Upcoming Graduate Seminars For Fall 2023
ENGLIT 2125 Game Studies
Zach Horton, G28 Cathedral of Learning, Wednesdays 6:00pm to 8:50pm
This interdisciplinary seminar will explore the key relationships between play, social and technological mediation, narrative, and visual culture. It will provide a wide-ranging survey of game studies, from foundational texts in play studies through the central debates in video game studies to the most recent scholarship on gamification, tabletop gaming, identity, and scale in the rapidly expanding field of game studies. Topics covered will include the history of gaming and ritual, play and childhood, emergent and environmental narrative, gamification and capital, game theory, artificial intelligence, video games, tabletop games, gaming and scale, gaming and gender, games and empire, agency, gaming and environment, cooperative gaming, and game design as an artistic medium. We will explore why games are not only a key form of cognitive mapping in digital control societies, but also significant sites of creative expression, and perhaps most significantly, a vital paradigm to critically engage agency, identity, and decision making in the twenty-first century. The underlying argument will be that we cannot understand how power, capital, or media more generally function today without a critical theory of play and games. It is no accident that capitalism has gamified itself, nor that games have become the dominant form of narrative media on a global scale.
Students from all disciplines are welcome. Final projects can be analytical (a paper or other form of media) or creative (a game or interactive fiction). Regardless of whether your goal is to engage games as cultural objects within your scholarship, to work creatively within a modality of play, or to broaden your critical methodology, my intent is that as a group we will all think, play, and create together.
ENGGFLM 2451/FMST 2151 Film History/Theory 1
Mark Lynn Anderson, 407 Cathedral of Learning, Tuesdays 1:00pm to 4:50pm
This seminar considers the critical terrain of the moving image for the period 1890 to 1950 as it informs the discipline of film and media studies today. While contemporary work on both the histories of international cinema and the elusive nature of film and screen practices remains deeply indebted to classical film theory, researchers have also sought to rethink the standard historical construction of the cinema through recontextualization, historiographical critique, and genealogical investigation. Part introduction to an established film theory canon (Hugo Münsterberg, Germaine Dulac, Sergei Eisenstein, Béla Balázs, Rudolf Arnheim, Walter Benjamin, Siegfried Kracauer, and André Bazin) and part survey of early film history, this seminar aspires to demonstrate the continuing richness and relevance of a cinema of modernity for media studies by reading some of today’s most important voices on moving-image culture and history.
ENGFLM 2425 Black Time: Afrofuturism, Afropessimism and Beyond
Elizabeth Reich, 407 Cathedral of Learning, Wednesdays, 1:00pm to 4:50pm
This course will consider the interconnections between black theory, black political practice, and black art through a focus on cinematic time. It is no coincidence that the questions dominating Black Studies now – of how to think about Afrofuturism and Afropessimism; and how to reconcile the two – continue to find their best expression in recent works of film analysis…because these are inherently problems of time and film (and music) are among the rare, inherently time-driven media.
Recent film studies texts – Frank Wilderson’s Red, White and Black; Christina Sharpe’s In the Wake; Jared Sexton’s Masculinity and Men; sections of Reynaldo Anderson’s Afrofuturism 2.0; and Kara Keeling’s essay, “In the Interval” and Queer Times, Black Futures invite us to consider how the language and movement of film are essential to any exploration or theorization of the texture and, specifically, temporality of black living. Such exploration and theorization are no small matters, given the increasing visibility of black death in our society; the circulation of moving images of violence against black people; and the efforts to mobilize artistic and political practices asserting black life and possibility. In fact, though the project here may seem academic, it is also one where the rubber hits the road and – this course argues – the promise of Afrofuturism and the insistence of Afropessimism are already embedded in any contemporary black political projects. Questions of indexicality, the archive, surveillance, and the posthuman and queer also intersect with the work of studying Black time-based media and will be part of our coursework.
Previously Taught Graduate Seminars For Spring 2023
ENGFLM 2453 Film History and the Non-Theatrical
Mark Lynn Anderson, 512 Cathedral of Learning, Wednesdays, 6:00pm to 9:50pm
Over the past three decades, film studies has witnessed a substantial increase in published research into the production, circulation, and uses of motion pictures distinct from the international commercial cinema that emerged at the beginning of the twentieth century. The term “non-theatrical” now describes a widely recognized but unwieldy array of film materials and practices that encompasses the histories of experimental cinema, amateur film, educational and sponsored films, medical imaging, media installations, porn, home movies, military reconnaissance, and law-enforcement surveillance. Scholars’ attention to the histories of the non-theatrical has made it clear that our standard film histories were. and continue to be, highly restricted in their consideration of moving-image culture, privileging the type of object that is at the basis of what Christian Metz identified as “going to the movies,” the fictional narrative film.
