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JOHN CABOT UNIVERSITY

COURSE CODE: "COM 210-1"
COURSE NAME: "Introduction to Cinema (This course carries 3 semester hours of credit.)"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2020
SYLLABUS

INSTRUCTOR: Kwame Phillips
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: TTH 9:00-11:00 AM
TOTAL NO. OF CONTACT HOURS: 45
CREDITS: 3
PREREQUISITES:
OFFICE HOURS: By appointment

COURSE DESCRIPTION:
This course is designed as an introduction to the art, history, and business of film. It presents an introduction to film aesthetics and the formal properties of film, locating specific styles and narrative forms within specific classical and alternative film movements. Film theories and critical strategies for the analysis of film will be investigated. The course will be divided into weekly screenings and lectures.
SUMMARY OF COURSE CONTENT:

The course is divided into weekly screenings and discussions of films. You will have the opportunity to develop and write a final essay or video essay on an appropriate topic of your choice.

LEARNING OUTCOMES:

Students will learn how to discuss the principal formal and technical properties of film. They will develop an ability to discuss and analyse film as an artistic, industrial, and socio-cultural phenomenon. They will gain an awareness of the different contexts surrounding film production and exhibition, and the relationship between popular, documentary, and avant-garde production. They will be able to trace a history of film narrative and participate in debates including the race, gender, and the ideology and ethics of cinema. By the end of this course, students will be better skilled in: 

·       Watching, describing and analyzing films.

·       Reading and critically assessing academic literature on films and cinema.

·       Researching, drafting, editing and writing an academic essay.

***TRIGGER WARNINGS***:

On occasion, films will feature uncomfortable material. Feel free to step out of class if material is too triggering. Be sure to communicate your concerns with me so we can come up with a manageable plan.

**It is highly recommended that you make use of the Communications Library Study Guide that is found at this link: https://johncabot.libguides.com/communications. It is an introductory guide for communication and media studies, journalism and cinema, and is extraordinarily valuable as a resource.

**Course homepage: http://moodle.johncabot.edu/. Enrollment key: Enrollment is currently automatic


TEXTBOOK:
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Film Art: An IntroductionDavid Bordwell and Kristin ThompsonMcGraw-Hill Education978-1259534959  
The Oxford History of World CinemaGeoffrey Nowell-SmithOxford University Press978-0198742425  
REQUIRED RESERVED READING:
NONE

RECOMMENDED RESERVED READING:
NONE
GRADING POLICY
-ASSESSMENT METHODS:
AssignmentGuidelinesWeight
Attendance and DiscussionAttendance and discussion in the class are absolutely vital. Students are expected to be engaged and participating fully.10
Film group chat (weekly)Each week, students will discuss the film in small groups DURING the online screening. A rotating member from each group will then present the discussion in the following class. Groups will be assigned at the beginning of the semester. 10
Screening Notes (weekly)Critical analysis screening notes of the films must be submitted to Moodle (in PDF or Word format ONLY) by 6PM on the evening before the second class. 10
Weekly questions and/or observationsEach week, students are required to provide a question or observation based on the readings that will be due by 6PM on the evening before the second class.5
Short Paper #1: Scene DescriptionDescribe, using cinematic language, a scene from one of the films covered so far.5
Short Paper 2: “3 of 1”Examine a single element or theme (an example might be a color or a prop) in one of the films covered so far and find 3 examples of it to discuss. 10
Short Paper 3: “1 of 3” Examine a single scene from one of the films covered so far and find 3 distinct, but interrelated filmic elements about it to discuss. For example, a scene might use camera movement, costume and sound together to drive the narrative; the paper will discuss how these three aspects work together. 10
Gif assignment Create a GIF based on the film(s) from your final project outline that highlights a particular analytical interest. The assignment must include a short description of the GIF and what it shows.5
Final project outline A one-page outline for the final papers/projects is required. 5
Final research paper/video essay Choose between a 2500-3000 word essay or a 5-8 min long video essay. APA formatting should be used for in-text citations and bibliography (A guide can be found here: https://johncabot.libguides.com/APAstyle) OPTION 1: Write a research paper that is appropriate to the course material and that fits the thematic focus of the semester. The topic is open, but may focus on a film, a number of related films, a director, a genre, a style of filmmaking, music, costuming, etc. You cannot use a film that is discussed in the textbook. OPTION 2: Submission of an analytical video essay. The topic is open, but must fit the thematic focus of the semester. It may focus on a film, a number of related films, a director, a genre, a style of filmmaking, music, costuming, etc. You cannot use a film that is discussed in the textbook. 30

-ASSESSMENT CRITERIA:
AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised. There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluate theory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture and reference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material. Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included. In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

-ATTENDANCE REQUIREMENTS:

PARTICIPATION AND ATTENDANCE:

All students are expected to be active participants in their own and each other’s learning process. SIMPLY SHOWING UP IS NOT “ATTENDING” or “PARTICIPATING”.

