TCF 112 Motion Picture History and Criticism

(3 credit hours)
Spring 1998

Instructor: Jeremy Butler

Office: 430C Phifer, 348-6350
Office hours: TT 2-3:00, MW 3-4:00, & by appt.
GTA: Amy Chu,, 348-6350

Grades Online:

Course Objectives:

TCF 112 aims to introduce the student to the history of film and to explore some of the major conceptual models (e.g., formalism, genre theory, auteurism, and so on) that have been applied to that history.


In a sense, there are three "texts" for this course:

  1. The course readings:
    Douglas Gomery, Movie History: A Survey (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1991).
  2. The course lectures
  3. The course films

Gomery will supply the student with the basic facts of film history. The lectures augment those facts with specific interpretations of them. The films themselves illustrate both the readings and the lectures.


  1. There will be three objective (multiple choice, true/false) Readings Tests over the course of the semester. These closed-book tests will consist of questions drawn from the readings and the films, but not the lectures. They will be worth 15 points each.
  2. Additionally, mid-term (25 points) and final (30 points) exams will be given. These exams will consist of open-note, open-book essay questions drawn from the lectures and referring to the films.Photocopied notes may not be used during these exams; any other notes or books are permissible.
    Dates of the tests/exams are indicated below. Make-up test/exams will be given at the discretion of the instructor. No tests/exams will be given before their scheduled dates.

Grading Summary:

      Readings Tests (3 @ 15)   	45
      Mid-Term Exam			25
      Final Exam			30
                                       100  TOTAL

Grading scale:

	A	93-100			C	73-76
	A-	90-92			C-	70-72
	B+	87-89			D+	67-69
	B	83-86			D	63-66
	B-	80-82			D-	60-62
	C+	77-79			F	59 and below

Posting of Grades:

Grades will be posted by the last four digits of your student ID number in the hallway outside room 216. They may also be found on the TCF Department's World Wide Web site:

This site may be accessed from most computer labs on campus and, via the Internet, from computers around the world. If you do not wish your grades to be posted in this manner, please notify us in writing.

Absence Policy:

The tests/exams' questions assume the student has attended all lectures and film screenings.

Academic Misconduct Policy:

All acts of dishonesty in any work constitute academic misconduct. The Academic Misconduct Disciplinary Policy will be followed in the event of academic misconduct.

Disabilities Accommodation Policy:

To request disability accommodations, please contact Disabilities Services (348-4285). After initial arrangements are made with Disabilities Services, contact Jeremy Butler.

Film Screenings:

There will be no other opportunity to see the films other than the in-class screenings. Most are not available on videocassette.

Course Schedule

(subject to revisions announced in class)

Date Lecture/Film Readings
1/7 Introduction to the Course/Modes of Film
A TRIP TO THE MOON (Méliès, 1902)
1/12 The Evolution of Narrative Film
German Silent Film: Expressionism
1/14 SMOULDERING FIRES (Brown, 1925) Chs. 1, 2
1/19 No Class: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
1/21 German Silent Film: Kammerspielfilm
THE LAST LAUGH (Murnau, 1924) Ch. 4
1/26 Silent Film Comedy: Buster Keaton
1/28 SHERLOCK, JR (Keaton, 1924) Ch. 3
*Readings Test 1: Chs. 1, 2, 3, 4*
2/2 Russian Formalism: Sergei Eistenstein
2/4 STRIKE (Eisenstein, 1924) Ch. 5
2/9 Classical Hollywood Cinema
2/11 MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN (Capra, 1936) Ch. 6
2/16 Bazinian Realism: Jean Renoir
2/18 RULES OF THE GAME (Renoir, 1939) Ch. 8
2/23 **MID-TERM EXAM**
2/25 Documentary Form
NANOOK OF THE NORTH (Flaherty, 1922)
PUBLIC HOUSING (Wiseman, 1997)
3/2 Auteur Theory: Alfred Hitchcock
3/4 FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (Hitchcock, 1940)
3/9 Italian Neorealism: Roberto Rossellini
3/11 PAISAN (Rossellini, 1946) Ch. 9
3/16 Genre Study I: Screwball Comedy
3/18 THE AWFUL TRUTH (McCarey, 1937)
*Readings Test 2: Chs. 5, 6, 8, 9*
3/23 French New Wave: Jean-Luc Godard
3/25 VIVRE SA VIE (Godard, 1962) Ch. 12
4/6 Feminism and Film
4/8 Sadie Benning Videotapes
TWO GIRLS IN LOVE (Maria Maggenti, 1995)
4/13 New German Cinema: Werner Herzog
4/15 STROSZEK (Herzog, 1977) Ch. 13
4/20 Genre Study II: Film Noir
4/22 THE BIG HEAT (Lang, 1953)
4/27 The Breakdown of Hollywood Classicism
Course Summary
4/29 TBA (recent release on videotape) Chs. 10, 11, 14
5/6 **Wednesday, 2-4:30 p.m.**
**Readings Test 3: Chs. 10, 11, 12, 13, 14**