Courses

CMST 40000 Methods and Issues in Cinema Studies

(ARTH 39900, ENGL 48000, MAPH 33000)

This course offers an introduction to ways of reading, writing on, and teaching film. The focus of discussion will range from methods of close analysis and basic concepts of film form, technique and style; through industrial/critical categories of genre and authorship (studios, stars, directors); through aspects of the cinema as a social institution, psycho-sexual apparatus and cultural practice; to the relationship between filmic texts and the historical horizon of production and reception. Films discussed will include works by Griffith, Lang, Hitchcock, Deren, Godard.

2022-2023 Autumn

CMST 58910 Aesthetics and Politics

(TAPS 58910, CMLT 58910, ENGL 58910)

Aesthetics and Politics: Adorno, Benjamin, Bloch, Brecht, Lowenthal, Lukacs; this PhD seminar will build on the work covered in Marxism and Modern Culture to examine in more detail and where possible in the original German the arguments about the intersections and frictions between aesthetics and politics in high, middle, and mass cultural forms of literature, performance, film and other media, in the work of the above theorists.

Loren Kruger
2022-2023 Spring

CMST 67804 Media Ecology

Studies of media in recent years have increasingly turned toward questions about ecologies and environments, energy and elemental forces, relational theories and non-discrete objects.  The first aim of this seminar is to introduce some of the key problematics associated with this ‘turn’ in media studies. At the same time, due to the proliferation of turns (elemental, environmental, ecological, energetic), objects (media forms, devices, platforms, networks, infrastructures) and concerns (more-than-human life, settler colonialism, indigenous struggles, migration), this seminar aims to provide a practical focus for doing media ecology or thinking media ecologically. The problematic for fall 2022 is Plant Media or “thinking with plants through media.” Topics includes contemporary research on plant intelligence, which raises questions about intelligence without physical correlates, forcing us to deal with intelligence in terms of the whole plant as an ecology.  We will also consider the mediating role of media, from self-writing plants to time-lapse audio and video to parse movement as intelligence. Finally, this ecological approach encourages a reconsideration of eco-agriculture and alternative paths of cultivation.

2022-2023 Autumn

24603 Topics in EALC: Ghosts & the Fantastic in Literature and Film

(EALC 10600; SIGN 26006)

What is a ghost? How and why are ghosts represented in particular forms in a particular culture at particular historical moments and how do these change as stories travel between cultures? This course will explore the complex meanings, both literal and figurative, of ghosts and the fantastic in traditional Chinese, Japanese, and Korean tales, plays, and films . Issues to be explored include: 1) the relationship between the supernatural, gender, and sexuality; 2) the confrontation of death and mortality; 3) collective anxieties over the loss of the historical past 4) and the visualization (and exorcism) of ghosts through performance.

Judith Zeitlin
2022-2023 Spring

24617 Opera Across Media

(MUSI 25020, GNSE 25020, ITAL 25020, MAAD 13020, SIGN 26058, TAPS 26516)

Over the course of the last 120 years, opera and cinema have been sounded and seen together again and again. Where opera is commonly associated with extravagant performance and production, cinema is popularly associated with realism. Yet their encounter not only proves these assumptions wrong but produces some extraordinary third kinds--media hybrids. It also produces some extraordinary love affairs. Thomas Edison wanted a film of his to be “a grand opera,” and Federico Fellini and Woody Allen wanted opera to saturate their films. Thinking about these mutual attractions, “Opera across Media” explores different operatic and cinematic repertories as well as other media forms. Among films to be studied are Pabst’s Threepenny Opera (1931), Visconti’s Senso (1954), Powell and Pressburger’s Tales of Hoffmann (1951), Zeffirelli’s La traviata (1981), DeMille’s Carmen (1915), Losey’s Don Giovanni (1979), Bergman’s The Magic Flute (1975), and Fellini’s E la nave va (1983). No prior background in music performance, theory, or notation is needed. Students may write papers based on their own skills and interests relevant to the course. Required work includes attendance at all screenings and classes; weekly postings on Canvas about readings and viewings; attendances at a Met HD broadcast and a Lyric Opera live opera; a short “think piece” midway through the course; and a final term paper of 8-10 pages.

Martha Feldman
2022-2023 Spring

28700/38700 History of International Cinema, Part III: 1960 to Present

(MAAD 18700)

This course will continue the study of cinema around the world from the late 1950s through the 1990s. We will focus on New Cinemas in France, Czechoslovakia, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, and other countries. We will pay special attention to experimental stylistic developments, women directors, and well-known auteurs. After the New Cinema era we will examine various developments in world cinema, including the rise of Bollywood, East Asian film cultures, and other movements.

