Film History

Sarah Lawrence students approach film, first and foremost, as an art. The College’s film history courses take social, cultural, and historical contexts into account; but films themselves are the focus of study and discussion. Students seek artistic value equally in Hollywood films, art films, avant-garde films, and documentaries, with emphasis on understanding the intentions of filmmakers and appreciating their creativity.

As a valuable part of a larger humanistic education in the arts, the study of film often includes the exploration of connections to the other arts, such as painting and literature. Close association with the filmmaking and visual arts departments enables students working in those areas to apply their knowledge of film to creative projects. And within the discipline, the study of film gives students insight into stylistic techniques and how they shape meaning. Advanced courses in specific national genres, forms, movements, and filmmakers—both Western and non-Western—provide a superb background in the history of film and a basis for sound critical judgment. Students benefit from New York City’s enormously rich film environment, in which film series, lectures, and festivals run on a nearly continuous basis.

2018-2019 Courses

Film History

History and Aesthetics of Film

Open , Lecture—Year

This lecture is a superlecture and may enroll up to 60 students.

This class will provide a detailed survey of the history of moving-image art, as well as an introduction to key aesthetic and theoretical concepts in the study of film. We will study the major elements of film form—editing, photography, shot composition, sound, mise-en-scene—as phenomena emerging from specific historical contexts and chart their development both over time and as they travel around the world. While the emphasis of the earlier part of the course will be on film art’s European and American origins, we will approach it as a truly global phenomenon with considerable attention devoted to East and South Asian, African, Latin American, and Middle Eastern cinemas. While the basic structure of the course will be chronological, we will develop the vocabulary and viewing skills necessary to identify and analyze the key components of film texts as we proceed; for example, our examination of editing will be situated within our discussion of 1920s Soviet cinema, while possible uses and aesthetic implications of sound will be examined alongside a number of diverse early experiments with sound. Other key moments to be studied include the development of the “classical” Hollywood cinema (and challenges to it), the emergence of new national art cinemas in the post-World War II era, the radical cinema traditions of the 1960s and ’70s, and developments in film aesthetics since the introduction of digital filmmaking techniques in the 1990s. Key theoretical approaches in film studies will also be situated in their historical context, including early debates around film’s status as art from the 1910s and ’20s, inquiries into the relationship between photography and reality from the post-World War II period, and Marxist and feminist analyses of the ideological implications of film form and its relationship to the spectator from the 1960s and ’70s.

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Realisms

Open , Seminar—Fall

The seminar will examine key genealogies, debates, and critical responses relating to cinematic realism: the diverse historical “realisms” on which it draws and the range of meanings, uses, and abuses of the term. Questions of realism have been carried over from the traditional arts and literature but have undergone a sea change with the advent of photography and cinematography. While the concept of realism seemed bracketed by postmodern discourses, realism as an effect and as a value or aspiration still haunts the cinematic imagination and engages the media at large. The claim to presence carried by photographic indexicality; the cultural conventions of mimesis and illusionism; the shifting values of document, witness, testimony; the relation of the material and the referential, of the authentic and the composed—all ensure the continued fascination with realism and its myriad forms through our time. Traversing fiction and documentary, features and shorts, mainstream and experimental forms, the seminar will consider both classical cases and challenging examples from diverse cinemas and cultural moments and discuss the political implications of realism and its capacity for transmutation and revival. Screenings will include Wyler’s Best Years of our Lives, Bresson’s Mouchette, Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman, Burnett’s Killer of Sheep, Kiarostami’s Close-Up, and many others.

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Surrealism: A Transmedia Movement (Poetry, Painting, and Film)

Open , Seminar—Fall

This seminar will provide an in-depth survey of surrealism, one of the most important, exciting, and enduring artistic movements of the 20th century. Surrealism was also the first literary and artistic faction to seriously engage with the new medium of film, and its makers represent the first generation of artists to have grown up with film. Developing as an offshoot of Dadaism in the wake of World War I, surrealism was officially founded in 1924 with the publication of André Breton’s Surrealist Manifesto. The groundbreaking work of Sigmund Freud, exploring the unconscious, provided a major source of inspiration for these artists, who were struggling to understand themselves and the horror they had just survived. Surrealism would be not only transnational—moving beyond its original roots in Paris to become a truly international avant-garde movement—but also transmedia, whose proponents were poets (Breton, Louis Aragon, Robert Desnos, Paul Éluard), painters (André Masson, Max Ernst, Salvador Dalí), and filmmakers (Germaine Dulac, Man Ray, Luis Buñuel), who often collaborated. Our weekly screenings will begin first with a surrealist precursor, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, followed by two masterpieces of surrealist film, Buñuel and Dalí’s Un Chien andalou and L’Âge d’or, which not only changed the way most of us see and think about cinema but also paved the way for horror films. We will trace surrealism’s influence in Buñuel’s later career and, in Hollywood, through the work of filmmakers like Alfred Hitchcock, David Lynch, the Coen Brothers, and Martin Scorsese. Our readings will explore, in translation, the writings of the surrealists themselves, along with key secondary literature. Student conference projects will concentrate on one visual artwork from the upcoming exhibition, Monsters & Myths: Surrealism and War in the 1930s and 1940s, from the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut.

