2015-2016 Film Studies Courses

FILM 110 Making Sense of Movies (4)
This course examines the formal elements of film and its history, from the earliest experiments in motion photography through the present. Students will learn the terminology and concepts of film analysis (mise-en-scene, montage, cinematography, etc.) in the context of film’s evolution across the twentieth century. Films may include profanity, violence, and/or sexually explicit images.
FILM 210 (Un)American Movies (4)
This course seeks to understand American film history in light of one decisive set of events: the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings on communism in the film industry and the resulting industry blacklist. These events extended from 1947 until the late 1950s, which is obviously a small portion of American cinema history. We will situate them in relation to a broader historical context. For instance, the blacklist is incomprehensible without some sense of how the Hollywood studio system operated and the threat it was under in the late forties. And if the economic conditions in Hollywood played a decisive role in the blacklist, they continue to determine the political and aesthetic character of American movies to this day. We will treat the blacklist as a particularly vivid convergence of the factors that have shaped American cinema from the beginning, including the circumstances of international capitalism (and communism), the political beliefs and artistic aspirations of particular filmmakers, and the struggle between nativism and cosmopolitanism in American culture as a whole and in American cinema in particular. Films may include profanity, violence, and/or sexually explicit images.
FILM 212 Film Genres (4)
This course explores the history, procedures, and consequences of organizing popular films into distinct “genres” (i.e. Western, Sci-Fi, Fantasy). The course will consider such questions as how genres get established, how we know that a film falls into a particular genre, how genres organize audience expectations, and how films may either meet or upset those expectations. Films may include profanity, violence, and/or sexually explicit images.
FILM 220 Transnational Cinema (4)
A selective consideration of films from around the world and from various historical periods, World Cinema focuses predominantly but not exclusively on films from the developing world and from underrepresented populations in the West. The emphasis is on cinema’s intersection with social realities. Students may consider cinematic engagements with such issues as African decolonization, gender segregation in middle-class Indian homes in the 1950s, and poverty in urban Brazil. Films may include profanity, violence, and/or sexually explicit images.
FILM 300 Special Topics (1–4)
This is the general designation for film electives, which explore specific elements of film, film history, and interdisciplinary film studies. Courses include: Film Theory, Cinematography and Editing, National Cinemas, Documentary Film, Sociology of Popular Culture, Screenwriting, Film Genres, Narrative and Adaptation, and Race in Film.
FILM 310 Humans, Monsters, and Things In-Between (4)
Many critics regard D. W. Griffith’s film The Birth of a Nation (1915) as the single most important achievement in early narrative cinema. In addition to being a magnificent movie, The Birth of a Nation is a virulently racist one: the black people in the film are less “human” than the white characters are. These differences are absolutely essential to the narrative, and they are, sadly, part of the film’s achievement. This course begins with the idea that, at least in films, the category “human” is very complex. It explores some of the ways that certain films have depicted the “humanness” of people, animals, and even objects. It also considers how the inhuman has operated in cinema—for example, in films that depict monsters. As the example above shows, at the heart of these questions are the issues that shape identity in everyday human experience: race, gender, sexuality, and bodily constitution (body type, sex role conformity, “ability,” etc.). Films may include profanity, violence, and/or sexually explicit images.
FILM 320 Seeing Time: Understanding Moving Images (4)
This class will explore the nature of cinema as a visual medium. How do images mean? What problems of interpretation are raised by images? What insights are available exclusively through images, and what are the limitations of images? How is a moving image different from a still one? How have historical and technological factors (including the emergence of digital culture) effected our consumption of moving images? In order to answer these questions, we will read closely selected theoreticians of images and film, such as Plato, Walter Benjamin, C.S. Peirce, Andre Bazin, and others. We will analyze how selected films exemplify answers to these questions, but also how selected films such as Blowup and Mulholland Drive attempt to understand their own nature as visual artifacts. The class, therefore, will also address the issue of meta-cinema, cinema about cinema. Films may include profanity, violence, and/or sexually explicit images.
FILM 323 Creative Writing: Screenwriting (3)
A course that focuses on writing film scripts, stressing effective narrative, dialogue and character development. Coursework includes viewing films as well as writing and analyzing scripts. Same as ENGL 323.
FILM 345 Introduction to Video Production (3)
This course covers the basics of video production and editing. Topics include storyboarding, camera operation, sound, lighting and editing, as well as a wide variety of film and video genres including narrative, documentary and experimental.
FILM 401 Directed Studies (1–4)
A tutorial-based course used only for student-initiated proposals for intensive individual study of topics not otherwise offered in the Film Studies Program. Prerequisites: consent of instructor and school dean.
FILM 440 Internship (1–8)
Offers students the opportunity to integrate classroom knowledge with practical experience. Prerequisites: junior or senior standing (for transfer students, at least 15 hours completed at Westminster or permission of instructor), minimum 2.5 GPA, and consent of program director and Career Center internship coordinator.
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