2022-2023 Spring

CMST 10100 Introduction to Film

(ARTV 20300, ENGL 10800)

This course introduces basic concepts of film analysis, which students will discuss through examples from different national cinemas, genres, and directorial oeuvres. We will consider film as an art form, medium, and industry, and cover all the major film types: silent, classical, and contemporary narrative cinema, art cinema, animation, documentary, and experimental film. We will study the cinematic techniques: mise-en-scène, cinematography, editing, and sound, and learn how filmmakers design their works. Films discussed will include works Orson Welles, Sergei Eisenstein, Shirin Neshat, Lucrecia Martel, and Wong Kar Wai. 

2022-2023 Autumn

CMST 10100 Introduction to Film

This course introduces basic concepts of film analysis, which students will discuss through examples from different national cinemas, genres, and directorial oeuvres. We will consider film as an art form, medium, and industry, and cover all the major film types: silent, classical, and contemporary narrative cinema, art cinema, animation, documentary, and experimental film. We will study the cinematic techniques: mise-en-scène, cinematography, editing, and sound, and learn how filmmakers design their works. Films discussed will include works Orson Welles, Sergei Eisenstein, Shirin Neshat, Lucrecia Martel, and Wong Kar Wai. 

Aurore Spiers, Ian Bryce Jones, Nick Rueda Sabater
2022-2023 Winter

CMST 10100 Introduction to Film

This course introduces basic concepts of film analysis, which students will discuss through examples from different national cinemas, genres, and directorial oeuvres. We will consider film as an art form, medium, and industry, and cover all the major film types: silent, classical, and contemporary narrative cinema, art cinema, animation, documentary, and experimental film. We will study the cinematic techniques: mise-en-scène, cinematography, editing, and sound, and learn how filmmakers design their works. Films discussed will include works Orson Welles, Sergei Eisenstein, Shirin Neshat, Lucrecia Martel, and Wong Kar Wai. 

2022-2023 Spring

CMST 14400 Film and the Moving Image

This course seeks to develop skills in perception, comprehension, and interpretation when dealing with film and other moving image media. It encourages the close analysis of audiovisual forms, their materials and formal attributes, and explores the range of questions and methods appropriate to the explication of a given film or moving image text. It also examines the intellectual structures basic to the systematic study and understanding of moving images. Most importantly, the course aims to foster in students the ability to translate this understanding into verbal expression, both oral and written. Texts and films are drawn from the history of narrative, experimental, animated, and documentary or non-fiction cinema. Screenings are a mandatory course component.

CMST 14400 Film and the Moving Image

This course seeks to develop skills in perception, comprehension, and interpretation when dealing with film and other moving image media. It encourages the close analysis of audiovisual forms, their materials and formal attributes, and explores the range of questions and methods appropriate to the explication of a given film or moving image text. It also examines the intellectual structures basic to the systematic study and understanding of moving images. Most importantly, the course aims to foster in students the ability to translate this understanding into verbal expression, both oral and written. Texts and films are drawn from the history of narrative, experimental, animated, and documentary or non-fiction cinema. Screenings are a mandatory course component.

2022-2023 Winter

CMST 14400 Film and the Moving Image

This course seeks to develop skills in perception, comprehension, and interpretation when dealing with film and other moving image media. It encourages the close analysis of audiovisual forms, their materials and formal attributes, and explores the range of questions and methods appropriate to the explication of a given film or moving image text. It also examines the intellectual structures basic to the systematic study and understanding of moving images. Most importantly, the course aims to foster in students the ability to translate this understanding into verbal expression, both oral and written. Texts and films are drawn from the history of narrative, experimental, animated, and documentary or non-fiction cinema. Screenings are a mandatory course component.

CMST 14570 Special Topics: Animation Theory

(MAAD 14570)

Due to the ubiquity and pervasiveness of animation in contemporary media ecologies, recent years have seen a surge of interest in animation theory. But animation theory presents a vast and turbulent domain of inquiry, because animation may be narrowly defined as a set of objects or techniques or broadly conceptualized to embrace questions about life and death, about more-than-human animals, artificial life, and animism, for instance. This topics course has two aims. The first aim is to provide an overview of the key problematics of and approaches to animation theory in a global and historical perspective. The second aim is to develop tools for doing animation theory in a more localized manner. To this end, course will highlight theories of character and characterization with an emphasis on how the inherent tension between individual and type in animation affects our understanding race and racism.

2022-2023 Winter

CMST 20704 Postcolonial and Decolonial History and Theory

(CDIN 20704, SALC 20704, PLSC 20704)

This course introduces students to some key texts in post and decolonial theory. Our goals in this class are three-fold. First, to familiarize students with foundational thinkers who have inspired both decolonial and postcolonial work. We draw attention to the different ways in which their ideas have been deployed in subsequent post and decolonial scholarship. Second, we ask questions oriented towards comparison of postcolonial and decolonial approaches: What, if any, are the points of overlap between decolonial and postcolonial thought? How do both bodies of work critique and contest the legacies of empire? Third, we investigate the present and possible futures of decolonial and postcolonial thought.
 

