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CMS 4310 / MALS 5800: Film Analysis & Criticism

Instructor: Dr. Virginia Bonner
Messages: vbonner@clayton.edu :-)
678-466-4713 :-(     678-466-4769 fax
Web Address: http://www.virginiabonner.com
Office hours: Scheduled via AdvisorConnect, met by email, phone, & by appt. in Music 105 or via Skype: virginia.bonner (use direct-dial Skype button from my homepage link above)
Semester:
Credit:
Prerequisites:

Spring 2017
3-0-3 credit hours
ENGL 1102 with a minimum US grade of C
and CMS 2100 with a minimum US grade of C
Lectures: TR 3:35-4:50pm in UC 272 (CRN 20165)

Course Objectives

Film Analysis & Criticism (CMS 4310) continues the humanities-based analytical approach to cinema begun in Introduction to Film (CMS 2100), now in a more writing-intensive format and with more international films. As we consider how the filmmakers created their amazing films, we will master the analysis of film form including narrative, mise-en-scθne, camerawork, editing, and sound. We will also consider multiple approaches to film theory and criticism within historical and international contexts.

Our selected films are the heart of this course; we will be seeing one film each week, and occasionally two. Unlike the more mainstream selections from Introduction to Film, these films represent more independent filmmaking styles. Their stylistic techniques and content can be more challenging than Hollywood fare, but as we will see, they can also be more rewarding. Our class discussions, writings, and readings will help us understand these films in a new light. But note that if you do not plan to view the films on your own outside of class, then you should drop this course, since the films are absolutely integral to the class.  

Course Format

We will spend the first half of the course studying and writing about the formal techniques of film art. During the remainder of the course, we will explore selected stylistic, theoretical, and critical approaches to film. Undergraduates will write a short formal term paper, and graduate students must complete a longer formal term paper in addition to all other assignments. College-level writing skills and thorough command of the film terminology you learned in CMS 2100 are expected in all of your writing. 

Always arrive five minutes early to class lectures, not only because we will start promptly and you'll miss our daily quiz, but also because late arrivals are extremely disruptive. If you must arrive late, always use the back door to enter the room quietly and then sit quietly on the aisle; do not step over people to get to a favorite seat, since this blocks the view of the screen for others. Do not text, eat loud foods, sleep, answer cell phones, operate computers, check email, work on other projects, talk with classmates or talk back to the screen loudly, or leave the room for food or other non-emergencies during class lectures; these are a time for serious study of our film texts so you should be taking copious notes during each film to prepare for your quizzes, class discussions, and exams. You may wish to bring a penlight to classes to help you take notes in the dark. Anyone behaving disruptively during a screening or class will be asked to leave.

Film Screenings

Please note that the weekly films are mandatory, as this material will be the subject matter of your writing assignments, class discussions, and exams. If you do not plan to view the films on your own outside of class, you should drop this course. We will view additional excerpts from selected films during class lectures.

You do not need to purchase these films. Most of our assigned films are available for free via streaming hyperlinks posted on D2L (be sure to activate the Widevine Media Optimizer plugin when prompted), and some are also on DVD reserve in the CSU library. Some of our films are also available streaming or on DVD rental via Netflix or Amazon Instant Video for very reasonable rates that are less expensive than buying the DVDs (You can rent films individually or with the $25 Amazon Gift Card available in the bookstore.) Do NOT watch our films via YouTube segments; the poor video and audio quality makes this is a terrible way to study movies!

Unfortunately, some of our films can be difficult to access streaming or even via DVD rental. This is a problem with distribution, and it is too often the case with artwork created by independent and international filmmakers. Most of our selected titles do enjoy wide distribution and are therefore easily available. But some do not benefit from such privileged distribution and accessibility, so they must be watched on DVD reserve in the library. Precisely because of the rarity and suppression of their voices, it is all the more important to witness what these independent and international filmmakers have created and hear their artworks speak!

A Caution About Our Film Content

Many of the films in this course contain adult content, including violence, profanity, drug usage, and/or frank sexual content. These films are intended for mature audiences and are not suitable for children under 17 who are unaccompanied by an adult. If you are disturbed by R-rated or unrated film content, you should consult the instructor.

Required Texts (Available at the campus bookstore)

1.    Film Theory & Criticism (2017) collected essays, edited by Virginia Bonner. Available in the campus bookstore (if using finacial aid) or directly from Cognella University Readers (purchase directly to avoid bookstore markup) at https://students.universityreaders.com/store/

2.    Corrigan, Timothy. A Short Guide to Writing About Film, 6th edition (or any edition). New York: Longman, 2010. (SGWF)

3.    Readings online via PDF and Word file possted on D2L. (RR)

4.    Required weekly films (free streaming hyperlinks via D2L or available free on DVD reserve in library, plus a few Amazon Instant Video rentals that you can rent individually or with the $25 Amazon Gift Card available in the bookstore.)

Recommended Text (also on reserve in the library)

1.    Bordwell, David and Kristin Thompson. Film Art: An Introduction, Any Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill. (FA)

We will cover multiple chapters of these course materials in their entirety. Course textbooks & most of our films are on free reserve in the CSU library. If you purchase your textbook from an online vendor, be SURE to purchase the correct editions.

Computer Requirement

Each CSU student is required to have ready access throughout the semester to a notebook computer that meets faculty-approved hardware and software requirements for the student's academic program. Students will sign a statement attesting to such access. For further information on CSU's Official Notebook Computer Policy, please go to http://www.clayton.edu/hub/itpchoice/notebookcomputerpolicy.

Computer Skill Prerequisites

• Able to use the Windows™ operating system
• Able to use Microsoft Word™ word processing
• Able to send and receive e-mail using Outlook™ or Outlook Express™
• Able to attach and retrieve attached files via email
• Able to use a Web browser
• Able to use GeorgiaView/Blackboard

In-class Use of Student Notebook Computers

Student notebook computers will not be used in the classroom in this course, except for one or two dates that will be posted on our syllabus in advance. Computers will be required to access course materials and to communicate with your instructor outside of class.


Note: If you have added this course during the schedule change period and/or were not present for the syllabus review/orientation the first day of class, you are required to meet with me immediately after class or during my office hours to review course requirements and policies.