Fall 2014 - Undergraduate Course Descriptions
Description of Course:
This course is designed to familiarize students with the history of cinema as a medium of expression and to enable them to become knowledgeable and sophisticated film viewers, evaluators, and cultural critics. Roughly eight weeks will be spent outlining the development of the major features and techniques of film as an art and a commercial mass medium (film form, narrative and narration, mise-en-scène and color, camerawork and cinematography, editing, sound). The remainder of the course will be devoted to exploring the many ways these elements have been employed by filmmakers working in Hollywood and elsewhere over the past hundred-plus years, through analysis of the meaning, significance, and theoretical basis of film genre; documentary filmmaking; European modes of production such as Italian neorealism, the French New Wave, art cinema; animation; experimental filmmaking and the avant-garde; "independent production" and the post-studio American "blockbuster"; and the effect of digital technologies on film as a craft, a medium, and an ideological construct. Each class session will include both lecture and discussion components that consider the week's reading and screening assignments (most of which are classic or canonical films). This course is a prerequisite for all upper-level film courses.
Michael Wood, Film: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2012). ISBN 9780192803535.
Frank Eugene Beaver, Dictionary of Film Terms: The Aesthetic Companion to Film Art, 4th ed. (Peter Lang, 2009). ISBN 1433104539.
A (very) few articles and book chapters from a variety of sources will be put on electronic reserve or posted on eLearning for reading, printing, and/or downloading.
There are weekly out-of-class screenings assigned throughout the semester (all films are available for viewing in the UTD library, but should also be available through other means of your choice). These films are required texts as well.
Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:
Two in-class exams, a presentation or project (likely performed with a partner), two critical papers (4-6 pages each), consistent class attendance and participation in discussion. Perfect attendance and demonstrable and lively engagement with the course material are noted and rewarded.