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Undergraduate and Graduate Courses: Summer 2023

SUMMER SESSION I (May 30-July 12)

Film 170 Introduction to Film Analysis: Cinematic Time Travel
Barry Spence
This is an introduction to film studies and to the analysis of film. The course explores the complex nature and cultural function of cinema by focusing on time travel as both a central theme of a wide range of films and as a way of understanding how cinema works as a time-based medium. By studying films from various points in the global history of cinema - including films from nine countries and five continents - this course performs a transcultural introduction to the formal and stylistic aspects of cinematic storytelling. This course fulfills the I,V Film Certificate requirements. (Gen. Ed. AT)

Film 390M Video Editing & Film Montage (Class Trailer)
William DiGravio
An in-depth immersion into the practice of video editing and film montage. This course will offer a thorough understanding of video editing techniques. Students will gain skills in file management, importing footage, remixing footage, working with audio, recording one?s screen, creating titles and more. Video exercises will be informed by montage theories and practices. Students will learn about various editing techniques employed by filmmakers and then recreate those techniques through practical exercises. The goal of this course is to learn by doing. This course will also offer a brief introduction to online remix culture through assignments. Readings and videos will offer students the opportunity to reflect on how the work they are creating corresponds to an existing creative and scholarly practice. This course fulfills the V Film Certificate requirement, and fulfills the E Film Studies Major requirement.

Film 311 Film Production (Class Trailer)
Nefeli Forni Zervoudak                                                                   
This course will focus on a diversity of challenges in the art of film production. It will cover the phases of project development, financing, pre-production, production design, and executive production, together with post-production and distribution/commercialization. You will have the chance to interact with each other, making the course both practical and dynamic. You will also have the opportunity to assess and exchange the issues you encountered - or may encounter! - on your own work and the projects you have worked on or will work on in the future, receiving personalized feedback. This course fulfills the V Film Certificate requirement and fulfills the E Film Studies Major requirement.

SUMMER SESSION II (July 17-August 25)

Film 284 The Undead Souths (Class Trailer)
Patrick Mensah
This course will explore themes of the Southern Gothic in works of Cinema and  popular Televisual narratives. We will study the development of the lurid motifs of the Gothic that works affiliated with this genre often deploy to invoke a sense of horror and dread, moral corruption, and psychological abjection, all seemingly meant to assimilate the South and its citizens to the category of a degenerate and menacing otherness. The imagery of dismal landscapes, dark swamps, decaying architecture, fanatical and occult religious practices, and the often grotesque or monstrous figures and cultural tropes that aspire to associate the South with an imaginary medieval past, will be examined mostly as marks of an ambivalent ideological struggle surrounding the self-identity of America.  The history of slavery, the civil war, and its aftermath, as well as literature produced by certain Southern writers (such as William Faulkner, Thomas Wolfe, Carson McCullers, Flannery O'Connor, Eudora Welty, Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, Katherine Anne Porter, and others) since the late 19th century, will be identified as important defining contexts of emergence for the Southern gothic, and as the indispensable conditions that have made its deployment into 20th century film and television possible.  Due attention will also be paid to the influence of French colonial adventures and interventions in shaping cultures and "gothic" mythologies of the American South, and the Caribbean, as well as the role played by America's own efforts to secure and maintain hegemonic influences on the region. This course fulfills the III, V Film Certificate requirements. (Gen. Ed. AT, DU)

Film 353 African Film (Class Trailer)
Patrick Mensah
This course offers an introduction to African film as an aesthetic and cultural practice. Students should expect to be familiarized with the key ideas and objectives that have inspired and driven that practice since the early 1960s, and be furnished with the technical tools and methodological skills that would permit them to understand, analyze, and think critically about the artistic and thematic aspects of the films that are screened. They should also expect the course to provide them with a critical peek into several cardinal issues of social and cultural relevance in contemporary Africa and its history. Issues of interest typically include, the nationstate and its declining status, imperatives of decolonization, economic dependency and structural adjustment programs, orality and changing traditional cultures, diasporic migrations, urbanization and its problems, gender relations, civil wars, child soldiers, gangs, and related themes. Filmmakers studied include, but are not limited to, Abderrahmane Sissako, Gillo Pontecorvo, Ousmane Sembene, Raoul Peck, Jean-Marie Teno, Dani Kouyate, Mweze Ngangura, Gavin Hood, Neill Blomkamp, Moufida Tlatli, Djibril Diop Mambety (please note that this list is subject to change, and shall be updated as future changes are made). The course is conducted in English, and requires no prior knowledge of the field. All films are streamed to your computer from the UMass library on demand. Required readings are provided online, and no book purchases are necessary. This course fulfills the III, V Film Certificate requirements and fulfills the N Film Studies Major requirement. (Gen.Ed. AT, DG)

Film 387 The Western in Transnational Cinema
Barry Spence
The Western is one of the oldest of film genres. Usually considered the first Western movie, The Great Train Robbery, released in 1903, is arguably the film that established cinema as a commercial industry of formidable potential. From its earliest instances the Western has been a key cultural expression of the American mythos and has played an integral role in the formation of American identity. We can look at the Western as a cultural form rich in themes concerning: the construction of gender identity; racial politics; the establishment of social order in conflict with the lure of frontier self-determination; the romance of the outlaw; narratives of redemption; vigilante retribution versus the rule of law; human resiliency in and conquest of the natural world; the subjugation (or extermination) of indigenous peoples' and this is to name only an obvious few. But the Western has also been a pivotal form in the history of storytelling media in a very diverse range of nations and cultural contexts, from Japan to India to Italy to Germany to Australia to South Africa to Brazil to Mexico.
This course will, on the one hand, examine the cultural history and legacy of the Western genre in the cinema of the United States. We will study iconic and revisionist examples, looking at both formal and thematic aspects of this cinema as well as its historical relationship to American identity and its social policies and politics. On the other hand, a large part of this course will focus on the Western in relation to a highly diverse range of cinema cultures throughout the world. In particular, we will study the genre's impact on, but also its inheritance from, the cinema traditions of Italy, Japan, China, India, South Korea, and nations of the Global South. This course is designed to challenge conventional understanding of the Western genre by exposing students to interdisciplinary theories oriented toward comprehending the diverse cultural, social, and political perspectives embodied by the transnational engagement with the Western. This course fulfills the III, V Film Certificate requirements and fulfills the D&G Film Studies Major requirement. (Gen. Ed. AT, DG)