English 4950/5950: Film, Fall 2012

Section 01: MW 2:00-3:15PM, Arts & Sciences 368


Dr. Alex E. Blazer


Office Hours:

MW 1:00-1:50PM

and 4:55-5:25PM A&S 330



Course Description


This film class will survey the theory and interpretation of classic, contemporary, and mostly American narrative film from a variety of genres including film noir, science fiction, western, and cult films. Since there is no lower-division class that teaches basic film analysis, we will refer to Anatomy of Film to familiarize ourselves with the elements and techniques of film. We will learn about theories of film in Critical Visions in Film Theory. By the end of the course, students will demonstrate an understanding of film techniques, film genre, and film theory. Short films will be available online. Feature-length films will be screened outside of class and also be available on library reserve. Use Can I Stream It? to see if you can stream, rent, or purchase a film from Amazon, Hulu, iTunes, Netflix, and so forth. Undergraduate assignments include two article summaries, a scene analysis, a genre paper, a research paper, and a final exam. Graduate student assignments include a presentation, a theoretical paper, a research paper, and a final exam.


Course Materials


required books (Amazon or GCSU Bookstore)

Corrigan, ed., Critical Visions in Film Theory

Dick, The Anatomy of Film

required films (online)

The Battleship Potemkin

Un Chien Andalou

The Great Train Robbery

A Trip to the Moon

required films (out of class screening, library reserves, or Can I Stream It?)

Blade Runner: The Final Cut

Blue Velvet

Citizen Kane
Do the Right Thing
Double Indemnity
The Exorcist: The Director's Cut
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Modern Times
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Take Shelter


recommended (Amazon or GCSU Bookstore)

Gibaldi, MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th ed.


Assignments and Grade Distribution


4950 Undergraduate Assignments


two article summaries, 5% each

You will sign up to summarize two theoretical articles in two 2-3 page papers.

scene analysis paper and presentation, 20%

You will pair up to analyze a 2-3 minute film scene in a 5-6 page paper and 7-10 minute presentation.

(sub)genre paper, 20%

You will research a genre or subgenre not covered in class and write a 5-6 page paper arguing how a film not covered in class fits into and transforms the genre.

research paper, 25%

You will write an 8-10 page research paper on a film or film issue.

final exam, 25%

The 10-12 page take-home essay exam will test you on the film techniques, film theory, and films covered in class. Here's how to calculate your final grade.


5950 Graduate Assignments


presentation, 10%

You will sign up to teach the class a scholarly criticism of an assigned film.

theoretical paper, 30%

In an 8-10 page paper, you will either compare and contrast two theoretical articles covered in class or summarize and evaluate a book by a theorist covered in class.

research paper, 30%

You will write a 12-15 page research paper on a film or film issue and present your paper to the class.

final exam, 30%

The 12-14 page take-home essay exam will test you on the film techniques, film theory, and films covered in class. Here's how to calculate your final grade.


Course Policies


Class Preparation and Participation

I expect you to come to class having read, annotated, and reviewed the assigned reading. Moreover, you should prepare at least two comments and two questions for each reading. We're going to be working with challenging texts; therefore, we'll all benefit from sharing our ideas and questions. If I feel that you're not participating because you're not keeping up with the reading, I will give quizzes.

Office Hours and Email

I encourage you to stop by my office hours to discuss any aspect of the course. I'm happy to answer minor questions such as due dates over email, but I prefer face-to-face conversations for more substantive topics like papers and exams. Please use etiquette in both email and in person.


We will be using GeorgiaVIEW and TurnItIn for assignments. Check your university email for course-related messages. Use an online backup or cloud storage service such as Dropbox to save your work.


