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Western University Film Studies Five-Minute Film Festival

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Courses for 2013 / 2014

 

First Year
2100 Level
2200 Level
3300 Level
4400 Level





 


First Year

1020E: Introduction to Film Studies
What is a blockbuster? What is a cult film? What is digital cinema? Discover the answers to these questions and others in a broad introduction to the study of cinema. Students will learn the basic vocabulary of film studies and gain an informed understanding of the different critical approaches to film analysis as these are informed by the historical, the psychosocial and the political. By viewing a wide range of film and video, students will learn to critically engage with these media and their contemporary derivations.

Instructors:
section 001 - B. Bruce - download your syllabus here
section 002 - B. Wright - download your syllabus here
section 003 - Z. Maric - dowload your syllabus here





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2100 Level

2194B: Special Topics: Cinemas of Disaster (Bruce) New Course for Winter 2014
Beginning with the stipulation that “disaster movies” are films in which a disaster—whether natural, manmade, or a blending of the two—is diegetically central, this course will examine how disaster is conceptualized and narrativized in Hollywood and international cinemas in an attempt to address the following questions: How do we define “disaster”? Why do filmmakers make disaster films when they do? Why is this a Hollywood-dominated genre? How is disaster figured in relation to such issues as gender, sexuality, the Other, the family, ideology, the hegemony, technology, religion, corporatization, and the environment? Drawing on cultural/historical and psychoanalytic theories, among others, this course will offer an overview of cinemas of disaster from the early days of filmmaking to the most recent additions to the genre. In particular, this course will focus on the Hollywood disaster cycles, but will also consider non-Hollywood approaches or responses to the genre, theories of spectacle, and the cinematic technologies that have defined and influenced the development of the genre.

view the course syllabus here

2196A: Special Topics: The Zombi Film (Bruce)
The zombie film has been enjoying unprecedented popularity in the past decade or more, but this horror subgenre has a much longer history. Analyzing representative films from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, this course will consider how the subgenre has developed over the past century, how the zombie as symbol has evolved, and why the zombie continues to resonate with filmmakers and filmgoers alike. We’ll examine such influences on the genre as German Expressionism and psychoanalytic theories, and explore the idea that such films reflect the cultural anxieties of their respective times and places in relation to such issues as gender, sexuality, race, youth, the hegemony, capitalism, technology, religion, and the environment.

2198A: Special Topics: Ancient Greece on Film (Olson)
This is a course designed to familiarize students with the epic films of the twentieth century set in Greek antiquity, as well as more recent treatments of the topic. We will view and discuss: Clash of the Titans (1981 and 2010); Jason and the Argonauts (1963 and 2000); Helen of Troy (1955); Troy (2004); Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief (2010); Alexander the Great (1960) and Alexander (2004); O Brother Where Art Thou (2000) and The Odyssey (1997); The 300 Spartans (1962) and 300 (2007). Topics will include the cinematic uses of the past; the differences between history and Hollywood mythology; and how the portrayal of cinematic Greece has changed over time. In viewing and discussion, students will be encouraged to explore the selection and presentation of historical facts and situations, mytho-historical accuracy, and the conventions inherent in epic films.

view the course syllabus here


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2200 Level

2200F: Film Theories, Criticisms, Histories (Wright)
Film 2200 introduces students to the major critical methods and trends in the history of writing on film. The course examines the dominant historical and theoretical approaches that have shaped the study of film. To do so, it investigates the social, economic, technological, political, historical, and trans-national contexts by which film studies has been framed. Additionally, the course explores theories of film genre, authorship, race and ethnicity, masculinity, feminism, fan culture, realism, technology, music, sound, and ideology. Successful students will learn how to engage with historical and theoretical arguments in order to produce a stronger understanding of film. Screenings will include Some Like it Hot, Do the Right Thing, Hard Boiled, Battleship Potemkin, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and many others.

view the course syllabus here

Film 2243F: National Cinemas: New Wave Cinema in Japan (Raine)
What is a new wave and what makes it possible? This course studies the ebb and flow of new cinemas in Japan between 1955 and 1973, in the context of other new cinemas from Poland, France, and elsewhere. We will also recognize more local contexts such as the growth in documentary and experimental filmmaking in Japan, the reaction to a studio-based "cinema of high economic growth," and the rise of the Japanese student movement. The films are not simply a mirror of Japan:
they are rhetorical interventions that scandalized mainstream society with their disturbing mixtures of sex, violence, and politics. By studying critical writing as well as the films themselves, we will seek to understand the intellectual and material conditions that made that cinema possible, and recognize the global simultaneity and cultural permeability of cinema that is sometimes ignored in single-country film histories.
All readings on the course are in English; no Japanese is required.

