English 4950/5950: Film, Fall 2015

TR 3:30-4:45PM, Arts & Sciences 368



Dr. Alex E. Blazer


Office Hours: TR 11:30-12:15PM and 5:00-5:30PM Arts & Sciences 330

Course Description


This film class will survey the theory and interpretation of classic, contemporary, mostly American, and mostly narrative film from a variety of genres including film noir, science fiction, western, and cult films. We will refer to Bernard F. Dick's Anatomy of Film to familiarize ourselves with the elements and techniques of film. We will learn about theories of film in Timothy Corrigan's Critical Visions in Film Theory. By the end of the course, students will demonstrate understandings of film techniques, film genre, and film theory. Undergraduate assignments include an article summary, a scene analysis, a genre paper, a research paper, and an exam. Graduate student assignments include an annotated bibliography and teaching presentation, a theoretical paper, a research paper, and an exam. This course's topics include:

This course's outcomes include:

Course Materials


required books (Amazon or GCSU Bookstore)

Corrigan, ed., Critical Visions in Film Theory

Dick, The Anatomy of Film

required films (availability)

2001: A Space Odyssey

The Act of Killing (Theatrical Cut)

Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat



Un Chien Andalou

Citizen Kane
Do the Right Thing

Employees Leaving the Lumière Factory

A Fistful of Dollars

Grand Budapest Hotel

The Kiss

The Kiss in the Tunnel

Man with a Movie Camera

Modern Times


Out of the Past

The Rocky Horror Picture Show


A Trip to the Moon


recommended book (Amazon or GCSU Bookstore)

Corrigan, A Short Guide to Writing about Film, 9th ed.

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

recommended television show (Netflix)

The Story of Film: An Odyssey

recommended websites

Alex Blazer's Film Flipboard Magazine

AMC Filmsite Film Terms Glossary

Yale Film Studies


Assignments and Grade Distribution


4950 Undergraduate Assignments


article summary, 5%

You will sign up to summarize a theoretical article in a 2-3 page informal paper and informal presentation.

scene analysis paper and presentation, 15%

You will pair up to analyze a 2-3 minute film scene in a 5-6 page formal paper and 7-10 minute formal 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, 30%

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

exam, 30%

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


annotated bibliography and presentation, 15%

You will sign up to compile an annotated bibliography of an assigned fim and teach the class the film.

theoretical paper, 25%

In an 8-10 page paper, you will compare and contrast two theoretical articles covered in class.

book review, 25%

In an 8-10 page paper, you will summarize and evaluate, appreciate and interrogate, a book of film criticism.

research paper, 35%

You will write a 12-15 page research paper on a film or film issue and present your work-in-progress paper to the class. Here's how to calculate your final grade.


Course Policies



We will use the course site for the syllabus schedule and assignment prompts; supporting documents include an attendance record, a course grade calculation spreadsheet, FAQ, a GeorgiaVIEW walkthrough, a guide to literary analysis, a research methods guide, and paper templates. We will use GeorgiaVIEW for assignment submission and electronic course reserves. Check your university email for course-related messages. Use an online backup or cloud storage service such as Dropbox or Spideroak to not only save but also archive versions of your work in case of personal computer calamities.


Because this liberal arts course values contemporaneous discussion over fixed lecture, regular attendance is required. Any student who misses seven or more classes for any reason (excused or unexcused) will fail 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 family emergency, 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. The university class attendance policy can be found here. You can check your attendance here.

MLA Style and Length Requirements

Part of writing in a discipline is adhering to the field's style guide. While other disciplines use APA or Chicago style, literature and composition follows MLA style. In-class exams, discussion board responses, informal/journal writing, and peer review may be informally formatted; however, formal assignments and take-home exams must employ 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) margins, header, and heading, 2) font, font size, 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 (not including Works Cited page) 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 additional one-third letter grade penalty. It is your responsibility to learn how to control your word-processing program. Before you turn in a formal paper, make sure your work follows MLA style by referring to the FAQ handout and using the MLA style checklist. Feel free to use these templates that are preformatted to MLA style.