Rochona Majumdar, Lisa Wedeen
2022-2023 Winter

CMST 21025/CMST 31025 Creating a Different Image: Black Women’s Filmmaking of the 1970s-90s

(GNSE 20128, GNSE 30128, CRES 21025)

This course will explore the rich intersections between African American women’s filmmaking, literary production, and feminist thought from the 1970s to the early 1990s, with an emphasis on the formation of a Black women’s film culture beginning in the 1970s. We will examine the range of Black feminisms presented through film and the ways that these films have challenged, countered, and reimagined dominant narratives about race, class, gender, and sexuality in America.

We will explore the power and limitations of filmmaking as a mode of Black feminist activism; the range of Black feminisms presented through film; and the specific filmic engagements of well-known Black feminist critics such as bell hooks, Toni Cade Bambara, and Michele Wallace. As many Black feminist writers were engaged with filmmaking and film culture, we will look at these films alongside Black women’s creative and critical writing from the period. Approaching filmmaking in the context of Black feminist thought will allow us to examine the possibilities of interdisciplinary approaches to film studies broadly, as well as to think specifically about the research methods and theories that are demanded by Black women’s filmmaking in particular. We will discuss the form, aesthetics, and politics of individual films and we will examine larger efforts by artists and activists to build a Black women’s film culture, asking such questions as: What does a film history of Black feminism look like, and what scholarly and creative methods does such a history demand?

To begin to answer these questions, we will revisit the 1976 Sojourner Truth Festival of the Arts—believed to be the first ever Black women’s film festival—organized by Michele Wallace, Faith Ringgold, Patricia Jones, Margo Jefferson, and Monica Freeman. The class will collectively participate in a homage series inspired by the 1976 festival, featuring work by filmmakers from the original festival such as Monica Freeman, Madeline Anderson, Michelle Parkerson, Ayoka Chenzira, Carol Munday Lawrence, Edie Lynch, and Camille Billops; as well as others including Julie Dash, Zeinabu irene Davis, Maya Angelou, and Yvonne Welbon. The weekly course screenings will be open to the public and students will gain experience in the public presentation of films by actively engaging in public-facing aspects of film exhibition (writing program notes, delivering introductions, participating in discussions, etc.). The class will culminate with a two-day symposium that will bring together around 35 Black feminist filmmakers and artists, including a number from the 1976 festival, to revisit the threads and legacies of the original event and discuss the present and future of Black women’s film practices.

This course is open to graduate and undergraduate students from across the disciplines; our conversations and presentations of the films will both depend on and be energized by different disciplinary perspectives.

2022-2023 Winter

CMST 21502 Women in Hollywood

(GNSE 12110)

In a video produced for InStyle in January 2020, the actress turned movie director Olivia Wilde expressed that "Hollywood used to be dominated by women and then we rolled back the clock and destroyed the evidence. We're bringing it back to that time and celebrating those ladies. The important, powerful, brilliant positions they held in this industry may have been buried and forgotten. But not by us." Taking the recent public debate about gender and racial discrimination in Hollywood as its starting place, this class explores-through historical, theoretical, and formal approaches, and close readings of texts and films-women's involvement in the US film industry, where women have served as actors, directors, screenwriters, producers, costume designers, technicians, and production secretaries since the early days. The focus of discussion will range from gender representation, spectatorship, and feminist film theory, including "the male gaze"; through questions of aesthetics and gender, race, and sexuality in films directed by women-identifying filmmakers; through feminized labor, access, and visibility; to women's film history, feminist historiography, and archival absences. Films discussed will include works by Dorothy Arzner, Sofia Coppola, Julie Dash, Cheryl Dunye, Zackary Drucker, Patty Jenkins, Ida Lupino, Claudia Weill, and Olivia Wilde.

2022-2023 Autumn

CMST 22402 Introduction to Russian and Soviet Cinema

(REES 22402)

What is the relationship between film, myth, ideology, and revolution? What are the features of Soviet comedy? What could it mean for a film to be "poetic" and how is this concept understood by and manifest in the work of directors such as Andrei Tarkovsky and Alexander Sokurov? These are only some of the many questions we will explore as we engage in a survey of Russian-language cinema from its very beginnings (in the 1890s) to the present, engaging with representative texts and cinematic works from each of Russian cinema's primary periods. The course will feature works by Bauer, Eisenstein, Vertov, Kalatozov, Tarkovsky, Muratova, among others. 
 

David Molina
2022-2023 Spring

CMST 23930/CMST 33930 Documentary Production I

(MAAD 23930)

Documentary Video Production focuses on the making of independent documentary video. Examples of various modes of documentary production will be screened and discussed. Issues embedded in the genre, such as the ethics, the politics of representation, and the shifting lines between “the real” and “fiction” will be explored. Story development, pre-production strategies, and production techniques will be our focus, in particular—research, relationships, the camera, interviews and sound recording, shooting in available light, working in crews, and post-production editing. Students will work in crews and be expected to purchase a portable hard drive. A five- minute string-out/rough-cut will be screened at the end of the quarter. Students are strongly encouraged to take CMST 23931 Documentary Production II to complete their work.
 