view the course syllabus here

Film 2245G: National Cinemas: British Cinema (Bruce)
Called “a stepchild of the American [film] industry,” British cinema has long struggled to define itself against and to compete financially with Hollywood. Analyzing representative films from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, this course will chart the boom-and-bust cycles of British cinema and examine how Hollywood and other cinemas and major historical events, such as the World Wars, have impacted on this cinema’s development. We’ll look at the major movements, studios, genres, and players of British cinema, including Hitchcock, Powell and Pressburger, the Ealing comedies, the Hammer horror films, the British New Wave, James Bond, and the heritage film. While our main focus will be Britain’s commercial cinema, we’ll also look at the nation’s documentary tradition and art cinema, and we’ll read the course films closely to  examine such issues as imperialism and nationalism, gender, sexuality, race, youth, the hegemony, capitalism, and religion.  

view the course syllabus here

Film 2250F: European Movements (Falkowska)
The course “Movements in European Film” will provide a historical background, an ideological foundation and an in-depth analysis of crucial European film movements and “waves” such as Free British Cinema, French New Wave, New German Cinema, Czech New Wave, Polish School, Spanish Surrealism, Berlin School and Dogma Movement. One or two representative films for each movement will be studied for their aesthetics, narratives and ideology. Additionally, we will study the impact of these movements on world cinemas. We meet twice each week. The first meeting is a film screening usually preceded by a short introduction of the film or of the main topics for the lecture and tutorial session taking place on the following day. During the second meeting, there will be a lecture, a discussion of the topics and a debate of the film scenes relevant to the theoretical area under question. Discussions will be based on course readings, so you are expected to be fully prepared for them with the material you have read before the session starts.

view the course syllabus here


2251E: World Cinema (Burucua)
The course aims to introduce students to issues and concepts in World Cinema, referring to a body of films made in Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. In the first module of the course, canonical film texts from these regions will be studied while, at the same time, the very idea of the canon will be explored and questioned. In turn, such matters will constantly inform and challenge our understanding of the ongoing debates around the implications entailed in the study of World Cinema. In the second module of the course, the consecutive units will focus on different critical approaches to particular case studies of non-Western cinemas, alternatively concentrating on questions concerning the representation of racial, ethnic and cultural identities, on the matter of gender and female authorship, and on issues of genre and stardom.

view the course syllabus here


2253E: American Cinema (Wlodarz)
This yearlong course surveys the central industrial, technological, aesthetic, and ideological developments in the history of American cinema. Given the global prominence and influence of Hollywood cinema, much of the course will be focused on the establishment of the Hollywood studio system and its many transformations over the course of the 20th century. We will begin with an analysis of the origins of the medium and its place in American culture at the turn-of-the-century. We will then examine the development of narrative cinematic standards and the rise and consolidation of the Hollywood studio system, paying close attention to genre, stardom, marketing, and popular reception from the 1920s to the 1960s. In addition to key technological developments such as the coming of sound and the emergence of widescreen cinema, we will also explore social anxieties about cinema's effects, the institution of the Production Code, and the complex relationship of Hollywood film to key social crises (The Depression, WWII, McCarthyism, Civil Rights) of the period.

The second term of the course will focus on the emergence of “post-classical” Hollywood and the parallel growth of American independent cinema. Here we will explore the economic, aesthetic, and ideological transformations in American film from the social upheavals of the '60s and '70s to the contemporary era of conglomeration, globalization, and digital media. Key topics will include: the politics of genre revision; the shifting parameters of the “New Hollywood”; the fall of the Production Code and the representation of sex and violence; independent cinemas and social identity; the emergence of the international blockbuster; and crises of security in post-9/11 cinema.

view the course syllabus here


2258G: Canadian Cinema: Documents, Storytelling, Experiments (Gittings)
Beginning in the silent period and extending into the twenty-first century, this course seeks to answer historical, cultural, ideological and aesthetic questions about Canadian cinema. We will explore how cinema has reflected the complex and unstable notion of Canada as a nation, focusing upon issues of representation as well as problems of distribution and exhibition. Additionally, we will consider the transnational flows between the Canadian film industry, Hollywood, and other global film industries through co-production. Questions addressed include: What is the influence of the documentary tradition on Canadian cinema as a whole? Is there an innate division between Canadian “art” cinema and popular cinema? What are the relationships of First Nations, diasporic and queer cinemas to a Canadian national cinema? Does Canadian cinema embody two linguistic, cultural and industrial “solitudes” or are there in fact a variety of Canadian cinemas? What role does genre play in Canadian cinema?  

view the course syllabus here


2270F: Film Aesthetics (Myhr)
This course will explore the narrative and artistic functions of basic film elements, e.g., composition, script, lightning, sound, music and editing. The main concepts will be illustrated with a wide range of audiovisual material: feature and short films, documentaries, TV series, Internet clips and developing new media. The course will also offer an introduction to the audiovisual production process.

