Film Studies Courses

featured courses

See Western Academic Timetable for course delivery details.

FALL/WINTER 2022-23 COURSES (subject to change)

1000 Level Courses

1022 - Introduction to Film Studies POPULAR!
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. 1.0 course

Fall/Winter 1022 / 001 J. Wlodarz Syllabus 
Fall/Winter 1022 / 002 M. Raine Syllabus

2000 Level Courses

2159B - Disney (Disney Dream Factory) POPULAR! Second section added
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. 0.5 course

Winter 2023 2159B / 001 J. Blankenship Syllabus 
Winter 2023 2159B / 002 C. Ylagan Syllabus

2164A - Animation/Anime
This course explores the power of animation in film, with a particular emphasis on Japan. Students will study Japanese anime franchises as artistic expressions, as industrial products with relations to other cultural forms, and as objects through which consumers construct their social lives. 0.5 course

Fall 2022 2164A / 001 M. Raine Syllabus

2197B - Special Topics in Film Studies: Spaghetti Westerns: Origins and Legacy from the Samurai Film to Sergio Leone, Bollywood, and Quentin Tarantino (cross-listed with Italian 2281B and Complit 2294G)
Why was the Italian take on the genre so at odds with earlier Westerns? This course considers the departure from the conventions, visual style, and myths of the "classic" Western; origins of the Italian Western in the European Western; the influence of Kurosawa's Samurai pictures; the legacy of the genre on global cinema and pop culture (Peckinpah, Bollywood, pop music, Tarantino, Netflix). 0.5 course

Winter 2023 2197B / 001 Instructor: tba Syllabus

2198A - Special Topics in Film Studies: Cinemas of Dystopia
Dystopia is, according to the OED, “[A]n imaginary place or condition in which everything is as bad as possible.” It is the opposite of Utopia. Dystopian literature and cinema take contemporary social and political concerns and displace them to fictional universes, sometimes imagined futures, to better illuminate and interrogate real-world perils facing viewers in their present. Beginning with Thomas More, this course will consider the concept of dystopia in select cinema and television through the vectors of philosophy, history, aesthetics, genre studies, and ideology, and with reference to nation, race, class, gender and sexuality. 0.5 course

Fall 2022 2198A / 001 C. Gittings Syllabus 

2212F - Adapting across Page, Stage, and Screen NEW! (cross-listed with English 2112F and Theatre Studies 2212F)
How does the shape an artwork takes contribute to its aesthetic and political power? When artworks flex across form and media how do their messages change? What did Marshall McLuhan mean when he said “the medium is the message”? How do genre and form shape social and political discourse? In this course, students explore these questions and more as they investigate texts that assume multiple cultural forms and represent a diversity of perspectives. 0.5 course

Fall 2022 2212F / 001 A. Pero 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. 0.5 course

Fall 2022 2230F / 001 T. Nagl Syllabus

2252G - World Cinema
A survey of the history of world cinema, with a focus on postwar film cultures in areas such as Africa, Latin America, Asia, Europe, and Australia. Students will study films as expressive audiovisual texts and examine larger social, economic, and cultural patterns of influence in the global cultural economy. 0.5 course

Winter 2023 2252G / 001 Z. Maric Syllabus

2254F - Classical Hollywood Cinema
This course traces a history of American film from the silent period to the end of the studio era. Topics include the establishment of the Hollywood style, major directors/genres, as well as key industrial, technological, and cultural factors in the development of Hollywood cinema. 0.5 course

Fall 2022 2254F / 001 J. Wlodarz Syllabus 

2258G - Canadian National Cinema
This course looks at Canadian cinema in relation to the category label, national cinema. What is the value of a national cinema? What is the popular imagination? How do the films speak to us about Canada, its history, its people and its politics? 0.5 course

Winter 2023 2258G / 001 C. Gittings Syllabus 

3000 Level Courses

3309G - Film and Popular Culture
In this course students are encouraged to develop a critical understanding of the role film plays in shaping popular culture. Topics may include: children's film, dystopian film, and fantasy film. 0.5 course

Winter 2023 3309G / 001 J. Blankenship Syllabus

3311G - Special Topics in Film Studies: Hispanic Culture on Film (cross-listed with Spanish 3511G)
Description TBA. 0.5 course

Winter 2023 3311G / 001 C. Burucua Syllabus 

3335F - Contemporary German Cinema
This course introduces students to Contemporary German Cinema after unification. Topics include the "Berlin School" and transnational film production, Ostalgie, European identity, migration, and historical memory. The relationship to the auteurism of post-war New German Cinema will also be examined. 0.5 course

