Syllabus

ENGL245: Film Form and Culture (Fall 2013)

Weekly class meeting for section FC01: Wednesday 7:30pm- 8:45pm (TWS 1106)
Weekly class meeting for section FC02: Wednesday 6:00pm – 7:15pm (TWS 1106)

Instructor: Dr. Joseph Byrne
byrnejo@umd.edu
Office: Tawes 2132
Online Office Hours: Wednesday 3pm-5pm, and by appointment
(Set up conferences by emailing me or messaging me via ELMS)

Enterprise Learning Management System (ELMS):
http://elms.umd.edu/

Course Blog:
https://engl245umd.wordpress.com

Course Textbook:
Film: A Critical Introduction (3rd Edition) by Maria Pramaggiore and Tom Wallis
ISBN13: 978-0205770779
ISBN10: 0205770770
(This text will be supplemented by other texts posted at ELMS)

All the course films will be available via video streaming at ELMS beginning on Monday of each week. Each stream will be available for two weeks. After the two week period, the films will be available for viewing on DVD at Non-Print Media in Hornbake Library. It is recommended that you view the film of the week prior to our class meeting on Wednesday night.

Course Description:

This course is intended as an introduction to film form, history, and theory. We begin with silent film and end with a recent Hollywood “blockbuster.” In between, we view both classic and current films. In the first half of the course, we examine the various approaches to film analysis and consider film as narrative. Then we survey the major formal elements of film: acting, mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing, and sound design. In the second half of the course, we study film as a cultural phenomenon. We give special attention to some of the many alternatives to traditional models of narrative fiction or genre film, particularly auteur, avant-garde, and documentary films.

Course Goals:

In this course, you will learn about the major formal elements of film, along with a general history of the cinema and the views of the most influential film critics past and present. You will also develop the ability to analyze and critique films—to move beyond consuming films as entertainment and learn instead to find enjoyment in the examination of film as an art form and as a vital expression of culture. For this reason, writing about film, particularly in online environments, is strongly emphasized.

Group Activities:

There will be in-class group exercises every Wednesday evening, when we meet in the classroom. You will also be engaging your classmates online. On Thursdays, there will be online class discussion, at ELMS, and on Fridays, you will be commenting on the blogs of your classmates.

Major Assignments:

The primary writing assignment in this course will be a weekly blog response post, in which you will analyze the film of the week and engage the main topic of the week. You will be composing and posting your blog response at your personal blog, which you will set up, for free, at WordPress. There will also be two papers in the course. The first will be an analysis of a scene from one of the films in the first half of the course. The second will be a research paper in which you will compare a course film to another, similar film of your choosing. Finally, there will be both a midterm and final exam in ENGL245.

For more information about online exercises and the blog response post, see the “Online Exercises” page on this blog.

This syllabus may be subject to change. You will be notified in advance of important changes that could affect grading, assignments, etc.

Feel free to contact me any time with questions or concerns. Be aware that you may not get an immediate response; however, you can expect a response within twenty-four hours. Put “ENGL245” in the subject line of any emails you send relating to class (this will not be necessary in ELMS messages).

Grade Breakdown:

Blog Response Post Assignment: 20%
Online Class Discussion: 5%
Student Blog Comments: 5%
First Paper: 15%
Midterm Exam: 15%
Final Paper: 20%
Final Exam: 20%

University/Departmental/Course Policies:

Honor Code: The University has approved a Code of Academic Integrity (http://www.shc.umd.edu/code.html) which prohibits students from cheating on exams, plagiarizing papers, submitting the same paper for credit in two courses without authorization, buying papers, facilitating academic dishonesty, submitting fraudulent documents, and forging signatures. Plagiarism policy: all quotations taken from other authors, including from the Internet, must be indicated by quotation marks and referenced. Paraphrasing must be referenced as well. The following University of Maryland Honor Pledge, approved by the University Senate, should be handwritten and signed on the front page of all papers, projects or other academic assignments submitted for evaluation in this course: “I pledge on my honor that I have not given or received any unauthorized assistance on this assignment/examination.”