view the course syllabus here




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3300 Level

3312G: Special Topics: Service Learning Experiences (Bello)
The objective of this course is to provide students with the opportunity of taking part in different community service experiences: their responsibility will be to create a visual record (journal) and produce a series of clips or shorts to communicate the experience.

view the course syllabus here


3315G: Special Topics: New Queer Cinema and the AIDS Epidemic (Wlodarz)

One of the most complex and controversial cycles in the history of independent cinema, the New Queer Cinema of the late eighties and early nineties represented a bold, often experimental, attempt on the part of queer filmmakers to reframe the conventions of screening sexuality. It was also, as many critics have argued, a body of work thoroughly informed by and engaged with the political, cultural, and subjective crises of the AIDS epidemic. In most instances, New Queer Cinema was also AIDS Cinema—it captured the disruptive power of the epidemic at the same time that it served as a defiant form of cinematic activism. Focusing on the groundbreaking work of queer filmmakers (and activists) such as Derek Jarman, Todd Haynes, Marlon Riggs, Jennie Livingston, Jean Carlomusto, Tom Kalin, and John Greyson, this course will examine the AIDS epidemic through the lens of New Queer Cinema. We will analyze mainstream modes of representing AIDS (and people with AIDS) in the early years of the epidemic in order to contextualize the resistant formal and political strategies of the NQC filmmakers. We will also explore the emergence of ACT UP and the use of video and other visual arts by AIDS activists as form of countering panic-based representations of the disease, informing the public about safer sex, and giving voice to PWAs. Throughout the course, our discussion of key New Queer Cinema texts will pay particular attention to their narrative and formal experimentation, their critical engagement with popular genre cinema, and their reimagination of the parameters of illness, identity, and normalcy. Potential screenings include: The Last of England; Poison; Tongues Untied; Paris is Burning; Silverlake Life: The View from Here; Velvet Goldmine; Zero Patience; Longtime Companion; Blue; DiAna’s Hair Ego; Fast Trip, Long Drop; Swoon; Doctors, Liars, and Women; Sea in the Blood; The Living End; Philadelphia; Looking for Langston; and How to Survive a Plague.

view the course syllabus here

3360F: Special Topics: Family Viewing: Melodrama (Gittings)
Students will interrogate the genre of the family melodrama through critical readings and the screening of films and television programs. For Louis Althusser, the Family along with the Church works as an Ideological State Apparatus interpellating good subjects for the State. The family's work of forming subjectivities is visible in popular culture representations such as the Hollywood family melodrama genre. Genres will be considered as components of what Stephen Neale calls the mental machinery of cinema: "a machine for the regulation of the orders of subjectivity" (Neale 1980, 19). Tracing a trajectory of family representations ranging across such divergent formations of melodrama as  Birth of a Nation (USA, DW Griffith, 1915), Mildred Pierce (USA, Michael Curtiz, 1945),  All That Heaven Allows (USA, Douglas Sirk, 1955),  Leave it to Beaver(USA, 1957-63),  Mad Men (USA, 2007-  ), Pleasantville (USA,Gary Ross 1998), Far From Heaven (USA, Todd Haynes, 2002),  Muriel’s Wedding  (Australia, P.J. Hogan, 1994), All About My Mother (Pedro Almodóvar, 1999) and There Will be Blood (USA, Paul Thomas Anderson, 2007), students will investigate, through discussion, collaborative presentation and essay writing, the interrelationships of race, gender, class, sexuality and the nation as these concepts are performed through the family.

Thomas Elsaesser describes the family melodrama as a genre where plots revolve around the powerless, and their victimization by a corrupt social order as this is represented through family relationships (Elsaesser 1974, 514-15). A genre that tailors "ideological conflicts into emotionally charged family situations" (Elsaesser 1974, 516), the popular family melodrama "facilitates conflict and negotiation between cultural identities" (Gledhill 1987, 37). Family melodramas negotiate the space between the home and the community, and the family's classed, raced and gendered positions within these two spheres. Drawing on the work of Cook, Gledhill and Kleinhans, Hayward has suggested, in melodrama the family becomes the site of patriarchy and capitalism and therefore reproduces them (Hayward 1996, 200). With an emphasis on questions of genre, the course will pay close attention to cinematic and televisual constructions of the home, site of the family, as a symbolic structure of identity, its heimlich (canny, homely, familiar) and its unheimlich (uncanny, alien, unknown) properties. Relationships between the family, domestic space and the space of the nation will be a central focus of the course.

view the course syllabus here


3370F: Advanced Film Aesthetics (Bello)
This course will be focused on the understanding of the process of making a film and the underlying aesthetic/ethic decisions involved in it, through the study of a selection of contemporary documentaries and short films. The students will be also provided with notions concerning the different stages of audiovisual production and basic production skills.

view the course syllabus here


3371F: Film Theory (Coates)
This course might best be called ‘Film Theory, Pre-“Theory” and Post-“Theory”’, for , as well as examining aspects of the form of theorization long dominant in academic Film Studies: that is, that amalgam of Marxism, feminism and post-structuralism forged so tumultuously in the aftermath of the contestation of 1968, usually known in colloquial shorthand as ‘Theory’, and oriented primarily towards ideological critique, it will also consider some alternative traditions of theoretical reflection.

