English 90 Patricia White

Spring 1996 PAC 208, x8148, pwhite1
W 1:15-4, PAC 301 Office Hours: M2-4

Film Theory and Culture

As we celebrate the centennary of the cinema, we revise its role in 20th century culture. In this class, we will read major texts in classical and contemporary film theory influenced by aesthetics, phenomenology, linguistics, narratology, psychoanalysis, and theories of subjectivity and difference. We will view films concerned with the modes of spectatorship and the relations of power, knowledge and sexuality that structure vision: Who looks? What can be seen? From the question of "cinematic specificity" we move to an historical questioning of film as social practice or technology. Current theorizations of modernity and the public sphere, visual anthropology and the ethnographic gaze, multiculturalism and hybridity, and electronic image culture, will frame our inquiry.

Texts available at the bookstore:

Gerald Mast, Marshall Cohen, and Leo Braudy, Film Theory and Criticism, 4th ed. (FTC)
Linda Williams, ed. Viewing Positions: Ways of Seeing Film (VP)
Lucien Taylor, Visualizing Theory. (VT)
Strongly Recommended:
Philip Rosen, Narrative, Apparatus, Ideology. (NAI)
Roland Barthes, Image, Music, Text
Sergei Eisenstein, Film Form.
Andre Bazin, What Is Cinema?, vol. 1
Ella Shohat and Robert Stam. Unthinking Eurocentrism.
Robert Stam, Robert Burgoyne, Sandy Flitterman-Lewis. New Vocabularies in Film Semiotics.
Pam Cook, ed. The Cinema Book
Trinh T. Minh-ha, Framer Framed
Derek Jarman, Blue: The Text of a Film
Claude Lanzmann, Shoah: The Complete Text

Additional required readings (x) are on reserve at the library.

3 2-3 page position papers on films/readings to be posted on classes server and discussed in class Oral presentation on related texts/films, write-up posted on classes server
Contribution to electronic "course file"--may be related to presentation or final project
Final paper

Attendance at screenings and classes is mandatory and active participation is expected. Please bring texts to class. It will be helpful to view films more than once; they are on reserve at McCabe.

Each week I will inform you which readings to focus on for our next class discussion.

English 90: Film Theory and Culture Patricia White


Week 1.
The Image, or, What Was Cinema?

1/23 Screening: La Jetee (Chris Marker, 1962, France, 29 min.)
Man with a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929, USSR, 69 min.)

Read in Film Theory and Criticism:
Siegfried Kracauer, "Basic Concepts" and "The Establishment of Physical Existence"
Andre Bazin, "The Myth of Total Cinema"
Rudolf Arnheim, "The Complete Film" and "Film and Reality"
Bela Belazs, "The Close-Up" and "The Face of Man"
Handouts: Andre Bazin, "The Ontology of the Photographic Image"
Roland Barthes, "The Photographic Message" and "Upon Leaving the Movie Theatre"
Raymond Bellour, "The Unattainable Text"
Jean Baudrillard, from Simulations

Week 2. Cinema and Modernity: The Public Sphere

1/30 Screening: Intolerance (D.W. Griffith, 1916, US, 178 min.)

Read: Sergei Eisenstein, "Dickens, Griffith, and the Film Today" and "The Cinematographic Principle and the Ideogram" (FTC)
Linda Williams, "Introduction"(VP)
Jonathan Crary, "Modernizing Vision" (VP)
Miriam Hansen, "Early Cinema, Late Cinema: Transformations of the Public Sphere" (VP)
"The Hieroglyph and the Whore: D.W. Griffith's Intolerance"(x)
Antonia Lant, "Curse of the Pharoah, or, How the Cinema Contracted Egyptomania" (x)

Week 3. Modernity and Montage

2/6 Screening: Old and New (The General Line) (Sergei Eisenstein, USSR)

Read: Sergei Eisenstein, "A Dialectical Approach to Film Form" (FTC)
and Film Form (selections)
Dziga Vertov, selections from Kino -Eye (x)
Walter Benjamin, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" (FTC)
Judith Mayne from Kino and the Woman Question (x)
Andreas Huyssen, "Mass Culture as Woman" (x)
Tom Gunning, "An Aesthetic of Astonishment" (VP)
David Tomas, "Manufacturing Vision" (VT)
Jonathan Beller, "Cinema: Capital of the 20th Century" (WWW)
Roland Barthes, "The Third Meaning" IMT

Week 4. The Look

2/13 Screening: Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960, US, 109 min.)
Peeping Tom (Michael Powell, 1960, UK, 109 min.)
Read: Jean Louis Baudry, "The Apparatus" and "Some Ideological Effects..." (FTC)
Christian Metz, The Imaginary Signifier (excerpts) (NAI)
Laura Mulvey, "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema" (NAI) & (FTC)
Linda Williams, "When the Woman Looks" (FTC)
Kaja Silverman, "On Suture" (NAI)
Carol Clover, "The Eye of Horror" (VP)
Raymond Bellour, "Neurosis, Psychosis" (x)
Sigmund Freud, "Fetishism," "Medusa's Head," "A Case of Paranoia Running Counter to the Psychoanalytic Theory of the Disease" (x)
Victor Burgin, "Paranoic Space" (VT)
Janet Bergstrom, "Enunciation and Sexual Difference I" (x)

Week 5. Textual System

2/20 Screening: Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1956)

