in order to think through the question of what it means to be time beings.

    Meetings: Thursdays, 4:10pm - 7:00pm

  • In this course, students will look at a variety of media text (movies, TV series, and video games) through the lens of Daoist philosophy

    Tuesday and Thursday 9:50am - 11:10am

  • This course maps the transformations of American independent cinema from the watershed year of 1989 to our contemporary moment. Once considered a type of American filmmaking produced independently of the dominant established U.S. film industry and outside mainstream cinema practices, these films tended to be more avant-garde and even if not overtly experimental, often gave an alternative voice to dominant ideology.

    But since the 1990s the industrial culture of American independent cinema has changed and has been subsumed by Hollywood as it has become a reliable revenue stream for the mainstream film industry as an expanding apparatus of institutional and financial support from major studios allowed the indie to move within and outside the traditional art-house circuit to ensure that it too can be a $100 million blockbuster film.

    Examining many of its more commercially successful iterations this course will explore the shifting parameters of formal innovation, auteurship, subversion, postmodernism and taste that gird modern American independent cinema as the cultural formation around these films continues to adapt and change to meet industrial standards and audience expectations.

    Course Structure:

    The class consists of a lecture, screening and discussion every week.

    We will engage in online, non-sync learning.  All course materials will be posted on Brightspace accompanying directions and instruction each week.

    SFTV Grads Only

    Meetings: Monday, 9:00am - 12:00pm

  • Course Description: As a multitude of global geopolitical crises collided together in the Pandemic, nearly every aspect of film culture was brought to a sudden suspension, highlighting both a tremendous precarity of film industries designed to be public and the extreme economic and social inequities they support, structure and reproduce. Though some movie theaters and production sets have reopened at the time of writing, many such spaces remain shuttered. Film releases have been delayed. We are simultaneously living within the end, in a moment of hope for reimagining futures, and amidst desires some harbor to return to “normalcy” or “how things used to be.” If we’re to look at a body of recent art films from around the world what we find is an emphatic announcement that we were already exhausted, already enduring unsustainable lives. These films speak to an extraordinary and diffuse depletion at the hands of capitalist and imperialist forces worldwide. This course will investigate the lessons these films offer about sleep, labor, gender, migration, dreams, inheritance and memory. It will ask whether cinema can show us a way out of simply enduring and set us on a path toward surviving or even thriving after the end/s of the world. In this sense it will also explore the question of what now is cinema or what will (can) it be.

    Course structure: The course will be offered virtually with both synchronous and asynchronous components. It will primarily be discussion based with short writing across the semester to stay accountable to course materials and document your reflections on it and culminate in a production project of some kind which represents your engagement with exhaustion (or, rejuvenation).


    Meetings: Wednesday, 12:40pm - 4:00pm

  • From the #OscarsSoWhite and #MeToo campaigns to the widespread cultural reckoning spurred by the 2020 BLM protests, recent years have seen American media increasingly pressured to respond to longstanding calls for greater equity of representation and employment for groups historically underserved by the mainstream media industries. This course provides a critical analysis of the structure of the contemporary media industries, focusing on the intersections among politics, economy, labor, and identity to explore both how mainstream media is made, and how underrepresented stories and talent are able or unable to find places in this environment. Drawing on both contemporary industry news and scholarly economic and cultural analysis, we’ll consider the current state of the media industries and how the material and political conditions of the business inform who gets in, what comes out, and what media futures we can expect.

    Course structure:

    This online course will be taught in a hybrid model. You’ll have (streaming) screenings and readings on your own time, and we’ll all meet live via Zoom every other week at the regularly scheduled time. On off weeks, you’ll have your own reading, writing, and possibly group work to do.

    Work expectations:

    Screenings made available via streaming

    Weekly readings (comprising scholarship, industry news, journalism)

    Engaged discussions during our Zoom meetings

    Written responses to the topics and readings covered in class

    Possible group work / discussions with your classmates

    Final research project tracking piece an intersection of media and an identity / political issue

    Wednesday 7:10pm - 10:00pm

  • FTVS 598.02 examines the works of five directors who have had a lasting impact on the field of documentary and non-fiction filmmaking. Those showcased include Frederick Wiseman, the Maysles Bros., Agnes Varda, Haskell Wexler and Werner Herzog; also included is a crop of younger upstart documentarians (like Kristen Johnson, Ava DuVernay, Laura Nix, Nanfu Wang, Ezra Edelman) who
    cite them as powerful influences. The course explores production methods and styles pioneered by these master filmmakers ranging from Direct Cinema, Cinema Verité, first-person documentary and re-enactment; while investigating the creative challenges, aesthetic

    This course will be taught as an online seminar, including both synchronous and asynchronous online lectures and presentations, online screenings via Brightspace links, and online discussions via Zoom.

    Course Meeting Tuessday 7:10pm - 10:00pm

  • While historically, U.S. and European filmmakers were considered the undisputed masters of commercial and art cinema filmmaking, it is clear that Asia has risen as the current site of groundbreaking cinema, claiming directors capable of producing brilliant commercial and artistic films for devoted audiences and impressed critics.

    This course will examine how the great Asian directors Ang Lee and Bong Joon-ho are two of contemporary cinema’s exemplary global auteurs who are setting new standards for film form, style and technical innovation through their manipulation of genre, art cinema and great entertainment fare. More importantly, their direct address of audiences both in the U.S. and beyond it pointedly acknowledges that there is a world outside Hollywood; still, while their work illuminates the ways in which cinema is both a global language and multinational industry it still imbricates Hollywood as part of a global formation that is an essential participant in the circulation of cinema and cinema culture across borders. As the singular national cinema model continues to fall away, Ang Lee and Bong Joon-ho demonstrate how films must be transnational to thrive in today’s global marketplace.

    In this course, you will attain a working knowledge of the larger ideological underpinnings of film style, genre, and narrative.  You will also come to understand the social-cultural values of film as both art and commodity through the cinema of Ang Lee and Bong Joon-ho as they work within and against the grain of the traditional notions of auteurism.  While their discernible styles and themes have helped build their artistic legacies, secure their commercial success and even allowed them to make persuasive political interventions, you will learn the ways and reasons why “auteur” is a practical categorical designation as well as a mythology that still looms over cinema itself.

    Furthermore this semester you will:

    • Cultivate a greater appreciation for the expanding global film canon.
    • Learn the fundamental concepts from film studies as they pertain to film style, grammar, modes of production and reception.
    • Continue to develop and refine your critical thinking, researching and writing skills.
    • Become aware of the salient issues and topics that imbricate the U.S. film industry as a global formation as well as become cognizant of how the university plays an integral part in our understanding of film and filmmakers as art objects and artists.
    • Begin to understand the ways that directors can work to build their critical reputations which helps green-light their films and ultimately secures their cultural legacies.


    Course Structure:

    The class consists of a lecture, screening and discussion every week.

    We will engage in online, non-sync learning. All course materials will be posted on Brightspace with accompanying directions and instruction each week.

    Attendance and participation: Your attendance and participation are central to your success in the class since so much content is cover during each class.

    Reading: I will post readings on Brightspace under “Content”. You are responsible for checking Brightspace weekly and completing the assigned reading prior to class.

    Wednesdays, 9:00 am-12:00 pm