Film Studies Courses

featured courses

The Registrar is using the phrase “Distance Studies/Online” on the Timetable to designate any course that is not fully in-person. Below is a fuller explanation of Film Studies course delivery modes. Check individual course syllabi for delivery details.

Course Delivery Type Definition
As long as the university considers face-to-face instruction with proper social distancing measures safe, these courses will be taught in-person in a classroom on campus with strict adherence to public health protocols.
Synchronous Online
These courses will offer an online component in which students will participate at the same time (synchronously). Some or all lectures, tutorials, film screenings, discussion groups or tests will require mandatory attendance during scheduled online meeting times. Other components of the course may be offered asynchronously, (i.e., with no requirement for attendance at a designated time). Consult individual course outlines for details.
First year courses have both on-line and in-person tutorials.
As long as the university considers face-to-face instruction with proper social distancing measures safe, the designated in-person component will be offered in a classroom on campus with strict adherence to public health protocols. Students may choose in-person or on-line delivery mode when they register.
Asynchronous Online
In this course type, all teaching activities will take place online with no timeslot assigned (asynchronously). You may access the course material any time you wish; there are no mandatory synchronous activities at a specified time during the week.
There are a small number of courses that were designed for both in-person and online delivery. Blended courses have both face-to-face and online instruction.
Students who are not available to attend classes on campus should not choose courses with a required in-person component. If students become unable to attend in-person classes they should consult with their course instructor and seek accommodations

FALL/WINTER 2020-21 COURSES (subject to change)

1000 Level Courses

1022 - Introduction to Film Studies
Over its long and complex history, cinema has often been viewed as mere “entertainment.” Film viewing can be tense, exciting, and even terrifying, but ultimately, it’s supposed to be an enjoyable leisure activity. Thus, outside of certain circles (academia, cinephilia, fan communities), we seldom seek to analyze movies the way that we might examine a work of art or literature. And yet, along with a variety of other contemporary visual media, our film experiences often directly (or indirectly) shape our values, beliefs, and opinions about ourselves, about life, and about our society.

A year-long introduction to film studies, this course will explore the concepts of film form, film aesthetics, and film style, while remaining attentive to the various ways in which cinema always also involves an interaction with both specific audiences and larger social structures. Throughout the course, we will closely examine the construction of a variety of film forms and styles—including the classical Hollywood style, documentary cinema, experimental films, and contemporary independent and global cinemas. During the fall term, we will pay particular attention to the construction of film images, systems of film editing, film sound, and the varied modes of organizing these core elements. The second term of the course will introduce key theoretical perspectives in cinema studies as well as examine genre, authorship, non-narrative cinemas, transnational filmmaking, and alternative/independent cinemas. Overall, the goal of the course is to help you develop a set of skills that will enable you both to experience and analyze all forms of cinema in newly exciting (and critical) ways.

Potential screenings include: Gravity, The Wizard of Oz, Get Out, Wonder Woman, Vertigo, The Searchers, Citizen Kane, The Silence of the Lambs, Halloween, Jaws, The Florida Project, Memories of Underdevelopment, Happy Together, Germany Year Zero, The Conversation, Bonnie and Clyde, The Piano, Nosferatu, and others. 1.0 course

Fall/Winter 1022 / 001 (Evening) Online lectures with choice of in-person or online tutorials J. Wlodarz Syllabus 
Fall/Winter 1022 / 002 (Evening) Online lectures with choice of in-person or online tutorials T. Nagl Syllabus

2000 Level Courses

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. 0.5 course

Winter 2021 2159B / 001 Online J. Blankenship Syllabus 

2191G - Special Topics in Film Studies: World Cultures/Global Screens (cross-listed with Spanish 2700G and CLC 2700G)
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

Winter 2021  2191G / 001 Online 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 team-taught course will explore the key forms, styles, and thematic elements of both classic and contemporary horror films from around the world. It will also frame the analysis of major films such as Nosferatu (Murnau, 1922), The Curse of Frankenstein (Fisher, 1957), Night of the Living Dead (Romero, 1968), and The Exorcist (Friedkin, 1973) in relation to their specific industrial and cultural contexts, paying close attention to both the perception and reception of horror audiences as well as the genre’s allegorical potential.

Key topics to be discussed include: fears and anxieties addressed by horror cinema; cultural traditions of horror; horror and repression/the unconscious; bodily horrors; supernatural vs. psychological horror; normality and monstrosity; gender and sexuality in horror cinema; horror and technology; fandom and the pleasures of horror. 0.5 course

Winter 2021 2195B / 001 Online Z. Maric 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 2020 2230F / 001 Online T. Nagl Syllabus

2254F - Classical Hollywood Cinema
This course surveys the central industrial, technological, aesthetic, and ideological developments in the history of classical Hollywood 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.

