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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Albert J Sbragia
C LIT 397
Seattle Campus

Special Topics in Cinema Studies

Varying topics relating to film in social contexts. Offered by resident or visiting faculty.

Class description

The effort in France in the 1950s to define the cinematic director as the auteur or author of his/her films is the starting point for this course which seeks to introduce undergraduate students to post-war and contemporary European cinema through the films of the continent’s most creative cineastes. The course will follow a loosely chronological trajectory and will examine the European directors preferred by the Cahiers critics, the French New Wave cinema, the questioning of auteurist cinema by directors in the early sixties, the Czech New Wave and New German Cinema of the sixties and seventies, the Dogme 95 cineastes, Almodovar and New Spanish Cinema, as well as more recent trends in European cinema. Course work includes weekly screenings, lectures and readings as well as a paper and examinations.

Student learning goals

Gain a strong critical knowledge of the concept of auteurism and its manifestations in European cinema.

Situate individual European films, directors and movements, in their cultural and industrial context.

Familiarize students with the debates concerning national cinemas in Europe, the phenomenon of “new wave” cinemas, European co-productions and Europe’s relationship with the American film industry.

Recognize and apply and criticize auteurist approaches to the writing of film history.

Engage with primary source materials from the period and develop effective research strategies.

Communicate a critical analysis of the course’s key concepts, films and historical methods in discussion and in writing.

General method of instruction

Film screenings and in-class lecture/discussion

Recommended preparation

Some knowledge of film is useful but not required.

Class assignments and grading

There will be two take-home short essay exams, during the course of the quarter (each counts for 30% of the final grade). There will be one major and six minor writing assignments. The minor assignments will consist of a series of brief in-class free-writing exercises. These will be graded on a check/check plus/check minus scale and will constitute 10% of the final grade. Although you will be able to drop or miss one of the in-class writing assignments without penalty, there will be no make-ups. The major writing assignment will be a analytical essay (6-8 pages; 30% of the final grade) in which students will chose a director, examine three of his or her films and pertinent written resources to engage in a critical essay which takes into account an auteurist approach to European cinema. The paper will be turned in no later than Wednesday, 5 pm of finals week.

On the basis of grades received on assignments.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Albert J Sbragia
Date: 11/14/2010