Seminar: Cinema as Vernacular Modernism

ENGL 587
  • Graduate
  • Spring
  • 1999-2000
M. Hansen

This seminar explores the proposition that cinema (in general? particular kinds of cinema?) during the first decades of the 20th century represented a form of "vernacular modernism" -- an aesthetic expression of, and response to, the social and cultural experience of modernity and modernization that was primarily market-based and at once threatened, influenced, and by-passed the institutions of art and literature. In addition to a sample of Hollywood films (slapstick comedies, Traffic in Souls, The Crowd, Gold Diggers of 1933), we will discuss films from Soviet Russia, Germany, France, and, depending on availability, China and Japan. In addition to thematic concerns such as crises of gender, sexuality and class, the contradictions of consumption, industrial labor and urban living conditions, we will focus on the formal and stylistic ways in which these films articulate the material fabric of everyday life, a new relation with things, a specifically modern sense of character, identity, and performance, as well as the ways in which they address and ENGLage their viewers. Readings will include debates on modernism and mass culture as well as more contemporaneous texts (Kracauer, Benjamin, Epstein, Dulac, Kuleshov, Shklovsky, selections from the magazine Close-Up).

Expressionism in the Visual Arts, Literature, and Film

ArtH 461, Ger 468
  • Graduate
  • Spring
  • 1999-2000
R. Heller and Y. Tsivian

This pro-seminar will consider the intermedia indentification of the Expressionist movement, especially in Germany. As has happened with few other modern art movements, Expressionism has consistently been linked with the visual and literary arts, and also with film; however, the precise interactions and formal kinships of these manifold Expressionist manifestations, especially film, continue to lack critical comparative analysis. In this course we set out to explore sytematically these interstices.

South African Fiction and Film

ENGL 24807
  • Undergraduate
L. Kruger

This course examines the intersection of fiction and film in Southern Africa since mid 20th Century decolonization. We begin with Cry, the Beloved Country, a best seller written by South African Alan Paton while in the US, and the original film version by a Hungarian-born British-based director (Zoltan Korda), and an American screenwriter (John Howard Lawson), which together show both the international impact of South African stories and the important elements missed by overseas audiences. We will continue with fictional and non-fictional narrative responses to apartheid and decolonization in film and in print, and examine the power and the limits of what critic Louise Bethlehem has called the “rhetoric of urgency” on local and international audiences. We will conclude with writing and film that grapples with the complexities of the post-apartheid world, whose challenges, from crime and corruption to AIDS and the particular problems faced by women and gender minorities, elude the heroic formulas of the anti-apartheid struggle era. (B)

PQ: Hum core plus Intro to Fiction and/or Intro to Film. No first years

Indian Art Cinema

SALC 20510
  • Graduate/Undergraduate
R. Majumdar

What do we mean when we refer to “art films” in the Indian context?  Is it fair to refer to the body of film works that come under this rubric as Indian national cinema?  Through a close analysis of films by Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak, Mrinal Sen, Shyam Benegal, Mani Kaul, Basu Chatterjee, M. S. Sathyu, Girish Kasaravalli, and Aparna Sen this course will analyze the different currents in Indian art cinema. 

Cinema and Comedic Modernism

  • Graduate
X. Dong

Description forthcoming.