2022-2023 Autumn

CMST 23931/CMST 33931 Documentary Production II

(MAAD 23931)

Documentary Production II focuses on the shaping and crafting of a non- fiction video. Enrollment will be limited to those students who have taken CMST 23930 Documentary Production I. The class will discuss issues of ethics, power, and representation in this most philosophical and problematic of genres. Students will be expected to write a treatment outline detailing their project and learn about granting agencies and budgeting. Production techniques will concentrate on the language of handheld camera versus tripod, interview methodologies, microphone placement including working with wireless systems and mixers, and lighting for the interview. Post- production will cover editing techniques including color correction and audio sweetening, how to prepare for exhibition, and distribution strategies.
 

Marco Ferrari
2022-2023 Winter

CMST 25238 Documenting State Violence

(HMRT 25238)

Visual media have become central to activism against state violence. Throughout the past century, activists have deployed new technologies to bear witness to atrocity, record evidence, raise awareness, and promote justice. At the same time, media consistently fail to deliver lasting transformations and can even enable violence rather than counteracting it. In this class, we will explore how media practices support, undermine, and complicate efforts against state violence. How have activists employed documentary evidence?What assumptions have they made about communication, truth, difference, and justice? How do media frame what counts as violence? What are the politics of recording, seeing, and showing harm? What are the possibilities and limitations of emerging digital technologies?We will explore these issues across a range of media—such as photography, documentary film, comics, holograms, satellite and drone imagery, virtual reality experiences, social media platforms, and artificial intelligence—and case studies, including the Holocaust, the Cambodian genocide, the U.S. War on Terror, the Syrian civil war, the Movement for Black Lives, Indigenous resurgence in North America, and environmental violence in Guatemala. Students will be encouraged to think critically and creatively through assignments involving media analysis and media production.
 

2022-2023 Autumn

CMST 25610/CMST 35610 Experimental Animation

(MAAD 20610)

Interpreting what we mean by animation broadly, this course will investigate computational moving-image making through the lens of experimental animation. We will take as our point of departure the films of Rettinger, Ruttmann, Fischinger, McLaren, and Breer, but will also draw upon artifacts and 'animated lines' taken from further afield: found footage films and algorithmic editing, dance drawings of Trisha Brown, kinetic sculptures of Bit International, early plotter art, avant-garde music notation, and contemporary techniques of motion and performance capture. This course will develop theoretical lines of inquiry that run in two directions: an excavation of a "pre-history" of contemporary new media and a reinterpretation / re-invigoration of our understanding of early animation. Any film production, hand-animation or computer programming experiences are welcome — but none are perquisites for the course. Students will be expected to complete regular short creative "sketches" of techniques culminating in a final short animated project.

2022-2023 Autumn

CMST 25620/CMST 35620 Japanese Animation: The Making of a Global Media

(EALC 25620, EALC 35620, MAAD 15620, SIGN 26070)

This course offers an introduction to Japanese animation, from its origins in the 1910s to its emergence as global culture in the 1990s. The goal is not only to provide insight into Japanese animation within the context of Japan but also to consider those factors that have transformed it into a global cultural form with a diverse, worldwide fanbase. As such, the course approaches Japanese animation from three distinct perspectives on Japanese animation, which are designed to introduce students to three important methodological approaches to contemporary media — film studies, media studies, and fan studies or cultural studies. As we look at Japanese animation in light of these different conceptual frameworks, we will also consider how its transnational dissemination and ‘Asianization’ challenge some of our basic assumptions about global culture, which have been shaped primarily through the lens of Americanization.

2022-2023 Autumn

CMST 25820 Film and Fiction

(ENGL 20720)

This course addresses three distinct but related critical problems in the contemporary understanding of film and fiction. The most general is the question of how we might go about linking the practice of criticism in the literary arts with that of the screen arts. Where are the common issues of structure, form, narration, point of view management, and the like? Where, on the other hand, are the crucial differences that lie in the particularities of each domain--the problem that some have labeled “medium specificity” in the arts? The second problem has to do more specifically with questions of adaptation. Adaptation is a fact of our cultural experience that we encounter in many circumstances, but perhaps in none more insistently as when we witness the reproduction of a literary narrative in cinematic or televisual form. Adaptation theory has taught us to look beyond the narrow criterion of “fidelity” as far too limiting in scope. But when we look beyond, what do we look for, and what other concepts guide our exploration? The third and final problem has to do with the now rampant genre of the “film based on fact,” especially when the facts derive from a particular source text, as in the recent case of Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman? Why has this genre become so popular? What are its particular genre markings (e.g., excessive stylization, the use of documentary footage of the actual persons and events involved)? How does fictionalization operate on the facts in particular cases?
 

