English 4110: Literary Criticism, Spring 2019

TR 3:30-4:45 p.m., Arts & Sciences 345

Film Availability

This chart provides links to our class's required films that are available from websites such as Apple (digital purchase or rental), Amazon (digital purchase or rental, or paid streaming), Internet Archive (free download or streaming), Kanopy (free streaming; sign up using your GCSU library card), Netflix (paid streaming), Vimeo (free streaming, or YouTube (free streaming) as well as the GCSU Library (4 hour dvd course reserves). Check Can I Stream It?, a clearinghouse of film and television streaming sites, for availability to purchase films from Amazon, rented on disc from Netflix, or stream on services like Cinemax, Crackle, Encore, Epix, HBO, Hulu, Google Play, Showtime, Starz, Vudu, and XBox, and XFinity Streampix. Check Drew's Script-O-Rama and The Internet Movie Script Database for screenplays and transcripts to use as a a helpful reference for dialogue; however, if you write about the film, you should verify dialogue from the film itself.


Film Availability

The Cameraman's Revenge


Un Chien Andalou

GCSU | Internet Archive

Copy Shop

Short of the Week | YouTube

The Dark Knight

Apple | Amazon | GCSU

Eaten Horizons



Apple | Amazon | GCSU | Kanopy


Apple | UbuWeb

Hotel Chevalier

GCSU (special feature on The Darjeeling Limited DVD) | Short of the Week | Vimeo |

I'll Wait for the Next One . . .


Jeanne Dielman, 23 Commerce Quay, 1080 Brussels

Apple | Amazon | GCSU | Kanopy

Jules and Jim

Apple | Amazon | GCSU | Kanopy

Meshes of the Afternoon



Apple | Amazon | GCSU | Kanopy

Morvern Callar



Apple | Amazon

Phantom Thread

Apple | Amazon | GCSU

Rear Window

Apple | Amazon | GCSU

The Rules of the Game

Apple | Amazon | GCSU | Kanopy

In Class Activities

1. Film Analysis

Before we examine psychoanalytic film theory, we're going to study film technique. Today, you will

  1. divide into groups of 3-4,
  2. review the assigned film element from the Film Analysis handout,
  3. watch The Cameraman's Revenge, and
  4. interpret how the film technique functions in The Cameraman's Revenge.

Here are the film element groups:

  1. mise en scène: the staging of the film
  2. characterization
  3. cinematography: film stock, lighting, and the camera
  4. editing
  5. graphics and sound
  6. narrative

2. Psychoanalysis and Surrealism

Before we examine psychoanalytic film theory, we're going to study the psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud and analyze how those ideas are incorporated in a surrealist film. Today, you will

  1. divide into groups,
  2. define key Freudian concepts by explaining two significant passages from the article,
  3. interpret how the Freudian concepts function in Un Chien Andalou and Eaten Horizons (or if your group's Freudian idea is not present in the film, an example from another film of your choosing)
  4. and analyze any applicable film techniques (mise en scène, characterization, cinematography, editing, graphics and sound, narrative)

Here are the article groups:

  1. "Repression"
  2. "The Unconscious" and "The Structure of the Unconscious"
  3. "Mourning and Melancholia"
  4. "Negation"
  5. "The Instincts"
  6. "The Theory of Dreams"
  7. "The Oedipus Complex" and "The Origins of Culture"

3. Film Analogies

Charles Altman's article ""Psychoanalysis and Cinema: The Imaginary Discourse" and Todd McGowan's introduction to Psychoanalytic Film Theory and The Rules of the Game provide six different ways of conceptualizing film. Today, we're going to review a clip (2:45-6:45) from the short experimental film Meshes of the Afternoon to have the film's images fresh in our minds, and then we'll divide into small groups to apply Altman's and McGowan's analogies to the film.


Here are the groups:

Groups should spend about five to ten minutes discussing

Report your discussion back to the class, and we'll debate the meaning of the film.

