Film Studies Courses
2018 SPRING/SUMMER COURSES
2166A - Zombie Film
This course considers how this horror subgenre has developed over the past century and why it continues to resonate with filmmakers and filmgoers. Using various approaches, we’ll examine the cultural anxieties the films raise in relation to such issues as gender, sexuality, race, capitalism, technology, religion, and the environment.
|Summer||2166A / 650||Instructor: tba||Syllabus|
2017-18 FALL/WINTER COURSES
1022 - 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. 5 hours including screening, 1.0 course
|Fall/Winter||1022 / 001 (Evening)||Z. Maric||Syllabus|
|Fall/Winter||1022 / 002 (Evening)||B. Bruce||Syllabus|
2159B - Disney (Disney Dream Factory)
Benjamin Barber in The New York Times argued “whether Disney knows it or not, it is buying much more than our leisure time. It has a purchase on our values, on how we feel and think, and what we think about.” This course offers a closer look at Disney as one of America's most long-standing “dream factories,” examining the cultural narratives, industrial strategies, fantasies and ideologies that fuel Disney’s global impact in the 20th and 21st century. In addition to analyzing key Disney animated features, we will also look at the studio’s early cartoons, educational and advertising films, nature documentaries, live action films and propaganda shorts. We will study Disney’s relationship to art, politics and ecology and also examine the “invention” of childhood, notions of “family” entertainment and constructions of race, class and gender in Disney filmmaking. Films might include Bambi, Sleeping Beauty, Tron, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Song of the South, Steamboat Willy, Fantasia, The Lion King and Frozen. 2 lecture/seminar hours, 1 3-hour lecture/screening, 0.5 course
|Winter 2018||2159B / 001||J. Blankenship||Syllabus|
2164A - Animation/Anime
This course explores the power of animation as a form of audiovisual representation, with a particular emphasis on Japan. We will trace the intertwined history of film, television, video, and computer animation from short films in the 1930s to the present day media mix that incorporates comic books, light novels, video games, and toys. Japanese anime franchises will be examined from the side of production, as industrial products and artistic expressions, and from the side of reception, as semiotic texts and as objects through which consumers construct their social lives. We will also explore the further dissemination of those franchises in various kinds of fan fiction and academic discourse, and as an aspect of Japanese "soft power" in North American popular culture. All readings on the course are in English; no Japanese is required. 2 lecture/seminar hours, 1 3-hour lecture/screening, 0.5 course
|Fall 2017||2164A / 001 (Evening)||M. Raine||Syllabus|
2194B - Special Topics in Film Studies: It’s Only Rock’n’Roll: Film and Popular Music
The course examines the synergetic relationship between film and popular music, particularly focusing on the global appeal of rock’n’roll’s primal spectacle to youth culture and its significance as a barometer and sometimes vanguard of cultural change. Exploring the seemingly inherent power of rock’n’roll to unsettle the existing social structures and values via rhythm, riff, lyrical imagery, and stage iconography, the course focuses on intersections of film and rock’n’roll to discuss topics like “alternative” spirituality, counterculture, class, race, post-colonialism, globalization, technology, fashion, fandom, stardom, sex, drugs, and others. Various genres of popular music (heavy metal, punk rock, rap, hip-hop, blues, reggae, country, soul, R&B) and film (action, musical, horror, science fiction, romantic comedy, documentary) are discussed. 2 lecture/tutorial hours, 1 3-hour screening, 0.5 course
|Winter 2018||2194B / 001 (Evening)||Z. Maric||Syllabus|
2195A - Special Topics in Film Studies: World Cultures/Global Screens (cross-listed with Spanish 2901A and CLC 2107A)
By looking at a body of films from Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia, this course aims to expose students to a wide range of questions and debates around culture and identity, while also relating these matters to circulating discourses about the Global. Depending on each case study, the consecutive units will focus on different critical approaches, alternatively addressing questions concerning the representation of racial, ethnic and cultural identities, matters of gender and female authorship, and issues of genre and stardom. 0.5 course
|Fall 2017||2195A / 001||C. Burucua||Syllabus|
2195B - Special Topics in Film Studies: The Horror Film
Although marked by a consistently disreputable status, horror has long been one of the most popular and enduring global genres in the history of film. With deep roots in mythology, fairy tales, Gothic literature, and Freudian psychoanalysis, horror cinema continues to shock and delight audiences through tales of vampires, ghosts, zombies, werewolves, serial killers, and other monstrous icons. And yet the basic function of the horror film—to elicit unsettling emotions of fear, shock, anxiety, and disgust—has also made the genre a frequent target of censorship and a convenient scapegoat for broader social crises and moral panics. Such controversies also speak to the crucial ways that horror cinema both explores and negotiates cultural tensions and anxieties about identity, technology, religion, difference/Otherness, and the environment. Providing an introduction to the history of horror cinema, this non-essay course will explore the key forms, styles, and thematic elements of both classic and contemporary horror films from around the world.