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Women Make Movies, or Why Gender Representation Really Matters Behind and In Front of the Camera

Open , Seminar—Spring

Students should have some prior background in film history or in women's studies to take this seminar.

In 2018, women directors still have a hard time breaking through to receive recognition and steady funding. In fact, according to the Celluloid Ceiling Report, in 2016 women comprised just seven percent of directors of the top grossing 250 films in the United States—a two percent decrease from the previous year. This seminar will offer a historical, international survey of women filmmakers up to the present. In conjunction with certain feminist readings, we will consider the historical reasons for the slow emergence of women as creators, beginning with Linda Nochlin’s influential essay, “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” (1971). And beginning with Alice Guy-Blaché, the class will survey some of the best films by women directors. We will also consider the success rate for women directors in other countries, notably Morocco, where women directors have won four times the top award in 17 editions. Germaine Dulac, Dorothy Arzner, Maya Deren, Leni Riefenstahl, Agnès Varda, Claire Denis, Chantal Akerman, Ava DuVernay, Mahassine El Hachadi, Margarethe von Trotta, Andrea Arnold, Sally Potter, Marjane Satrapi, Jane Campion, Célina Sciamma, Isabelle Adjani, Patty Jenkins, Anne-Marie Miéville, Gurinda Chada, Mélanie Laurent, Kathryn Bigelow, Sofia Coppola, Mira Nair, Julie Dash, Diane Kurys, Lina Wertmüller, Margarethe von Trotta, Lynne Ramsay, Simone Bitton, Farida Benlyazid, and Agnieszka Holland are some of the filmmakers whom we’ll consider both in class and for individual conference projects.

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Year Zero: Cinema in the Wake of War

Sophomore and above , Seminar—Spring

How did the cinema confront the catastrophic events of the mid-20th century? How did it begin to tackle the historical, physical, social, and psychic trauma effected by the incomprehensible phenomena of Auschwitz and by the blinding light of Hiroshima? The seminar will explore this “crisis of representation” and the cinema’s response to an era that saw suffering and ruin by unprecedented means and on an unprecedented scale, the death and displacement of millions, the devastation of cities, the utter despair in humanity and yet, inevitably, also the remaking of life out of the ruins. Focusing primarily on the postwar European experience but considering, as well, the Pacific theatre of war and the American response, the seminar will interlace fiction films, documentaries, and newsreels and draw upon historical, critical, and literary texts. Screenings will include Rossellini’s Germany Year Zero, Clément’s Forbidden Games, Bernstein’s Memory of the Camps, Resnais’s Night and Fog and Hiroshima mon amour, Ichikawa’s Fires on the Plain, and many others.

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Paris, City of Light and Violence

Open , Seminar—Fall

So they had begun to walk about in a fabulous Paris, letting themselves be guided by the nighttime signs, following routes born of a clochard phrase…. —Julio Cortázar, Hopscotch

For centuries now, the city of Paris, France, has held an actual and imaginary intensity in the lives of many. In this seminar in cultural anthropology, we will explore a number of themes and forces that have shaped the cultural and political contexts of life in Paris through the 19th and 20th centuries and on into the 21st—from great works of art to transformations in urban design to the politics of colonialism, migration, racism, marginalization, and police surveillance, as well as critical events of state and collective violence. In walking (conceptually) about a Paris at once fabulous and haunted, we will come to know various signs of being and power in this renowned city. In attending to key events in the recent history of Paris—in 1942, 1961, 1968, 1995, and 2015, for instance—we will work toward developing a comprehensive sense of the many social, cultural, and political dimensions of urban experience in la ville lumière, the “city of light,” in both its central arrondissements and its peripheral banlieues. Along the way, we will consider a number of important literary writings (Hugo, Balzac, Baudelaire, Breton, Modiano, Cortázar, Perec, Sebbar, and Bouraoui), films (Godard, Truffaut, Marker, Varda, Tati, Kassovitz, Haneke, and Sciamma), and scholarship (Benjamin, Dubord, Harvey, Kofman, Fanon, Barthes, Foucault, Derrida, and Latour). Students will be encouraged to undertake conference work on artists, writers, and thinkers associated with Paris or to develop their own anthropological reflections on Paris or another intensive city known to them.

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Understanding Experience: Phenomenological Approaches in Anthropology

Open , Seminar—Spring

How does a chronic illness affect a person’s orientation to the everyday? What are the social and political forces that underpin life in a homeless shelter? What is the experiential world of a deaf person, a musician, a refugee, or a child at play? In an effort to answer these and like-minded questions, anthropologists in recent years have become increasingly interested in developing phenomenological accounts of particular “lifeworlds” in order to understand—and convey to others—the nuances and underpinnings of such worlds in terms that more orthodox social or symbolic analyses cannot achieve. In this context, phenomenology entails an analytic method that works to understand and describe in words phenomena as they appear to the consciousnesses of certain peoples. Phenomenology, put simply, is the study of experience. The phenomena most often in question for anthropologists include the workings of time, perception, emotions, selfhood, language, bodies, suffering, and morality as they take form in particular lives within the context of any number of social, linguistic, and political forces. In this course, we will explore phenomenological approaches in anthropology by reading and discussing some of the most significant efforts along these lines. Each student will also try her or his hand at developing a phenomenological account of a specific subjective or intersubjective lifeworld through a combination of interviewing, participant observation research, and ethnographic writing.

