English 3870-01
Spring 2012

Film History

Spring 2012, W 600-900 | Room: PH 322

Requirements | Policies & Procedures | Text | Power Points | Agenda

Essay Assignment Further Instructions: In Word; in pdf | Model Essay Movie Archaeology | Movie Genres | Movie Quotes | Movie Websites | The Auteur TheoryThe Great Directors | The Great Movies | Movie Glossary | Citizen Kane Starter Kit | Dr. Strangelove Starter Kit | Dr. Horrible Starter Kit | Film History Blog | Mid-Term Study Sheet | Take Home Final | In-Class Final Study Sheet


Dr. David Lavery

Office: PH 372 | Office Hours:  T-Th 225-330; W 500-600 | E-mail: david.lavery@mtsu.edu | Office Phone/Voice-Mail: 615-898-5648 | Home Page: http://davidlavery.net



Dr. David Lavery is Professor of English at MTSU (1993- ). The author of one hundred and fifty published essays, chapters, and reviews, he is author / co-author / editor / co-editor of twenty three books, including Joss Whedon, A Creative Portrait: From Buffy the Vampire Slayer to The Avengers, TV Goes to Hell: An Unofficial Road Map of Supernatural, The Essential Cult Television Reader, and The Essential Sopranos Reader. The organizer of international conferences on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Sopranos, a founding co-editor of the journals Slayage: The Journal of the Whedon Studies Association and Critical Studies in Television, he has lectured around the world on the subject of television (Australia, Turkey, the UK, Portugal, New Zealand, Ireland, Germany) and has been a guest/source for the BBC, NPR, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, The New York Times, A Folha de Sao Paulo (Brazil), Publica (Portugal), Information (Netherlands), AP, The Toronto Star, USA Today. From 2006-2008, he taught at Brunel University in London.



Critical Essay: A critical essay on a film or films or on the work of a director. Your essay must have a title that gives a general idea of what the essay will be about. Cinematography in Citizen Kane or The Use of Multiple Points of View in Citizen Kane--good titles. Citizen Kane (as title of your essay itself)--bad title. Think of your audience as your classmates but presume that the reader has seen the film in question. Don't even think about writing on a film you have not seen at least twice. Take notes as you watch. Do not (NOT) write a plot summary. Presume that the reader knows the basic plot of the movie you are writing about. Do not write a review. Your purpose in this essay is to make sense of the movie you are writing on, not to critique it. Since you are writing about a film your reader has already seen, your purpose is, as an "expert" on the film (or at least one who has paid careful attention to it), to enhance its meaning for your reader by analyzing/interpreting some aspect of it. Here is a partial list of some of the topics you might write on for the film you have chosen as your subject: characterization, plot, setting, mise-en-scene, photography, music, structure, narration, editing, color, acting, direction, special effects, use of sound, set design, art direction, the screenplay. Like any good essay you will need to have a thesis: a commitment / contract (usually at the end of the introduction, usually expressed in a sentence or two) in which you inform your reader what you will accomplish in the essay about to be read. The events in the film itself should be talked about in present tense, as if they are still going on. Thus "Eddie Adams takes the stage name of 'Dirk Diggler' when he becomes a movie star" not "Eddie Adams took the stage name of 'Dirk Diggler' when he became a movie star."  Proofread/edit carefully. Peter Elbow once said that submitting an essay to a teacher full of errors is the equivalent of throwing dirty socks in your mother's face and commanding "Wash these!" If you make me wash your socks, I will not be happy and will respond appropriately. The title of a movie should be in italics or underlined: Boogie Nights or Boogie Nights not "Boogie Nights." Model Essay | Citizen Kane Starter Kit | Dr. Strangelove Starter Kit | Dr. Horrible Starter Kit | 30%

Mid-Term Exam: An in-class cognitive-memory test, consisting of a variety of matching, identification, short answer questions (on directors, films, movie terms). | 20%

