New FAMS Courses Fall 2013

FAMS 343 / ARHA 231 Lost and Found: Appropriated, Recycled and Reclaimed Images

Visiting Professor Levine

Monday / Wednesday 2:00-4:00

From the found-footage experiments of the avant-garde to the digital remixes of the networked age, artists have used pre-existing material to question the ideologies of dominant media, explore technological possibilities or play situationist pranks. With the advent of file-sharing platforms, streaming video and cheap DVDs, we live in an era dominated by what Hito Steyerl calls “the poor image” – low resolution, second- or third-generation images whose quality has been sacrificed for accessibility. The availability of this material has allowed artists to work with economy, speed and to borrow the aesthetics of cinema and television for their own purposes, but it also foregrounds many  problematic questions of authorship and ownership.

This course is a hands-on investigation into the practice of recycling, recontextualizing and remixing moving images. We will screen found-footage work, collage films, and  remakes in addition to discussing readings by filmmakers, artists, and theorists that will provide ideas and models for our own production. The class will also review the fundamentals of editing and cinematography as we re-edit found images and combine them with our own footage.

FAMS 356/ ENGL 375 Modernism and Classical Hollywood Cinema

Five College Fellow Cornett

Tuesday/Thursday 2:30-3:50; Converse 207

Film flourished in the U.S. as a popular form amidst the rise of modernity. Born of the industrialization and urbanization that defined the twentieth century, it was at once “high” and “low,” an autonomous art and popular cultural form. Given this historical and aesthetic basis, to claim it also as “classical” seems inherently contradictory. Using a variety of critical and theoretical texts, the primary objective of this course is to negotiate the many ambiguities of understanding “classical” cinema as an artistic practice that represents the experience of modernity. This course will develop an understanding of what traditionally has been called Classical Hollywood Cinema – the period from roughly 1930-1960 – through looking at canonical films (from Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times to John Ford’s Young Mr. Lincoln to Hitchcock’s Rear Window) and readings in film and aesthetic studies. We will utilize small group discussion and writing assignments to help us to articulate the relationship between this coherent tradition of filmmaking and the complexities of modernist aesthetics.

Class meeting twice weekly with mandatory film screenings once weekly.



FAMS 376/ MUSI 122 Introduction to Music and Film

Valentine Professor Morris

Monday/Wednesday/Friday 1:00-1:50 ARMU 102

Introduction to Music and Film acquaints students with the primary concepts and methods used in contemporary scholarship on film music. Through a combination of readings, in-class discussion, and outside film screenings, students will gain skill in the analysis and interpretation of films with special focus on the contributions of sound to the cinematic experience. In addition, the selection of films for study will familiarize students with a broad range of film genres and styles. The course is designed to be welcoming to non-majors, and knowledge of musical notation and technical vocabulary in music or film is not required to enroll.

FAMS 444/ ARHA 401 Films That Try: Essay Film Production

Visiting Professor Levine

Monday/Wednesday 9:00-11:00

Essay filmmaking is a dynamic form with many commonly cited attributes—the presence of an authorial voice, an emphasis on broad, open-ended themes, an eclectic approach to genre, and the tendency to ruminate, digress or draw unexpected connections. Yet, true to its nature, the precise definition of the essay film is in constant flux. It can be both personal and political, individual and collective, noble and mischievous, the favored  methodology of established film auteurs, Third Cinema activists, and contemporary vidartists.

If we entertain the notion that the processes of cinema closely resemble the mechanics of human thought, then the essay film may be the medium’s purest expression. To watch or make such a film, we must give ourselves over to a compulsive, restless energy that delights in chasing a subject down any number of rabbit holes and blind alleys, often stopping to admire the scenery on the way. As with thought, there is no end product, no  clear boundaries, no goal but the activity itself.

The term "essay" finds its origins in the French "essayer," meaning “to attempt” or "to try.” In  this advanced production workshop, we will read, screen and discuss examples of the essayistic mode in literature and cinema while making several such attempts of our own. Students will each complete a series of writing assignments and two video projects informed by class materials and group discussion.