Any student who misses seven or more classes for any reason (excused or unexcused) will automatically failure of the course. There will be a one letter final grade deduction for every unexcused absence beyond three. I suggest you use your three days both cautiously and wisely; and make sure you sign the attendance sheets. Habitual tardies, consistently leaving class early, texting, and surfing the internet will be treated as absences. Unexcused absences include work, family obligations, and scheduled doctor's appointments. Excused absences include a death in one's immediate family, one's own medical emergency, religious observance, and participation in a college-sponsored activity. If you have a medical condition or an extracurricular activity that you anticipate will cause you to miss more than four days of class, I suggest you drop this section or risk failure. You can check your attendance online. A note about religious observances: Students are permitted to miss class in observance of religious holidays and other activities observed by a religious group of which the student is a member without academic penalty. Exercising of one's rights under this policy is subject to the GC Honor Code. Students who miss class in observance of a religious holiday or event are required to make up the coursework missed as a result from the absence. The nature of the make-up assignments and the deadline for completion of such assignments are at the sole discretion of the instructor. Failure to follow the prescribed procedures voids all student rights under this policy. The full policy and prescribed procedures can be found here.

MLA Style and Length Requirements

While in-class exams, discussion board responses, informal/journal writing, and peer review may be informally formatted, formal assignments and take-home exams must adhere to the Modern Language Association (MLA) style. One-third of a letter grade will be deducted from a formal paper or take-home exam for problems in each of the following three categories, for a possible one letter grade deduction total: 1) header, heading, and title, 2) margins, font, and line-spacing, and 3) quotation and citation format. A formal paper or take-home exam will be penalized one-third of a letter grade if it does not end at least halfway down on the minimum page length while implementing 12 pt Times New Roman font, double-spacing, and 1" margins. Each additional page short of the minimum requirement will result in an a one-third letter grade penalty. Before you turn in a formal paper, make sure your work follows MLA style by using the checklist on the MLA style handout. I encourage students to use my MS Word template.

Late Assignments

There will be a one letter assignment grade deduction per day (not class period) for any assignment that is turned in late. I give short extensions if you request one for a valid need at least one day before the assignment is due. I will inform you via email if I cannot open an electronically submitted assignment; however, your assignment will be considered late until you submit it in a file I can open. Failing to submit an assignment that is worth 15% or more of the course grade within a five days of its due date will result in automatic failure of the course. Failing to submit a final exam or final paper within two days of its due date will result in automatic failure of the course.

Academic Honesty

The integrity of students and their written and oral work is a critical component of the academic process. The Honor Code defines plagiarism as "presenting as one's own work the words or ideas of an author or fellow student. Students should document quotes through quotation marks and footnotes or other accepted citation methods. Ignorance of these rules concerning plagiarism is not an excuse. When in doubt, students should seek clarification from the professor who made the assignment." The submission of another's work as one's own is plagiarism and will be dealt with using the procedures outlined in the Undergraduate Catalog. Allowing another student to copy one’s own work is considered cheating; and submitting the same paper in two classes (recycling or double-dipping) is dishonest. As plagiarism is not tolerated at GCSU, any student found guilty of substantial, willful plagiarism or dishonesty will fail the assignment and the course. Click here to see how I have dealt with plagiarists in the past. This course uses plagiarism prevention technology, The papers may be retained by the service for the sole purpose of checking for plagiarized content in future student submissions.

Passing or Failing of the Course

There are three ways to fail the course: 1) failing to regularly attend class, 2) plagiarizing, 3) failing an assignment that is worth 15% or more of the course grade, be it from poor quality, lateness of submission, or a combination of poor quality and lateness. By contrast, students who regularly attend class, complete their work with academic integrity, and submit assignments on time will pass the course.

Assistance for Student Needs Related to Disability

If you have a disability as described by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504, you may be eligible to receive accommodations to assist in programmatic and physical accessibility.  Disability Services, a unit of the GCSU Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity, can assist you in formulating a reasonable accommodation plan and in providing support in developing appropriate accommodations to ensure equal access to all GCSU programs and facilities. Course requirements will not be waived, but accommodations may assist you in meeting the requirements.  For documentation requirements and for additional information, we recommend that you contact Disability Services located in Lanier Hall at 478-445-5931 or 478-445-4233.

The Writing Center

The Writing Center is a free service available to all members of the university community. Consultants assist writers in the writing process, from conception and organization of compositions to revision to documentation of research. Located in Lanier Hall 209, the Center is open Monday through Friday. Call 445-3370 or email for more information.

