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Viewing: ARTH 295 C1: Cinema and Media

Last approved: Fri, 12 Apr 2019 20:57:47 GMT

Last edit: Fri, 12 Apr 2019 20:57:47 GMT

First Name Last Name Userid Title Home School Org Short Name
Karen Redrobe redkaren Elliot and Roslyn Jaffe Professor of Cinema and Modern Media School of Arts and Sciences History of Art
Spring 2019
Spring 2019
Cinema and Media
This course will provide an introduction to some of the most important film theory debates, and allow us to explore how writers and filmmakers from different countries and historical periods have attempted to make sense of the changing phenomenon known as "cinema," to think cinematically. Topics under consideration may include: spectatorship, authorship, the apparatus, sound, editing, realism, race, gender and sexuality, stardom, the culture industry, the nation and decolonization, what counts as film theory and what counts as cinema, and the challenges of considering film theory in a global context, including the challenge of working across languages. There will be a weekly film screening for this course. No knowledge of film theory is presumed. Course requirements: attendance at lecture and participation in lecture and section discussions; canvas postings; 1 in-class mid-term; 1 final project.

Foundational Approach

Course not offered every year
Cross Cultural Analysis
Standing Faculty
Standing Faculty
The Global Film Theory Course was introduced as a partner to Prof. Rahul Mukherjee's Global Media course, and is a course that introduces students to some of the debates that are shaping Cinema and Media Studies. We examine critiques of film theory as it has been anthologized as white and Eurocentric, and then explore different generations of attempts within the field to make film theory "go global."
This course aims to introduce students both to some of the foundational concepts at the heart of film theory, such as medium, realism, virtuality, object, and to think about the way that these debates have been taken up, adapted, or rejected around the world. In the course of the class, we introduce students to debates around terms such as "global," "international," "transnational" as they have emerged within film theory conversations. Adopting some of the methods that have emerged within comparative literature, we also ask students to think about the ethics of comparison.

Methods of Assessment

Students write a weekly Canvas post, which is discussed in sections and graded.
Students do an in-class midterm (3 short essays) and then a take-home final, which takes the form of a single longer essay (no more than 10 pages).
Participation in discussion sections; Canvas posting; extra credit given for attention global film theory events on campus.

Cross Cultural Analysis

The course takes different concepts that have emerged within film theory debates, such as "reality" or "virtuality," and then looks comparatively at how specific cultures have taken up this term in their filmmaking practices and scholarly or critical writing. For example, we compare how different cultures understand the concept of "cinema," from the Korean blockbuster as it reacts to and adapts to both Korean art cinema and the Hollywood blockbuster, to the cinema-clubs of Burkina Faso. We compare notions of realism as they have emerged within European film theory and Italian neorealism with competing practices and theories of realism and world making, including "anime-manga realism" in Japan, and adaptations of realism by Inuit indigenous filmmakers.
We take the space of various film festivals, including Tashkent, FESPACO, and Cannes, and think of them as "contact zones" that allow or prevent different kinds of exchange, distribution, and circulation of ideas and aesthetics. We also consider how academic anthologies enable or prevent the sharing of ideas, and read scholarship about how to disrupt some of the ways in which academic silos are created. The essays we ask students to write encourage them to consider critiques and ideas raised in one zone and consider what it would mean to "translate" these ideas into another.
We think about film and media culture in its broadest understanding and consider how "theory" has been adopted or rejected by different cultures as a way of grappling with the audio-visual mediation of the world. We also look at how apparently non-theoretical material is taken up by people attempting to theorize film and media culture in different spaces. For example, in one lecture, we consider how the Arab film scholar Kay Dickinson considers poetry as a form of theorizing about film experiences; in another, we consider how Thai film and religious studies scholar Arnika Fuhrmann mobilizes what she calls "vernacular Buddhism" as a way of understanding the queer proliferation of ghosts in Thai cinema, and the difference that the Thai cultural context makes to how ghosts signify on film.
In the first few weeks of the course, we look at foundational methods for approaching the project of global film theory in a sensitive, critical, self-reflective, and skeptical way. This includes reading critiques of film theory's exclusivity, cautions about the potential pitfalls of thinking "globally" in terms of cultural homogenization, statements about the importance of recognizing where we encounter what Emily Apter describes as "untranslatable," and so on.

Cultural Diversity in the US


Quantitative Data Analysis


Formal Reasoning


Administrative Fields

Key: 845