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Specters of the Subject: Hauntologies of Ghosts, Phantasms, and Imaginings in Contemporary Life

Advanced , Seminar—Year

“The future belongs to the ghosts,” remarked the philosopher Jacques Derrida in 1996. As his interlocutor Bernard Stiegler phrases the main idea behind this statement, “Modern technology, contrary to appearances, increases tenfold the power of ghosts.” With the advent of the Internet, various forms of social media, and the ubiquity of filmic images in our lives, Derrida's observations have proven to be quite prophetic, such that they call for a new field of study—one that requires less an ontology of being and the real and more a “hauntology” (to invoke Derrida's punish term) of the spectral, the virtual, the phantasmic, the imaginary, and the recurrent revenant. In this seminar, we consider ways in which the past and present are haunted by ghosts. Topics to be covered include: specters and hauntings, figures and apparitions, history and memory, trauma and political crisis, fantasy and imagination, digital interfaces, and visual and acoustical images. We will be considering a range of films and video, photography, literary texts, acoustic reverberations, Internet and social media, and everyday discourses and imaginings. Through these inquiries, we will be able to further our understanding of the nature of specters and apparitions in the contemporary world in their many forms and dimensions. Students will be invited to undertake their own hauntologies and thus craft studies of the phenomenal force of specters, hauntings, and the apparitional in particular social or cultural contexts.

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Genealogies of Modern and Contemporary Art, 1890 to the Present

Open , Lecture—Year

This lecture is a superlecture and may enroll up to 60 students.

What was modernism, and how do we describe the shift to what is called contemporary art? Beginning with Henri Matisse, the first half of the course will examine how modernists found a new visual language to navigate a world ravaged by fascism and war; altered by industry, technology, and rationalized forms of labor; and tested by shifting national, ethnic, and gendered identities. What representational strategies did artists use to respond to this upheaval? The fall semester serves as an introduction to the historical avant-gardes in the United States, Mexico, and Europe—including Fauvism, expressionism, cubism, Dada, surrealism, muralism, and abstract expressionism—but it will be organized around thematic questions: What is abstraction as a turn away from the modernized world? What is the relationship between high art and mass culture? What were the political ambitions of modern art, and how were they vocalized materially? How were artists working at the margins speaking back to what they saw to be dominant forms of representation? The second half of the course examines a sea-change that began in the 1960s, as artists tested modernist categories of painting and sculpture; challenged relationships between high art and mass media; incorporated new technologies such as television and video into their art; and questioned the hierarchies of art’s production, reception, and display through protest, activism, and participation. By the end of the ’60s, art faced a crisis that affected its production, medium, spectatorship, and institutions, leading German philosopher Theodor Adorno to note the loss of art’s self-evidence. Looking closely at the art of Europe and the United States and at exchanges with Japan and Brazil, the second half of the course explores a moment of radical artistic critique in which artists transformed traditional categories of artistic production and challenged social, political, and cultural norms. In the last 20 years, all of this shifted with the return to traditional categories of painting and sculpture and the rise of the global art market. We will conclude with a look at contemporary practices as a shift away from avant-garde radicality. Although the course introduces students to some of the issues surrounding art since the 2000s, the main focus in the spring will be to provide a historical context for art from roughly 1960 to 2000—and students will be introduced to major movements, including happenings, pop art, Fluxus, minimalism, conceptual art, site-specificity, Earthworks, feminism, video art, institutional critique, installation, and activist art. Readings will vary from theoretical and scholarly appraisals to artists’ writings and manifestos. Visits to area museums will be part of the curriculum.

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Architectures of the Future, 1780 to the Present

Open , Seminar—Year

Through PowerPoint presentations, readings, and discussion, the course gives a challenging, inclusive, and nuanced understanding of buildings and monuments; visionaries and builders; users and functions; and thoughts, practices, and theories of architecture from the Enlightenment to today—all claiming in one way or another to rethink the past, realize the present, and, most importantly, create the future. We will learn to read architecture and read with architects; to contextualize form and its urban, sociopolitical, and epistemological implications; and to see how architecture gives form to context, sense to experience, image to philosophy. Over 200 years, notions of ideal beauty, type, and function mutated to progress in form and function and contemporary iterations in theories of the unformed, the sustainable, the mysterious objective, the abject, and the playful. We will analyze major movements (neoclassical, arts and crafts, technological sublime, art nouveau, Bauhaus, postmodernism, deconstruction, new pragmatism, figural, digital, sustainable) and figures (William Morris, Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, Peter Eisenman, Rem Koolhaas, Sam Mockbee, Zaha Hadid, Jean Gang). Readings will be drawn from history, philosophy, literature (realist, sci-fi, and visionary), Diderot, Edmund Burke, William Blake, William Morris, Buckminster Fuller, Heidegger, Foucault Benjamin, and others. Projects, papers, an architectural notebook dedicated to class notes, readings, drawings, musings, etc., and a conference project will be required in the history, theory, philosophy, and sociopolitical context, including women as users, patrons, and makers of art and architecture. Well-formulated design projects are a possibility. This course shares connections with visual arts, film, and a broad range of subjects in the humanities and social sciences.