2022-2023 Autumn

CMST 25954/CMST 35954 Alternate Reality Games: Theory and Production

(ENGL 25970 / 32314; BPRO 28700; MAAD 20700; ARTV 20700 / 30700; TAPS 28466)

Games are one of the most prominent and influential media of our time. This experimental course explores the emerging genre of "alternate reality" or "transmedia" gaming. Throughout the quarter, we will approach new media theory through the history, aesthetics, and design of transmedia games. These games build on the narrative strategies of novels, the performative role-playing of theater, the branching techniques of electronic literature, the procedural qualities of video games, and the team dynamics of sports. Beyond the subject matter, students will design modules of an Alternate Reality Game in small groups. Students need not have a background in media or technology, but a wide-ranging imagination, interest in new media culture, or arts practice will make for a more exciting quarter.

Third- or fourth-year standing. Instructor consent required. To apply, submit writing through online form at https://www.franke.uchicago.edu/big-problems-courses; see course description. Once given consent, attendance on the first day is mandatory. Questions:mb31@uchicago.edu.

Patrick Jagoda, Heidi Coleman
2022-2023 Winter

CMST 27610 Doubting Vision: Seeing and Believing

How do images compel beliefs, enable knowledge, or encourage experiences of doubt? This course will introduce students to a range of artworks, films and media to explore historical changes in modes of perception, attitudes and responses to visual media. While photographic images are often claimed to hold a privileged relation to what they represent, we will consider historical practices of photographic and digital trickery, as well as the ability of visual representations to conjure, deceive, and maintain illusions. The class will combine critical, historical and philosophical readings with careful analysis of artworks and films from the nineteenth-century to the present, including trompe l’oeil paintings, spirit photographs, early trick films, staged and manipulated images, and works that seek out and entertain uncertainty through technical means such as speed, slowness, blur and glitch. Through close analysis of visual media as engines of belief, we will address their role in shaping or undermining social relations, claims to knowledge, and conceptions of the world, including the capacities of photography to reveal otherwise invisible or unseen phenomena, relationships between media and evidence, and the ways in which traditions of magic have shaped experiences of the cinema.
 

Sophie Lynch
2022-2023 Spring

CMST 27816/CMST 37816 From Open Worlds to Angry Birds: Videogame History 2000-2010

(MAAD 25650, MAPH 45516)

This course will trace developments in the videogame medium and videogame cultures in the first decade of the new millennium. Topics include, but are not limited to, the following: the rise and influence of the open world/sandbox genre; the spread of online gaming with Massively Multiplayer Online RPGs, networked First-Person Shooters, and virtual worlds; changes in the embodied experience of play introduced by rhythm/music games, motion controls, and touch screen interfaces; the proliferation of independent game development and online distribution; the rise of "art games" as a distinct (and debated) category; the reemergence of "retro" styles and repackaging of vintage games; the blurred boundaries of the "magic circle" and everyday life in Alternate Reality and Augmented Reality gaming; the increasing popularity of mobile and casual gaming; and the emergence of Videogame Studies as an academic field. This class will be a mix of history and historiography. We will not only learn about the history of the decade, but also discuss the unique possibilities and difficulties arising from the study of recent history - and put these discussions into practice through research-based assignments.

 

2022-2023 Spring

CMST 27867/CMST 37867 1990s Videogame History

(MAPH 34516, MAAD 25416)

This course will trace developments in the videogame medium and videogame cultures in the final decade of the 20th century, discuss the unique possibilities and difficulties arising from the study of recent history, and put these discussions into practice through research-based assignments. Questions that will guide our study include: what was the relationship between technological innovations and stylistic changes in the videogame medium? How did the entry of new corporate and creative players into the business affect industrial structures and strategies? What do we make of "freedom," "realism," and other concepts that dominated videogame press coverage - and how were they connected to broader cultural discourses? How did understandings of what it meant to play videogames, and the types of experiences that videogames could offer, change over the course of the decade? What was the relationship between developments in the videogame medium and other media - from film and fiction to virtual reality and the Internet? How has this decade been remembered, conceptualized, preserved, and repackaged in subsequent decades?

 

2022-2023 Winter

CMST 27910 Virtual Ethnography: Encounters in Mediation

(CDIN 27910, EALC 27910, ANTH 27910)

From everyday social media platforms like Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, and WeChat, to more complex real-time immersive social and gaming sites, virtual realms are propagating at a fantastic rate while transforming what it means to live and interact in the physical world. As such virtual world, communities, and spaces increasingly command our attention, time, and money, scholars from various fields have begun to tackle questions concerning the ethics, logics, patterns, and social specificity of the virtual through experimental forms of virtual ethnography. This advanced undergraduate course introduces students to some these recent ethnographies and corresponding theoretical interventions into the nature of collective techno-life within virtual realms. Students will build on this material in order to develop an ethnographic inquiry into a virtual world of their choosing. In so doing, they will work individually and as a class through the processes of pre-field planning, fieldwork, and post-field analysis and writing.