Potential films to be screened include: Get Out (Peele, 2017), The Witch (Eggers, 2015), It Follows (Mitchell, 2014), The Babadook (Kent, 2014), The Descent (Marshall, 2005), Ringu (Nakata, 1998), The Blair Witch Project (Sanchez/Myrick, 1999), A Nightmare on Elm Street (Craven, 1984), Wolfen (Wadleigh, 1981), Halloween (Carpenter, 1978), Suspiria (Argento, 1977), The Exorcist (Friedkin, 1973), Night of the Living Dead (Romero, 1968), The Curse of Frankenstein (Fisher, 1957), I Walked with a Zombie (Tourneur, 1943), Cat People (Tourneur, 1942), The Mask of Fu Manchu (Brabin, 1932), Frankenstein (Whale, 1931), Dracula (Browning, 1931), Nosferatu (Murnau, 1922) and others. 0.5 course
|Winter 2018||2195B / 001||J. Wlodarz||Syllabus|
2198A - Special Topics in Film Studies: Ancient Greece on Film (cross-listed with Classical Studies 2810A)
This course introduces students to epic films set in ancient Greece. Besides detailed discussion of individual films, topics covered will include how and why events are selected and portrayed in film, the differences between history and Hollywood mythology, history and fiction, and conventions of the Greek epic. Antirequisite(s): The former CS 2903B (if taken in 2011-12) and Film Studies 2198B (if taken in 2011-12). 2 lecture hours, 1 3-hour screening
|Fall 2017||2198A / 001||K. Olson||Syllabus|
2230F - Critical Reading and Writing in Film Studies
This course will build on skills and knowledge acquired in Film 1022 to engage students in the critical practices involved in reading various genres of writing in Film Studies. In addition to writing their own film reviews, students will learn research skills that prepare them for writing critical essays on cinema. 2 lecture/seminar hours, 3 screening hours, 0.5 course
|Fall 2017||2230F / 001||B. Bruce||Syllabus|
2242F - National Cinemas: Post-Classical Hollywood Cinema (1960-present)
A companion to Film 2254—American Cinema, this course will focus on the emergence of “post-classical” Hollywood and the parallel growth of American independent cinema. 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.
Potential screenings include: Psycho, Bonnie & Clyde, Chinatown, The Godfather, A Woman Under the Influence, Scorpio Rising, Aliens, Apocalypse Now, Blue Velvet, Menace II Society, Wall-E, The Hurt Locker, Her, The Social Network, Tangerine, and others. 2 lecture/seminar hours, 1 3-hour lecture/screening, 0.5 course
|Fall 2017||2242F / 001
2252G - World Cinema
This course surveys the significant movements and expressions of world cinema outside of North America. It traces the development of the medium in Europe and its spread around the world, paying particular attention to Asia. The course encompasses all forms of cinema, from avant-garde and experimental films to politically-charged critiques of Hollywood as well as entertainment films. The goal is not to cover everything but to raise awareness of the aesthetic and political powers of the medium, in its various contexts. 2 lecture/seminar hours, 1 3-hour lecture/screening, 0.5 course
|Winter 2018||2252G / 001 (Evening)||M. Raine||Syllabus|
2257G - Science Fiction Cinema
This course explores the history and development of Science Fiction cinema from the silent period to today’s CGI-saturated spectacles. Major themes include: the aesthetics of science fiction, modernity and social change, utopias/dystopias, technophobia/technophilia, identity/otherness, biopolitics, afrofuturism, set design, special effects and the “cinema of attractions”. 2 lecture/seminar hours, 1 3-hour lecture/screening, 0.5 course
|Winter 2018||2257G / 001||T. Nagl||Syllabus|
2258F - Canadian Cinema: Documents, Storytelling, Experiments
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 production, distribution and exhibition as these are grounded in political economy. Additionally, we will consider the transnational flows between the Canadian film industry, Hollywood, and other global film industries through co-production and casting. 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, regional, 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 range of Canadian cinemas? How have history, immigration and economics shaped Canadian cinema? What roles can genre play in understanding Canadian cinema? How do gender, sexuality, race and class inflect the representation of Canadian nation on screen? 2 lecture/seminar hours, 1 3-hour lecture/screening, 0.5 course
|Fall 2017||2258F / 001||C. Gittings||Syllabus|
2270F - Film Aesthetics
This course will explore the stylistic functions of basic film elements, e.g., camera movement, editing, sound, and colour, through analysis of films. 1 3-hour lecture/screening, 2 lecture/seminar hours, 0.5 course
|Fall 2017||2270F / 001||G. De Souza||Syllabus|
2275G - Documentary Film
Historically, the dominant perception of documentary or non-fiction cinemas is that they teach us about the ‘real’ world by documenting truth transparently. However, this course will consider documentary as a form of representation and as such, trouble its relationship to the ‘objective reality’ it seeks to represent. What is at stake in representing the ‘historical real’? What issues of selection and mediation intrude between the reality unfolding in front of the lens and the projection of that reality on a screen? As theorists such as Michael Renov and Bill Nichols argue, although a documentary film references the historical world and actual people, it also constructs an audience’s understanding of this world and its inhabitants through point of view and the post-production process.