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Theories of Photography

Intermediate , Seminar—Spring

What is a photograph? The question seems simple enough, given the pervasiveness of photographs in our image-saturated world. Yet, as this course will explore, a photograph is a representational framework with competing rhetorical meanings. On the one hand, it is a verisimilitude of the visual world, a proof, resemblance, or transcription. On the other, a photograph is a pictorial invention, a fabricated image that is shot through with its own social and pictorial conventions, located in part through the photograph's framing, lighting, cropping, and point of view. Tracing these contradictory definitions, this course explores how the photograph has been defined and tested from its origins. The seminar will engage—through methodologies of close reading—the canonical texts of photographic theory from key 19th-century sources to modernist and postmodernist texts, as well as more recent writing on race, photography, and the colonization of the body; photography and identity; theories of the archive and representations of labor; photography, war, and violence; and intersections between photography and film. Our discussions of theoretical texts will also be grounded in a consideration of photographs themselves, so that students learn close, analytical visual reading. We will learn to think broadly and diversely about a photograph as an image, an archive, a display, a material thing, and a commodity. We will rely on New York’s rich photographic collections to ground our discussions, and students will be encouraged to focus their conference papers on works seen locally.

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Writing India: Transnational Narratives

Open , Seminar—Fall

The global visibility of South Asian writers has changed the face of contemporary English literature. Many writers from the Indian subcontinent continue to narrate tumultuous events surrounding the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan that occurred with independence from British rule. Their writings narrate legacies and utopian imaginings of the past in light of current dystopic visions and optimistic aspirations. The seminar addresses themes of identity, fragmentation, hybridity, memory, and alienation that link South Asian literary production to postcolonial writing from varied cultures of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Accounts of South Asian communal violence reflect global urgencies. The cultural space of India has been repeatedly transformed and redeployed according to varied cultural projects, political interests, and economic agendas. After briefly considering representations of India in early chronicles of Chinese, Greek, and Persian travelers, we explore modern constructions of India in excerpts from writers of the British Raj. Our major focus is on India as remembered and imagined in selected works of writers, including Salman Rushdie and Arundhati Roy. Film adaptations are included. We apply interdisciplinary critical inquiry as we pursue a literature that shifts increasingly from narrating the nation to narrating its diasporic fragments in transnational contexts.

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Images of India: Text/Photo/Film

Open , Seminar—Spring

This seminar addresses colonial and postcolonial representations of India. For centuries, India has been imagined and imaged through the lens of orientalism. In recent decades, writers and visual artists from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh have been actively engaged in reinterpreting the British colonial impact on South Asia. Their work presents sensibilities of the colonized in counter narration to images previously established during the Raj. Highlighting previously unexposed impressions, such works inevitably supplement, usually challenge, and frequently undermine traditional accounts underwritten by imperialist interests. Colonial and orientalist discourses depicted peoples of the Indian subcontinent both in terms of degradation and in terms of a romance of empire, thereby rationalizing various economic, political, and psychological agendas. The external invention and deployment of the term “Indian” is emblematic of the epoch, with colonial designation presuming to reframe indigenous identity. Postcolonial writers and artists are, consequently, renegotiating identities. What does it mean to be seen as an Indian? What historical claims are implicit in allegories of ethnicity, linguistic region, and nation? How do such claims inform events taking place today, given the resurgence of Hindu fundamentalism? For this seminar on the semiotics and politics of culture, sources include works by influential South Asian writers, photographers, and filmmakers.

