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FILM UN2190 Topics in American Cinema. 3 points.

Comedy:

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This course will explore the history of American film comedy from the origins of cinema to the present. In its various forms, comedy has always been a staple of American film production; but it has also always been a site of heterogeneity and nonconformity in the development of American cinema, with neither its form nor its content fitting normative models of film practice. This course accounts for that nonconformity by exploring comedy’s close and essential links to “popular” cultural sources (in particular, vaudeville, variety, stand-up); it looks at how different comic filmmakers have responded to and reshaped those sources; and it examines the relation between comedy and social change. Rather than engage the entire spectrum of comic styles (animation, mockumentary, etc.), this course is primarily focused on a single tradition bridging the silent and sound eras: the performance-centered, “comedian comedy” format associated with performers as diverse as Charlie Chaplin, Mae West, the Marx Brothers, and, into the present, Sacha Baron Cohen, Dave Chappelle, Amy Schumer, and others. “Laughter and its forms,” writes theorist Mikhail Bakhtin, “represent the least scrutinized sphere of the people's creation.” This course will restore film comedy to the scrutiny it deserves, examining both its inward formal development and its external relation to other modes of social expression.

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Western:

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This course surveys the first century of the American Western film genre, and its relation to American imaginings and ideologies of the “frontier,” with in-depth readings of key precursor texts, including memoirs, histories, novels, and other forms. We will consider the evolution of the genre and its changing place within the film industry, and study exemplary films that established and challenged the genre’s narrative, aesthetic, and ideological conventions. We will explore how films engage with the history and myth of the American West in various historical circumstances. We will also be analyzing the politics of the Western, in particular how films articulate configurations of race, class, nation, and gender. And we will study the way Western films and filmmakers themselves interrogate the analytic categories we use to study them -- categories such as “genre” and “auteur” – with specific attention to the work and career of John Ford. Please note: the course requires sustained engagement with and analysis of lengthy written texts as well as films, so please be prepared for a bit more reading than what you might expect from a typical film survey course.  Corequisite FILM UN2191.

Fall 2018: FILM UN2190
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
FILM 2190 001/24208 M 10:00am - 1:45pm
511 Dodge Building
James Schamus 3 10/65
Spring 2019: FILM UN2190
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
FILM 2190 003/29694 M 1:10pm - 2:25pm
Kob Lenfest Center For The Arts
Robert King 3 80/80
FILM 2190 003/29694 W 1:10pm - 3:55pm
Kob Lenfest Center For The Arts
Robert King 3 80/80