Spring 2023

Cinematic Worlds

Listed in: English, as ENGL-369  |  Film and Media Studies, as FAMS-369

Moodle site: Course


Joshua M. Guilford (Section 01)


(Offered as ENGL 369 and FAMS 369)

In the last decade, a wave of discourse on “world-making” has spread through diverse registers of contemporary culture, including popular media, activism, critical theory, and art criticism. In this course, we will survey a range of film scholarship that examines what it means to speak of “cinematic worlds,” and why cinema is so closely associated with world-making practices. Yet we will also ask whether cinema’s status as a world-making technology is a good thing, and whether we—as worldly inhabitants—should be working to preserve, reconstruct, or dismantle the world itself. We will explore these issues through weekly screenings of films from various genres (such as science-fiction, animation, experimental cinema, fantasy, and documentary). And we will also read and discuss critical texts from related fields that often feature in analyses of cinema’s worldliness (such as queer theory, Black studies, ecocriticism, and political theory), asking what lessons such disciplines hold for makers and viewers of film. Readings may include: Jennifer Fay, Inhospitable World: Cinema in the Time of the Anthropocene (Oxford UP, 2018); Jennifer L. Feeley and Sarah Ann Wells, eds., Simultaneous Worlds: Global Science Fiction Cinema (U. Minnesota, 2015); Karl Schoonover and Rosalind Galt, Queer Cinema in the World (Duke UP, 2016); Tiffany Lethabo King, et al., Otherwise Worlds: Against Settler Colonialism and Anti-Blackness (Duke UP, 2020); and others.

Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Guilford.

How to handle overenrollment: In the event of over-enrollment, priority will be given to FAMS majors.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Emphasis on written work, readings, oral presentations, group work, and audio-visual analysis.


2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021