AMHERST COLLEGE - SPRING 2007
Courses in Film and Video Arts
Asian Languages and Civilizations 30 INDIA IN FILM: HOLLYWOOD, BOLLYWOOD, MOLLYWOOD
A study of selected films from India, Europe, and the United States ranging from popular cinema (Meera Nam Joker, Taal, Indian, Kal Ho Na Ho, Gunga Din, Bhawani Junction, Black Narcissus, Gandhi, Passage to India) to art cinema (Satyajit Ray’s Apu Trilogy, Charulata, Spices, Samskara, Salaam Bombay). In which ways are the themes, characters, plot, structures and techniques of the films culturally specific? Using Edward Said’s book Orientalism as a starting point, this course will explore how Western films deal with the exotic, and conversely, how Indian films present the idea of Self and reaffirm (or contradict) the ideals and values of Indian society.
Limited to 30 students. This course will be offered only once.
English 01-02 VAMPIRES, IMMIGRANTS, NATIONS
Visiting Professor Hudson
MW 12:30-1:50 + Mon film screening at 4 or 7:30
This course acquaints first-year students with the critical study of “entertainment” film by reading vampire films as immigration stories and by considering these films in terms of the uneven and unequal global circulation of audiovisual media. The course situates cinematic vampires within the historical and cultural context of pre-cinematic vampires, including vampires from central and eastern European folklore, vampires from western European literature and drama, as well as supernatural creatures from much older traditions, such as the Indian vet ~ la and the Chinese jiang shi, that come to be confused with vampires through colonialism, modernity, postcolonialism, and postmodernity. Frequent writing assignments emphasize textual analysis of film in terms of its formal properties and generic codes and conventions, whether from horror and melodrama, or from masala and wu xia, to support thematic analysis. The course asks students to consider ways that vampirism functions in European, North American, and Asian popular cinemas in relation to questions of cultural assimilation, racialization, nativism, nationalism, and foreign intervention. The course asks students to reflect upon the politics of entertainment in films from Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Pakistan, the UK, and the US. Weekly film screening.
Limited to 15 students.
English 19 FILM AND WRITING
Senior Lecturer von Schmidt
A first course in reading films and writing about them. A varied selection of films for study and criticism, partly to illustrate the main elements of film language and partly to pose challenging texts for reading and writing. Frequent short papers. Two 90-minute class meetings and two screenings per week.
English 24 SCREENWRITING
Visiting Lecturer Johnson.
This course is a first workshop in narrative screenplay writing. The “screenplay” is a unique and ephemeral form that exists as a blueprint for something else–a finished film. How do you convey this audio-visual medium (movies) on the page? In order to do that, the screenwriter must have some sense of what the “language of film” is, as well as some sense of what kinds of stories movies–as opposed to novels, plays, or short stories–tell well. This course will try to analyze both the language of film and the shape of film stories, as a means toward teaching the craft of screenwriting. Frequent exercises, readings, and screenings.
This course is limited in enrollment. Preregistration is not allowed. Please consult the Creative Writing Center website for information on admission to this course.
English 84-01 “WHAT IS CINEMA?”
The topic in spring 2007 is borrowed from the title of André Bazin’s collection of writings on the medium: “What Is Cinema?” The question motivates much of the speculative writing about film in the twentieth century. We will read fairly widely among such writings: by Eisenstein, Arnheim, Bazin, Pasolini, Benjamin, Bresson, Barthes, Cavell, Deleuze, and others. Although some attention will be paid to “film theory,” the course is not intended to address or survey that topic directly. There will be screenings appropriate to the topics of discussion.
Recommended requisite: at least another college-level course in film.
