Seminar in American Cinema
Instructor: Jeremy Butler
Office: 430C Phifer Hall, 348-6350
Office hours: MW 3-4:00, and by appt.
TCF 440/540 will familiarize the student with the three major critical methods applied to the American cinema: genre study, the auteur "theory," and the star "system." We will begin with the Western, director John Ford and actor John Wayne, and then, during the second half of the semester, turn our attention to the melodrama, director Douglas Sirk, and actress Lana Turner.
Our focus will shift back and forth from the primary texts (the films themselves) to the writings on them. The latter will eventually lead us into considerations of feminism, Marxism, structuralism and semiotics.
The student's grade will depend upon four separate components:
These papers must be word processed and will be graded on the basis of conceptual rigor and fluency of writing style (i.e., grammar, spelling, etc.). Writing proficiency is required for a passing grade in this course. You are not expected to do extra research for these papers, but any references to sources other than yourself must be properly footnoted--see Joseph Gibaldi, MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, fifth edition (NY: Modern Language Association, 1999) or a similar style book. This includes references to Websites and the course readings. To quote or paraphrase without citation constitutes academic misconduct.
The paper grading will include suggestions for improving your writing.
Students who are concerned about their writing style are urged to come in
during office hours to discuss their work in more detail. In addition, style
guides will be available in the instructor's office--as well as in the reference
room of the main library.
As with the directed papers, this project must be word-processed and will
be graded based on conceptual rigor and fluency of writing style. This paper
should involve outside research. Any use of outside sources must
be properly footnoted. A bibliography and a filmography (that is, the credits
for the film analyzed) must be provided. (One online source for credits
is the Internet Movie Database: us.imdb.com
. See links below to credits for films used in class.)
Additional Requirements for Graduate Students
Beyond the requirements for undergraduates, the grad student must lead one discussion (worth 3 points). The directed papers should be five pages (1500 words) instead of four (worth 15 points), and the final paper should be 13 pages instead of 10.
A+ 97-100 C+ 77-79 A 93-96 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 F 59 and below
If you give us written permission, your grades will be posted on the TCF Department's Website by the last four digits of your student ID number:
Each absence beyond four for the semester will result in one point being deducted from your final total. (Up to five points may be deducted.)
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.
E-mail Discussion Lists
To subscribe to FilmAlert (the local film screening announcement list), send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and put "subscribe FilmAlert YourName" in the message. For example:
subscribe FilmAlert John Wayne
Please note that there is no space in "FilmAlert".
Course Schedule (subject to changes announced in class)
|1/10||Introduction to the Course|
|Ordinary People (Redford, 1980; 124 min.)|
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Why not read King's I Have a Dream speech or Letter From the Birmingham Jail today?
|1/17||Film Analysis: Narrative Form||Bordwell/Thompson (chs. 2, 3)|
|Rio Bravo (Hawks, 1959; 140 min.)|
|1/22||Film Analysis: Classical Style||Bordwell/Thompson (chs. 6, 7)|
|1/24||Film Analysis: Editing||Bordwell/Thompson (chs. 8)|
|How Green Was My Valley (Ford, 1941)|
|1/29||Film Analysis: Sound||Bordwell/Thompson (chs. 9)|
|1/31||11:00: Discussion and *Analytical Exercise Due*|
|7:00: The Concept of Genre|
|Tumbleweeds (Baggott, 1925)|
|2/5||Discussion||Kitses (6-27), Buscombe|
|2/7||The Western as Genre|
|Unforgiven (Eastwood, 1992; 127 min.)|
|2/14||The Concept of Authorship|
|Wagon Master (Ford, 1950)|
|The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (Ford, 1962; extract)|
|*Assignment One Due* (see Notes on Writing Film Analyses for tips)|
|2/19||Discussion||Caughie (9-16, 22-67)|
|2/21||John Ford as Auteur|
|The Quiet Man (Ford, 1952)|
|2/26||Discussion||Sarris (on Ford, 43-49)|
|Caughie (69-74, 83-101,138-151)|
|2/28||Auteur-Structuralism and Post-Structuralism|
|*Assignment Two Due* (see Notes on Writing Film Analyses for tips)|
|Young Mr. Lincoln (Ford, 1939)|
|3/5||Discussion||Caughie (123-135, 152-165)|
|Cahiers (493-529; read only sections 1-11, 18, & 25)|
|3/7||The Concept of Star|
|Hurricane Express (Schaefer & McGowan, 1933)|
|3/12||Discussion||Dyer (Stars, 106-50; recommended: 88-105)|
|3/14||John Wayne as Star|
|The Searchers (Ford, 1956)|
|3/19||Discussion||Screen Ed. (3-48)|
|3/21||Domestic Melodrama as Genre|
|*Assignment Three Due* (see Notes on Writing Film Analyses for tips)|
|Imitation of Life (Stahl, 1934)|
|3/24-4/1 SPRING BREAK|
|4/4||Domestic Melodrama Since World War II|
|Terms of Endearment (Brooks, 1983; 132 min.)|
|4/9||Discussion||Gledhill (5-39), Elsaesser (43-69)|
|4/11||Melodrama Variations: TV Soap Opera|
|*Research Paper Topics Due*|
|Backstage Wife/As the World Turns (CBS, 1956-)|
|4/16||Discussion (local)||Butler ("Apparatus," 53-70)|
|Butler ("Actors," 75-91)|
|4/18||Douglas Sirk as Auteur|
|Imitation of Life (Sirk, 1959)|
|4/23||Discussion||Sarris (on Sirk, 109-110)
Fischer (3-28, 268-272)
|4/25||Lana Turner as Star|
|The Bad and the Beautiful (Minnelli, 1952)|
|4/30||Discussion||Dyer (30-52) [Also in Fischer (186-206)]|
|5/2||Discussion: Course Summary|
|Donovan's Reef (Ford, 1963)|
|5/7||*Monday: Research Paper Due--4:45 p.m., TCF Office, 484
(see Notes on Writing Film Analyses for tips)
|5/10||*Thursday: Final Exam Period--8-10:30 a.m.*|
Available at Local Bookstores
In order of assignment.
Note: The above listings follow the guidelines for footnotes specified in Joseph Gibaldi, MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, fifth edition (NY: Modern Language Association, 1999). Citations in a bibliography use a slightly different format. You must use the MLA or another recognized style guide when creating citations in your papers. For the MLA guidelines for Web or other online citations, click here.