Courses

Post-War American Avant-Garde

21810
31810
ARTH 21810; ARTH 31810
  • Graduate/Undergraduate
  • Autumn
  • 2018-2019
Tom Gunning

In the 1940's the American avant garde cinema gained a new identity with the work of filmmakers like Maya Deren, and Kenneth Anger. Working primarily in 16mm, exhibiting mainly in non-commercial theaters, pursuing new models of sexuality, perception and political action, a generation of filmmakers formulated an alternative cinema culture and a new visionary aesthetic. This tradition gained further definition in the following, with journals, new critical discourses and a network of exhibition. Film modes moved through the mythic and dream-like cinema of Stan Brakhage, Bruce Baillie, the underground cinema of Ken Jacobs, Andy Warhol and Jack Smith, and the structural films of Hollis Frampton, Michael Snow and Ernie Gehr. The course will trace these develops and examine its legacy.

French Cinema of the 30s

23404
33404
FREN 23404; FREN 33404
  • Graduate/Undergraduate
  • Autumn
  • 2018-2019
Jennifer Wild

In our study of this important decade in the history of French cinema, we will track the rise of the poetic realist style from the culture of experimentation that was alive in both the French film industry and its surrounding artistic and literary landscape. As an exercise in the excavation of a history of film style, we will consider the salient features of the socio-political, cultural, theoretical, and critical landscape that define the emergence and the apex of poetic realism, and that reveal it as a complicated nexus in the history of film aesthetics. Main texts by Dudley Andrew and Richard Abel will accompany a wide range of primary texts.

Prerequisites: CMST 10100, ARTH 20000, ENGL 10800, ARTV 25300, or consent of instructor.

Course Description Notes: This class is cross-listed with the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures and may be accompanied by a French language section.

Philippe Parreno's Media Temporalities

23412
33412
ARTH 21320; ARTH 31320; MAAD 21320
  • Graduate/Undergraduate
  • Autumn
  • 2018-2019
Ina Blom

In the 2013 exhibition "Anywhere, Anywhere Out of the World, the French artist Philippe Parreno (b. 1964) turned the monumental space of the Palais de Tokyo in Paris into a living, evolving organism, where music, light, films, images, and performances led visitors through a precisely choreographed journey of discovery, based on the idiosyncratic body of work that he had created since the early 1990s. This course is devoted to an in-depth study of Parreno's work and the highly original form of media thinking that informs it. Rather than focusing on the properties of distinct media or on multimedial forms or presentation, his works explore the new forms of life and social existence that result from the various ways in which 20th- and 21st-century media technologies store, manipulate, and produce time. This is a form of thinking and artistic creation that addresses the realities of formats, programs, and platforms rather than media apparatuses and messages, and that engages everything from architecture and design to social situations, natural worlds, and virtual beings. (The course will be taught in collaboration with Jörn Schafaff).

Documentary Production I

23930
33930
ARTV 23930; ARTV 33930; HMRT 25106; HMRT 35106; MAAD 23930
  • Graduate/Undergraduate
  • Autumn
  • 2018-2019
Judy Hoffman

This course is intended to develop skills in documentary production so that students may apply for Documentary Production II. Documentary Production I focuses on the making of independent documentary video. Examples of various styles of documentary will be screened and discussed. Issues embedded in the documentary genre, such as the ethics and politics of representation and the shifting lines between fact and fiction will be explored. Pre-production methodologies, production, and post-production techniques will be taught. Students will be expected to develop an idea for a documentary video, crews will be formed, and each crew will produce a five-minute documentary. Students will also be expected to purchase an external hard drive.

Augmented Reality Production

27911
37911
ARTV 27921; ARTV 37921
  • Graduate/Undergraduate
  • Autumn
  • 2018-2019
Marc Downie

Focusing on experimental moving-image approaches at a crucial moment in the emerging medium of augmented reality, this class will explore and interrogate each stage of production of AR works. Students in this production-based class will examine the techniques and opportunities of this new kind of moving image. During this class we'll study the construction of examples across a gamut from locative media, journalism, and gameplay-based works to museum installations. Students will complete a series of critical essays and sketches towards a final augmented reality project using a custom set of software tools developed in and for the class.

Methods and Issues in Cinema Studies

40000
MAPH 33000; ENGL 48000; ARTH 39900
  • Graduate
  • Autumn
  • 2018-2019
Daniel Morgan

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.

History of International Cinema, Part I: Silent Era

28500
48500
CMLT 22400; CMLT 32400; ENGL 29300; ENGL 48700; ARTH 28500; ARTH 38500; MAPH 33600; ARTV 20002
  • Graduate/Undergraduate
  • Autumn
  • 2018-2019
Allyson Field

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.

Gender, Sexuality, Imagination

20430
30430
MAAD 10403
  • Graduate/Undergraduate
  • Winter
  • 2018-2019
Kara Keeling

This course explores the relationships between theories of the imagination and those of gender and sexuality, with a particular emphasis on the relevance of this exploration to cinema and media studies.

Cinema and the Holocaust

22507
32507
REES 27027; REES 37027; JWSC 29550
  • Graduate/Undergraduate
  • Winter
  • 2018-2019
Bożena Shallcross

Focuses on cinematic responses by several leading film directors from East & Central Europe to a central event of 20th century history -- the Holocaust. Nazis began a cinematic documentation of WWII at its onset, positioning cameras in places of actual atrocities. Documentary footage produced was framed by hostile propagandistic schemes; contrary to this ‘method’, Holocaust feature films are all but a representation of Jewish genocide produced after the actual traumatic events. This class aims at discussing the challenge of representing the Jewish genocide which has often been defined as un-representable. Because of this challenge, Holocaust films raise questions of ethical responsibility for cinematic production & a search for relevant artistic means with which to engage post-traumatic representation. Therefore, among major tropes we will analyze voyeuristic evocation of death & suffering; a truthful representation of violence versus purported necessity of its cinematic aesthetization; intertwined notions of chance & hope as conditions of survival versus hagiographic representation of victims. The main goal is to grasp the potential of cinema for deepening our understanding of the Holocaust, the course simultaneously explores extensive & continuous cinematic production of the genre & its historical development in various European countries, to mention the impact of censorship by official ideologies in the Soviet Union, Poland, Hungary, & Czechoslovakia during the Cold War.

Pasolini

23500
33500
ITAL 28400; ITAL 38400; GNSE 28600; FNDL 28401
  • Graduate/Undergraduate
  • Winter
  • 2018-2019
Armando Maggi

This course examines each aspect of Pasolini's artistic production according to the most recent literary and cultural theories, including Gender Studies. We shall analyze his poetry (in particular "Le Ceneri di Gramsci" and "Poesie informa di rosa"), some of his novels ("Ragazzi di vita," "Una vita violenta," "Teorema," "Petrolio"), and his numerous essays on the relationship between standard Italian and dialects, semiotics and cinema, and the role of intellectuals in contemporary Western culture. We shall also discuss the following films: "Accattone," "La ricotta," "Edipo Re," "Teorema," and "Salo".

Documentary Production II

23931
33931
ARTV 23931; ARTV 33931; HMRT 25107; HMRT 35107; MAAD 23931
  • Graduate/Undergraduate
  • Winter
  • 2018-2019
Judy Hoffman

This course focuses on the shaping and crafting of a nonfiction video. Students are expected to write a treatment detailing their project. Production techniques focus on the handheld camera versus tripod, interviewing and microphone placement, and lighting for the interview. Postproduction covers finishing techniques. Students then screen final projects in a public space.

Prerequisites - CMST 23930, HMRT 25106, ARTV 23930, MAAD 23930

Cinema in Africa

24201
34201
ENGL 27600; ENGL 48601; CMLT 22900; CMLT 42900; CRES 24201; CRES 34201
  • Graduate/Undergraduate
  • Winter
  • 2018-2019
Loren Kruger

This course examines Africa in film as well as films produced in Africa. It places cinema in Sub Saharan Africa in its social, cultural, and aesthetic contexts ranging from neocolonial to postcolonial, Western to Southern Africa, documentary to fiction, art cinema to TV. We will begin with La Noire de... (1966), ground-breaking film by the "father" of African cinema, Ousmane Sembene, contrasted w/ a South African film, African Jim (1959) that more closely resembles African American musical film, and anti-colonial and anti apartheid films from Lionel Rogosin's Come Back Africa (1959) to Sarah Maldoror's Sambizanga, Ousmane Sembenes Camp de Thiaroye (1984), and Jean Marie Teno'ss Afrique, Je te Plumerai (1995). The rest of the course will examine cinematic representations of tensions between urban and rural, traditional and modern life, and the different implications of these tensions for men and women, Western and Southern Africa, in fiction, documentary and ethnographic film, including 21st century work where available.

Kurosawa and Their Literary Sources

34922
CMLT 43302; EALC 33312; REES 39814; SCTH 34012
  • Graduate
  • Winter
  • 2018-2019
Olga Solovieva

This interdisciplinary graduate course focuses on nine films of Akira Kurosawa which were based on literary sources ranging from Ryunosuke Akutagawa, Georges Simenon, and Shakespeare to Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Gorky, and Arseniev. The course will not only introduce some theoretical and intermedial problems of adaptation of literature to film but also address cultural and political implications of Kurosawa’s adaptation of classic and foreign sources. We will study how Kurosawa’s turn to literary adaptation provided a vehicle for circumventing social taboos of his time and offered a screen for addressing politically sensitive and sometimes censored topics of Japan’s militarist past, war crimes, defeat in the Second World War, and ideological conflicts of reconstruction. The course will combine film analysis with close reading of relevant literary sources, contextualized by current work of political, economic, and cultural historians of postwar Japan. Prerequisites: Good reading knowledge of Japanese; successful completion of Intro to Film, or Close Analysis of Film

Alternate Reality Games: Theory and Production

25954
35954
ENGL 25970; ENGL 32314; BPRO 28700; MAAD 25954; ARTV 20700; ARTV 30700; TAPS 28466
  • Graduate/Undergraduate
  • Winter
  • 2018-2019
Patrick Jagoda; Heidi Coleman

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.

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

Filming the Police

27005
37005
MAAD 12005
  • Graduate/Undergraduate
  • Winter
  • 2018-2019
Salomé Skvirsky

“Filming the police” as a research topic has been taken up in a range of disciplines and subfields from legal and information studies to surveillance and police studies.  In film and media studies, the 1991 George Holliday video of the beating of Rodney King by the LAPD played an important and controversial role in the formation of documentary studies as a subfield and in debates about indexicality, the nature of photographic evidence, and realism—issues at the core of the discipline. While this course will survey the topic of the filming of police from multiple perspectives, it aims to construct a specifically disciplinary framework for research on police violence.  What can film and media studies bring to research on police?
With an eye toward this aim, over the quarter we will pursue the following questions: 1) Given the range of kinds of documentation and data of/on police violence, how should we understand the specificity of audio-visual records of police brutality? 2) How has the significance and uses of photographic documentation of state violence changed across time, context, and across a shifting media landscape? In other words, what are the differences between the uses to which images have been put in lynching photography, in Civil Rights Movement photography, in Holocaust photography, in the Rodney King video, in the Oscar Grant videos, and in the Laquan McDonald dashboard camera video? And how is the photographic documentation of state violence peculiar as compared with other forms of image-based documentation of violence? 3) What is the relation and interpenetration of cultural—especially televisual—representations of police (e.g. COPS, CSI, Law & Order, The Wire, etc.) and the actual organization and practices of law enforcement institutions and agents? 4) What are the political strategies that undergird citizen journalism and sousveillance practices such as “cop watching” and how effective (and for what) are such practices? 5) How have the videos of police violence circulated, and how have debates about the ethics of viewing shaped activism as well as aesthetic responses?


Readings by Susan Sontag, Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison, Georges Didi-Huberman, Elizabeth Alexander, Eyal Weizman, Courtney Baker, Jennifer Malkowski, Jamie Kalven, Richard Ericson and Kevin Haggerty, Alex Vitale—among others. Topics to include dashboard and body cameras; surveillance, sousveillance, and the regime of visibility; citizen and investigative journalism; video storage and archiving; evidence in court proceedings and in the public sphere; police, media, and ideology; the ethics and politics of looking at black suffering; art about police violence; filming the police in an international frame.

Theories of Media

27800
37800
ENGL 12800; ENGL 32800; ARTH 25900; ARTH 35900; ARTV 20400; AMER 30800
  • Graduate/Undergraduate
  • Winter
  • 2018-2019
W. J. T. Mitchell

This course will explore the concept of media and mediation in very broad terms, looking not only at modern technical media and mass media, but at the very idea of a medium as a means of communication, a set of institutional practices, and a habitat in which images proliferate and take on a "life of their own." The course will deal as much with ancient as with modern media, with writing, sculpture, and painting as well as television and virtual reality. Readings will include classic texts such as Plato's Allegory of the Cave and Cratylus, Aristotle's Poetics, and modern texts such as Marshall McLuhan's Understanding Media, Regis Debray's Mediology, and Friedrich Kittler's Gramophone, Film, Typewriter. We will explore questions such as the following: What is a medium? What is the relation of technology to media? How do media affect, simulate, and stimulate sensory experiences? What sense can we make of concepts such as the "unmediated" or "immediate"? How do media become intelligible and concrete in the form of "metapictures" or exemplary instances, as when a medium reflects on itself (films about films, paintings about painting)? Is there a system of media? How do we tell one medium from another, and how do they become "mixed" in hybrid, intermedial formations? We will also look at recent films such as The Matrix and Existenz that project fantasies of a world of total mediation and hyperreality.

Opera and Film, China/Europe

44601
EALC 41401; MUSI 45019; TAPS 41401; ITAL 41419
  • Graduate
  • Winter
  • 2018-2019
Judith Zeitlin; Martha Feldman

This seminar will explore the mutual attraction of cinema and opera across the two vast operatic cultures of Europe and China in order to interrogate the many cross-cultural issues that their media encounters produce and accentuate. Such issues include changing relations to myth, ritual, history, and politics; cross-dressing and gender-bending; closed forms or open; stock characters wand plots or narrative fluidity. We will ask why in both China and Europe, opera repeatedly became the conflicted site of nationalist and modernizing aspirations, reiterations of tradition, and attempts at avant-gardism. When the presumed realism of film meets the extravagant hyperperformativity of opera, the encounter produces some extraordinary third kinds-media hybrids. Film repeatedly wrestled with the inherent histrionics of opera through the use of such devices as close-ups, camera angles, shot reverse shot, displacement of sound from sight, acousmatic sound, and trick photography. Such devices were generally meant to suture the supposed improbabilities of the operatic art form, incongruities often based on extravagant and transcendent relationships to realism. Such cinematic renderings of opera are highly revealing of fundamental faultlines in the genres themselves and revealing of the cultures that produced them.

History of International Cinema, Part II: Sound to 1960

28600
48600
CMLT 22500; CMLT 32500; ENGL 29600; ENGL 48900; ARTH 28600; ARTH 38600; MAPH 33700; ARTV 20003
  • Graduate/Undergraduate
  • Winter
  • 2018-2019
Robert Bird

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.

Course Description Notes - CMST 28500/48500 strongly recommended

Minstrelsy-Vaudeville-Cinema: Racialized Performance and American Popular Culture

61820
  • Graduate
  • Winter
  • 2018-2019
Allyson Field

What would it mean to say that minstrelsy was a foundational practice in the development of American popular culture, and that the emergence of American cinema must be understood through the lens of its ubiquity? This course therefore investigates the persistence of minstrelsy in American popular culture from the early 19th century to the turn of the 20th century. It traces the development of its tropes, themes, and practices from traveling tent shows to the variety theater of vaudeville and to the emergence of cinema. We will attempt to make legible the functionings of its racist caricatures, account for its popularity and longevity, and explore moments of creative resistance to its dehumanizing portrayals of African Americans. We will look at 19th century performers and composers including T.D. Rice, Billy Kersands, Stephen Foster, Bert Williams and George Walker, Ernest Hogan, May Irwin, Sissieretta Jones. We will also consider later filmmakers working with and against the racialized representations of minstrelsy including D.W. Griffith, Al Jolson, Oscar Micheaux, and Stepin Fetchit, and contemporary reimaginings, confrontations and reckonings, including those of Spike Lee, Dave Chappelle, Christopher Harris, and Edgar Arceneaux. Emphasis will be on methods of primary historical research as well as theories of race, gender and performance.

