Spring 2021

Moving Pictures: The History of Silent Cinema

Listed in: English, as ENGL-289  |  Film and Media Studies, as FAMS-227

Formerly listed as: ENGL-82  |  FAMS-40


Lise Shapiro Sanders (Section 01)


(Offered as ENGL 289 and FAMS 227) This course focuses on global cinema during the silent era (1895-1927). We will explore the wide range of films produced in cinema’s first three decades, including early actualities, animation, trick films, serials, melodrama, and experimental film. Readings in film history will assist us in investigating the rise of classical narrative, the studio system, star and fan culture, and the transition to sound. In addition to studying the work of Charlie Chaplin, Sergei Eisenstein, D. W. Griffith, Georges Méliès, and Dziga Vertov, the course will highlight filmmaking by women and people of color including Alice Guy-Blaché, Oscar Micheaux, and Lois Weber, among others. A weekly viewing journal will be expected, as a record of students’ critical responses to the films. In addition, three formal essays are required: a 3-5 page sequence analysis; a 5-6 page critical explication of a piece of film criticism (a scholarly article or book chapter) not already assigned for the course; and a final research paper (8-10 pages), to be revised in conjunction with a peer review workshop.

This course will run primarily online, with periodic small-group meetings for students who are in residence on campus and parallel small-group meetings for remote students. The additional evening time slot will provide opportunities for students to screen films and engage in structured small-group discussion synchronously, whether remotely or in person. There may be additional opportunities for in-person meetings (including office hours) as the semester progresses.

Recommended requisite: ENGL 180/FAMS 110, Film and Writing, or an equivalent 100-level course. Limited to 35 students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Sanders.

ENGL 289 - L/D

Section 01
M 12:30 PM - 01:50 PM FAYE 113
W 12:30 PM - 01:50 PM FAYE 113

ENGL 289 - FIL

Section 01
Th 07:00 PM - 09:00 PM


2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2011, Spring 2021