Early practitioners and theorists of documentary were well aware of this contradiction; John Grierson, the so-called ‘father’ of documentary film and one of its first theorists describes documentary as “the creative treatment of actuality,” but audiences were frequently unaware of this creative element, often reading documentary film as ‘true’. To begin to answer the questions posed above, the course will examine the theoretical and historical development of non-fiction filmmaking from the work of early pioneers like the Lumières in late 19th-century France and John Grierson in early 20th-century United Kingdom and Canada to more contemporary and innovative filmmakers who complicate and innovate documentary’s basic conventions by questioning notions of objectivity, reality and verisimilitude.
Collectively we will pose the following questions:
• What is documentary?
• How did documentary filmmaking get started?
• Why are ethical issues central to documentary filmmaking?
• What makes documentaries engaging and persuasive?
• How have documentaries addressed political and social issues?
• How can we differentiate between documentary modes and models?
See Syllabus for more details. 1 3-hour lecture/screening, 2 lecture/seminar hours, 0.5 course
|Winter 2018||2275G / 001||C. Gittings||Syllabus|
2295G - Film Directors/Auteurs: Todd Haynes
This course will explore key debates in the history of the auteur theory through a close analysis of the work of Todd Haynes, a major figure in the New Queer Cinema movement of the early 1990s and American independent cinema more generally. Although Haynes’s status as a gay filmmaker with a discernable thematic and aesthetic approach has fostered auteurist readings of his work, his films also interrogate classical notions of authorship, typically through postmodern strategies of pastiche, parody, and allegory. Throughout the course we will examine Haynes’s films in relation to auteurist influences (Sirk, Genet, Akerman, etc.), generic modes (melodrama, musicals, film noir), and queer history and politics. We will also analyze the formal and aesthetic rigor of his films, paying particular attention to their deft ability to blend experimental and popular modes of cinema. Finally, while emphasizing formal analysis, cultural studies, and industry-based analysis, the course will also examine the influence of key theoretical trends in film studies (structuralism, feminist film theory, queer theory, etc.) on conceptions of film authorship.
Screenings will include: Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, Poison, Safe, Velvet Goldmine, I’m Not There, and Carol, among others. 1 3-hour lecture/screening, 2 lecture/seminar hours, 0.5 course
|Winter 2018||2295G / 001||J. Wlodarz||Syllabus|
2297G - Berlin to Hollywood: German Exile Cinema (cross-listed with German 2260G and CLC 2291G)
This course focuses on German directors and actors who emigrated to the U.S. before and after the Nazi seizure of power, including Fritz Lang, Marlene Dietrich and Ernst Lubitsch. Topics include: expressionism, film noir, diaspora/exile, historical trauma, the anti-Nazi film/anti-fascist aesthetics, the Hollywood studio system, importing/exporting entertainment. 2 lecture/seminar hours, 1 3-hour lecture/screening, 0.5 course
|Winter 2018||2297G / 001||T. Nagl||Syllabus|
3311G - Special Topics in Film Studies: Women Filmmakers (cross-listed with Spanish 3901G and Women's Studies 3357G)
This course will explore the notion of film authorship in relation to its utterances and implications when associated to the praxis of contemporary women film directors, from the early 1960s to the present. While troubling the notion of women’s cinema, its definition, limits and limitations, a wide range of case studies – films emerging from dissimilar contexts of production and reception – will be mostly read and discussed in the light of feminist approaches to questions about gender and representation. In this sense, the course will also offer a historical and critical overview of feminist scholarship within film studies and of the ongoing debates in this area of study. 0.5 course
|Winter 2018||3311G / 001||C. Burucua||Syllabus|
3359F - Family Viewing: Melodrama
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. As the course develops, students will begin to understand the shape-shifting nature of genre in general and melodrama in particular through time and culture and the aesthetic and ideological practices of genre bending. 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, 2007-2015), 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. 2 lecture/seminar hours, 1 3-hour lecture/screening, 0.5 course
|Fall 2017||3359F / 001||C. Gittings||Syllabus|
3362G - The Musical (The International Musical Film)