This seminar surveys the emergence and development of “the non-theatrical” within film and media studies to consider if and how this work has challenged the guiding assumptions and objectives of our discipline and the ways in which the study of non-theatrical moving images might contribute to a radical rethinking of the commercial cinema.
ENGFLM 2695 Horror Film
Adam Lowenstein, 407 Cathedral of Learning, Tuesdays, 1:00pm to 4:50pm
The Academy Award nominations bestowed on Get Out and The Shape of Water in 2017 are a recent sign of a phenomenon that has been gaining momentum steadily over the last forty years: the recognition that horror films need to be taken seriously as contributions to art, culture, and politics. Observing the state of research on cinematic spectatorship in 1995, the film scholar Linda Williams noted “how analysis of a supposedly exceptional genre – the horror film – may end up offering the most comprehensive analysis of gender and sexuality in spectatorship in general.” The deluge of scholarship on the horror film since 1995 not only bears out Williams’s prediction and signals the emergence of horror studies as a field in its own right, but teaches us over and over again how a genre often assumed to be an exception to core debates in film theory and film history winds up illuminating foundational assumptions about cultural studies in general and film and media studies in particular. This seminar will investigate the key films and critical discussions surrounding the genre from its beginnings to the present, but not merely to perform a genre survey – instead we will use horror as a lens to ask wide-ranging questions about spectatorship, theory, history, aesthetics, and politics that have shaped and continue to transform film and media studies in profound ways. The seminar will be enhanced by special events organized by Pitt’s Horror Studies Working Group as well as access to Pitt’s Horror Studies Archive in the University Library System’s Department of Archives and Special Collections.
ITAL 2701 At the End of the World: Films of the Apocalypse
Alberto Iozzia, 1325 Cathedral of Learning, Thursdays, 11:30am to 1:25pm
With particular attention to Italian authors (Antonioni, Cavani, Ferreri), but also exploring productions from elsewhere (Hitchcock, Tarkovsky, von Trier), At the End of the World is a study of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic cinema that invites students to contextualize and reinterpret the apocalypse as a post-modern metaphor. Taught in English, the course focuses on a transnational range of films where the apocalypse is either explicit or implicit: we will watch and analyze films built around spectacular disasters and visually striking catastrophes, as well as productions that explore the intimate consequences of a collapsing interiority. Employing theoretical tools such as Ernst Bloch’s non-simultaneity and Pier Paolo Pasolini’s free indirect subjectivity, this graduate seminar will offer a novel interpretation of horror and science fiction films and examine their relevance both to the socio-historical context that produced them, and to our own.
SPAN 2452/FMST 2341 Contemporary Latin American Film: Queer Diaspora
Junyoung Verónica Kim, TBD, Tuesdays 6:00pm to 8:55pm
Situated at the intersection(s) of queer studies, diaspora studies, critical race theory and media studies, this course deploys queer diaspora as a critical methodology through which to explore the dynamic connections between biopolitics (race-gender-sexuality), geopolitics (imperialism, settler colonialism, racial capitalism), and aesthetics (affect, art, film). By mobilizing queer/ing as an epistemological analytic rather than an ontological category, this course calls attention to the ways in which the term queer signals life and death questions of apprehension and value production: how one signifies or how groups of living beings are made to signify (or signify otherwise) within a given set of significations. How can queer/ing diaspora challenge notions of patriarchal heteronormative reproduction, as imagined in ideas of kinship, lineage, and belonging, which function in dominant conceptualizations of diaspora? That is, how might a queer lens unearth alternative practices and conceptions of space (nation, family), time (history, lineage), and embodiment (race, gender, disability)? Moreover, what are the ways in which sexuality is integral to notions and processes of citizenship, nation, state, land, diaspora, home? By focusing on film, visual culture, and media, this course explores the ways in which queer diasporic aesthetic practices allow us to draw alternative cartographies, center South-to-South connections, and interrogate and complicate the economies of feeling (e.g. nostalgia, loss, gratitude, attachment) that structure our understanding of diaspora(s). We will examine the diasporas that are imagined through the following cartographic sites – the Americas, the Pacific and Indian Oceans, the Transpacific (Asia-Latin/America), the Black Atlantic, Afro-Asia, Global Asias, etc. – by analyzing several media from various locations and productions that include videos by Richard Fung, Steve McQueen’s television series Small Axe (2020), Justin Chon’s and Kogonada’s television series Pachinko (2022), and films, such as Aurora Guerrero’s Mosquita y Mari (2012), Fatih Atkin’s The Edge of Heaven (2007), Hong Khaou’s Monsoon (2020), and Daniel Kim’s documentary Halmoni (2017). Theoretical and critical texts will be culled from Amitav Ghosh, Sara Ahmed, David Eng, José Esteban Muñoz, Gayatri Gopinath, Keguro Macharia, Kara Keeling, C. Riley Snorton, Ella Shohat and others. This course will be taught in English.