Fire Drills

Fire drills will be conducted annually. In the event of a fire alarm, students will exit the building in a quick and orderly manner through the nearest hallway exit. Learn the floor plan and exits of the building. Do not use elevators. If you encounter heavy smoke, crawl on the floor so as to gain fresh air. Assist disabled persons and others if possible without endangering your own life. Assemble for a head count on the front lawn of main campus or other designated assembly area. For more information on other emergencies, click here.

Student Opinion Surveys

Given the technological sophistication of Georgia College students, the student opinion survey is being delivered through an online process. Your constructive feedback plays an indispensable role in shaping quality education at Georgia College. All responses are completely confidential and your name is not stored with your responses in any way. In addition, instructors will not see any results of the opinion survey until after final grades are submitted to the University. An invitation to complete the online opinion survey is distributed to students near the end of the semester. Your participation in this very important process is greatly appreciated.


Course Schedule


This schedule is subject to change, so check back in class and online for possible revisions.


Films must be viewed before they are scheduled to be discussed in class, either in a scheduled screening, in library reserves, or using Can I Stream It?


Unverified draft scripts and dialogue transcripts are available at IMSDb, Drew's Script-O-Rama, and Screenplays for You.


Week 1
M, 8-13

origins: A Trip to the Moon | with narration (Méliès, 1902, 12min) ***in class screening

origins: The Great Train Robbery (Edison, 1902, 10min) ***in class screening

W, 8-15

surrealist film: Un Chien Andalou (Buñuel, 1929, 16 min)

elements: Dick, "Understanding the Medium" (Dick 1-20)

theory: Sobchack, "Phenomenology and Film Experience" (62-8)

Week 2
M, 8-20

propaganda film: The Battleship Potemkin (Eisenstein, 1925, 73 min)

elements: Dick, "Graphics and Sound" (Dick 21-50)

theory: Baudry, "Ideological Effects of the Basic Cinematographic Apparatus" (Corrigan 34-44)

recommended: The Culture Gabfest, "'Movies on the Radio LIVE!' Edition" [14:30]

W, 8-22

silent film: Modern Times (Chaplain, 1936, 87 min) Screening | Reserves | CIST

theory: Metz, from The Imaginary Signifier (Corrigan 17-33)

Film Analysis

In Class Activity: Analyzing Modern Times

Week 3
M, 8-27

theory: Balázs, from Theory of the Film (Corrigan 125-34)

theory: Kuleshov, "The Principles of Montage" (Corrigan 135-43)

theory: Deren, "Cinematography: The Creative Use of Reality" (Corrigan 144-55)

W, 8-29

drama/film à clef: Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941, 119 min) Screening | Reserves | CIST | Script

elements: Dick, "Film, Space, and Mise-en-Scène" (Dick 51-99)

Week 4
M, 9-3

No Class: Labor Day

W, 9-5

theory: Eisenstein, "The Dramaturgy of Film Form" (Corrigan 262-79)

theory: Bazin, from What Is Cinema? (Corrigan 309-24)

Week 5
M, 9-10

romantic drama: Casablanca (Curtis, 1941, 102 min) Screening | Reserves | CIST | Script

elements: Dick, "Enhancing the Image: Color, Lighting, and Visual Effects" (Dick 99-118)

W, 9-12

theory: Sarris, "The Auteur Theory Revisited" (Corrigan 354-60)

theory: Wollen, "The Auteur Theory" (Corrigan 363-74)

theory: Christensen, "Studio Authorship, Corporate Art" (Corrigan 429-40)

recommended: The Culture Gabfest, "'Vamp' Edition" [26:40]

Week 6

M, 9-17

film noir: Double Indemnity (Wilder, 1944, 107 min) Screening | Reserves | CIST | Script

genre: Dick, "Film Noir" (Dick 147-51)

elements: Dick, "The Film Director" (Dick 238-67)

criticism: Manon, "Some Like It Cold: Fetishism in Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity" [GeorgiaVIEW]