English 84-02 HOLLYWOOD AND AMERICAN FILM
Visiting Professor Hudson
MW 2-3:20 + Tues film screening at 4 or 7:30
This course approaches the history of film production, distribution, and exhibition in Hollywood’s “home” market of the US and Canada by comparing historiographic methodologies and analyzing the changing definitions of the terms “ Hollywood” and “American”–and even the term “film”–over the past century. The course analyzes ways that the economic practices, organizational structures, management hierarchies, marketing and exhibition strategies, labor issues, and aesthetic/stylistic formations of Hollywood have changed over different historical periods and formations including the golden age of the studio system, the advent of the Production Code, the relationship between Hollywood and the US government during the second World War, the Paramount decree and the breakup of the studio system, the rise of the New Hollywood, the development of global Hollywood, the corporatization of independent cinema in the late 1980s, and the emergence of new media in the 1990s. This course explores the transformation of Hollywood from an oligopoly of movie factories to a sector within the transindustrial synergy of transnational entertainment media corporations, from vertical to horizontal integration, from fordist to post-fordist production models, and from old to new media. Alongside industrial and social history, the course considers ways that Hollywood responds to changing conceptions of “ America” and its place in the world by examining representations of racial, ethnic, religious, national, and sexual difference, as well as important continuities and disruptions within these representations in independent film. Weekly film screening.
English 89 PRODUCTION SEMINAR IN THE MOVING IMAGE
Five College Professor Hillman
Wed 2:00-4:50 + Wed film screening at 7
This is an advanced production/theory course for video students interested in developing and strengthening the elements of cinematography, editing, directing and performance in their work. The course will include workshops in non-linear editing, lighting, sound recording and cinematography. The class will emphasize the development of individual approaches to image, sound and text. Students will complete four production assignments. Weekly screenings and critical readings will introduce students to a wide range of approaches to narrative, documentary and hybrid structures within early and contemporary film and videomaking. We will study works by Louis Feuillade, Wong Kar Wai, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Nagisa Oshima, and Lucrecia Martel among others. Readings by Gilles Deleuze, Hamid Naficy, Jane Campion, Guy Debord and Maureen Turim.
Requisite: English 82, Video I or Introduction to Media Production. Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students.
German 61 DIGITAL CULTURES
This course examines the interactions between contemporary critical and cultural theory and digital cultures, addressing issues of identity construction, gender, corporeal vs. psychic presence, interactivity, bodily motion and motion capture, community, interface, performativity, duration, and representation. We will be looking at work produced internationally, and will focus our attention on interactive projects created in Germany, where a tremendous amount of new media works have been created recently. We will also explore material from websites and from recent international symposia and exhibitions of electronic art, and view a number of films.
Readings will be drawn from theoretical, literary, philosophical, psychoanalytic, and architectural texts, as well as from multimedia-authoring texts, exhibition catalogs, and international cybermagazines. Students will develop and produce projects involving text, still and moving image, and sound, in digital format. No previous experience with computers is required. Conducted in English, with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.
Spanish 54 LATIN-AMERICAN CINEMA
A panoramic view of trends, film-makers, and styles from the 1940s to the present. Countries whose industries will be analyzed include
Mexico, Cuba, Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico. The student will be exposed to a large variety of directors, including Luis Bu Z uel, Emilio ‘El Indio’ Fernández, Hector Babenco, Eliseo Subiela, and Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, Alfonso Cuarón, and Alejandro González I Z árritu. Course will be taught in Spanish.
Requisite: Spanish 07 or equivalent.
Theater and Dance 27 THE CHANGING IMAGES OF BLACKS IN FILM
(Also Black Studies 18 and English 93.) Images in film reflect our culture. We can learn a great deal about the social dynamics, power struggles, truths and manipulations in American culture by examining the changing images in film over time. Arguably the most important social dynamic in our country’s history has been that of race relations, something seen most poignantly in the context of Black and White. By examining the changing images of Blacks in film, we can see that film is not a neutral reflection of “reality” but a way to represent and shape social reality to the advantage and disadvantage of those seeking social control and social liberation. As we survey films from history and our present, we will look at how images tell stories, how they need to be seen in context, and how dramatic structures reflect social constructs. In this class our journey will take us from the celebration of the Ku Klux Klan in what some still consider to be our most important film to Mammies and coons, from brave early attempts at independent Black filmmaking to the popularity and paradoxes of Blaxploitation; from “Super Sidney” to our modern era of Black characters reflecting hope and ambiguity. Examining the changing images of Blacks in film provides a fascinating look at the pain and promise of our attempts to use film to define and redefine ourselves as a nation.