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Bulletproof Screenwriting

Open , Seminar—Fall

Pursuing the fundamentals of developing and writing narrative, fiction, motion-picture screenplays, the course starts with a focus on the atomic element of a screenplay: the scene. We’ll explore the nature of writing screen stories for film, television (and its many iterations these days), and the Web. The approach views screenwriting as having less of a connection to literature and playwriting and more of a connection to the oral tradition of storytelling. We will dissect the nature and construct of the screenplay to reveal that the document—the script—is actually the manifestation of the process of “telling your film” (or movie, or Web series, or TV show, et al). In Bulletproof Screenwriting, the emerging screenwriter will be encouraged to think of and approach the work as a director—because, until someone else appears to take the reins (if it is not the screenwriter), the writer is the director, albeit (for now) on the page. Indeed, the course will explore filmmaking from a director’s point of view—yet in the hands of a screenwriter. With the class structured as a combination of seminar and workshop-style exchanges, students will read selected texts and produced screenplays, write detailed script analyses, view films and clips, and, naturally, write short narrative fiction screenplays. While students will be writing scenes and scripts starting in the first class, they will also be introduced to the concept of “talking their stories,” as well, in order to explore character and plot while gaining a solid foundation in screen storytelling, visual writing, and screenplay evolution. We will migrate from initial ideas through research techniques, character development, story generation, outlining, the rough draft, and rewrites. Students will be immersed in the fundamentals of character, story, universe and setting, dramatic action, tension, conflict, sequence structure, acts, and style. In-class analysis of peer work within the context of a safe and productive environment will help students have a critical eye and develop skills to apply to the troubleshooting of one’s own work. Overall, the student builds a screenwriter’s toolkit to use as various projects emerge in the future. The aim of the class is for students to complete a series of short-form screenplays and a final written project. In conference, students may research and develop a long-form screenplay or teleplay, develop a TV series concept and “bible,” initiate and develop a Web-series concept, craft a series of short screenplays for production courses or independent production, rewrite a previously written script, adapt original material from another form, and so forth. Research and screen storytelling skills developed through the course may be applied to other writing forms.

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Storyboarding for Film and Animation

Open , Seminar—Fall

This course focuses on the art of storyboard construction as the preproduction stage for film and animation. Students will be introduced to storyboard strategies, exploring visual concepts such as shot types, continuity, pacing, transitions, and sequencing. Both classical and experimental techniques for creating storyboards will be covered. Emphasis will be placed on the production of storyboard drawings, both by hand and digitally, to negotiate sequential image development and to establish shot-by-shot progression, staging, frame composition, editing, and continuity. Instruction will concentrate primarily on drawing, from thumbnail sketches through final presentation storyboards and animatics. The final project for this class will be the production by each student of a full presentation storyboard and a hi-res animatic in a combined visual, audio, and text presentation format. Knowledge of storyboards and animatics from this class can be used later for idea development and presentation of your project to collaborators, for pitching projects, for professional agencies, and—most importantly—for you, the maker.

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Advanced Projects In Writing for the Screen

Advanced , Seminar—Fall

This one-semester class is for the serious, advanced screenwriter. Consideration for the course requires a writer’s statement about the project you wish to pursue, a list of courses taken, and screenwriting experience, as well as a five-page screenwriting sample that must be emailed in advance of any fall interview to fstrype@sarahlawrence.edu. Once the materials are received, an interview will be scheduled between instructor and student. The seminar will be devoted to reconceptualizing, redeveloping, and restructuring your project-in-process, naturally depending upon your starting point. We will then pursue a rigorous schedule of weekly workshops and diagnostic trouble-shooting critiques. By semester’s end, you will be expected to have a polished draft.

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Television Writing: Writing the Spec Script

Intermediate , Seminar—Spring

Permission of the instructor is required.

The fundamental skill of successful television writers is the ability to craft entertaining and compelling stories for characters, worlds, and situations created by others. Though dozens of writers may work on a show over the course of its run, the “voice” of the show is unified and singular. The best way to learn to write for television—and a mandatory component of your portfolio for agents, managers, show runners, and producers—is to draft a sample episode of a pre-existing show, known as a “spec script.” Developing, pitching, writing, and rewriting stories hundreds of times, extremely quickly, in collaboration, and on tight deadlines is what TV writers on staff do every day, fitting each episode seamlessly into the series as a whole in tone, concept, and execution. This workshop will introduce students to these fundamental skills by taking them, step-by-step, through writing their own spec (sample) script for an ongoing dramatic television series. The semester will take students from premise lines, through the outline/beat sheet, to writing a complete draft of a full one-hour or half-hour teleplay for a currently airing show. No original pilots will be pursued in this semester. In conference, students may wish to develop another spec script and/or begin to develop characters and a series "bible" for an original show in preparation for more advanced classes in original pilot writing. Prospective students are expected to have an extensive working knowledge across many genres of TV shows that have aired domestically during the past 25-30 years.

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Writing for Television: Advanced Projects

Advanced , Seminar—Fall

Permission of the instructor is required.

This class builds on fundamentals learned in Writing the Spec and Writing the Pilot, with the focus on creating new work: original TV pilots. Students will be expected to enter the class with a completed 8- to 12-page beat sheet. That beat sheet will be revised and turned into an original one-hour or half-hour show (no sitcoms). Focusing on engineering story machines, we power characters and situations with enough conflict to generate episodes over many years. During the second half of the semester, you will generate a second original beat sheet within one week and write the pages for that script for the rest of the semester. This will mean that you will complete first drafts of two original shows within the semester. Having taken all three classes in the series—spec, pilot, and advanced—you will have the majority of material, in first-draft form, that you will need for a professional portfolio. In conference, students will do rewrites and begin to develop character descriptions and a series “bible” for their original show. Prospective students are expected to have an extensive working knowledge across many genres of TV shows that have aired domestically during the past 25-30 years.

