C LIT 301
Introduction to the analysis of film. Covers major aspects of cinematic form: mise en scene, framing and camera movement, editing, and sound and color. Considers how these elements are organized in traditional cinematic narrative and in alternative approaches.
This course will offer an introduction to the ways in which film criticism has interrogated the basic elements of film language - narrative structures, editing, mise-en-scene, cinematography and sound. Our aim is two fold. First, by the end of the quarter, you should be fully versed in the vocabulary and terms that constitute the language of film, and be able to analyze and interpret films using that vocabulary. Second, you should also be able to grasp the role the elements of film language have played in formulating core arguments and shaping important trends and schools of thought in the history of film criticism. We want to pursue a close analysis of the films we watch and understand the stakes of doing so. But we also want to familiarize ourselves with the way film criticism itself has taken up the task of close analysis.
Some of the other questions we will ask include the following: How can film editing prescribe and proscribe viewing positions for us as spectators, transforming us into political and politicized subjects? What do the debates in classical film theory between proponents of montage and mise-en-scene have to tell us about presuppositions about the nature of film as a medium? What critical opinions and anxieties have been provoked about the relevance and nature of the cinematic medium because of technological transformations such as sound, widescreen, and digital media?
Grading will be based on essay-length close analysis of films, shorter responses to films screened, as well as contributions to more participatory discussion-based exercises.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Class assignments and grading