Read: Barthes, "Introduction to the Structural Analysis of Narrative" (IMT) and excerpts,S/Z (x)
Stephen Heath, "Film and System" (x) and "Narrative Space" (NAI)
Christian Metz, "Problems of Denotation in the Fiction Film" (NAI)
Raymond Bellour, "Segmenting/Analyzing" and "The Obvious and the Code" (NAI)
Robert Stam, "Cine-semiology" NV
Sigmund Freud from "The Dream Work" "Note on the Mystic Writing Pad" (x)

Week 6. Feminist Aesthetics

2/27 Screening: Jeanne Dielman, 2300 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (Chantal Akerman, 1975, France)

Read: Teresa de Lauretis, "Aesthetic and Feminist Theory: Rethinking Women's Cinema" (x)
"Through the Looking Glass" (NAI)
Noel Burch, "Primitivism and the Avant-gardes: A Dialectical Approach" (NAI)
Janet Bergstrom and Constance Penley, "The Avant-garde, Histories and Theories" (x)
Lisa Cartwright and Nina Fonorof, "Narrative Is Narrative--So What's New?" (x)
Mary Ann Doane, "Woman's Stake: Filming the Female Body" (x) and "The Voice in Cinema" (NAI)
Julia Kristeva, "Women's Time" (x)
Sigmund Freud, "On Narcissism"

Week 7. Fantasy

3/5 Screening: Lola Montes (Max Ophuls, 1955, France, 110 min.)
Dottie Gets Spanked
(Todd Haynes, 1994, US, 30 min.)

Read: Judith Mayne, "Paradoxes of Spectatorship" (VP)
Mary Ann Doane, "Film and the Masquerade" (FTC)
Kaja Silverman, from Subject of Semiotics (x)
Elizabeth Cowie, "Fantasia" (x) and "Woman as a Sign" (x)
Susan White, "Closing the Circle, Lola Montes" (x)
Sigmund Freud, "A Child Is Being Beaten" (x)
Stephen Heath, "Difference" (x)
Cindy Sherman, "Untitled Film Stills" (reserve)



Week 8. 1968 and Film Culture

3/19 Screening: Two or Three Things I Know About Her (Jean-Luc Godard, 1966, France, 90)

Read: Louis Althusser, "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses" (x)
Peter Wollen, "The Semiology of Cinema" and "Godard and Counter Cinema" (x)
Colin MacCabe from Godard: Images Sounds Politics (x)
Ann Friedberg, "Cinema and the Postmodern" (VP)
Marcia Landy, from Film, Politics and Gramsci (x)
John Belton, "Technology and Asethetics of Film Sound" (FTC)
Kobena Mercer, "1968" (x)

Week 9. History and Melodrama

3/26 Screening: Ali: Fear Eats the Soul

Read: Thomas Elsaesser, "Primary Identification and Historical Spectatorship" (NAI)
and "Tales of Sound and Fury" (FTC)
Judith Mayne, "Fassbinder and Spectatorship" (x)
Rainer Werner Fassbinder, "Six Films of Douglas Sirk" (x)
Robert Stam and Ella Shohat, from Unthinking Eurocentrism
Homi Bhabha/Victor Burgin, "Visualizing Theory" (VT)

Week 10. Questions of Third Cinema

4/2 Screening: Battle of Algiers (Gillo Pontecorvo, 1965, Italy/Algeria, 123 min.)
Frantz Fanon: Black Skin, White Mask (Isaac Julien, 1996, UK, 52 min.)
Read: Robert Stam and Ella Shohat, "Third Worldist Film" and "Aesthetics of Resistance"
Teshome Gabriel, "Toward a Critical Theory of Third World Films"
Frantz Fanon fromWtretched of the Earth (x)
Stuart Hall, "Cultural Identity and Cinematographic Representation" (x)


Week 11. Visualizing Ethnography

4/9 Screening: Moi, Un Negre , Jaguar (Jean Rouch)
Rouch in Reverse (Manthia Diawara, 1995, US, 50 min.)
In and Out of Africa

Read: Robert Stam and Ella Shohat, "From Eurocentrism to Polycentrism"
David MacDougall, "Whose Story Is It?" (VT)
David Stoller, "Artaud, Rouch, and the Cinema of Cruelty" (VT)
Benetta Jules Rosette, "Simulations of Postmodernity: Images of Technology in n African Tourist and Popular Art" (VT)

Week 12. De-colonizing Images

4/16 Screening: Surname Viet Given Name Nam (Trinh T. Minh-ha, US, 1989, 108 min.)
Sans Soleil (Chris Marker, France, 1982, 110 min.)
Read: Trinh T. Minh-ha, "Documentary Is/Not a Name" and "The Plural Void: Barthes and Asia"
Henrietta Moore, "Trinh T. Minh-ha Observed" (VT)
Nancy Chen and Trinh T. Minh-ha, "Speaking Nearby" (VT)
Roland Barthes from Empire of Signs

Week 13. Visualizing the Holocaust

4/23 Screening: Shoah (Claude Lanzman, 1985, France, 503 min.)**TBA

Read: Claude Lanzmann, Shoah: The Complete Text (reserve)
Essays from Geoffrey Hartmann, ed. Holocaust Remembrance (x)
David MacDougall, "Films of Memory" (VT)
Vivian Sobchak, "Film and Phenomenology" (VP)
Gilles Deleuze from Cinema I and Cinema II (x)

Week 14. Visualizing AIDS

4/30 Screening: Blue (Derek Jarman, 1993, UK, 76 min.)

Read: Douglas Crimp, "Mourning and Militancy" (x)
Sigmund Freud, "Mourning and Melancholia" (x)
Derek Jarman, Blue: Text of a Film (reserve)