In order to do so, it will both acquaint students with, and remind them of, many of the key issues in what is known as classical film theory: namely, the theory of the period from the early twentieth century to the mid-1960s. It will be shown how the period is haunted by the persistence of questions concerning the relationship between film and the other arts, its status as perhaps not even an art, the degree of validity of the notion of film as a ‘language’, the possible specificity of the medium, the status of the cinematic body, and cinema’s relations with pre-existing genres, in particular the contested and problematic one designated ‘melodrama’.

It will also consider various alternatives to ‘Theory’ that have either arisen alongside it, or – as of the 1990s - in the aftermath of the ending of the period of its greatest dominance. Some of this work is virulently hostile to ‘Theory’, while some is sympathetically critical. The course will take a (hopefully representative) sample of the approaches.

view the course syllabus here


3373G: Theories of National Cinemas (Burucua)
The course will provide students with a critical interrogation of the concept of ²national cinema². Informed by theories of nation developed within the social sciences by scholars such as Benedict Anderson and Eric Hobsbawm, among others, the course troubles notions of nation as an organic, homogeneous, unitary entity before shifting into a study of different case studies in terms of their cinematic representations of nation, and the political economies that facilitate the production of national cinemas. Readings of the ‘national’ will be underpinned by understandings of class, gender, race and sexuality. Films from different historical and geographical contexts will be examined in relation to debates about what constitutes a national cinema.

view the course syllabus here



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4400 Level

4409E: Undergraduate ThesisI

Individual instruction in the selection of a topic, the preparation of materials, and the writing of a thesis. Students who wish to take this course must apply to the Chair of the Department. The course is restricted to students in fourth year of an Honors Specialization in Film Studies with a high "B" average.
Note: You cannot register for the course online. You will be registered in Film 4409E by the Department once your application form has been accepted.
Application form
Evaluation form



4470G: Seminar: Film Aesthetics (Myhr)
The aim of this seminar is to provide students with information and challenges that can aid them in the development of their own style as filmmakers. The sessions will be focused on asking aesthetic, ethical, organizational and technical questions, the purpose of which will lead to the discovery of the participants’ own interests and to help them to gain the necessary skills for a satisfactory completion of their projects. Understanding the filmmaking process as a communicative action, we will make special emphasis on the importance of thinking and acknowledging the presence of the potential audience while making creative decisions.

view the course syllabus here


4474F: Seminar: Far away, so close: the scales of far and near (Coates)
Film begins…with the long-shot of the Lumières; but also, in a sense, with the close-up Griffith wished to patent and Béla Balázs deemed foundational. Jean-Luc Godard voiced a characteristically paradoxical desire to make spectators feel distant even when close (importing the alienation effect into the close-up usually eschewed by cinematic Brechtians); Wim Wenders, however, described his angels as ‘far away, so close’ – as a reality, albeit an invisible super-reality, no mere desideratum. Bearing in mind the issues raised by the juxtaposition of these facts, this course will examine what is at stake in the camera’s, and the spectator’s, emotional and/or spatial closeness to or distance from the film. Among other things, it will consider such notions as those of alienation, identification and the haptic, and such techniques as those of the close-up, the zoom lens, and the telephoto lens, along with their use in various works – including ones by Godard and Wenders, as well as Charulata, The Conversation, Gilda and Images of the World and the Inscription of War, among others.

view the course syllabus here


4490F: Seminar:Wartime Image Culture In Japan And Its Territories (Raine)
This seminar explores the history and theory of cinema as part of a visual culture of "propaganda and agitation" during Japan's wars in Asia and the Pacific, 1937-1945. We will study  Japanese films as part of a global 1930s "illiberal modernism" while  also exploring more local sources, in prewar studio cinema, the documentary film movement, and the broader image culture of wartime Japan. Those ancillary media will include popular music, war painting, propaganda posters, photography, and advertising. We will also study how the medium was deployed in Japan's colonies (Taiwan and Korea), client states (Manchuria), and occupied territories (Eastern China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, the Philippines, etc.) during the war. All readings on the course are in English; no Japanese is required.

download your syllabus here

 


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Department of Film Studies - Western University
University College Building, Room 79
London, Ontario, Canada, N6A 3K7
Tel: 519.661.3307


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