 

•   Please make sure that all observations, comments, and criticisms are constructive, respectful, and spoken in a neutral tone.

•   Students may use laptops provided they are assisting in the educational process in the moment. Please silence all electronic devices for the consideration of others. 

•   Please do not use social media or email during class if it is not relevant to the topic/discussion at hand. 

•   Sleeping and side conversations in class are not permitted. Excessive occurrences will lead to consequences at the professor’s discretion.

•   You are allowed 2 unexcused absences. Any additional unexcused absence will lower your final grade by one-half the letter.

•   Arriving late to class is extremely disruptive both for your peers and for me. Be on time. Three late arrivals (past 15 minutes) will equal one absence.

•   Persistent absence will result in failing the course.

 

Students unwilling to comply with these policies will be asked to leave the class and will be marked absent for that class period.

 

COMMUNICATING WITH ME:

There are 3 ways to be in touch with me:

1.          Before or after class. If you would like to casually discuss homework, quizzes, essays, absences etc. you can do so before or after class.

2.          By appointment. You can set up an appointment to meet in my office via email. I am happy to talk with you about the course – as well as your life goals and interests.

3.          Via e-mail. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to e-mail me. I will ONLY respond to e-mails that include a subject and a salutation. Please allow 24 hours for a response.

GRADING RUBRIC

Papers will be graded using the following criteria (and judged whether excellent, good, fair, needs work or insufficient):

1. Formatting (page numbers, bibliography, quotes, citations)
2. Sources (diverse, academic)
3. Organization (good transitions, definitions, structured argument)
4. Adherence to assignment guidelines (follows instructions, answers questions, covers topic)
5. Clarity (thesis stated and supported with examples, evidence, background, context)
6. Understanding terms and grasp of concepts
7. Originality
8. Style (readable, lucid, flow, makes sense, creative, academic, command of English)
9. Grammar, spelling, typos, sentence structure
10. Effort, passion, interest

EXPLANATION OF GRADES:

Grading will be done with letter grades using the 4.0 system. At present, Moodle calculates this as a percentage, so a B is 3.0 and shows as 75% (3.0 out of 4.0). This means that percentages that you may be used to will not translate in the same way. The table below indicates how the grades are calculated.

A   ::  4.0  ::  100%
A-  ::  3.7  ::  93%
B+ ::  3.3  ::  83%
B   ::  3.0  ::  75%
B-  ::  2.7  ::  68%
C+ ::  2.3  ::  58%
C   ::  2.0  ::  50%
C-  ::  1.7  ::  43%
D+ ::  1.3  ::  33%
D   ::  1.0  ::  25%
D-  ::  0.7  ::  18%
F   ::  0.0  ::  0%

LATE WORK:

All work must be completed and submitted on time for full credit. Please get your work in on time.

 

PLAGIARISM OR, HOW TO FAIL BY USING CUT & PASTE:

Plagiarism is the act of presenting another person’s ideas, research or writings as your own. It is a serious problem and will not be tolerated. Internet plagiarism includes submitting downloaded term papers or parts of term papers, paraphrasing or copying information from the internet without citing the source, and “cutting & pasting” from various sources without proper attribution.

As stated in the university catalogue, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs.

 



ACADEMIC HONESTY
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
STUDENTS WITH LEARNING OR OTHER DISABILITIES
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.

