Amherst College

Five College Film & Video Course Guide

SPRING 2010 (updated 01/20/10)


Note: Course info may be subject to change and will be updated as more information becomes available. All courses are 4 credits each unless otherwise noted.




Professor Emeritus Reck.

TTh 2-3:20, MEAD 115

A study of selected films from India, Europe, and the United States ranging from popular cinema (Dil Se, Om Shanti Om, Kal Ho Na Ho, Gunga Din, Gandhi, Passage to India) to art cinema (Satyajit Ray’s Apu Trilogy, Charulata, Salaam Bombay, Water). 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.

Undergraduate UMass Film Studies Certificate category: IIB

Five College Film Studies Major category: 5, 6


English 01-04 FILM AND WRITING.

Senior Lecturer von Schmidt.

TTh 11:30-12:50, MERR 4

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 80-minute class meetings and two screenings per week.           

Limited to 25 students.

Undergraduate UMass Film Studies Certificate category: I

Five College Film Studies Major category: 1



MW 2-3:20, JOCH 21

The topic changes each time the course is taught. In spring 2010 the topic will be “Five Contemporary Filmmakers.” The course will study, in some depth, the work and situation of several critically admired contemporary filmmakers, each of whom might be described as a distinctive stylist of the medium, even as each has no less distinctive roots in their native culture. We will ask in what ways their filmmaking style negotiates between their national and cultural roots and the expectations of a worldwide audience. To be considered will be the work of Wong Kar-Wai (Hong Kong), Hou Hsiao-hsien (Taiwan), Abbas Kiarostami (Iran), Pedro Almodóvar (Spain), and either Claire Denis (France) or Michael Haneke (Austria). Two class meetings and two screenings per week.

Undergraduate UMass Film Studies Certificate category: IIB

Five College Film Studies Major category: 4, 6



Professor Hastie.

MW 12:30-1:50, MERR 131

Film theorist Siegfried Kracauer declared that some of the first films showed “life at its least controllable and most unconscious moments, a jumble of transient, forever dissolving patterns accessible only to the camera.” This course will explore the ways contemporary narrative films aesthetically represent everyday life–capturing both its transience and our everyday ruminations. We will further consider the ways we incorporate film into our everyday lives through various modes of viewings (the arthouse, the multiplex, the DVD, the mp3), our means of perception, and in the kinds of souvenirs we keep. We will look at films by Chantal Akerman, Robert Altman, Marleen Gorris, Hirokazu Koreeda, Marzieh Makhmalbaf, Terrence Malick, Lynne Ramsay, Tsai Ming-liang, AgnŹs Varda, Wong Kar-wai, and Andy Warhol. Readings will include work by Roland Barthes, Walter Benjamin, Marlene Dietrich, Sigmund Freud, and various works in film and media studies. Two class meetings and one screening per week.

Not open to first-year students. Limited to 30 students.

Undergraduate UMass Film Studies Certificate category: IIA or IV

Five College Film Studies Major category: 6



Five College Professor Hillman and Professor Woodson.

W 1-4 + lab TBA, WEBS 117

This course will focus on creating a performance, music, and video piece on the themes of migration, displacement, memory and history. The piece will be developed through interdisciplinary experiments that emphasize the exploration of reciprocal relationships within and between the different media. Students will work individually and in collaborative teams and will be involved in the conception, rehearsals and performances of an original performance work directed by the professors. One three-hour class meeting per week plus a lab session.

            This course is for intermediate/advanced performers, videomakers, composers, and designers who have previous experience in any of the above media. Requisite: Previous experience in composition in video, theater, music, creative writing, and/or dance. Admission with consent of the instructor.

Limited to 16 students.

Undergraduate UMass Film Studies Certificate category: IV or V

Five College Film Studies Major category: 8


English 95-04. CINEPHILIA.

Professor Hastie.