Previously Taught Graduate Seminars For Fall 2022
COMMRC 3326 Seminar in Media Studies: Media Ecology
Brent Malin, 1414 Cathedral of Learning, Tuesdays 6:00pm to 8:30pm
Early twenty-first century celebrations and denunciations of so-called “new media” too often ignore the variety of ways in which “old media” were once themselves new. Indeed, much of the scholarly and popular arguments about digital technology—to take the most recent new media moment—sound suspiciously like arguments made about the radio and the telegraph before it, as well as about the transition from oral to written culture. This course will interrogate these arguments by looking at the longer history of new media encompassed in the tradition of “Media Ecology.” Heavily influenced by the work of Marshall McLuhan—who drew upon the earlier work of Lewis Mumford and Harold Innis—Media Ecology places the technological medium of communication at the center of its scholarly inquiry. The theorists read and discussed in this course both support and challenge this tradition of thought, exploring a range of ways in which communication technologies interact with, shape, and are shaped by cultural processes. Readings will be drawn from the work of such writers as Mumford, McLuhan, Innis, Friedrich Kittler, Vilém Flusser, Carolyn Marvin, Elizabeth Eisenstein, Wendy Chun, Armond Townes, and John Durham Peters.
ENGFLM 2452 Film History/Theory 2
Neepa Majumdar, TBD, Tuesdays, 1:00 PM to 4:50 PM
This seminar will focus on the history and theory of cinema from 1960 to the present. While we will discuss individual theorists and historians, we will pay special attention to historical and theoretical debates within film studies. We will explore these debates through major film journals, theorists, filmmakers, and film movements. The focus will be three-fold: (1) formal analysis of film texts in their historical context; (2) the technological and sociocultural history of cinema; and (3) philosophical questions pertaining to cinema and its relation to technology, ideology, perception, and gender, sexual, and racial identities and practices. Each week’s readings will be designed to stimulate discussion in more than one of these three areas. One of the goals of the course is to catch up on the major theoretical interventions of the past two decades and to this end, we will spend the last quarter of the semester with books and articles that students will choose from a list of award-winning or otherwise influential recent work.
RUSS 2710 Cult and Cult Cinema
Nancy Condee, 1219 Cathedral of Learning, Thursdays, 2:30 PM to 5:25 PM
While “cult” is usually a term of religious opprobrium, “cult cinema” suggests the opposite: exaggerated enthusiasm for films that may—despite initial failure—gain long-lasting recognition. What defines the cult film? Its passionate audience? Its thematic transgression? Its exclusion from mainstream distribution (through censorship or ridicule)? Its circulation as a set of citations? Its exhibition practices? Its inscrutability? Its responsiveness to a social context? With screenings of US, British, Iranian, Russian, Armenian-Georgian, and French films, we will examine several theories of cult texts, with underlying curiosity about what the category could mean beyond cinema (in relation to painting, statuary, literature, and other cultural artifacts).
Previously Taught Graduate Seminars For Spring 2022
ENGFLM 2000 – The Essay Film
Robert Clift, G26 Cathedral of Learning, Mondays 1:00pm to 4:50pm
This seminar explores the essay film from critical and creative standpoints. Students make short essay films while also investigating the essayistic as a mode of cinematic expression where fiction, nonfiction, and experimental traditions collide, and where concerns over the subject and its relationship to the social come to the fore. This is an interdisciplinary course, combining both production and theory, intended for students from a range of academic backgrounds and disciplinary perspectives. No prior production experience is required. Hands-on training in audiovisual recording and editing techniques will be provided.
