Introduction to Film
This course was designed by Professor David Brewer as an introduction to Film Studies. I acted as a recitation leader, meeting for discussion and close analysis with smaller groups of students as a way of complimenting their twice-weekly lectures. The syllabus below is Professor Brewer's for the Spring 2018 semester.
This course will explore the formal and technological means through which stories are told on film, and how those techniques interact with the film industry and the viewers on which it relies. Among other things, we’ll consider cinematography, editing, mise-en-scène, sound, genre, distribution, exhibition venues, and the star system. Throughout, our emphasis will be on bringing out and building upon the skills as a viewer that you’ve already developed over two decades or more of watching.The format of this course is an ongoing experiment, both for me and for the Department of English more generally, so a word about our expectations seems in order. We regard all of the questions driving this course as both important and open to debate. We’ve certainly thought about them extensively, but the primary role of our lectures and recitation sessions will be to give you the tools necessary to answer them for yourselves and to pose your own questions. Accordingly, when we offer up a theory, we expect you to immediately assess its strengths and weaknesses, what it illuminates and what it fails to explain. Similarly, when you proffer your own ideas, they will be subject to the same scrutiny, both from your colleagues and from us. This is all to say that, despite the fairly traditional lecture format, your success in this course will hinge upon the explanations that you devise to best account for the films, techniques, and phenomena we’re studying, rather than your ability to parrot back our ideas. We certainly hope and expect that your ideas will engage with what we—and your colleagues—put forth, but ultimately we want you to be able to explain and enjoy film in the ways that make the most sense for you and your own particular set of interests and commitments.
Your grade for the course will be comprised of your grades on twelve weekly quizzes (collectively 25%), a 5-7pp. scene description (20%), a 5-7 pp. final essay (25%), a final exam (20%), and active participation in our discussions, in both recitation and lecture (10%). The quizzes will each pose four short-answer questions. Each quiz will be available on Carmen from 3 p.m. on Friday through 11:59 p.m. on Sunday at the end of the week in question.
Required Reading: Timothy Corrigan and Patricia White, The Film Experience: An Introduction, 5th Edition (Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2018)
Some Like It Hot
The Silence of the Lambs
The Palm Beach Story
Singin' In the Rain
Dazed and Confused
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang