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
The Return of the Soviet: War in Soviet and Post-Soviet Media (Ukraine, Belarus)
The current war in Ukraine has shown dramatically the power of visual media to construct social and military conflicts, especially in the post-Soviet borderlands. Some observers believe that the media have created a new geopolitical reality as a kind of phantasm, which explains why in the vast majority of the population in post-Soviet Russia, Belarus and eastern Ukraine support the existing power structures uncritically and even unconditionally. Taking the current situation as a cue, we seek to understand how ideological mechanisms work within visual representations, primarily in representations of war, especially in the construction of the enemy. The roots of the current Russo-Ukrainian conflict will be traced through representations of the Battle of Stalingrad in Soviet and post-Soviet cinema; the image of the partisan in Soviet and post-Soviet media; the work on film of Andrei Tarkovsky, as a symptom of the dialectic of war in Soviet modernity. The representations at issue will mostly be taken from fictional film, but attention will also be paid to other forms of cultural representation: literature, documentary film, television and new media. We will be guided by theoretical resources from critical theory (Marx, Weber, Foucault, Jameson) and psychoanalysis (Freud, Zizek).
RUSS 24201, RUSS 34201
Issues in Film Music
This course will explore the role of film music from its origins in silent film, its significance in the classical Hollywood film, to its increasingly self-reflexive use in recent cinema (both avant-garde and commercial, Western and non-Western). We will look at the ways music plays a central role both as part of the narrative and as non-diegetic music, how its stylistic diversity contributes another semiotic universe to the screen, and how it becomes a central qualifying agent in twentieth-century visual culture. Readings will include selections from Prendergast's, Film Music: A Neglected Art, Gorbman's Unheard Melodies, Kalinak's Settling the Score, Chion's Audio-Vision, Brown's Overtones and Undertones, Marks's Music and the Silent Film, as well as a number of theoretical texts by authors such as Eisler/Adorno, Eisenstein and Kracauer. Since the course will partly focus on technical, compositional, and stylistic aspects of film music, some reading knowledge of music will be helpful, but is not a prerequisite.
This course will examine the contribution of Brecht, the most influential playwright of the twentieth century and its principal theatre theorist, to the practice and theory of theatre and cinema. We will pay particular attention to the relationships between theory and practice in Brecht's own work so as to clarify the use and significance of terms that are both concepts and techniques--epic theatre, Verfremdung, gest, historicizing, refunctioning the apparatus, and the formation of the critical audience--and go on to consider the influence (and refunctioning) of Brechtian theory and practice in more recent work of playwrights (Heiner Müller, Peter Weiss,RW Fassbinder, Athol Fugard, Lynn Nottage...), film-makers (Jean-Luc Godard, Chris Marker, Alexander Kluge, Fassbinder, Pasolini, Djibril Mambety ...), and theorists (Brecht, Barthes, Adorno; Benjamin, Marx, situationists, Jameson and others).
The Department of Cinema and Media Studies with its Film Studies Center is a lively hub of courses and seminars, screenings, and workshops that contribute to the University of Chicago’s longstanding tradition of cross-disciplinary scholarship and intellectual debate. The Department is dedicated to pursuing innovative work in the history, culture, and theory of film and related media.