SPAN 2452/FMST 2341 – Transpecific Media
Junyoung Verónica Kim, 318 Cathedral of Learning, Mondays 6:00 PM to 8:55 PM
Catalyzed by recent geopolitical and global economic shifts, the transpacific has emerged as a space of intense transcultural movement and exchange, calling into question institutionalized temporal divisions (periodizations), spatial configurations (regions), and disciplinary knowledge formations (area studies) that naturalize the boundaries and sites of the spaces we know as “Latin America,” “North America,” “Asia,” and “The Pacific.” By disrupting the naturalized divisions of East and West (Asia/Americas) and North and South (North America/Latin America), a critical transpacific approach harbors the possibility of redrawing global maps and rewiring how we imagine global connectivity. In this course, we will explore media approaches to the cultural-political-economic interactions of the transpacific by first examining the ways in which film, video and television engage with transpacific historical entanglements, such as Asian labor migration to the Americas and the transpacific network of U.S. empire (e.g., wars, military bases, nuclear test sites). Second, we will focus on the ways in which these audiovisual texts engage with and refashion dominant tropes, genres, stereotypes/cybertypes and narratives that often gendered and racialized. For instance, by centering the role of everyday peoples in the establishment, contestation and deployment of racial capitalism, imperialism and the Cold War, how do these cultural texts contest the ways in which peoples, lands and waters have been categorized and claimed by imperialist-militarist-capitalist projects? Moreover, how do the biopolitical and necropolitical projects constituted by a racial gendering of peoples and spaces propagate geopolitical projects of empire, war and capitalism? We will address these questions by analyzing several media from various nations and productions across the Pacific that include web videos, Misha Green’s television series Lovecraft Country (2020), and films – such as Koreyoshi Kurahara’s Black Sun (1964), Wong Kar-wai’s Happy Together (1997), Kang Hyeong-chul’s Swing Kids (2018), Tizuka Yamasaki’s Gaijin (1980), and Juan Martín-Hsu’s La Salada (2014). These primary works will be examined in conjunction with theoretical readings on Techno-Orientalism, Afrofuturism, gender construction, racial capitalism, (imperial) militarization, and transpacific migration.
Graduate Courses Previously Taught in the Fall of 2021
CHIN 1085/JPNSE 2085—Intro to East Asian Cinema
Charles Exley, 106 Lawrence Hall Wednesdays, 1:00 PM to 4:50 PM
CHIN 2088—New Chinese Cinema
Kun Qain, 206 Cathedral of Learning, Wednesdays, 1:00 PM to 4:50 PM
The 1980s witnessed the significant rise of Chinese cinemas in film industry. The technological, narrative, and aesthetic breakthrough of the so-called “New Wave” films contributes to the diversity and vitality of world cinema in the new era, which merits serious scholarly attention. This course introduces different ways of reading Chinese cinemas in greater China region (Mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong), specifically focusing on issues related to history, modernity, spatial and temporal representations of national, gender, and cultural identities. Well-known Chinese directors such as Chen Kaige, Zhang Yimou, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Ang Lee, Edward Yang, and Wong Kar-wai will be studied through the 1980s and 1990s "New Wave Cinemas." We will also study the distinct techniques and styles of the rising "Sixth Generation" directors (such as Jiang Wen and Jia Zhangke) to see how key values of traditional Chinese culture and society have been contested and reinvented under the global conditions.
COMMRC 3326—Seminar in Media Studies
Ronald Zboray, 1414 Cathedral of Learning, Mondays, 12:00 PM to 2:55 PM
Media theory is vast, unwieldy, messy, and perhaps too often surprisingly unrelativistic, uninquiring of its own social origins and complicities with regimes of power, and pitched at a level of generalization that cannot account for the world’s teeming array of social difference, based on ability, age, class, culture, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, and sexuality, and their myriad intersectional embodiments.
This seminar selectively survey some of the most common active areas of media theorization, past and present, in the critical light of social difference, not so much to challenge the theories themselves, but to push their implications to accommodate social diversity, equity, and inclusion. While it is true that some areas of media theory, such as those emerging from feminism or postcolonialism, were born attuned to difference, others have side-stepped the issue in their initial formulations, if not always in their later applications.