Friendly hint: The internet is a nifty tool for finding plagiarism, as well as committing it.

Medical Absences: For every medically necessary absence from class (lecture, recitation, or lab), a reasonable effort should be made to notify the instructor in advance of the class. When returning to class, students must bring a note identifying the date of and reason for the absence, and acknowledging that the information in the note is accurate. For subsequent medical absences, the instructor may require documentation signed by a health care professional. If a student is absent on days when tests are scheduled or papers are due, he or she is required to notify the instructor in advance, and upon returning to class, bring documentation of the illness, signed by a health care professional.

Special Needs: If you have a registered disability and wish to discuss accommodations, let me know in the first two weeks of class. Disabilities can be registered through Disability Support Services. If you need extra time for exams, please fill out the necessary forms and give them to me to sign before the exam date.

Religious Observance Absences: Inform me of any intended absences for the semester in the first two weeks of class.

Sports-Related Absences: As with all other absences, for an excused absence you will need to show me documentation.

University Shutdowns: If the University shuts down for an extended period of time, check the main University page and our ELMS course site for announcements.

Schedule of Classes:

Week One: Early Film
Screening: The Great Train Robbery (1903, dir. Edwin S. Porter), Pale Face (1922, dir. Buster Keaton), and Go West (1925, dir. Buster Keaton)
Reading: Film, chapters 1 and 2
Class meeting: Wednesday, September 4
DUE: Online Class Discussion (Friday 11:59pm)

Week Two: Film Narrative/Writing About Film
Screening: Adaptation (2002, dir. Spike Jonze)
Reading: Film, chapters 3 and 4
Class meeting: Wednesday, September 11
DUE: Group 1 discussion thread starters (“Discussions” at ELMS)
DUE: Online Class Discussion (Friday 11:59pm)
DUE: First Blog Response Post (Sunday 11:59pm)

Week Three: Acting
Screening: Giant (1956, dir. George Stevens)
Reading: Film, chapter 5, 97-109; chapter 12
Class meeting: Wednesday, September 18
DUE: Group 2 discussion thread starters (“Discussions” at ELMS)
DUE: Online Class Discussion (Friday 11:59pm)
DUE: First Student Blog Comment (Sunday 11:59pm)
DUE: Second Blog Response Post (Sunday 11:59pm)

Week Four: Mise-en-Scène
Screening: The Shining (1980, dir. Stanley Kubrick)
Reading: Film, chapter 5, 91-97; 109-128
Class meeting: Wednesday, September 25
DUE: Group 3 discussion thread starters (“Discussions” at ELMS)
DUE: Online Class Discussion (Friday 11:59pm)
DUE: Second Student Blog Comment (Sunday 11:59pm)
DUE: Third Blog Response Post (Sunday 11:59pm)

Week Five: Cinematography
Screening: Citizen Kane (1941, dir. Orson Welles)
Reading: Film, chapter 6
Class meeting: Wednesday, October 2
DUE: Group 4 discussion thread starters (“Discussions” at ELMS)
DUE: Online Class Discussion (Friday 11:59pm)
DUE: Third Student Blog Comment (Sunday 11:59pm)
DUE: Fourth Response Post (Sunday 11:59pm)

Week Six: Editing
Screening: Psycho (1960, dir. Alfred Hitchcock)
Reading: Film, chapter 7
Class Meeting: Wednesday, October 9
DUE: Group 5 discussion thread starters (“Discussions” at ELMS)
DUE: Online Class Discussion (Friday 11:59pm)
DUE: Fourth Student Blog Comment (Sunday 11:59pm)
DUE: Fifth Blog Response Post (Sunday 11:59pm)