Final Exam, Part I: A take-home exam, consisting of a menu of topics, from which you will select two, responding with essay answers. These topics will all be "leading questions," intended to inspire your own comprehensive synthesis of course ideas, questions, problems. | 25%

Final Exam, Part II: An in-class cognitive-memory test, consisting of a variety of matching, identification, short answer questions (on directors, films, movie terms). It will be a piece of cake for anyone who has been present and attentive in class throughout the semester. | 25%



Manuscript form: All written assignments must be word-processed and must be submitted to the appropriate D2L drop box in digital form, as a Microsoft Word or Rich Text attachment (name the file with your last name only--i.e. lavery.doc). Please be sure to carefully edit and proofread your own work. Do not simply rely on your computer's spell checker. (Go here to read a poem that demonstrates the untrustworthiness of spell checkers.) A list of "Things to be Aware of" as you write your essays can be found here.

Reading Assignments: You are responsible for having read the entirety of each assignment and keeping up with the required reading.

Participation & involvement: Please come prepared for each day’s class. I encourage you to become an active participant in class discussion and to ask constructive and meaningful questions at all times--even when I appear to be "lecturing." I will interpret lack of participation as evidence that you are not reading and will respond with daily quizzes.

Plagiarism / Cheating: The unacknowledged use of the words/ideas/ insights/ original research of another is, of course, prohibited. Should I catch you plagiarizing, or cheating in any way, you will receive a grade of "0" on the assignment in question, the violation may be reported to University authorities, and you may fail the course.

Attendance: Regular attendance is essential to the ongoing progress of the course. Two absences will be permitted. A third absence may result in the loss of a letter grade. A fourth absence may result in failure of the course.

Students with Disabilities: Any student with a disability will be given all the rights and privileges guaranteed under the Americans with Disabilities Act if he/she is registered with Disabled Student Services (call/contact John Harris, KUC 120/2783).



Wheeler W. Dixon and Gwendolyn Audrey Foster, A Short History of Film

BFI Museum of the Moving Image Film History


Week 1 (Movie Archaeology) | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 (Fellini) | Week 9 (Kubrick) | Week 10 | Week 12 | Joss Whedon Power Point



Week 1 | Date: 1/18/12 | Introduction to the Course | The Invention of the Movies | Reading: Short History of Film 1 | Movie Archaeology Power Point

Viewing/Websites: Masters of Photography | Lumiere Brothers First Films | Arrival of a Train | Melies' Melies' Trip to the Moon | Early Cinema.com | Movie Archaeology [Power Point] | Freeze Frame: Muybridge's Photography of Motion | Lavery on "The Horror Film and the Horror of Film" and "'No More Undiscovered Countries': The Early Promise and Disappointing Career of Time-Lapse Photography" | Time-Lapse Photography Blog

Week 2 | Date: 1/25/12 | The Birth of an American Industry | Reading: Short History of Film 2 | Week 2 Power Point

Viewing/Websites: Porter, The Great Train Robbery | Lois Weber, Hypocrites | von Stroheim, last three minutes of Greed | Nanook of the North (entire film) | Lavery on Nanook | Winsor McCay's Gertie the Dinosaur and Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend | Buster Keaton Montage | Keaton Stunts | Keaton's Sherlock, Jr. (entire film) | Chaplin, Easy Street (entire film)

Week 3 | Date: 2/1/12 | The Silent Era | Reading: Short History of Film 3

Viewing/Websites: Red Grooms' Way Down East at NKU | The Cabinet of Dr. CaligariExpressionism | Nosferatu (entire film) | Shadow of the Vampire  | Battleship Potemkin (entire film) | Untouchables Steps | Kevin Brownlow Discusses Abel Gance's Napoleon | Dali | Magritte | Surrealism | Un Chien Andalou | René Clair, Entr'acte (entire film) | Dreyer, The Passion of Joan of Arc (entire film in eight parts)

Week 4 | Date: 2/8/12 | The Hollywood Studio System in the 1930s and 1940s | Reading: Short History of Film 4

