Seth Watter

Undergraduate Discipline

Film History

Undergraduate Courses 2021-2022

Film History

Body, Gesture, Cinema

Open, Lecture—Fall

Almost all films contain persons, bodies; they have filled up the frame since the medium’s inception. But the human figure on film is always a variable object of inquiry, changing in accord with its investigator’s purpose. This course offers a survey of approaches to the conception, analysis, and measurement of the filmed human figure. The course consists of four units broken down by key concepts: natural history, picture composition, social institutions, and fictionality. In doing so, we will also view a diverse set of films: scientific research films, avant-garde films, ethnographic films, and mainstream feature films. By a combination of weekly reading, viewing, and independent research, students will become attuned to new aspects of the human figure—to styles of performance, styles of making films, and the different ways of “reading” both. Previous familiarity with formal film analysis is useful but not required.