The Image in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

67820
  • Graduate
  • Winter
  • 2018-2019
Marc Downie

This course will examine closely the recent dramatic advantages in the fields of image analysis and generation in a broad range of contexts: from the lab to their everyday use in social media and government surveillance. Students will be given the opportunity to sharpen their understanding of the possibilities and limits of machine learning by testing contemporary algorithms against datasets of their own design. This course seeks to close the critical and cultural distance between industrial advances in image understanding, the scientific discourses behind this field, and conceptions and uses of the image traditionally available to the humanities.

Screening India: Bollywood and Beyond

24112
34112
SALC 20511; SALC 30511; HIST 26808; HIST 36808; KNOW 24112; KNOW 34112
  • Graduate/Undergraduate
  • Spring
  • 2018-2019
Rochona Majumdar

Cinema is, unarguably, the medium most apposite for thinking through the complexities of democratic politics, especially so in a place like India. While Indian cinema has recently gained international currency through the song and dance ensembles of Bollywood, there remains much more to be said about that body of films. Moreover, Bollywood is a small (though very important) part of Indian cinema. Through a close analysis of a wide range of films in Hindi, Bengali, Kannada, and Urdu, this course will ask if Indian cinema can be thought of as a form of knowledge of the twentieth century.

Film and Revolution

24521
34521
REES 26701; REES 36071
  • Graduate/Undergraduate
  • Spring
  • 2018-2019
Robert Bird; Cauleen Smith

On the fiftieth anniversary of 1968 our course couples the study of revolutionary films (and films about revolution) with seminal readings on revolutionary ideology and on the theory of film and video. The goal will be to articulate the mechanics of revolution and its representation in time-based media. Students will produce a video or videos adapting the rich archive of revolutionary film for today's situation. The films screened will be drawn primarily from Soviet and US cinema, from the 1920s to the present day, proceeding more or less chronologically. We begin with newsreels and a "poetic documentary" by Dziga Vertov; they will be paired with classic readings from revolutionary theory, from Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin to Fidel Castro and Bill Ayres, and from film theory, including Vertov, Andre Bazin and Jean-Luc Godard. Readings will acquaint students with contemporary assessments of the emancipatory potential of film.

The Underground: Alienation, Mobilization, Resistance

24568
34568
REES 26068; REES 36068; SIGN 26012
  • Graduate/Undergraduate
  • Spring
  • 2018-2019
Robert Bird

The ancient and multivalent image of the underground has crystallized over the last two centuries to denote sites of disaffection from-and strategies of resistance to-dominant social, political and cultural systems. We will trace the development of this metaphor from the Underground Railroad in the mid-1800s and the French Resistance during World War II to the Weather Underground in the 1960s-1970s, while also considering it as a literary and artistic concept, from Fyodor Dostoevsky's Notes from the Underground and Ellison's Invisible Man to Chris Marker's film La Jetée and Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker. Alongside with such literary and cinematic tales, drawing theoretical guidance from refuseniks from Henry David Thoreau to Guy Debord, this course investigates how countercultural spaces become-or fail to become-sites of political resistance, and also how dissenting ideologies give rise to countercultural spaces. We ask about the relation between social deviance (the failure to meet social norms, whether willingly or unwittingly) and political resistance, especially in the conditions of late capitalism and neo-colonialism, when countercultural literature, film and music (rock, punk, hip-hop, DIY aesthetics etc.) get absorbed into-and coopted by-the hegemonic socio-economic system. In closing we will also consider contemporary forms of dissidence-from Pussy Riot to Black Lives Matter-that rely both on the vulnerability of individual bodies and global communication networks.

Kafka and Performance

28310
38310
GRMN 32110; TAPS 22110; TAPS 32110; FNDL 22115
  • Graduate/Undergraduate
  • Spring
  • 2018-2019
David Levin; Seth Bockley

This laboratory seminar is devoted to exploring the texts of Franz Kafka through the lens of performance. In addition to weekly scenic experiments and extensive critical readings (on Kafka as well as performance theory) we will explore the rich history of adapting Kafka in film, theater, puppetry, opera, and performance.