The course proceeds by examining, through guided discussion of assigned readings, specific concepts in their originating circumstances and under the critical microscope of social difference. Rubrics generating such concepts might include, for example: Affordance; Apparatus; Colonization; Commoditization; Contexture; Convergence; Disjuncture; Ecology; Frame; Game; Gaze; Hegemony; Ideology; Imaginary; Infrastructure; Interpellation; Mediatization; Network; Political Economy; Polysemy; Prosthesis; Public Sphere; Polysemy; Reception; Remediation; Representation; Ritual; Sensorium; Sign; Simulacrum; Stereotype; Surveillance; System; and Weaponization. Seminar members discuss how such conceptual areas, if they are not already attentive to social difference might be adapted or expanded to embrace it, thereby advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion, in the practice of media theorization.
ENGFLM 2451/FMST 215—Film History/Theory 1
Elizabeth Reich, 239 Cathedral of Learning, Tuesdays, 1:00 PM to 4:50 PM
This seminar covers the global emergence of the cinema at the turn of the last century as an artistic and technological form that itself created national industries and practices; new and public spheres and a modernist sensorium, along with what Miriam Hansen has called a “vernacular modernism.” Considering the relationship between new technologies and global distribution through 1950, the course will focus in particular on developments in the cinema in relation to globally-significant historical moments and political movements, beginning with the rise of the newsreel as a method for documenting war and the U.S.’s imperial engagements. While we attend to national cinema histories and industries, the seminar takes as a premise that the actual history of film and its production, distribution, viewership and ascendence as a culturally-significant art and leisure activity is in fact transnational and global.
Films and accompanying criticism and theory include works from France, Germany, Iran, the Soviet Union, Japan, China, and the USA, and conclude with a case study of Vietnamese filmmaking and distribution in villages by crews trained in Cuba by Soviet practitioners. We will also study and practice early methodological approaches to film analysis, including phenomenology, reception studies, and semiotics as well as feminist criticism, African American spectatorship studies, and the work of the Frankfurt School. We will take up questions of minority cinema, public spheres, censorship, genre conventions, propaganda, and documentary and experimental forms as well as the challenge of Hamid Naficy’s theory of diasporic and “accented” cinema. Seminar members will gain knowledge, including: exposure to a wide range of films, knowledge of distribution, technological, and industrial practices and shifts in the cinema until 1950, a broad understanding of film history during the period(s), film theory that informed and has been based on filmmaking during this time, and significant scholarship on silent, transnational, early sound, global, and war era cinemas, experimental and documentary filmmaking practices, and the impact of early Black American filmmaking and representation in the U.S. and beyond.
Graduate Courses Previously Taught in the Spring of 2021
ENGFLM 2455—Film and Media Historiography
Mark Lynn Anderson (Mondays 6:00–9:50)
Film history has a history, and this seminar engages that history to consider a range of methodologies, problems, and possibilities in the research and writing of film and media history. Our considerations of various contemporary debates in film and media historiography will be informed by a return to earlier works in the discipline in order to gain an appreciation of the continuities and discontinuities of film historical discourse and practices. While the primary sources for the seminar are principally drawn from the first one hundred years of North American film historical writing, many of our readings in the philosophy of history and in film and media historiography will have relevance for the histories of other cinemas, as well as for the histories of other media. Film history’s relation to social history will also be central to our discussions, as we consider how sexuality, race, ethnicity, gender, class, and national identity have determined the institutional development of the American cinema and the international film industry. Students are instructed in methods of archival research and are required to develop and conduct original research on a film or media historical topic of their choosing.
ENGFLM 2457—Ethnographic Film and Media
Neepa Majumdar (Wednesdays 6:00–9:50)
From Tarzan and King Kong to fashion and décor, popular culture has long capitalized on the lure of the exotic. This fascination with the Other has been central to the politics of colonialism and the science of ethnography, which in turn have shaped the audiovisual and narrative framework of the ethnographic imagination of the moving image, whether in visual anthropology, ethnographic fieldwork, or cinema in general, affecting questions cultural representation and knowledge production that arise from intersections of ethnography and film. In considering the ethical and epistemological implications of how anthropologists and documentary filmmakers construct other cultures, the course will begin with a grounding in a history of ethnographic cinema, then move on to a broader scope of theoretical inquiry, including forms of popular and everyday ethnography that have accompanied anthropological practice since its inception. In addition to problematizing distinctions such as science and entertainment, authenticity and hybridity, ethnographic authority, and non-fiction and fiction, the course readings and films will also address issues such as the relation between anthropologist and subject; ethnographic film spectatorship; identity tourism and salvage ethnography or the “disappearing” Other; colonial and anthropological knowledge; auto-ethnography; and “imperialist nostalgia.” Forms of ethnographic filmmaking to be considered will include classic ethnographic films, pop ethnography, indigenous filmmaking, and forms of poetic, experimental, self-reflexive, and participatory ethnography.