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The Blues Ethos and Jazz Aesthetics: A History of African Americans in the City

Sophomore and above , Seminar—Year

By the 20th century, African Americans in the city produced the genius of blues and jazz, including distinctive aesthetics of pleasure in music and dance. Artists like Bessie Smith, Ma‘ Rainey, Billy Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Lester Young, and Duke Ellington were paradigmatic in that cultural production. Those aesthetics influenced the black imagination in social, political, and cultural development, including not only the Harlem Renaissance and Chicago Black Renaissance but also the Black Arts Movement. With that cultural and historical background, students in this seminar will explore a variety of research projects.

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Intermediate Italian: Modern Prose

Intermediate , Seminar—Year

This intermediate-level course aims at improving and perfecting the students’ speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills, as well as their knowledge of Italy’s contemporary culture and literature. In order to acquire the necessary knowledge of Italian grammar, idiomatic expressions, and vocabulary, students will be exposed to present-day Italy through the selection of modern Italian literature (e.g., short stories, poems, and passages from novels), as well as specific newspaper articles, music, and films in the original language. Some of the literary works will include selections from Alessandro Baricco, Gianni Rodari, Marcello D’Orta, Clara Sereni, Dino Buzzati, Stefano Benni, Antonio Tabucchi, Alberto Moravia, Achille Campanile, and Italo Calvino. In order to address the students’ writing skills, weekly written compositions will also be required as an integral part of the course. The materials selected for the class— whether a literary text, song, video, or grammar exercise—will be accessible at all times to the students through myslc. Conference topics might include the study of a particular author, literary text, film, or any other aspect of Italian society and culture that might be of interest to the student. Conversation classes will be held twice a week with the language assistant.

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First-Year Studies: 20th-Century Italian Literature

Open , FYS—Year

No previous knowledge of Italian is required.

The course will explore 20th-century Italian literature, focusing on important literary figures, works, and movements (e.g., futurism, neorealism) that helped shape the century. Italy had become a unified nation in 1860, and its literature addressed issues such as (national and personal) identity, tradition, innovation and modernity, the role of literature and of the writer, and the changing role of women in Italian society. We will also explore the interrelation between Italian literature and crucial historical events such as the Great War, the rise and fall of Fascism, World War II, the Resistance, the birth of the Republic, the postwar economic boom, the students’ and women’s movements of the 1960s and ’70s, and the terrorism of the “Anni di Piombo.” We will examine sources ranging from manifestos and propaganda to poetry, fiction (novels and short stories), memoirs, and diaries; the main focus, however, will be on the novel. Texts will include those authored by Gabriele D’Annunzio, Ignazio Silone, Vasco Pratolini, F. T. Marinetti, Italo Svevo, Grazia Deledda, Sibilla Aleramo, Alba de Céspedes, Alberto Moravia, Anna Banti, Natalia Ginzburg, Elsa Morante, and Italo Calvino. Readings will be supplemented by secondary-source material that will help outline the social, historical, and political context in which those authors lived and wrote, as well as provide relevant critical frameworks for the study of their works. Individual conferences will be held every other week; conference topics might include the study of a particular author, literary text, or topic relevant to the course and that might be of interest to the student. On alternate weeks, we will have group activities that may include film screenings, museum visits, and talks relevant to the week’s topics.

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First-Year Studies: Fops, Coquettes, and the Masquerade: Fashioning Gender and Courtship From Shakespeare to Austen

Open , FYS—Year

This section of first-year studies traces the representation of gender difference and romantic attachment on the page and stage from 1590 to 1820, a crucial period in the consolidation of modern assumptions about sexuality, marriage, and gendered behavior. The emphasis will be on drama and prose fiction; but we will also sample a range of other expressive forms, including lyric and narrative poetry, visual satire and portraiture, conduct literature, and life-writing. Along the way, students will be introduced to some of the most compelling figures in European literature, all of whom share an interest in the conventions of courtship and the performance of gender: John Milton, the foremost epic poet in the language (we will read Paradise Lost in its entirety); Aphra Behn, England’s first professional female author; bawdy comic playwrights like George Etherege and William Wycherley; the innovative early novelists Eliza Haywood, Daniel Defoe, and Samuel Richardson; the masterful verse satirist Alexander Pope; the pioneering periodical writers Joseph Addison and Richard Steele; the cross-dressing memoirist Charlotte Charke; and Mary Wollstonecraft, the founder of modern feminism. Bracketing the yearlong course will be extended coverage of the two most influential authors of courtship narratives in English, William Shakespeare and Jane Austen. Additional attention will be paid to earlier writers on sex and marriage, such as Ovid and St. Paul, as well as to contemporary work in queer theory and gender studies. We will also consider select films that reflect the legacy of early modern fictions of gender by directors like Frank Capra and Alfred Hitchcock. Please note that this course will necessarily include candid discussions of sensitive subject matter, including sexual violence.