Thomas Lamarre, Michael Fisch
2022-2023 Winter

CMST 27916 Critical Videogame Studies

(ENGL 12320; GNSE 22320; MAAD 12320; SIGN 26038)

Since the 1960s, games have arguably blossomed into the world's most profitable and experimental medium. This course attends specifically to video games, including popular arcade and console games, experimental art games, and educational serious games. Students will analyze both the formal properties and sociopolitical dynamics of video games. Readings by theorists such as Ian Bogost, Roger Caillois, Alenda Chang, Nick Dyer‐Witheford, Mary Flanagan, Jane McGonigal, Soraya Murray, Lisa Nakamura, Amanda Phillips, and Trea Andrea Russworm will help us think about the growing field of video game studies. Students will have opportunities to learn about game analysis and apply these lessons to a collaborative game design project. Students need not be technologically gifted or savvy, but a wide-ranging imagination and interest in digital media or game cultures will make for a more exciting quarter. This is a 2022-23 Signature Course in the College. (Literary/Critical Theory)

Patrick Jagoda, Ashlyn Sparrow
2022-2023 Autumn

CMST 27920/CMST 37920 Virtual Reality Production

(ARTV 27920, ARTV 37920, MAAD 24920)

Focusing on experimental moving-image approaches at a crucial moment in the emerging medium of virtual reality, this course will explore and interrogate each stage of production for VR. By hacking their way around the barriers and conventions of current software and hardware to create new optical experiences, students will design, construct, and deploy new ways of capturing the world with cameras and develop new strategies and interactive logics for placing images into virtual spaces. Underpinning these explorations will be a careful discussion, dissection, and reconstruction of techniques found in the emerging VR "canon" that spans new modes of journalism and documentary, computer games, and narrative "VR cinema."

2022-2023 Spring

CMST 28204 Rethinking Veracity: Experiments in 21st Century Documentary

This course grapples with the unruly and hybrid forms of the documentary in the first decades of the 21st century. As documentary models continue their evolution, spreading into the new realms of the gallery and museum, and diffusing across the cascading and multiplying media forms that define the contemporary internet, what is the continued value of the audiovisual document? What grip does the definition of the documentary as a mode, genre, or method have on contemporary artmaking practices? What is the nature of the documentary's current claims on truth? This course will pursue the course of filmmakers who explore the raw edges of documentary address. We will cover the fields of experimental cinema, installation based media environments, docu-fiction and essay filmmaking, sensory ethnography, and numerous worlds in between, all unified by their commitment to experimentation and the pursuit of something that resembles documentary truth. As such we will also tackle the political, social, ethical, and environmental issues that draw in experimental documentarians, the role of digital and analog technology in experimental filmmaking, and issues of truthfulness, veracity and documentation. Makers we will cover include: Eduardo Coutinho, Kevin Jerome Everson, Harun Farocki, Dieudo Hamadi, Sky Hopinka, Maya Kosa, Kiro Russo, and Hito Steyerl.

2022-2023 Winter

CMST 28360 Screendance: Movement and New Media

(TAPS 28360/38360, MAAD 23860)

This course will explore the evolving relationship between moving bodies and video technologies. From early filmmakers using dancers as test subjects, to movie musicals and contemporary dance for the camera festivals, mediatization of the body continues to challenge the ephemerality of live dance performance. This course focuses on the growing field of screendance, videodance, or dance-on-camera, working to define this hybrid genre and to understand the collaborative roles of choreographer, director, dancer, cameraman, and video editor.

This course is both a practical and scholarly approach to the genre of screendance, each component essential to a full understanding and mastery of the other. Course work will be divided between the studio and the classroom. For the studio component, students will learn basic video editing and filming techniques. For the classroom component, students will be asked to watch screendance and read a cross-section of criticism. Assignments will be both technological and choreographic (making screendance) and scholarly (written reflections and a seminar paper).

Attendance at first class is mandatory. This course counts for a Media Practice & Design requirement in the MAAD program. 

Elizabeth Leopold
2022-2023 Winter

CMST 28500/CMST 48500 History of International Cinema I: Silent Era

(ARTH 28500, ARTH 38500, ARTV 20002, CMLT 22400, CMLT 32400, ENGL 29300, ENGL 48700, MAAD 18500, MAPH 33600)

This course provides a survey of the history of cinema from its emergence in the mid-1890s to the transition to sound in the late 1920s. We will examine the cinema as a set of aesthetic, social, technological, national, cultural, and industrial practices as they were exercised and developed during this 30-year span. Especially important for our examination will be the exchange of film techniques, practices, and cultures in an international context. We will also pursue questions related to the historiography of the cinema, and examine early attempts to theorize and account for the cinema as an artistic and social phenomenon.

