Spring 2016 Course Offerings
- FILM 120: Introduction to Film--Deb Kumar Banerjee
- FILM 310: Film Theory & Criticism--Dr. Kenneth Chan
- FILM 320: Action Cinemas: Speed, Bodies, Spectacle--Dr. Kenneth Chan
Course Description: Since its invention at the beginning of the twentieth century, cinema as a popular art form has assumed a prominent place in our everyday lives. While serving as entertainment, it has also informed and transformed us culturally. Its continued popularity and relevance in the new millennium can be attributed to the way the cinematic form has morphed with the times: high-definition digital quality, 3D, online streaming technology, Blu-Ray, Netflix, YouTube, and films on the Internet. Because of cinema’s historical importance and contemporary ubiquity, this course seeks to help students come to a more complex understanding of the medium and its significance, by moving students beyond the casual viewing of film as entertainment (which is important in its own right) to the adoption of an analytical and critical approach to cinema. This course equips students with the fundamental vocabulary of film art, while also introducing them to the vast histories and discourses of filmic analysis and criticism. Throughout the semester, we will encounter instances of classic and contemporary films from American and world cinema as a means of illustrating the theoretical concepts in film studies.
Course Description: FILM 310 Since the early pioneering work of the Lumier brothers, the Edison Company, and directors like Georges Méliès and Edwin Porter, cinema has continually posed a unique challenge for scholars, theorists, filmmakers, and critics, in terms of their understanding of its ability to be both an art form and a mass entertainment commodity. How does the “magic” of cinema work from a technological standpoint as film? How do we come to appreciate the role of the director, producer, cinematographer, editor, and screenwriter (amongst many other contributors) within and beyond our conceptions of authorship? What are the psychological, sociological, cultural, and ideological forces that define audience consumption of cinema? What constitutes cinematic pleasure? What does the future hold for cinema as it confronts the challenges of digital media? These questions occupy the discipline of “film theory.” This course introduces the foundational concepts of the discipline by having students read a select number of key theorists. We will also apply some of their ideas to an excellent list of popular and important films as a way of putting theory into practice.
Course Description: FILM 320 The success of Hollywood at global box offices throughout cinema’s history rests partly on the amazing ability of American studios and filmmakers to tap into the hypnotic pleasures of visual spectacle. Various other national cinemas around the globe have attempted to keep up with this dazzling visuality—one thinks specifically of Hong Kong and Bollywood filmic traditions, for instance. While transfixed by this notion of spectacle, this course also aspires to move beyond the concept of the cinematic spectator as a passive consumer of spectacle and the mainstream filmmaker as a necessarily co-opted agent. A key question to ask is whether visual spectacle and speed, as the aesthetic foundation of the action flick, can actually serve to address a film’s historically specific cultural politics in a productive way? To engage this issue in a more concrete fashion, the course will focus on various tracks of historical and cultural analysis: Hollywood action films of the 1980s to the present, including “blaxploitation” cinema and a post-9/11 take on war and violence, will occupy our attention for the first half of the semester. The remainder of the course will be devoted to Hong Kong action films, where we will study the wuxia pian (the Chinese martial arts film) in its various incarnations and the gangster film.