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The Bible and Literature

Open , Lecture—Year

The Bible: the story of all things, an epic of human liberation and imaginative inspiration; a riven and riveting family saga that tops all others in its depiction of romance, intrigue, deception, seduction, betrayal, existential dread, love, reconciliation, and redemption; an account, as one commentator described it, of God’s ongoing “lover’s quarrel” with humanity; a primary source book for major literature across the planet, still powerful in its influence on the style and subject matter of both prose and poetry. In the first term, this course will provide close readings of major biblical narratives and poetry in Hebrew and Christian scriptures. Lectures will explore and interpret a number of patterns and literary types: the major historical narratives of both scriptures; the poetics and speech acts of creation, blessing, promise, covenant, curse, and redemption; the visionary prophetic tradition from Moses to John, the writer of the Apocalypse; the self-reflective theological interpretations of history by Hebrew chroniclers and the New Testament letters of Paul; the sublime poetry of the Psalms, the Song of Songs, and the Apocalypse of John; and the dark wisdom of the Book of Job and of Ecclesiastes. The second term will study the work of major writers who have grounded their own work in biblical themes, narrative patterns, characters, and images and who have so transformed their biblical sources as to challenge their readers to rethink what scripture is and how it works. Selections will be drawn from the work of Dante Alighieri, John Milton, John Bunyan, William Blake, Herman Melville, Franz Kafka, Sigmund Freud, Zora Neale Hurston, William Faulkner, and Toni Morrison. If there is enough interest in the class, there will be a “Bible Blockbusters” film series on Sunday evenings during the spring term.

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Theatre in America II: The Age of Revolt

Open , Seminar—Spring

Nicholas Ray's great film of 1955, Rebel Without a Cause, sounded an alarm signal of unrest in a time of national self-congratulation; or, as a later musical would phrase it, “What's the matter with kids today?” The “kids,” as it happened, were not merely teenagers driven by sex, fast cars, and rock-and-roll. They were experimenters, doubters, seekers, absurdists; they were women, African Americans, immigrants; gay, angry, dangerous, “funny.” The voices of musical theatre sing with dissonance and complex irony (Stephen Sondheim) or shout with frenzy (Hair). Plays deliberately unsettle and confuse (Edward Albee), rage (Amiri Baraka), challenge (Maria Irene Fornes), mystify (Sam Shepard), tease (Harvey Fierstein), and snarl (Jane Chambers, David Mamet)—often all of the above. The relation between performance and audience is drawn into question (Joseph Chaikin, Judith Malina), and genres are collapsed. The Cold War, aggression in Viet Nam, and the bitter battles over civil rights suddenly suggest that the American Dream is a nightmare and that theatre is a place that must be used to wake people up. To what light of day? Possible conference work may involve the novel, poetry, film, television, and popular music of the period.

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Translation Studies: Poetics, Politics, Theory, and Practice

Sophomore and above , Seminar—Year

Linguistic proficiency in a foreign language is strongly recommended.

Translation is the process by which meanings are conveyed within the same language, as well as across different languages, cultures, forms, genres, and modes. The point of departure for this course is that all interpretive acts are acts of translation, that the very medium that makes translation possible—language itself—is already a translation. Because difference, “otherness,” or foreignness is a property of language, of every language, perhaps some of the most interesting problems that we will address revolve around the notion of “the untranslatable.” What is it that escapes, resists, or gets inevitably lost in translation? And what is gained? Does linguistic equivalence exist? How do we understand the distinction between literal and figurative, formal and vernacular, expression? And what underlies our assumptions about the authenticity of the original text or utterance and its subsequent versions or adaptations? Although translation is certainly poetics, it is also the imperfect—and yet necessary—basis for all cultural exchange. As subjects in a multicultural, multilingual, and intertextual universe, all of us “live in translation”; but we occupy that space differently, depending on the status of our language(s) in changing historical, political, and geographic contexts. How has the history of translation theory and practice been inflected by colonialism and postcolonialism? How are translation and power linked in the global literary marketplace? Our readings will alternate between the work of theorists and critics who have shaped what we call translation studies and literary texts that thematize or enact the process of translation, beginning with Genesis and the Tower of Babel. In addition, a workshop component to this course, involving visiting members of the foreign-language faculty and other practitioners of translation, will engage students directly in the challenges of translating.

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First-Year Studies: The New Elements: Mathematics and the Arts

Open , FYS—Year

The development of linear perspective in Renaissance painting presents one of the clearest examples of the intersection of mathematics and the arts. To paraphrase art historian Erwin Panofsky, perspective recasts perceptual space as a uniform, infinite, abstract space with its own logical and aesthetic properties. The mathematics needed in perspectival constructions was worked out by Euclid in antiquity. What novel aesthetic and logical forms are made possible by the mathematics beyond Euclid’s Elements? This seminar will explore the bearing of modern mathematical ideas on 20th-century Western creative and performing arts. While we will not aim for a comprehensive survey of the entire last century, we will investigate a sequence of case studies, including: De Stijl and the painting of Piet Mondrian; serialism and the music of Arnold Schoenberg; the Bauhaus in Germany and its legacy; OuLiPo, “a secret laboratory of literary structures” in postwar French literature; American postmodern dance; and structural film, among others. Mathematical topics will include sets, logic, non-Euclidean geometry, topology, and chance. A central goal of the seminar is to assess the meaning of structure as it pertains to artistic and mathematical practices. This course assumes no particular expertise with mathematics or cultural history. Seminar readings and a program of art viewings will establish a basis for investigating the relevance of fundamental mathematical concepts to modern literature and the arts. Outside the seminar, students will attend both individual and group conferences. Weekly individual conference meetings for the first six weeks of the fall semester will give students the opportunity to develop their first individualized conference projects, focusing on a particular mathematical structure. Individual conferences after the first six weeks will be held on a weekly or biweekly basis, depending on student progress. During the fall semester, a series of group conferences will afford students time for art viewings and collaborative writing and problem solving.