Problems in the Study of Gender and Sexuality: Media Wars

20400
40400
GNSE 11005; GNSE 31105; MAAD 20400
  • Graduate/Undergraduate
  • Spring
  • 2018-2019
Jennifer Wild; Lara Janson

In our contemporary moment, we have become accustomed to terms such as 'counter-terrorism' that signal an effort to resist internal and external threats, and those suggesting that we live in an age of 'post-truth' dominated by 'corporate-media,' 'fake news,' and 'fact-challenged' journalism. Taking this platform as our starting place, this class explores how these terms and their use have been gendered; have situated both gender and sexuality as either weapons of resistance or objects of destruction. This class will be historically organized insofar as we will begin our discussion with ways that media - broadly conceived to include cinema, print and visual-cultural forms, television, and the internet - have aimed to 'counter' patriarchal, heteronormative, and hegemonic systems of representation of gender and sexuality.

Theory, Blackness, and Cinema

61032
  • Graduate
  • Spring
  • 2018-2019
Kara Keeling

This seminar explores what might be encountered under the categories of “Blackness” and “audio-visuality” with an emphasis on African-American and Black diasporic audio-visual culture. We will consider a range of studies of “Blackness” produced in English in the areas of African American and Black Studies, cinema and media studies, performance studies, art history, and visual studies.

History in the Image

63701
FREN 43713; ARTH 43701
  • Graduate
  • Spring
  • 2018-2019
Jennifer Wild

The New Wave. The Neo-Avant Garde. Rarely have these film and art movements been placed into an explicit historical or theoretical dialog or dialectic. It will be the task of this seminar to do just that. We will begin our study with a brief look into the pre-WWII situation of radical art and film movements, and classic theories of the avant-garde and neo-avant-garde. Turning our attention to the rise of Lettrism within the context of post-war film and art culture, we will subsequently evaluate the conditions that surrounded the emergence of New Wave filmmaking and criticism, and that include the Situationist International and Nouveau Réalisme. As we move toward and beyond the events of May 1968, we will bring our study of social documentary, politically militant forms, collective film and art practices, and historiography to bear on purportedly stable understandings of the New Wave, its art historical forebearers, and its heirs. Reading knowledge of French is required. While some of our texts will appear in English translation, many will not. The seminar will be conducted in English, but the last thirty minutes of each session will be conducted in French. This component is intended to improve students’ oral proficiency, but it will not be used in student evaluation. Screenings are mandatory. With some possible exceptions, films will be subtitled. Students enrolled in FREN 43713 will be required to complete all reading and writing in French.

Film Theory and the Competition of Modernisms

67411
ARTH 47411
  • Graduate
  • Spring
  • 2018-2019
Daniel Morgan

This seminar explores the emergence of film theory during the period between the mid-1960s and mid-1970s. Part of the aim is historiographic: to look at accounts of how and why something called Film Theory emerged in the wake of a set of intellectual, political, and institutional forces. The main focus of the seminar, however, will be to create an alternate approach to a set of questions that—as the recent resurgence of work on Film Theory show—have not gone away, and also to pick up a set of questions and topics that got left by the wayside. We’ll examine the idea that film theory arose in these years as a struggle over the legacy and meaning of modernism, especially an inheritance of modernist movements in the 1920s and 1930s. Among the central ideas to be explored is that the line between theory and criticism was extremely porous in this period, and that film theory emerged out of a sustained dialogue with debates in art history. The seminar will trace three strands of film theory that laid claim to different modernist traditions: one exemplified by Stanley Cavell and Michael Fried; a second by Annette Michelson and Rosalind Krauss; and a third by Peter Wollen and what has been called “Screen Theory.” Readings will position central texts from these strands of theory alongside their modernist influences, from Cubism to Duchamp to Dada to Benjamin to Brecht. The debates between major journals of the time, including Art Forum, October, and Screen, will be central to this history. Screenings will focus on work from Classical Hollywood, the rise of global new waves, and the American avant-garde.