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University Bulletin

Undergraduate Degree Programs

Communications (COMM)

COMM 150 (GA) The Art of the Cinema (3) The development of cinema to its present state; principles of evaluation and appreciation; examples from the past and present.

COMM 150 The Art of the Cinema (3)
(GA)

(BA) This course meets the Bachelor of Arts degree requirements.

Communications 150 is an introduction to cinema studies. The course assumes, as film historian John Belton puts it, that films can reveal, both directly and indirectly, something about cultural identity and memory, and that movies “can be analyzed--even psychoanalyzed--to reveal something about the cultural conditions that produced them and attracted audiences to them.” The course seeks both to familiarize students with works they probably haven’t seen and to “defamiliarize,” through critical and historical analysis, works they very well may have seen. Movies are examined as formal constructs, market commodities, and cultural artifacts--as reflections, however distorted, of life in the twentieth century.

Topics include the emergence of the cinema as an institution; the global dominance of classical Hollywood cinema; American film industry organization (production, distribution, exhibition, vertical integration, the studio system, the star system); analysis of film styles (national cinemas, historical movements); analysis of film genres (e.g., silent film melodrama, film noir, comedy, the war film, the western); consideration of film audiences (reception, spectatorship, criticism); introduction to film aesthetics (film art and appreciation); and alternative cinemas (independent, documentary and experimental cinemas).

COMM 150 emphasizes media literacy and seeks to help students develop critical thinking, reading and viewing skills. All sections integrate lectures and readings with viewing feature films during the weekly practicum period. Many sections also incorporate slides and film or video clips during the lecture periods to allow students to exercise their critical viewing skills regarding certain teaching points. Students prepare for film screenings by reading, listening to lectures, and analyzing examples of relevant works. Introductory lectures seek to provide a critical and historical context for each week’s screening; follow-up lectures offer critical analysis and examinations reward close viewing. The core purpose of the course, therefore, is to make film viewing a conscious, critical and analytic activity.

COMM 150 serves as a prerequisite for most upper-level film studies courses. It is required for Media Studies majors who have chosen the Film/Television option, and is among three courses (along with COMM 100 and COMM 180) from which all Media Studies majors are required to choose. It has no prerequisite and assumes no prior exposure to film studies, and so is directed primarily to students outside the field.


General Education: GA
Diversity: None
Bachelor of Arts: Arts
Effective: Spring 2007

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.