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Time in Film and Philosophy

Open , Seminar—Spring

The experience of time is so deeply engrained in our everyday lives that we tend to take it as a given; we rarely take the time to think about time. Our main objective in this course will be just that: to reflect about time. What is the meaning of time? How do we experience it? Is there a “right way” to experience time and to think about time? Our main register for addressing these questions will be philosophical, and we will get to know writings by some of the best philosophers of the last century and a half—including Bergson, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Kristeva. Since the filmic medium—the “movie”—embodies time and movement in its very structure, we will accompany our philosophical readings with watching and interpreting films, including (Fellini), La Jetée (Marker), Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (Akerman), 2001: a Space Odyssey (Kubrick), and Memento (Nolan) that explore their own temporality philosophically.

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Intermediate Spanish II

Intermediate , Seminar—Year

Open to qualified students as determined by a personal interview with the instructor and the results of the Spanish Placement Test (online).

This course is intended for students who have completed roughly two years of college Spanish or the equivalent in high school. Emphasis will be on reading and watching films while broadening your knowledge of primarily Spanish literature and cinema and, at the same time, honing short- to mid-length essay-writing skills in Spanish. (Given the emphasis on reading and writing, this course is also suitable for first years who would like to work in both English and Spanish as part of their first-year experience.) Along the way, we will look into what it means to be “Spanish,” nationalism and other identities (Basque, Catalán), the violence to which the country was subjected during the Civil War, and the pact of silence that followed 36 years of fascist dictatorship (the Franco regime and then the “transición”). How does the country of Opus Dei enact the first European constitutional amendment to legalize gay marriage? And how do immigrants from Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia, and Latin America challenge notions of “the other.” These are some of the questions we will ponder, and you will no doubt come up with others of your own as we move through texts and films. Except for a few theoretical/critical texts in English, all readings will be in Spanish. Second semester, we will focus primarily on Cuba and continue to develop writing skills in Spanish.

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Narrative in Contemporary Painting

Open , Seminar—Spring

Taking inspiration from the history of art, literature, and cinema, students will be introduced to a variety of approaches on how to construct narratives in the language of contemporary painting. What is narrative, and can it be expressed abstractly as well as literally? How can color, value, and mark-making be used in painting to create a narrative progression and a passage of time? Students will explore various narrative themes, sourcing from autobiography, political events, literature, films, mediated images, and other personally relevant content. Observational painting will be used as a point of departure to examine various strategies to construct a visual world. Students will proceed to develop technical and conceptual skills that are crucial to the painting process. The work will fluctuate between in-class projects and homework assignments. The curriculum will be supplemented with Power Point® presentations, film screenings, selected readings, field trips, and group critiques.

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Advanced Interdisciplinary Studio

Open , Seminar—Fall

This interdisciplinary studio course is intended for advanced visual-arts students to transition their art making from an assignment-based approach to individual studio practice. The course will support students working in painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, sculpture, video, performance. and new-genres art forms. Students will maintain their own studio spaces and will be expected to work independently and creatively and to challenge themselves and their peers to explore new ways of thinking and making. In addition to weekly critiques, we will discuss how formal aspects and expressive strategies of art making in the 20th and 21st centuries are considered and evaluated in their social and political contexts. Relationships of past art to the development of contemporary art will be addressed. We will also examine how traditional mediiums of painting and drawing relates to more contemporary mediums such as film, photography, video, and performance. During the fall semester, students will be given open-ended prompts from which they will be asked to experiment with how they make work and will be encouraged to work across mediums.The class will feature image presentations, readings, group discussions, studio critiques and trips to artist’s studios, and participation with the Visual Arts Lecture Series. This will be an immersive studio course for disciplined art students interested in making art in an interdisciplinary environment.

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Our World, Other Worlds

Open , Seminar—Year

This course explores prose writing, with an emphasis on the creation of a world. The writing can be fiction or nonfiction and can take place in this world, another, or several. We will explore ideas about this world and writing about this world and others and work on our writing to make it livelier and more real no matter how imaginary our world is. This course runs in two parts, one semester each. You can take one or both parts. One part will involve writing episodes to build a world that, revised, will become a conference project; the other part will work on craft and content exercises of all kinds, with the conference project distinct from the exercises. Readings include folk tales, religious writing, philosophy, fiction, and newspaper items.

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