Th 2:00-5:00, CONV 302

This course focuses on cinephilia–a passionate, affective engagement with cinema–as a means of seeing both the movies themselves and our critical, historical understanding of them. With a focus on cinephilic figures (the archivist, the filmmaker, the critic, the theorist, the historian, the collector, the teacher, the student), we will also look at particular historical junctures in which cinephilia has arisen in earnest (the photogenie movement in 1910s and 1920s France, post-war French criticism and auteurist production, late twentieth-century enthrallment with international new wave movements). Through experimenting with reading, writing, and viewing habits, we will attempt to inject theoretical work with experiential practices, ultimately asking how (and if) cinephilia might be mobilized today. One class meeting and one screening per week.

Prior film course recommended. Open only to juniors and seniors.

Limited to 15 students.

Undergraduate UMass Film Studies Certificate category: IIA or IV

Five College Film Studies Major category: 7



Professor Rogowski.

TTh 10:00-11:20, CHAP 119

This course examines the German contribution to the emergence of film as both a distinctly modern art form and as a product of mass culture. The international success of Robert Wiene’s Expressionist phantasmagoria, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), heralded the beginning of a period of unparalleled artistic exploration, prior to the advent of Hitler, during which the ground was laid for many of the filmic genres familiar today: horror film (F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu), detective thriller (Fritz Lang’s M), satirical comedy (Ernst Lubitsch’s The Oyster Princess), psychological drama (G.W. Pabst’s Pandora’s Box), science fiction (Lang’s Metropolis), social melodrama (Pabst’s The Joyless Street), historical costume film (Lubitsch’s Passion), political propaganda (Slatan Dudow’s Kuhle Wampe), anti-war epic (Pabst’s Westfront 1918), a documentary montage (Walther Ruttmann’s Berlin–Symphony of a Big City), and the distinctly German genre of the “mountain film” (Leni Riefenstahl’s The Blue Light). Readings, including Siegried Kracauer, Walter Benjamin, Lotte H. Eisner, Béla Balázs, and Rudolf Arnheim, will address questions of technology and modernity, gender relations after World War I, the intersection of politics and film, and the impact of German and Austrian exiles on Hollywood. Conducted in English, with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Undergraduate UMass Film Studies Certificate category: IIB

Five College Film Studies Major category: 5, 6


Law, Jurisprudence & Social Thought 52. FILM, MYTH, AND THE LAW

(Analytic Seminar).

Professor Sarat.

W 8:30-10:30, CLAR 100

The proliferation of law in film and on television has expanded the sphere of legal life itself. Law lives in images that today saturate our culture and have a power all their own, and the moving image provides a domain in which legal power operates independently of law’s formal institutions. This course will consider what happens when legal events are re-narrated in film and examine film’s treatment of legal officials, events, and institutions (e.g., police, lawyers, judges, trials, executions, prisons). Does film open up new possibilities of judgment, model new modes of interpretation, and provide new insights into law’s violence? We will discuss ways in which myths about law are reproduced and contested in film. Moreover, attending to the visual dimensions of law’s imagined lives, we ask whether law provides a template for film spectatorship, positioning viewers as detectives and as jurors, and whether film, in turn, sponsors a distinctive visual aesthetics of law. Among the films we may consider are Inherit the Wind, Call Northside 777, Judgment at Nuremberg, Rear Window, Silence of the Lambs, A Question of Silence, The Sweet Hereafter, Dead Man Walking, Basic Instinct, and Unforgiven. Throughout we will draw upon film theory and criticism as well as the scholarly literature on law, myth, and film.   

Requisite: LJST 01 or 10 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students.

Undergraduate UMass Film Studies Certificate category: IIA or IIB

Five College Film Studies Major category: 7


Spanish 33. SPANISH FILM.

Professor Maraniss.

TTh 11-30-12:50, FAYE 113

This course features Luis BuĖuel, his early association with the Spanish literary and artistic vanguard (Valle-Inclán, García Lorca, Dalí), his life and his work within surrealism in France, commercialism in Hollywood, exile in Mexico, and later apotheosis as an old master of European cinema. Conducted in English.

Limited to 35 students.

Undergraduate UMass Film Studies Certificate category: IIB

Five College Film Studies Major category: 5, 6