Potential screenings include: Stagecoach, Rebel Without a Cause, It Happened One Night, Little Caesar, Meet Me in St. Louis, The Best Years of Our Lives, Rope, Imitation of Life, Double Indemnity, The Reckless Moment, The Cheat, The Birth of a Nation, Baby Face, My Son John, and others. 0.5 course

Fall 2020 2254F / 001 Online J. Wlodarz 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? 0.5 course

Fall 2020 2258F / 001 Online C. Gittings Description & Texts 

3000 Level Courses

3309F - Film and Popular Culture
In this course, we will contemplate the dream of cinemaas it intersects with other forms of popular culture, like graphic novels, comic books, video games, and television. We will engage with a wide cinematic corpus (from silent cinema and the avant-garde to Hollywood cult classics, Canadian cyberpunk and contemporary techno-horror), and investigate how filmic texts engage with popular culture, using both film theory concepts and discussion of historical and technological contexts as our main research methods. Topics include media anxiety, horrors of mechanical reproducibility, cinema as virtual reality and imaginary travel, cinema's shifting role in a larger digital age and nostalgic views of nitrate and early pioneers. Films include Scorsese's Hugo, The Truman Show, Johnny Mnemonic, the J-Horror film Ring, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. 0.5 course

Fall 2020 3309F / 001 Online J. Blankenship Syllabus

3312G - Special Topics in Film Studies: Art and Mass Media (cross-listed with AH 2662G)
Description tba. 0.5 course

Winter 2021 3312G / 001 Online C. Sprengler Syllabus

3330F - National and Transnational Cinemas
This course offers an in-depth examination of a specific national film culture or related group of cultures. The course may address the entire cinematic history of a specific nation-state, be narrowed by a historical period, mode or region within a national cinema, or extended across national borders. 0.5 course

Fall 2020 3330F / 001 Online C. Gittings Description & Texts 

3335F - Contemporary German Cinema (cross-listed with German 3362F)
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 2020 3335F / 001 Online J. Blankenship Syllabus

3352G - Queer Cinema: Before Stonewall—Queer Cinema and American Culture from WWII to Gay Liberation (cross-listed with Women's Studies 3357G)
Although the Stonewall rebellion has long served as a foundational moment in the history of gay liberation and queer visibility, its iconicity tends to overshadow the crucial transformations of queer identity, community, culture, and politics that took place in the U.S. and abroad from WWII to that fateful summer night in 1969. For not only did the postwar era witness the development of queer urban spaces and homophile political groups, but it also marked a significant expansion of queer visibility in literature, theater, and cinema. Examining the conventions and the gradual undoing of what Vito Russo famously called “the celluloid closet,” this course will explore key shifts in queer representation in American cinema of the postwar era. We will analyze the queer typology (sad young men, dangerous dykes, queer killers, etc.) of a variety of Hollywood genres (horror, noir, melodrama) as well as the often subversive work of figures like Tennessee Williams, Carson McCullers, and Alfred Hitchcock in the context of Cold War homophobia and gender normativity. We will then frame the eventual breakdown of Production Code restrictions on “sexual perversion” in relation to the development of queer alternatives via avant-garde, underground, and documentary cinema. The final section of the course will concentrate on a group of films from the Stonewall era that will allow us to grapple with the aesthetic, cultural, and political consequences of the shift from silence and oppression to an era of presumed liberation. What’s gained—and perhaps lost—for queer subjects in the transition from invisibility to visibility, from subculture to mainstream, and how has this key historical moment shaped our contemporary notions of queer culture and identity?

Potential screenings include: Queen Christina, Rope, Tea and Sympathy, Caged, Johnny Guitar, Glen or Glenda?, The Children’s Hour, Fireworks, Un Chant d’Amour, My Hustler, Chained Girls, Olivia, Flaming Creatures, A Florida Enchantment, Portrait of Jason, The QueenCBS Reports: The Homosexuals, Reflections in a Golden Eye, The Killing of Sister George, and others. 0.5 course

Winter 2021 3352G / 001 Online J. Wlodarz Syllabus 

3361G - 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

Winter 2021 3361G / 001 Online J. Blankenship 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 2020 3362F / 001 Online J. Faflak Syllabus

3366F - Film Noir and the Crime Genre
While “noir” is one of the most widely applied descriptions of film style, it is also one of the most notoriously contentious categories: is it a genre, a period, an aesthetic, a mood, a psychology, a philosophy, an associated set of themes, icons, character types, and/or narrative conventions? This course challenges students to consider film noir and its historical and cultural contexts, considering the way it both emerges from and shapes aesthetic and social vision. In it, we will explore film noir through a variety of critical lenses, considering both classical exemplars and revisionary approaches to noir. Film noir emerged as an identifiable phenomenon in the United States in the 1940s and continues to influence contemporary culture, from film and television, to advertising, to computer games. We will consider its distinctive representations of ideas about crime, the law, race, class, and gender. 0.5 course

Fall 2020 3366F / 001 Online M. Jones Syllabus 

3368G - 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

Winter 2021 3368G / 001 In Person G. De Souza 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. 0.5 course

Winter 2021 3371G / 001 Online T. Nagl Syllabus

3373G - Reframing 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 2021 3373G / 001 Online Z. Maric 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 Online Various Internship Guidelines 

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