Graduate Courses Previously Taught in Fall 2020
CHIN 2088/FMST 2220 — New Chinese Cinema
Thursdays 2:00 PM to 5:30 PM, 548 William Pitt Union with Kun Qian
This course introduces different ways of reading Chinese cinemas in greater China region (Mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong), specifically focusing on issues related to history, modernity, spatial and temporal representations of national, gender, and cultural identities. Well-known Chinese directors such as Chen Kaige, Zhang Yimou, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Ang Lee, Edward Yang, and Wong Kar-wai will be studied through the 1980s and 1990s "New Wave Cinemas." We will also study the distinct techniques and styles of the rising "Sixth Generation" directors (such as Jiang Wen, Li Yang, Jia Zhangke) to see how key values of traditional Chinese culture and society have been contested and reinvented under the global conditions.
COMMRC 2226 Media and Cultural Studies: Political Economy and/vs. Cultural Studies
Thursdays 6:00 PM to 8:55 PM, WEB based class with Brenton Malin
This course explores a range of cultural studies approaches to media studies, giving special attention to the overlapping and competing paradigms of political economic studies stressing the industrial forces structuring the media and popular culture studies stressing the powers of texts and audiences. Moving through a set of foundational cultural studies theories—drawn from such areas as Marxism, structuralism, post-structuralism, feminism, postmodernism, and the Frankfurt school—we will seek to understand how a range of scholars have negotiated these tensions between the economic imperatives of the media industry and the representational practices of media texts and audiences themselves. How did these earlier theorists understand the relationships between economic, cultural, and technological dimensions of mediated communication? To what extent do these theories help us to understand later developments within media culture and economics? How might they be extended or amended to better do so? In pursuing these questions, we will pair foundational readings with contemporary applications of and responses to these early theories. In the process, we will engage a number of debates that continue to haunt media and cultural studies theorists and situate these debates both against their historical backdrops and within our own presumably digital moment.
ENGFLM 2452/FMST 2152 — Film History/Theory 2
Tuesdays 9:00 AM to 12:50 PM, WEB-based class with Nancy Condee
This seminar will focus on the history and theory of cinema from 1960 to the present. While individual theorists and historians are discussed, special attention is paid to historical and theoretical arguments within film studies (psychoanalysis, spectatorship; apparatus theory; genre theory, new media, including video games). These arguments will be explored through major film movements and film-makers, taking up topics such as international art cinema, the Hollywood studio system, political cinema, and documentaries.
ENGFLM 2493 — Media/Ecology
Mondays 6:00 PM to 8:50 PM, 512 Cathedral of Learning with Zach Horton
This seminar with explore media theory and practice through the lens of ecology. From the late twentieth century to the present, ecology as a scientific discipline and set of cultural narratives has risen to the forefront of knowledge production as a way to study and understand complex biological systems, their environments, and their internal dynamics. During the same period, media systems have grown exponentially in complexity until they too have begun to exhibit some of the behaviors of ecological systems, including self-organization, feedback, evolution, and emergent properties. The term "media ecology" captures both this new, nonlinear systems approach to understanding media itself as well as the intersection between natural ecosystems, the technological assemblages with which they are intertwined, and the human (and non-human) subjects that are produced molded within these structures. This seminar will explore both media that interface with natural ecosystems as well as works and theory that approach mediation from an ecological and systems theoretical perspective. The secret life of information, contagious media, and the post-natural ecologies of our present and future will challenge us to conceive of Media and Ecology as a single coupled system: the emblem of our contemporary environment and an important frontier in media studies of the present. [Graduate students from all disciplines are welcome. Participants may optionally produce creative projects in lieu of a seminar paper, in any medium.]
FR 2648 – Contemporary French Cinema: Horror and the Questions of Genre in French Cinema
Thursdays, 1:00 PM to 4:50 PM, WEB based class with David Pettersen
“The weakness of the European film industries is that they cannot rely on genres for current production. […] [O]ne of the problems of the French cinema may arise from its inability to sustain good basic genres that thrive, the way they do in America.” André Bazin, “Six Characters in Search of Auteurs” (1957).