Viewing/Websites: King Kong | Burger King Kong | Capracorn | The Marx Brothers | Lang, Metropolis | Berkeley(esque)

Week 5 | Date: 2/15/12 | The Hollywood Studio System in the 1930s and 1940s (cont.) | Reading: Short History of Film 4

Viewing/Websites: Citizen Kane Starter Kit (PDF) | Peanuts/Kane | Kane Plagiarism | Citizen Kane (Power Point)

Week 6 | Date: 2/22/12 | International Cinema Through World War II | Reading: Short History of Film 5

Viewing/Websites: The Gangster Film | Triumph of the Will | Jean Cocteau | Jean Renoir | Jean Vigo

Week 7 | Date: 2/29/12 | Postwar Challenges to the Movies | Reading: Short History of Film 6 | Class will not meet tonight. Explore the links below.

Viewing/Websites: The Blacklist | The Auteur Theory Cinemascope | Cinerama | 3-D | Film Noir / Film Noir 2

3/5-3/11/12: Spring Break (No Class)

Week 8 | Date: 3/14/12 | Postwar Challenges to the Movies (cont.) | Reading: Short History of Film 6 | Course Requirements: Mid-Term Exam in Class

Viewing/Websites: Neo-Realism / A Letter from Fellini / Lavery on Fellini: Major Man: Fellini as an Autobiographer | News from Africa: Fellini-Grotesque | Fellini on Senses of Cinema | Fellini Power Point | Lavery, David. “To Discover That There Is Nothing to Discover”: Imagination, the Open, and the Movies of Federico Fellini. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Florida, 1978. | ___. “Major Man: Fellini as an Autobiographer.” Post Script 6.2 (1987): 14-28. | ___. “News From Africa: Fellini/Grotesque.” Post Script 9.1 & 2 (1990): 82-98.

Week 9 | Date: 3/21/12 | The 1960s Explosion | Reading: Short History of Film 8

Viewing/Websites: Kubrick Power Point | Kubrick on Senses of Cinema

Week 10 | Date: 3/28/12 | The 1960s Explosion (cont.) | Reading: Short History of Film 8

Viewing/Websites: The French New Wave | Another New Wave Site | Baseline Encyclopedia of Film on The New Wave | Breathless Final Scene | 400 Blows Final Scene | Cinema Verite | Final Scene of IfLindsay Anderson and My British Film Class | Meshes of the Afternoon | Little Big Man | Stan Brakhage | Shower Scenes from Psycho and High Anxiety | Trailer from The Seventh Seal | Midnight Cowboy Trailer | The Graduate Trailer | Final Scene of Easy Rider

Week 11 | Date: 4/4/12 | World Cinema 1970 to the Present | Reading: Short History of Film 9 | Course Requirement: Critical Essay Due | Perkins Palmer Flyer

Viewing/Websites: IMDB Top Films of the 1960s | IMDB Top Films of the 1970s | Apocalypse Now Opening | IMDB Top 250 | All-Time Box Office Worldwide

Week 12 | Date: 4/11/12 | World Cinema 1970 to the Present (cont.) | Reading: Short History of Film 9

Viewing/Websites: IMDB Top Films of the 1980s | IMDB Top Films of the 1990s

Week 13 | Date: 4/18/12 | The New Hollywood | Reading: Short History of Film 10

Viewing/Websites: IMDB Top Films of the 2000s | Onion AV Club's Best Films of the '00s | Intense Experiences Blog: 100 Top Films of 2000-2009 | IMDB Top Films of the 2010s

Week 14 | Date: 4/25/12 | Television

Viewing/Websites: TV vs. Movies | Lavery, "The TV is Better Than the Movies Meme" | Television Glossary | Joss Whedon Power Point

Week 15 [Final Exam Week] | Exam Part I Due: 900 AM, 5/3/12 | Final Exam Part II in Class" 5/2/12