Film 4280

Film Genres: Musicals

Fall 2006

Lecture, Tuesdays & Thursdays

11:00am to 12:15pm

224 Aderhold Learning Center

Screening Lab, Thursdays

12:30pm to 2:20pm

406 Arts and Humanities

 

Mr. Bryan Cardinale-Powell

Room 729, One Park Place

(404) 651-0468

joubcp@langate.gsu.edu

 

Office Hours: Tuesdays & Thursdays, 9:30 to 10:45 am, or by appointment

 

Course Description:

Many consider film musicals somewhat peculiar—unusual spectacles and anomalies best relegated to the dustbin of Hollywood history, or the kind of movie most appealing to children or others in search of simple-minded pleasures.  This course is designed to challenge those preconceptions.  As our work in the course will demonstrate, careful consideration of film musicals sheds light on the intersection of aesthetic, social, cultural, and ideological values in our society.  This course not only will provide historical background for the genre but also a variety of perspectives useful in the development of a critical framework for analyzing specific films.  Along the way, we will consider the logic and usefulness of genre as an analytical tool.       

 

Required Text:

Coursepack, available for purchase at The Printshop.

 

Readings assigned for this course were carefully selected to complement class activities and screenings.  Therefore, reading assignments should be completed before attending class.

 

Additional readings may be assigned and distributed over the term, depending on developments in the class.

 

Course Requirements:

Student requirements include the following:

 

         • Attendance and Participation in classroom discussions

         • Screening responses

         • Close Reading Essay

         • Term Paper

         • Final Exam

 

Attendance and Participation:  Your attendance in class and at screenings is expected and will be monitored. 

 

Screening responses: Tuesday classes will open with a discussion of the week’s screening.  To supplement this discussion, students should submit to the instructor, via email, a one to two page response to each film no later than 6 p.m. Monday following the screening.

 

Close Reading Essay: Students will complete a 4-7 page essay which analyzes one particular film text in depth.  

 

Term Paper:  Each student will complete a 7-10 page essay written on an approved topic related to the study of film musicals.  We will discuss ideas for topics in class, a first draft will be required, and students will present findings to the class in 7-10 minute presentations at the end of the semester. 

 

Final Exam: The final exam for the class will require students to use examples from class readings and screenings in response to essay prompts. 

 

No cheating and/or academic dishonesty in any form will be tolerated in this course.  Please refer to the Policy on Academic Honesty explained in the online student handbook available at http://www2.gsu.edu/%7Ewwwdos/codeofconduct_conpol.html for further details.

 

Grading:

Students will earn final grades based on the following formula:

 

         30% Term Paper

         30%  Close Reading Essay

         20%  Final Exam

         10%  Screening responses

         10%  Attendance/Participation

 

Assignment scores and calculated totals will correspond to letter grades according to the following scale:

 

 

93-100

A

 

78-79

C+

 

90-92

A-

 

70-77

C

 

88-89

B+

 

68-69

C-

 

83-87

B

 

60-67

D

 

80-82

B-

 

0-59

F

 

Withdrawal Policy:

There is a new withdrawal policy for all undergraduates starting Fall 2006: All undergraduates are allowed to withdraw with a grade of "W" a maximum of six times in their entire careers at Georgia State.  Students who exceed the limit will automatically receive a grade of "WF" which will count as an "F" for GPA calculations.  Withdrawals taken before Fall 2006 will not count against the limit and neither will hardship withdrawals, withdrawals at other institutions or withdrawals after the midpoint. Withdrawals after the semester midpoint are automatically given a grade of "WF."

 

To avoid withdrawals, a student is encouraged to attend class regularly and complete every assignment on time.  Students should seek the instructor via e-mail or during office hours to discuss any problems with the course.  A student who does not perform well in class and/or on assignments and exams will be sent an e-mail by the instructor seeking a meeting to discuss any problem(s) the student is having with the course.  The purpose of the meeting will be to remedy the problem(s) and allow the student to find ways to succeed in this course. 

 

The department of communication's Undergraduate Studies Office will also be notified of apparent student underperformance, and an advisor will be available to provide confidential mentorship or to put you in contact with other university resources that can help you navigate this class.  At any time in the semester a student can seek an appointment for an advisement session with the Undergraduate Studies Office by sending an e-mail to advise-comm@gsu.edu or by going to 835 One Park Place.

 

October 16th is the last day students can withdraw from this class and receive a grade of W.  If you choose to withdraw from this course, please be sure to follow the Registrar’s procedure to make sure your withdrawal is official before the deadline, otherwise you will receive an F for the course. 

 

Make-up exams and grades of Incomplete (I) are reserved solely for verifiable hardships.

 

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at any time during the semester to discuss your classroom performance.  They’re your grades.  You earn them.