4. Reviewing and Applying Lacanian Film Theory

Let's review McGowan's introduction to psychoanalysis and Lacanian film theory by defining and applying key terms and concepts. Spend a few minutes defining your individually assigned term, then brainstorm how it might function in the short film Film, and finally, share your tentative definitions and conclusions with the class.

  1. the unconscious (17)
  2. biology and culture (23)
  3. need, demand, and desire (25)
  4. the symbolic order (29)
  5. the real (34)
  6. the imaginary (39)
  7. desire (41)
  8. the two objects [objet petit a and the object of desire] (45)
  9. fantasy (49)
  10. enjoyment (53)
  11. the gaze or what is not seen (70)
  12. the voice or what is not heard (75)
  13. antagonism elided (78)
  14. antagonism exposed (82)

Now that we have reviewed the important concepts of Lacanian film theory, as a class, let's interpret Film first through the lens of screen theory (the film is a mirror of identification and a symbolic ideological fantasy), then interpret it through the lens of Lacanian film theory (the real of desire and the gaze).

Article Summary

Written Summary

You will write an article summary and post it to GeorgiaVIEW > Course Work > Dropbox > Article Summary on the day before we are scheduled to discuss the article so I have time to read your response before class. The article summary should

Informal Presentation

You will also be responsible for a brief, informal presentation. The presentation should introduce the essay by defining key points and terms (without simply reading your written summary) and broaching issues for class discussion.

Due Dates

  1. Your written assignment will be due in GeorgiaVIEW > Course Work > Dropbox > Article Summary on two days before we are scheduled to discuss an article. Summaries will be penalized one letter grade for each day, not class period, that they are turned in late. It is your responsibility to check the sign up schedule and complete the assignment on time.
  2. Your brief, informal presentation will be due on the day we discuss the essay in class. This date is approximate for we will sometimes fall a day behind. Failing to present the article to the class without providing a valid absence excuse will result in a one letter grade penalty.
  3. I will return your graded assignment to you in GeorgiaVIEW > Course Work > Dropbox > Article Summary approximately one week after we discuss the article in class. Due to GeorgiaVIEW limitations, I am unable to return graded assignments to you unless and until you submit them to the Assignment dropbox.
  4. For example, we are scheduled to discuss Altman on Tuesday, 1-29. Therefore, someone's summary will be due in GeorgiaVIEW on Sunday, 1-27. In class on Tuesday, 1-29, that student will informally present the main ideas of Altman's essay. I will return the graded article summary to her the following week in GeorgiaVIEW > Course Work > Assignments > Article Summary. Here's how to calculate your course grade.

Sign Up

Sign up for two slots at least a few weeks apart:

Written Due


Oral Due Date


S, 1-27
T, 1-29


AS1 Will Smith

S, 2-3
T, 2-5

McGowan, 17-90


T, 2-5
R, 2-7

McGowan, 91-170

AS3 William Detjen

S, 2-10
T, 2-12

Metz, "Story/Discourse"

AS4 Saheeda Wilson

T, 2-12

R, 2-14

Baudry, "Ideological FX"

AS5 Victoria Lara

Metz, "Imaginary Signifier"

AS6 Shannon Steinkamp

T, 2-19
R, 2-19

Jules and Jim

SA1 Madi Brillhart

SA2 Will Smith

Shannon Steinkamp

T, 2-19
R, 2-21

Doane, "Voice in Cinema"

AS7 Megan Duffey

Johnson, "Perverse Angle"

AS8 Matt Camp

T, 2-26
T, 2-26

Morvern Callar

(the theoretical paper will be due T, 3-5 for these students)

SA3 Dylan Borst

SA4 Elise O'Neal

S, 3-3
T, 3-5

Creed, "Uncanny Gaze"

AS9 Olivia Martin

Žižek, "Hitchcockian Blot"

AS10 Emily Embry

R, 3-7
R, 3-7

Rear Window



S, 3-10
T, 3-12

Mulvey, "Visual Pleasure"