(Sub)Genre Topics

W, 9-19

theory: De Lauretis, "Desire in Narrative" (Corrigan 573-93)

theory: Mulvey, "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema" (Corrigan 713-24)

Week 7
M, 9-24

psychological thriller: Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958, 128 min) Screening | Reserves | CIST | Script

elements: Dick, "Film and Literature" (Dick 268-320)

In Class Activity: Theory into Practice

W, 9-26

theory: Modleski, "Hitchcock, Feminism, and the Patriarchal Unconscious" (Corrigan 375-85)

theory: Williams, "Porn Studies: Proliferating Pornographies On/Scene" (Corrigan 774-88)

Week 8
M, 10-1

French New Wave: Breathless (Godard, 1960, 90 min) Screening | Reserves | CIST | Script

W, 10-3

theory: Schatz, "Film Genre and the Genre Film" (Corrigan 453-64)

theory: Altman, "A Semantic/Syntactic/Pragmatic Approach to Genre" (Corrigan 487-96)

Week 9
M, 10-8

No Class: Fall Break

W, 10-10

spaghetti western: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Extended Edition (Leone, 1966, 178 min) Screening | Reserves | CIST | Script

genre: Dick, "The Western" (Dick 133-41)

Undergraduate (Sub)Genre Paper Due

Week 10
M, 10-15

horror: The Exorcist: The Version You've Never Seen aka The Extended Director's Cut (Friedkin, 1973, 132 min) Screening | Reserves | CIST | Script

genre: Dick, "The Horror Film" (Dick 188-92)

Briefel, "Masochism, Menstruation, and Identification in the Horror Film" [GeorgiaVIEW]

W, 10-17

theory: Elsaesser, "Tales of Sound and Fury: Observations on the Family Melodrama" (Corrigan 496-510)

theory: Clover, "Her Body, Himself" (Corrigan 511-30)

Week 11
M, 10-22

science fiction: Blade Runner: The Final Cut (Scott, 1982, 117 min) Screening | Reserves | CIST | Script

Dick, "The Science-Fiction Film" (Dick 193-7)

W, 10-24

theory: Dyer, "Entertainment and Utopia" (Corrigan 465-77)

theory: Rich, "New Queer Cinema" (Corrigan 767-73)

F, 10-26

The Rocky Horror Picture Show performance screening at 11:59PM in Russell Auditorium

Week 12
M, 10-29

cult film and midnight movie: The Rocky Horror Picture Show: UK Version (Sharman, 1975, 100 min) Screening | Reserves | CIST | Script

W, 10-31

theory: Dulac, "The Avant-Garde Cinema" (Corrigan 651-6)

theory: Tasker, "Dumb Movies for Dumb People: Masculinity, the Body, and the Voice in Contemporary Action Cinema" (Corrigan 754-66)

Graduate Theoretical Paper Due

Week 13
M, 11-5

Blue Velvet (Lynch, 1986, 120 min) Screening | Reserves | CIST | Script

Graduate Research Proposal Due

W, 11-7

theory: Shohat and Stam, "Stereotype, Realism and the Struggle over Representation" (Corrigan (800-21)

theory: Dyer, "White" (Corrigan 822-39)

Undergraduate Research Paper Due

Week 14
M, 11-12

Do the Right Thing (Lee, 1989, 120 min) Screening | Reserves | CIST | Script

McKelly, "The Double Truth, Ruth: Do The Right Thing And The Culture Of Ambiguity" [GeorgiaVIEW]

W, 11-14

theory: Diawara, "Black American Cinema: The New Realism" (Corrigan 594-609)

theory: Bambara, "Reading the Signs, Empowering the Eye" (Corrigan 871-86)

Week 15
M, 11-19

Magnolia (Anderson, 1999, 188 min) Screening | Reserves | CIST | Script

Exam Topics Assigned

W, 11-21

No Class: Thanksgiving

Week 16
M, 11-26

Take Shelter (Nichols, 2011, 120 min) | Screening | Reserves| CIST

Graduate Research Paper Due

W, 11-28

Graduate Research Paper Panel

M, 12-3

Graduate Research Paper Panel

R, 12-6

Final Exam Due by 2:00PM