Film Theory and Criticism
Fall 2009

Tuesdays, 2:30 to 3:45 p.m., Walker Center 144
Thursdays, 2:30 to 5 p.m., Studio B, CCA

Mr. Bryan Cardinale-Powell
Room 6, Children’s Center for the Arts

Office Hours: Tuesdays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., or by appointment.
Please be sure to confirm your plans to meet with me via email.

Course Description:
Throughout its history, the practice of motion pictures has drawn the attention of many concerned with describing the nature and impact of the medium. This class will explore a variety of conceptual frameworks offered by these thinkers by engaging their writings and exploring the intellectual context in which these ideas emerged. We will explore several models for how movies convey meaning, address audiences, and elicit emotions. That’s the theory part.

Criticism, on the other hand, may be thought of as the application of theoretical frameworks to specific film texts. Understood this way, criticism is a skill that requires careful observation and organization of thought. Criticism tests theoretical ideas and may lead to new theoretical insights that may themselves be tested against other texts. In this way, one can see how both theory and criticism work together to make us more sophisticated viewers and producers of film as we gain deeper understanding of the medium.

Course Objectives:
Upon successful completion of this course, the student should be able to demonstrate the following:
  • familiarity with the intellectual context of a range of theoretical concepts that have been applied to the study of film;
  • the ability to discuss and apply a variety of theoretical frameworks to individual films;
  • the ability to use theoretical concepts and his or her own observations in the production of a clearly organized, insightful analytical essay that engages a specific film text.
Required Texts:
  • Braudy, Leo and Marshall Cohen. Film Theory and Criticism, 7th ed. Oxford, ISBN: 978-0-19-536562-7
  • Supplemental texts which will be distributed electronically or through Library Reserves.
As deemed necessary by the instructor, additional readings may be assigned during the term. Any additional readings will be distributed in class or electronically via email. More information will be provided as necessary.

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

Course Requirements:
In addition to the assigned readings mentioned above, student requirements for this course include the following:
  • Attendance and participation in classroom activities/discussions
  • Classroom Journal
  • Screening Responses
  • Midterm Exam
  • Analytical Essay
  • Final Exam
Attendance and Participation: Your attendance and participation in classroom activities is expected and will be monitored and factored into your final grade for the course. Remember, failure to attend class is the best way to fail class.

Classroom Journal: A class reporter rotation will be set up during our first class meeting. For each remaining class discussion session, the assigned class reporter will take notes of the day’s activities and post a written account online no later than two days following class. Online instructions will be handed out in class.

Screening Responses:
According to our calendar, Tuesday classes comprise a discussion of the previous week’s screening and assigned readings. To supplement this discussion, students should submit to the online classroom discussion group a short reflection on the week’s film and readings no later than 6 p.m. Saturday following the screening.

Midterm Exam: The midterm exam will consist of short essay questions that require students to use examples from class screenings to demonstrate their understanding of topics covered in class

Analytical Essay: Over the duration of the semester, each student will develop a 5-7 page analytical essay that examines one film text in depth. This project will be conducted in three stages that will be further explained in class.

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

! Throughout the semester, class-related information will be communicated via email. To ensure that this works as smoothly as possible, please be sure you have access to your email account, and that you check that account regularly. If you’d rather use a different email address for class-related correspondence, please let me know by the end of the first week of classes.

Plagiarism, cheating, and/or academic dishonesty in any form will not be tolerated in this course. For further details, please refer to the Policy on Academic Honesty on pages 41-42 of the 2009-10 undergraduate catalog available online here. Sanctions for violations of academic honesty are at the discretion of the instructor and can be severe.

Students will earn final grades based on the following formula:

5% Attendance
5% Classroom journal
10% Screening responses
25% Mid-term exam
30% Term paper
25% Final exam

Assignment scores and calculated totals will correspond to letter grades according to the following scale:
94-100 A 75-78 C+
90-93 A- 72-74 C
86-89 B+ 68-71 C-
83-85 B 60-67 D
79-82 B- 0-59 F

Make-up work and late assignments may only be accepted with the advance permission of the instructor, and such permission will be granted only in cases of verifiable hardship.

An incomplete (I) will only be granted according to the university policies published on page 47 of the 2009-2010 undergraduate catalog.

You can find more information regarding classroom assessment practices on the web

If you need an accommodation due to a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, please contact the Student Health and Disabilities Service Office immediately at (405) 208-5991 or (405) 208-5090. Advance notice is required for many accommodations.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at any time during the semester to discuss your classroom performance. However, I will not disclose any grades via email.

They’re your grades. You earn them.