AS11 Elise O'Neal

Williams, "Woman Looks"

AS12 Taylor Crisp

R, 3-14
R, 3-14


SA7 Victoria Lara

SA8 Ciera Stewart

S, 3-24
T, 3-26

Fuery, "Limits of Knowledge"

AS13 Zak Obeidat

Fuery, "Psychotic Spectator"

AS14 Ciera Stewart

T, 4-2
T, 4-2


SA9 Taylor Crisp

SA10 Christian Pontalti

T, 4-2
R, 4-4

De Lauretis, "Desire in Narr."

AS15 Ellie Laney / Victoria Lara

Doane, "Masquerade"

AS16 Madi Brillhart

T, 4-9
T, 4-9

Jeanne Dielman

SA11 William Detjen

SA12 Olivia Martin

T, 4-16
T, 4-16

The Dark Knight

(the research paper will be due T, 4-23 for these students)

SA13 Emily Embry

SA14 Zak Obeidat

R, 4-25
R, 4-25


SA15 Megan Duffey

SA16 Saheeda Wilson

S, 4-28
T, 4-30

Creed, "Perverse Gaze"

AS17 Dylan Borst

Studlar, "Masochism"

AS18 Christian Pontalti

T, 5-2
T, 5-2

Phantom Thread

SA17 Matt Camp

SA18 Ellie Laney

Scene Analysis and Presentation

The scene analysis and presentation assignment has four goals:

  1. the rigorous psychoanalysis of a film scene in terms of both content and formal technique (how the scene is shot, lit, edited, and so forth, drawing on at least three film techniques exemplified in the Film Analysis handout, the as well as what the scene says about the psyche of the character[s]),
  2. the focused discussion of psychoanalytic film theory and interpretation outside of class,
  3. the collaborative process of writing, as opposed to the solitary writing practice we English majors are all so well-used to, and
  4. the formal presentation of the main ideas of the collaborative paper, without simply reading the essay.

Sign up in pairs to analyze a 2-3 minute scene in a formal 6-8 page paper and formal 8-10 minute presentation, which includes screening the scene. Your essay and presentation should 1) psychoanalyze the film scene in terms of both formal technique (how the scene is shot, lit, edited, and so forth, drawing on at least three film techniques exempified in the Film Analysis handout) and psychoanalytical content (what does the scene say about the psyche of the characters, the creators, or the audience), and 2) interpret how the scene broaches the core psychoanalytical conflict and overall theme of the film. Your single, collaboratively written essay should be driven by a thesis that argues the work's theme and logically organized by close reading of the scene: unpack the tension and conflict, idea and theme. Your well-organized presentation should clearly convey your ideas to the class, and each member should speak during the presentation.


Sign Up

The combined article summary and scene analysis sign up sheet is here.

Theoretical Paper

We have studied overviews of psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic film theory, primary texts of psychoanalysis, and primary texts of psychoanalytic film theory. While the scene analysis paper and presentation requires you to put theory into practice by psychoanalytically interpreting a film scene's form and content, the theoretical paper calls for you to compare and contrast how two theorists conceptualize an issue or idea in psychoanalysis or psychoanalytic film theory, and concretize the abstract correlation by discussing what the theorists would say about one of our class's films. Where and why do the two theorists' systematic understanding of the issue converge; where and why do they diverge? How would the theorists' respond to a film in our class?


For instance, you could compare and contrast how Freud and Lacan conceive of the unconscious and hypothesize what they might say about Copy Shop's protagonist's unconscious, how Baudry and Metz theorize film's imaginary function and discuss how the imaginary operates in Jules and Jim, or how McGowan and Johnson envision the use of the Lacanian gaze in film in general and Film in particular.


You may consider any writer or film on the course up to Tuesday, February 28 (not including Tyson, Allen, or Evans because they provide general overviews and definitions). While your primary focus should be on developing out the two theorists' harmony and distinction by using a class film to illustrate your understanding, you may also, if you wish, set up definitions and frameworks using pertinent overviews by Tyson, Allen, and Evans.