Late Assignments

We're all busy with multiple classes and commitments, and adhering to deadlines is critical for the smooth running of the course. 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. Because your completion of this course's major learning outcomes depends on the completion of pertinent assignments, 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 failure of the course. Failing to submit a final exam or final paper within two days of its due date will result in 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. Here is how I have dealt with plagiarists in the past. This course uses plagiarism prevention technology from TurnItIn. 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: failing to regularly attend class, plagiarizing, 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.

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 Library 228, the Center is open Monday through Friday. Call 445-3370 or email for more information.

Additional Policies

Additional statements regarding the Religious Observance Policy, Assistance for Student Needs Related to Disability, Student Rating of Instruction Survey, Academic Honesty, and Fire Drills can be found here.


Course Schedule

Week 1
T, 8-18

origins: The Kiss (Edison, 1896, 1 min)

Employees Leaving the Lumière Factory (Lumière, 1895, 1 min)

Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat (Lumière, 1896, 1 min)

The Kiss in the Tunnel (Smith, 1899, 1 min)

A Trip to the Moon (Méliès, 1902, 12 min)

***in class screenings

R, 8-20

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

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

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

Week 2
T, 8-25

experimental, silent, documentary film: Man with a Movie Camera (Vertov, 1929, 68 min)

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

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

R, 8-27

silent film: Modern Times (Chaplain, 1936, 87 min)

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

Film Analysis

In Class Activity: Analyzing Modern Times

Week 3
T, 9-1

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)

R, 9-3

drama/film à clef: Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941, 119 min)

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

Week 4
T, 9-8

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

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

Recommended: Odessa Steps Scene from Battleship Potemkin

R, 9-10

romantic drama: Casablanca (Curtis, 1941, 102 min)

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

Week 5
T, 9-15

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)

R, 9-17

film noir: Out of the Past (Tourneur, 1947, 97 min)

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

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

Week 6

T, 9-22

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

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

R, 9-24

psychological thriller: Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958, 128 min)

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

Week 7
T, 9-29

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

theory: Comolli and Narboni, "Cinima/Ideology/Criticism" (Corrigan 478-86)

R, 10-1

French New Wave: Breathless (Godard, 1960, 90 min)

Week 8
T, 10-6

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

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

***Suspiria Screening: 5:00-7:00PM Arts & Sciences 340B

R, 10-8

spaghetti western: A Fistful of Dollars (Leone, 1964, 101 min)

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

Undergraduate Exam Due

Graduate Theoretical Paper or Book Review Due

***Suspiria Screening: 5:00-7:00PM Arts & Sciences 340B

Week 9
T, 10-13

No Class: Fall Break

R, 10-15

horror: Suspiria (Argento, 1977, 92 min)

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

Week 10
T, 10-20

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

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

R, 10-22

science fiction: 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1968, 161 min) genre: Dick, "The Science-Fiction Film" (Dick 193-7)

Week 11
T, 10-27

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

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

R, 10-29

cult film, midnight movie: The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Sharman, 1975, 100 min)

Recommended: Audience Participation Script

Week 12
T, 11-3

theory: Stam, "Beyond Fidelity: The Dialogics of Adaptation" (Corrigan 541-57)

theory: Bordwell, "The Art Cinema as a Mode of Film Practice" (Corrigan 558-72)

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

R, 11-5

No Class: Professor at Conference

Undergraduate (Sub)Genre Paper Due

Graduate Theoretical Paper or Book Review Due

Week 13
T, 11-10

art film, film adaptation: Orlando (Potter, 1992, 93 min)

Recommended: Woolf, Orlando

R, 11-12

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

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

Week 14
T, 11-17

Do the Right Thing (Lee, 1989, 120 min)

Graduate Research Proposal Due

R, 11-19

theory: Nichols, "Performing Documentary" (Corrigan 673-87)

theory: Minh-Ha, "Documentary Is/Not a Name" (Corrigan 691-704)

Week 15
T, 11-24

documentary: The Act of Killing (Oppenheimer, 2012, 114 min)

Recommended: Democracy Now! July 19, 2013

Recommended: Slate's Culture Gabfest, July 24, 2013 (12:45)

R, 11-26

No Class: Thanksgiving Holiday

Week 16
T, 12-1

The Grand Budapest Hotel (Anderson, 2014, 99 min)

Undergraduate Abstracts Due

R, 12-3

Graduate Research Paper Panel

R, 12-10

Research Paper Due