Week Seven: Sound Design
Screening: Apocalypse Now (1979, dir. Francis Ford Coppola)
Reading: Film, chapter 8
Class Meeting: Wednesday, October 16
DUE: Group 6 discussion thread starters (“Discussions” at ELMS)
DUE: Online Class Discussion (Friday 11:59pm)
DUE: Fifth Student Blog Comment (Sunday 11:59pm)
DUE: Sixth Blog Response Post (Sunday 11:59pm)
DUE: “Take Home” Midterm Exam (Sunday October 20 11:59pm)

Week Eight: Genre Film
Screening: Casablanca (1942, dir. Michael Curtiz)
Reading: Film, chapter 13
Class Meeting: Wednesday, October 23
DUE: Group 1 discussion thread starters (“Discussions” at ELMS)
DUE: Online Class Discussion (Friday 11:59pm)
DUE: Sixth Student Blog Comment
DUE: Seventh Blog Response Post (Sunday 11:59pm)
DUE: First Paper (Monday October 28 11:59pm)

Week Nine: Film and Ideology
Screening: Far From Heaven (2002, dir. Todd Haynes)
Reading: Film, chapter 10
Class Meeting: Wednesday, October 30
DUE: Group 2 discussion thread starters (“Discussions” at ELMS)
DUE: Online Class Discussion (Friday 11:59pm)
DUE: Seventh Student Blog Comment (Sunday 11:59pm)
DUE: Eighth Blog Response Post (Sunday 11:59pm)

Week Ten: Film in Social Context
Screening: Weekend (1967, dir. Jean-Luc Godard)
Reading: Film, chapter 11
Class Meeting: Wednesday, November 6
DUE: Group 3 discussion thread starters (“Discussions” at ELMS)
DUE: Online Class Discussion (Friday 11:59pm)
DUE: Eighth Student Blog Comment (Sunday 11:59pm)
DUE: Ninth Blog Response Post (Sunday 11:59pm)

Week Eleven: Auteur Cinema
Screening: Zero Dark Thirty (2012, dir. Kathryn Bigelow)
Reading: Film, chapter 14
Class Meeting: Wednesday, November 13
DUE: Group 4 discussion thread starters (“Discussions” at ELMS)
DUE: Online Class Discussion (Friday 11:59pm)
DUE: Ninth Student Blog Comment (Sunday 11:59pm)
DUE: Tenth Blog Response Post (Sunday 11:59pm)

Week Twelve: Avant-garde Film
Screening: An Andalusian Dog (1929, dirs. Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali); Meshes of the Afternoon (1943, dirs. Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid); Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (1987, dir. Todd Haynes)
Reading: Film, chapter 9, 291-305
Class Meeting: Wednesday, November 20
DUE: Group 5 discussion thread starters (“Discussions” at ELMS)
DUE: Online Class Discussion (Friday 11:59pm)
DUE: Tenth Student Blog Comment (Sunday 11:59pm)
DUE: Eleventh Blog Response Post (Sunday 11:59pm)

Week Thirteen: Thanksgiving Holiday. No class.

Week Fourteen: Documentary Film
Screening: Chicago 10 (2007, dir. Brett Morgen)
Reading: Film, chapter 9, 275-291
Class Meeting: Wednesday, December 4
DUE: Group 6 discussion thread starters (“Discussions” at ELMS)
DUE: Online Class Discussion (Friday 11:59pm)
DUE: Eleventh Student Blog Comment (Sunday 11:59pm)
DUE: Twelfth Blog Response Post (Sunday 11:59pm)

Week Fifteen: Twenty-First Century Cinema
Screening: Inception (2010, dir. Christopher Nolan)
Readings: Film, chapter 15
Class Meeting: Wednesday, December 11
Due: Final Paper (Sunday December 15 11:59pm)

Final Exam (Online): Likely exam times:

ENGL245 Section FC01: Monday, December 16, 6:30pm – 8:30pm
ENGL245 Section FC02: Thursday, December 19, 6:30pm – 8:30pm

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