Research Paper

While the scene analysis asks you to psychoanalyze a scene's form and content and the theoretical paper requires all to compare and contrast how two theorists conceive of and apply a psychoanalytical idea, the research paper requires you to analyze a film or film issue using psychoanalysis and/or psychoanalytic film theory to ground your method and scholarly film criticism to support your interpretation.


Your research paper should

  1. Make a psychoanalytic interpretation of a film or film issue (do not use a film written about previously in a scene analysis or theoretical paper; it may be an outside film).
  2. Exemplify the psychoanalytical film critical methodology by integrating at least three psychoanalytic and/or psychoanalytic film theoretical articles from in class reading (do not use theoretical articles already written about in the theoretical paper).
  3. Support its interpretive claim, if researching a film, by incorporating at least three scholarly articles of film criticism; or support its theoretical claim, if researching a film theory issue, by incorporating at least three additional theoretical articles of psychoanalytic film theory from outside our class.

Fine print: you may also use theoretical paper articles written about in the theoretical paper, but they don't count toward the required three; you may use the same theorists from your theoretical paper but you must use different articles; as with the theoretical paper, overviews by Tyson and Allen don't count toward the three theoretical articles. If you are researching a film, then you should have six sources comprised of three theoretical articles from our course reading and three critical articles interpreting the film from scholarly journals and books. If you are researching an issue in film theory, then you should have six sources comprised of three in-class theoretical articles and three outside-class theoretical articles.


Recommendation: Submit a research proposal, introductory paragraph, and/or outline to GeorgiaVIEW > Course Work > Assignments > Research Proposal for instructor feedback approximately 2 weeks before the paper is due. Alternatively, visit your professor to talk about your paper 2 weeks before the paper is due.


Final Exam

Answer one theory question and one practice question from the list of questions below. Do use theorists and films from in class on the syllabus; do not use a theorist or film in more than one essay; and do not repeat your theoretical or research paper topics. Not all theorists or in class films are appropriate for all essays. Choose works which afford adequate material to address the question at hand. Have a controlling idea, an interpretation, a thesis that bridges the works. Make connections and distinctions among the texts; compare and contrast the works' key ideas. Support your points with textual evidence (pertinent quotations). Organize essays by argument and analysis. You will be graded on your understanding of psychoanalytical film theory and practical interpretation of film as well as your ability to compare and contrast meanings and issues.


Topics and Questions


Annotated Bibliography and Presentation

Graduates students will research a film on the syllabus, compose an annotated bibliography of at least 10 scholarly sources interpreting the text, and teach the work to the class, i.e., lecture and moderate class discussion, with some help from one of the articles on the work. One week before the presentation/teaching demonstration, graduate students must meet with the professor to go over their lesson plan. The citations in the annotated bibliography should be formatted to MLA style, and each annotation should be approximately 100 words long.


Sign Up

Date Film Student

T, 2-19

Jules and Jim


T, 2-26

Morvern Callar

(students who present on Morvern Callar will have their theoretical paper due date extended to T, 3-5 students)


R, 3-7

Rear Window


R, 3-14



T, 4-2



T, 4-9

Jeanne Dielman


T, 4-16

The Dark Knight


Book Review

While the annotated bibliography and presentation require graduate students to research, evaluate, and teach a text, the book review compels you to read and evaluate a book of psychoanalytic or psychoanalytic film theory. After consulting with the professor on a suitable book (for instance a book from which our class is reading an excerpt, or another of your choosing, but not a book that your theoretical paper discussed), write a 9-10 page essay that summarizes the book's overall critical claim and then evaluates the thesis and methodology. Your essay should both appreciate and interrogate the book. The GeorgiaVIEW course packet contains book reviews by Ayers, Carroll, and Pursley; and you can find more examples using GALILEO.