Critics have not always agreed with Bazin’s characterization of the French film industry, and even those who have pursued the idea have not come to consensus about the reasons for the French industry’s seeming aversion towards genre filmmaking. Possible explanations include a lack of infrastructure, insufficient capitalization, and inadequate industry regulation. Many of Bazin’s young collaborators at the Cahiers du cinéma, and those that followed them, took the opposite view, preferring to see this “weakness” as a strength in that it represented a cultural rejection of industrial scales of film production for artisanal modes of filmmaking that favored a more artistic and diverse cinema. However, these various positions do not mean that the French cinema lacks a history of genre filmmaking and of engaging with genre. This course will offer an alternative trajectory through French film history oriented around one of the most marginalized of film genres, horror. As we will see, genre films in France rarely limit themselves to one genre, and so we will examine other genres that abut and mix with horror, including film noir, the suspense thriller, and science fiction. We will also consider alternative genealogies for thinking about horror in France focusing around the notion of le fantastique. We will begin with some early and isolated instances of genre filmmaking in the silent and early sound period (Méliès, Feuillade, and Dreyer) and then move to post-WWII efforts into film noir, the suspense thriller, and horror (Melville, Dassin, Clouzot, and Becker). We will then consider the French New Wave in the 1960s and investigate auteurist engagements with science fiction and horror (Franju, Marker, Godard, Truffaut, and Resnais) before working our way towards the contemporary period. Here, we will examine how French efforts in genre filmmaking interact with the global marketplace and transnational trends in horror, science fiction, and film policier (Besson, Gans, Gens, Kassovitz, Aja, Chapiron, Laugier, Maury, Fargeat, and Bustillo) and how contemporary French directors in the auteurist and art cinema tradition work in and with European and transnational genres (Denis, Noé, Dumont, de Van, Assayas, and Ducournau). Finally, we will look at how France has been a part of the migration of horror into long-form serial television in the 2010s. The course will offer a theoretical and historical investigation of what genre means in the French context but also an examination of how French filmmakers have used genre codes in distinctive ways to explore other concerns including cinematic spectatorship, embodiment, violence, politics, and questions of national belonging, class, race, gender, and sexuality. The course will be taught in English and most readings will be available in English.
JPNSE 2057/FMST 2235 — Japanese Culture and Society Thrugh Cinema
Wednesdays, 10:00 AM to 12:50 PM, 121 Alumni Hall with Charles Exley
RUSS 2639 — Soviet Cinema 1934-1953: Stalin at the Movies
Wednesdays 6:00 PM to 9:30 PM, 5200 Posvar Hall with Volodia Padunov
The imposition in 1934 of socialist realism as the exclusive method available to soviet cultural producers and the release of the Vasil'ev brothers’ Chapaev later that year permanently transformed the soviet film industry. Stalin established total control of the industry both by appointing his personal representatives to control all stages of film production and by consolidating himself as "spectator number one," not only prescreening all films prior to their release, but eventually by establishing himself as a dominant presence on the silver screen. Films to be screened include Alexandrov's Circus (1936), Kozintsev and Trauberg's "Maxim trilogy" (1935-39), Dovzhenko's Aerograd (1935), Dzigan's We Are from Kronstadt (1936), Romm's Lenin in October (1937), Lukov's Two Soldiers (1943), Eisenstein's Alexander Nevsky (1938) and Ivan the Terrible (1944-46), Pyr'ev's Cossacks of the Kuban (1949), and Chiaureli's trilogy devoted to comrade Stalin (1946, 1949, and 1951).
Graduate Courses Previously Taught in Spring 2020
CHIN 2059 - New Adapted for the Screen: Chinese Literature and Film
M 12:00PM - 2:30PM with Kun Qian
ENGFLM 2459 - Documentary Theory & Practice
M 6:00PM - 9:50PM with Robert Clift
This course will explore documentary film and video from critical and creative vantage points. Students will be introduced to key discussions from within the interdisciplinary field of documentary studies while also working on individual and collaborative short documentary projects and exercises. Hands-on training in audiovisual recording and editing techniques will be provided. No prior production experience is required.