SCHEDULE

Unit 1: Origins of Cinema

WEEK 1 (Sept 22/24): INTRODUCTION AND EARLY CINEMA

Viewing

Early Cinema in 2 Minutes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03-5Fufii4U
The History of Cinema: Silent Era: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYvZPCmeEO4

For second class read:

"Origins and Survival" in The Oxford History of World Cinema
"Early Cinema" in The Oxford History of World Cinema

Screening: Eleven P.M. (Richard Maurice, USA, 1928, 56)

Unit 2: Cinematic Language

WEEK 2 (Sept 29/Oct 1): DRAMATIC NARRATIVE AND CLASSICAL HOLLYWOOD CINEMA

Screening: Love & Basketball (Gina Prince-Bythewood, USA, 2000, 124)

 

For second class read:

"Narrative Form" in Film Art: An Introduction
"The Hollywood Studio System" in The Oxford History of World Cinema

Viewing

Classical Hollywood Style: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftjMvYfg16k

WEEK 3 (Oct 6/8): EDITING

Screening: Us (Jordan Peele, USA, 2019, 116)

 

For second class read: 

"The Relation of Shot to Shot: Editing" in Film Art: An Introduction
Sigmund Freud, “The Uncanny”

Viewing
Cuts & Transitions 101: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAH0MoAv2CI
The Soviet Theory of Montage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYedfenQ_Mw

**FIRST SHORT PAPER DUE IN WEEK 3**

WEEK 4 (Oct 13/15): MISE-EN-SCÈNE

Screening: Black Orpheus (Marcel Camus, Brazil, 1959, 107)

For second class read:

"The Shot: Mise-en-Scene" in Film Art: An Introduction

Viewing
Mise-en-sc
ne - Composing the frame: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyJFeY0GBQw

WEEK 5 (Oct 20/22): CINEMATOGRAPHY AND CAMERA MOVEMENT

Screening: Beasts of the Southern Wild (Benh Zeitlin, USA, 2012, 93)

 

For second class read:

"The Shot: Cinematography" in Film Art: An Introduction

Viewing
Cinematography 101: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXAr2yiYCV4

**SECOND SHORT PAPER DUE IN WEEK 5**

WEEK 6 (Oct 27/29): SOUND

Screening: The Harder they Come (Perry Henzell, Jamaica, 1972, 109)

For second class read:

"Sound in the Cinema" in Film Art: An Introduction
"The Introduction of Sound" in The Oxford History of World Cinema

Viewing
Film Sound Techniques and Theory: https://youtu.be/nkt-vRpF7sE?t=6

Unit 3: Cinematic Theory

WEEK 7 (Nov 3/5): GENRE

Screening: Attack the Block (Joe Cornish, UK, 2011, 88)

 

For second class read: 

"Film Genres" in Film Art: An Introduction
"Cinema and Genre" in The Oxford History of World Cinema

WEEK 8 (Nov 10/12): AUTEUR THEORY

Before first class read:

Tony McKiver, “Mann-erisms: The Films of Michael Mann Reassessed”

Screening: Collateral (Michael Mann, USA, 2004, 120)

 

For second class read:

Andrew Sarris, "Notes on the Auteur Theory in 1962"
David Sedaris, "Andrew Sarris and the 'A' Word"

Viewing
The Origins of Auteur Theory: https://youtu.be/nfHnuZqtV68

**THIRD SHORT PAPER DUE IN WEEK 8**

WEEK 9 (Nov 17/19): FEMINIST FILM THEORY

Screening: Girlhood (Celine Sciamma, France, 2015, 113)

For second class read:

Laura Mulvey, "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema"

Zoe Dirse, “Gender in Cinematography: Female Gaze (Eye) behind the Camera”

**OUTLINE AND GIF ASSIGNMENT DUE IN WEEK 9**

WEEK 10 (Nov 24/26): POSTCOLONIAL FILM THEORY

Touki Bouki (Djibril Diop Mambety, Senegal, 1973, 95)

For second class read:

 Med Hondo, "What is Cinema for Us?"

 Stuart Hall, “Cultural Identity and Cinematic Representation.”


Viewing
An Intro to Postcolonial Theory: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbLyd0mQwIk

WEEK 11 (Dec 1/3): THE INDEPENDENT

Screening

Night of the Living Dead (George A. Romero, USA, 1968, 97)

 

For second class read:

"The New Hollywood" in The Oxford History of World Cinema
"New Technologies" in The Oxford History of World Cinema

Viewing

How New Hollywood Created the American Indie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qvubc_khZs

WEEK 12 (Dec 8/10): POST CINEMA

Screening

Atlantics (Mati Diop, France/Senegal, 2019, 107)

For second class read:

Steven Shaviro, “What is the post-cinematic?”
Stuart McGurk, “Why Netflix is the death of cinema - and the saviour of film”

Viewing
Is Netflix killing the cinema: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECVz610Rkns

**FINAL PAPER DUE DURING EXAM WEEK**

*FILMS ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE*
*ALL READINGS AND LECTURE SLIDES WILL BE AVAILABLE ON MOODLE*