Topics in American Cinema: Film Comedy

3 points
Session II: Jul 6 - Aug 14
T, R, 1 - 5 pm
Instructor: Stuart Weinstock
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This course is a high-minded exploration of a sometimes-lowbrow art. Quintessentially American ideas of social mobility, freedom to satirize, and celebration of the underdog -- to name just a few -- have helped Anglo-American and immigrant artists to produce a unique brand of filmed comedy, from Mack Sennett to Preston Sturges and Judd Apatow. This course examines the rich tapestry of the American film comedy, and the social, historical, and technological factors that made it possible, from its birth in silent cinema to the present. 
Films to be screened and discussed include (but are not limited to): Modern Times, Duck Soup, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?, The Apartment, The Graduate, Annie Hall, and Animal House. Readings and essay assignments are intended to broaden the focus of this course to include more genre material than we can possibly cover in class meetings.
Students are strongly encouraged to explore their interests beyond the syllabus for their three analytical essays, each 6-8 pages and covering a different era of film history. The assigned readings are provocative, illuminating, and often funny. They encompass a wide range of topics and formats, including: filmmaker interviews, scholarly essays, "hidden" histories, and primary source documents.

Tuition & Fees
Most summer courses are offered at the standard Continuing Education tuition rate of
$1,570 per point ($4,710 for a 3-point course).
For more information on tuition and course fees, please refer to our Tuition & Fees page.

Materials Fee: $30
For questions about School of the Arts course content, please write to our summer team at For all other Summer Program questions, including admissions, registration, and billing, please contact the School of Continuing Education summer team at, or 212-854-9666.

About the Instructor
Stuart Weinstock

Stuart Weinstock is a writer, a director, and a professor of Film. He earned his BA in Film Studies and Psychology from Columbia College, and his MFA in Directing from Columbia's School of the Arts. His short films have screened and won awards at film festivals worldwide. more
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Columbia University School of the Arts offers MFA degrees in Film, Theatre, Visual Arts, and Writing, an MA degree in Film Studies, a joint JD/MFA degree in Theatre Management & Producing, a PhD degree in Theatre History, Literature, and Theory, and an interdisciplinary program in Sound Arts.