Spring 2019

Introduction to Film Theory

Listed in: English, as ENGL-288  |  Film and Media Studies, as FAMS-218


Amelie E. Hastie (Section 01)


(Offered as ENGL 288 and FAMS 218) How does film invite us to see? And how does it invite us to think, to feel, to communicate, to gather together? Or, as twentieth-century French film critic André Bazin asked, “What is cinema?” From nearly its inception as an aesthetic and cultural form, film has incited such ongoing debates about its definition as a medium and a cultural phenomenon. This course will offer a historical survey of these debates from a range of methods and perspectives that attempt to understand what makes film film. Drawing on formalist, phenomenological, psychoanalytic, ideological, cultural, experiential, and other approaches, we will attempt to answer not only what cinema is but also why we continue to be drawn to it as an expressive form. The course will include lectures on particular schools of thought and discussions about debates within and between those schools. Students will produce regular reading summaries, textual analyses, and two formal essays.

Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors, and to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Limited to 35 students. Spring semester. Professor Hastie.

If Overenrolled: Preference given to English and FAMS majors.


Attention to Issues of Gender and Sexuality, Attention to Issues of Race, Fine Arts for Non-majors


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019