Fall 2022 3335F / 001 A. Mioc Syllabus

3357G - 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”. 0.5 course

Winter 2023 3357G / 001 T. Nagl Syllabus

3361F - Stardom
This course examines stardom in its cultural, historical, industrial, and national contexts. The course may examine the development of the star system in a specific national context, focus on a particular star or stars, a historical period or movement, or a specific theoretical aspect of the star phenomenon. 0.5 course

Fall 2022 3361F / 001 C. Ylagan Syllabus

3362F - The Musical
Musical films are one of the most enduring forms of cinema, in Hollywood and around the world. This course explores the range of musical films, from all-singing, all-dancing extravaganzas to the eruption of "musical moments" in popular films, art cinema, and the avant-garde. 0.5 course

Fall 2022 3362F / 001 J. Faflak Syllabus

3363G - Screening Race
In the history of Black cinema, seldom has a body of filmmaking been as controversial and as rife with contradiction as the so-called blaxploitation films of the early 1970s. An outgrowth of the collapse of the Hollywood studio system, the civil rights and Black Power movements, the counterculture, feminism, and gay liberation, the blaxploitation films embody the cultural crises of ‘70s America. Although the short-lived era remains tainted in the eyes of many due to valid charges of opportunism and exploitation, the cultural significance of blaxploitation cinema cannot be overestimated given its influence on both hip-hop culture and contemporary filmmaking. The primary goal of this course will be to unpack the culturally loaded term “blaxploitation” in terms of its relationship to economics, audience, identity politics, art, music, stardom, and genre.

While the core of the course will focus on key films such as Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, Shaft, Coffy, Superfly, Cleopatra Jones, and Black Caesar, the contexts surrounding (and informing) these films will be given equal critical attention. For example, we will examine key texts from the Black Power period and look at the rise and fall of the Black Panther party in relation to the films discussed. We will also explore the complex reception of blaxploitation cinema, the pimp figure in the genre, the relationship of feminism to the blaxploitation heroine, counter-blaxploitation cinema of the 1970s, and the genre’s representation of urban space. Throughout we will be concerned with analyzing the complicated intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality as they play out both on screen and in the culture of the era. 0.5 course

Winter 2023 3363G / 001 J. Wlodarz Syllabus

3368F - Film Production
This course will explore the stylistic functions of basic film elements, e.g., camera movement, editing, sound, and colour, through the analysis and production of films. 0.5 course

Fall 2022 3368F / 001 G. De Souza Syllabus 

3371F - 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. 0.5 course

Fall 2022 3371F / 001 T. Nagl Syllabus

3373G - Reframing National Cinemas
This course will introduce students to theories of nationalism and national identity, to determine how they influence our understanding of national cinemas. Issues such as colonialism, postcolonialism, imperialism, multiculturalism, regionalism, and globalization will be explored through reading political and cultural essays. The course will examine one or two national cinemas. 0.5 course

Winter 2023 3373G / 001 C. Gittings Syllabus 

3374F - 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 onto 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 below, the course will examine the theoretical and historical development of non-fiction filmmaking from the work of early pioneers like the Lumières in late nineteenth-century France and John Grierson in early twentieth-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?
  • What roles have documentaries played in colonization/decolonization?
  • How can we differentiate between documentary modes and models? 

0.5 course

Fall 2022 3374F / 001 C. Gittings Syllabus 

3375G - Japanese New Wave
This course focuses on Japanese cinema as part of a global `new wave' of films in the 1960s that scandalized audiences with unsettling representations of sex, violence, and politics. Students will debate the ethics and aesthetics of new wave films, and discover the role of the films in creating film studies. 0.5 course

Winter 2023 3375G / 001 M. Raine Syllabus

3397G - Berlin to Hollywod:  German Exile Cinema
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. 0.5 course

Fall 2022 3397G / 001 T. Nagl Syllabus 

4000 Level Courses

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 / Evaluation 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 Various Internship Guidelines 

Spring/Summer 2022 Courses (Subject to change)

Intersession (May 16-June 24)

2159A - Disney
This course offers students a survey of Disney's animated features, non-theatrical films and propaganda film shorts. Students will study Disney film's relationship to art, society and politics and examine constructions of race, class, gender, and sexuality in Disney's filmmaking. 0.5 course

Spring/Summer 2159A / 001 In-Person Z. Maric C. Ylagan Syllabus

Course listings are subject to change. See Western Academic Timetable for date, time, and location of specific courses. See Undergraduate Sessional Dates for more details and deadlines.

Previous Courses Offered & Course Outlines