2022-2023 Autumn

CMST 28600/CMST 48600 History of International Cinema II: Sound Era to 1960

(ARTH 28600, ARTH 38600, ARTV 20003, CMLT 22500, CMLT 32500, ENGL 29600, ENGL 48900, MAAD 18600, MAPH 33700, REES 25005, REES 45005)

The center of this course is film style, from the classical scene breakdown to the introduction of deep focus, stylistic experimentation, and technical innovation (sound, wide screen, location shooting). The development of a film culture is also discussed. Texts include Thompson and Bordwell's Film History: An Introduction; and works by Bazin, Belton, Sitney, and Godard. Screenings include films by Hitchcock, Welles, Rossellini, Bresson, Ozu, Antonioni, and Renoir.

2022-2023 Winter

CMST 28703/CMST 38703 Video Art: The Analog Years. Theory, Technology, Practice

(ARTH 31313, MAAD 18703)

The course gives a critical introduction to early video and television art--from the proto-televisual impulses in the historical avant-gardes to the increasing proximity between analog and digital technologies in video art in the late 1970s and early 1980s. We will focus on the various technical aspects of analog video, as well as on artistic practice and early writings on the subject. Topics will include the technics and politics of time; video, feedback systems, and ecology; the reconfiguration of the artist’s studio; guerilla politics and alternative TV; video and autobiography; the relation between video and painting; the musical history of video; the invention of new machines; and video as a “television viewer”.
 

Ina Blom
2022-2023 Autumn

CMST 28805/CMST 38800 Politics and Cinema under Authority

(PLSC 28805, PLSC 38801, CDIN 28801, CDIN 38800, REES 28800, REES 38800)

Why do authoritarian regimes take interest in art and culture? How do citizens respond to these efforts? Between authoritarian propaganda and outright contestation of authoritarianism is a wide niche of art and media production that is just independent enough to capture the attention of the citizens and yet subtle enough to not alarm authoritarian rulers. This is relevant for film and television in particular, which cannot function under authoritarian regimes without official approval. In this course, we explore the compromises filmmakers make to continue their creative practice and the concessions state actors grant to accommodate artistic work using the 10-episode television series, Dekalog (1988), by the acclaimed Polish director Krzysztof Kieślowski. To answer our questions, we draw on literature and methodology from political science and film and media studies. We investigate what is to be gained by combining approaches from two disciplines that are rarely in conversation with each other.

Maria Belodubrovskaya, Monika Nalepa
2022-2023 Autumn

CMST 28921/CMST 38921 Introduction to 16mm Filmmaking

(ARTV 23808, ARTV 33808, MAAD 23808)

The goal of this intensive laboratory course is to give its students a working knowledge of film production using the 16mm gauge. The course will emphasize how students can use 16mm technology towards successful cinematography and image design (for use in both analog and digital postproduction scenarios) and how to develop their ideas towards constructing meaning through moving pictures. Through a series of group exercises, students will put their hands on equipment and solve technical and aesthetic problems, learning to operate and care for the 16mm Bolex film camera; prime lenses; Sekonic light meter; Sachtler tripod; and Arri light kit and accessories. For a final project, students will plan and produce footage for an individual or small group short film. The first half the course will be highly structured, with demonstrations, in-class shoots, and lectures. As the semester continues, class time will open up to more of a workshop format to address the specific concerns and issues that arise in the production of the final projects. This course is made possible by the Charles Roven Fund for Cinema and Media Studies.

2022-2023 Winter

CMST 28922/CMST 38922 Intermediate 16mm Filmmaking

(ARTV 28001, ARTV 38001)

This course will allow students to continue working on projects begun in the Intro to 16mm Production course (or developing a new small-scale project), in addition to developing skills with the following: sophisticated approaches to cinematography (comparative and reflective light metering, color negative exposure); varying workflows for post-production editing (analog and digital); and sound recording and design. Students will meet as a group for lectures, technical demonstrations and a shooting workshop. Course meeting time will also be set aside for individual conferences with the instructor to address project development and completion. Students should expect to budget between 120.00-500.00 for their filmstock and processing costs, depending on the project. This course is made possible by the Charles Roven Fund for Cinema and Media Studies. Instructor permission required.

2022-2023 Spring

CMST 29201 Advanced Seminar - Autumn: Post-Classical American Cinema

The American cinema underwent dramatic stylistic and industrial change during and after the 1960s, due to an array of factors including the transition to magnetic sound recording, location shooting, the influence of European New Waves, drastic economic changes in the studio system, and many more. This course will broadly examine these developments in addition to topics including subsequent genre reorientation, 1980s “high concept” style and synergy with the popular music industry, multi-channel sound, visual effects, “impact” editing, film music, and the rise of the category of “indie” and its absorption into the diffuse modern Hollywood production system. Our study of American film history will inform discussions and material related to our present moment: the rise of streaming, digital exhibition, and increased cross-pollination between the film and television sectors. We will ask how Hollywood arrived at the cinema and television of the 2010s, and about the industry’s future amidst the dually reinforcing upheavals of Covid-19 and the streaming-centric consolidation of the largest media distributors. Course screenings will vary from landmark American queer cinema to big-budget studio genre pictures. Readings will skew towards histories of change in the American cinema’s industrial workings and dominant audio-visual styles, including popular history and filmmaker interviews. While there will not be a huge amount of dense theory, the quantity of reading in this course is notably large. The Advanced Seminar is intended for third and fourth-year CMS majors, and its capacity is limited. Instructor permission is required for other students, including CMS minors, and will be granted on a case-by-case basis only if space is available and the instructor approves the student, based on their academic experience and/or intellectual and professional interests. Students who are not upper-level CMS majors but hope to take the course should e-mail the instructor directly, before the start of Autumn Quarter.