 

 

Tentative Class Schedule

Changes may be necessary due to unforeseen circumstances

 

WEEK 1

AUGUST 22

 

24

 

 

Course introduction

 

SCREENING: 42nd Street (Bacon & Berkeley, 1933).

 

WEEK 2

29

 

 

 

 

 

 

31

 

 

Thinking about Genre

• Altman, Rick. “A Semantic/Syntactic Approach to Film Genre”

• De Cordova, Richard.   “Genre and Performance”

• Schatz, Thomas.  “The Structural Influence: New Directions in Film Genre Study”

 

SCREENING: Gold Diggers of 1933 (LeRoy & Berkeley, 1933).

 

WEEK 3

SEPTEMBER 5

 

 

 

 

 

7

 

 

Musical Beginnings and the Studio Era

• Rubin, Martin.  “Busby Berkeley and the Backstage Musical”

• Robertson, Pamela.  “Feminist Camp in Gold Diggers

• Dyer, Richard.  “Entertainment and Utopia”

 

SCREENING: Top Hat (Sandrich, 1935).

 

WEEK 4

12

 

 

 

 

 

14

 

 

More Musical Fundamentals

• Cohan, Steven.  “Feminizing the Song-and-Dance Man”

• Neale, Steven.  “Musicals” from Genre and Hollywood

• Altman, Rick.  “The American Film Musical as Dual-Focus Narrative”

 

SCREENING: Gigi (Minnelli, 1958).

 

WEEK 5

19

 

 

 

 

 

21

 

The Style and Structure of Film Musicals

• Altman, Rick.  “The Structure of the American Film Musical”

• Feuer, Jane.  “The Self-Reflective Musical and the Myth of Entertainment”

• Schatz, Thomas.  “The Musical”

 

SCREENING:  Singin’ in the Rain (Donen & Kelly, 1952).

 

WEEK 6

26

 

 

 

 

28

 

 

 

 

The Myth of Entertainment

• Cohan, Steven.  “Case Study: Interpreting Singin’ in the Rain”

• Clover, Carol.  “Dancin’ in the Rain”

 

SCREENING: Blue Hawaii (Taurog, 1961).

 

*** Close Reading due via email by midnight, September 30th ***

 

WEEK 7

OCTOBER 3

 

 

 

 

5

 

 

The Fairy Tale Musical

• Altman, Rick. “The Fairy Tale Musical”

• Mundy, John.  “Hollywood and the Challenge of the Youth Market”

 

SCREENING: Carmen Jones (Preminger, 1954).

WEEK 8

10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12

 

***Term Paper Roundtable***

 

Musicals and Identity 1

• Baldwin, James.  “Carmen Jones: The Dark is Light Enough”

• Knight, Arthur.  “Black Folk Sold: Hollywood’s Black Cast Musicals”

• Smith, Jeff.  “Black Faces, White Voices.”

 

SCREENING: Victor/Victoria (Edwards, 1982).

 

WEEK 9

17

 

 

 

19

*** Semester Midpoint, October 16th***

Musicals and Identity 2

• Straayer, Chris.  “Redressing the ‘Natural’: The Temporary Transvestite Film”

 

SCREENING:  Cabaret (Fosse, 1962).

 

 

WEEK 10

24

 

 

 

26

 

The Show Musical

• Altman, Rick.  “The Show Musical”

• Morris, Mitchell. Cabaret, America’s Weimar…”

• Mizejewski, Linda.  “Doesn’t My Body Drive You Wild…”

 

SCREENING: Nashville (Altman, 1975).

 

WEEK 11

31

 

 

NOVEMBER 2

 

 

The Folk Musical

• Altman, Rick.  “The Folk Musical”

 

SCREENING: Beauty and the Beast (Trousdale & Wise, 1991).

 

WEEK 12

7

 

 

 

9

 

*** Term Paper Draft Due ***

Only for kids?

• Miller, Marc.  “Of Tunes and Toons: The Movie Musical in the 1990s”

 

SCREENING: Dancer in the Dark (Von Trier, 2000).

 

WEEK 13

14

 

 

 

16

 

 

Reconsidering the Myth of Entertainment

• Walters, Tim.  “Reconsidering The Idiots: Dogme95, Lars von Trier, and the Cinema of Subversion?”

 

SCREENING: Chicago (Marshall, 2002).

 

WEEK 14

21

 

23

 

 

*** NO CLASS – THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY ***

 

*** NO CLASS – THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY ***

WEEK 15

28

 

30

 

 

Paper Presentations

 

Paper Presentations

*** Term Paper Final Draft Due ***

 

SCREENING: Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Mitchell, 2001).

 

WEEK 16

DECEMBER 5

 

 

 

 

7

 

The Contemporary Musical?

• Mundy, John.  “I Want My MTV…and My Movies with Music”

 

***Distribute Final Exam Essay Prompts***

 

Review and wrap-up

FINAL EXAM

14

 

 

*** Final exam due via email by midnight ***