The course will survey the history of the musical film in Hollywood and around the world. It will also explore the history and relation of popular song and narrative in film. We will study films made in Hollywood, the financial, technological, and stylistic center of the musical film from its inception in the late 1920s to the present day, as well as films made in France, the UK, India, China, and Japan. This class involves advanced close analysis of audiovisual texts and careful reading of the arguments about musical films that are central to the development of Film Studies over the past several decades. Topics include theories of narration, ideology critique, psychoanalysis, and aspects of popular culture such as the media convergence of popular music and film, and the political economy of cultural industries. 2 lecture/seminar hours, 1 3-hour lecture/screening, 0.5 course
|Winter 2018||3362G / 001||M. Raine||Syllabus|
3371G - Film Theory
This course will investigate major writings in two areas of classical film theory: the realism-formalism debate and the auteur theory. Additional topics in film poetics and semiotics will also be discussed. 1-3 hour lecture/screening, 2 lecture/seminar hours, 0.5 course
|Winter 2018||3371G / 001||T. Nagl||Syllabus|
3373G - Theories of National Cinemas
This course will provide students with a rigorous interrogation of national cinema informed by theories of identity, nation, and globalization developed by such figures as Benedict Anderson, Arjun Appadurai, Etienne Balibar, Homi Bhabha, Stuart Hall, bell hooks, Roland Robertson and Edward Said. Students will trouble notions of nation as an organic, homogeneous, unitary entity before shifting into a study of ideology and cinematic representations of nation, distribution and the political economies that structure the production of national and transnational cinemas. Readings of the ‘national’ will be underpinned by understandings of history, class, gender, race and sexuality. Films from various colonial, postcolonial, national and diasporic cinemas will be examined in the context of debates about what constitutes the terrain of national cinema. To this end we will read essays by such leading national cinema scholars as Stephen Crofts, Andrew Higson, Susan Hayward, Marsha Kinder, Ella Shohat, Robert Stam, Philip Rosen, Fernando Solanos and Octavio Getino. 1-3 hour lecture/screening, 2 lecture/seminar hours, 0.5 course
|Winter 2018||3373G / 001||C. Gittings||Syllabus|
3375F - Japanese New Wave
Sex. Activism. Rock 'n' roll. "New Wave" cinemas emerged around the world between 1955 and 1973. A new generation of iconoclastic filmmakers rebelled against the studio system and explored new media, such as the graphic novel and television. As with music, art, and literature, the cinema of this period shook off old ways and topics to explore new political and modernist forms of storytelling and new ideas about sex, gender, and society. Like those arts it also aimed to shock: the films we study are rhetorical interventions that often scandalized audiences with their unsettling juxtaposition 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 brought about new wave cinema. We will discuss what the films tell us about Japan, and what they tell us about the global simultaneity and cultural permeability of cinema around the world that is sometimes ignored in single-country film histories. All readings on the course are in English; no Japanese is required. 2 lecture / seminar hours, 1 3-hour lecture/screening, 0.5 course
|Fall 2017||3375F / 001||M. Raine||Syllabus|
3377G - Haunted Screen Early German Cinema (cross-listed with German 3361G and CLC 3302G) - CANCELLED
This course focuses on the sensational origins of cinema and the first three decades of film history in Germany. We will examine cinema as part of a wider social and technological exhibition culture that includes 19th-century phantasmagoria ghost projection, the magic lantern, and the “edutainment” of microscopes, X-rays and stereoscopes. Our “media archaeology” begins with the film pioneers and showmen Max and Emil Skladanowsky (who in 1895 projected moving pictures to a paying audience several months before the Lumière brothers in Paris) and ends with early Weimar horror classics such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) and Nosferatu (1922). Topics might include: the transition from “attractions” to narrative; the history of film exhibition; the early star system and the European film economy; gender and genre (comedy, the detective film); cinema reformers, early film theory and the “auteur/art film”; modernity and the fantastic; propaganda and World War I; film style and problems in writing a national film history. 2 lecture/seminar hours, 1 3-hour lecture/screening, 0.5 course
|Winter 2018||3377G / 001||J. Blankenship||Syllabus|
4409E - Undergraduate Thesis
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. 1.0 course
|Fall/Winter||4409E / 001||Various||Consent Form|
4495FG - Film Academic Internship
Third or fourth year students enrolled in a honors, major or specialization in Film Studies, who have a modular average of 75% are eligible for an internship within an approved media-related organization. The student must find a faculty supervisor willing to oversee and grade his/her final paper. 0.5 course
|Fall/Winter||4495FG / 001