Open only to upper-year students who have declared a major in Cinema and Media Studies, the ‘Advanced Seminar’ functions as a capstone course. It will allow students the opportunity to explore in more depth key disciplinary and methodological questions related to the study of cinema and media. Particular topics will be determined by the individual faculty instructor, and will vary from quarter to quarter.

2022-2023 Autumn

CMST 29202 Advanced Seminar - Spring

Open only to upper-year students who have declared a major in Cinema and Media Studies, the ‘Advanced Seminar’ functions as a capstone course. It will allow students the opportunity to explore in more depth key disciplinary and methodological questions related to the study of cinema and media. Particular topics will be determined by the individual faculty instructor, and will vary from quarter to quarter and from instructor to instructor.

2022-2023 Spring

MAAD 14920 Comparative Media Poetics: Horror

(CMST 14920, CMLT 14920)

Cinema, videogames, and VR: all moving-image media, which have at times exerted multi-directional aesthetic influences on each other. This course will investigate the raw materials and basic forms at the disposal of artists working in and across these media, with a special focus on horror as a genre. Along with fundamental questions regarding the social, psychological, and political uses (and abuses) of horror as a genre, this course will also look at how horror works across a variety of media. In what way do the possibilities available to game developers differ from those available to filmmakers, and vice versa? How are space, time, and action presented and segmented differently across moving images (cinema), interactive moving images (games), and fully-immersive virtual environments (VR)? How do techniques ranging from psychological identification to jump scares work in each medium, and what aesthetic effects are open to one that are not open to the other? Course materials will include horror cinema, horror games (video and otherwise), VR experiences, and written horror literature.

2022-2023 Autumn

MAAD 23820 The Mind as Stage: Podcasting

(TAPS 28320/38320)

Audio storytelling insinuates itself into the day-to-day unlike other narrative forms. People listen to podcasts while they do the dishes, drive to work, or walk the dog. In this hands-on course, we will learn to produce a podcast from idea to final sound mix, and explore the unique opportunities that the podcast form affords the storyteller. Students will complete several short audio exercises, and one larger podcast project. The class will be held remotely, with an emphasis on remote recording techniques and what it means to document this moment using tools of non-fiction, fiction, and oral history.

Sarah Geis
2022-2023 Winter

MAAD 23833 Oral History & Podcasting

(TAPS 28330/38330)

This class explores the potential of the podcast as a form of ethical artistic and social practice. Through the lens of oral history and its associated values—including prioritizing voices that are not often heard, reciprocity, complicating narratives, and the archive—we will explore ways to tell stories of people and communities in sound. Students will develop a grounding in oral history practices and ethics, as well as the skills to produce compelling oral narratives, including audio editing, recording scenes and ambient sound, and using music. During the quarter, students will have several opportunities to practice interviewing and will design their own oral history project. This class is appropriate for students with no audio experience, as well as students who have taken TAPS 28320 The Mind as Stage: Podcasting.

Sarah Geis
2022-2023 Spring

MAAD 24410 Transmedia Puzzle Design & Performance

(TAPS 24410/34410)

This course will introduce students to the burgeoning field of immersive puzzle design. Students will develop, implement, and playtest puzzles that are suited for a range of experiences: from the tabletop to the immersive, from online puzzle hunts to broad-scoped alternate reality games (ARG). Students in this course will work directly with master puzzler Sandor Weisz, the commissioner of The Mystery League.

Sandor Weisz
2022-2023 Autumn

MAAD 24910 Short Form Digital Storytelling: Creating a Web Series

(TAPS 25910)

This course examines the short form storytelling of the digital web series. Through lectures, viewings, and discussions in weekly meetings, students will determine what makes a strong web series and apply the findings to writing and polishing the pilot episode of their own web series. Students will write weekly four-to-five-page assignments building toward the creation of a five-to-six-episode series.

Patrick Wimp
2022-2023 Spring

MAAD 25500 Beginning Screenwriting

(TAPS 15500, CRWR 27102)

This course introduces the basic elements of a literate screenplay, including format, exposition, characterization, dialog, voice-over, adaptation, and the vagaries of the three-act structure. Weekly meetings include a brief lecture period, screenings of scenes from selected films, extended discussion, and assorted readings of class assignments. Because this is primarily a writing class, students write a four- to five-page weekly assignment related to the script topic of the week.

Patrick Wimp
2022-2023 Autumn