ENGFLM 2467 - Cinema and Trauma
T 1:00PM - 4:50PM with Adam Lowenstein
Trauma studies now stands at the forefront of contemporary cultural theory, straddling such disciplines as history, psychology, sociology, philosophy, and literary criticism. This seminar invites students to examine and contribute to the research surrounding the provocative intersection of cinema/media studies and trauma studies. We will focus on the two mid-twentieth century events that continue to anchor many accounts of historical trauma: the Holocaust and Hiroshima. What do films that address these events teach us about the politics and ethics of representing experiences often referred to as "unrepresentable"? How does cinema force us to refigure debates about the "limits of representation" and the nature of "the event" itself? Is cinema an agent of memory or memory's eraser? A broad range of films will inform our discussion of such questions -- documentary and fiction, tragedy and comedy, mass cultural successes and lesser-known art films, 1940s films and contemporary films. Films from France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the US and other countries will be juxtaposed to raise questions regarding historical trauma's national or transnational character. The seminar will also touch on more recent events that have entered the purview of trauma studies, such as climate change, as important new coordinates for mapping the ways cinema and trauma can shape and challenge each other's definitions. Students will have the opportunity in their own essays to extend the seminar's concerns to their own particular areas of research. No previous work in cinema/media studies is required to enroll in this seminar.
ITAL 2701 - Italian Apocalyptic Cinema: After the End
Th 4:00PM - 7:50 PM with Alberto Iozzia
The course provides a historical introduction to the past forty-five years of Italian cinema, focusing on films that portray the end of the world. They deal with zombies, nuclear wastelands, post-industrial landscapes, but also with the crisis of language, the breaking up of society, the uncertainty of modern humanity. The apocalypse in cinema can be explicit (Ferreri, Lenzi, Bava) or implicit (Moretti, Crialese, Antonioni): some films may feature atomic explosions and deadly plagues, others are concerned just with the emotional consequences, with the more intimate drama of a collapsing universe. We will situate the films in the historical and cultural contexts that have shaped the past several decades of Italian social life, in the attempt to understand why the apocalypse is a necessary post-modern metaphor and how it is not limited to a sub-genre of science fiction. We will watch many films strictly belonging to the Italian post-apocalyptic kind, and some others that show no (apparent) connection with the genre. Taught in English. Prerequisites: graduate standing or permission of the instructor.
SPAN 2452 & FMST 2341 - Contemporary Latin American Film: From Third Cinema to Global Cinema
Th 6:00PM - 8:55PM with Junyoung Verónica Kim
Beginning with an examination of the militant Latin American films of the 1960's and 70's, this course explores the ways in which the various film industries of Latin America have established and negotiated their position(s) in the global arena. Combining political radicalism with artistic innovation, the concept of Third Cinema -- in conjunction with other Marxist-inspired film theories of the late 60's and 70's -- immediately gained international recognition and became the vanguard revolutionary cinematic movement of that time. The influence of Third Cinema continues to the present where individual filmmakers and alternative film industries question and challenge dominant Western cinematic practices. The focus of this course is two-fold: first, how do Latin American films connect and relate to Third Cinemas from other Global South locations, such as those from Africa and Asia? Second, how do the Latin American cinemas of today position themselves vis-à-vis Third Cinema as they negotiate with the current conditions of economic and cultural globalization? Is this political and cultural idea still relevant for Latin American film industries that target the global market? Looking also at Latin American films produced in the last two decades, this course will examine the ways in which recent Latin American cinemas deploy and re-fashion certain thematic, aesthetic and stylistic aspects of Third Cinema not only as a mode of critique, but also with the effect of creating a marketable "global" cinema. As such, we will examine the relations and distinctions between national cinema, world cinema, and global cinema. What is the relationship between world cinema and national/regional cinemas? What, in fact, is national about national cinemas? Moreover, what differing technologies of spatialization underlie the distinction between world cinema and global cinema? This course provides a critical context and mapping strategies for the study of contemporary cinema and introduces students to theoretical debates about the categorization and global circulation of films, aesthetics, audiences, authorship, and concepts of the transnational and diasporic. Films studied will include Tomás Gutiérrez Alea's Memories of Underdevelopment (1968), Jorge Sanjinés's The Blood of the Condor (1969), Ousmane Sembene's Black Girl (1966), Forough Farrokhzad's The House is Black (1962), Emad Burnat and Guy Dividi's 5 Broken Cameras (2001), Lucrecia Martel's La ciénaga (2001), Pablo Larraín's No (2012), Ciro Guerra's Embrace of the Serpent (2015), Alfonso Cuarón's Roma (2018) among others. Theoretical and critical texts will be culled from Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino, Gilles Deleuze, Henri Bergson, Guy DeBord, Ella Shohat, Freya Schiwy, Hamid Naficy, Gayatri Gopinath and Gonzalo Aguilar.