Introduction to Study & Theory of Film

FILM S 3001Q - Session 2: July 6–August 14 - 3 points
10:00am - 1:50pm
tue thu
Summer 2020
Vito Adriaensens

This course is only offered in the summer session. 


Ever since digital technology arrived, film scholars have been wondering what is happening to cinema. Some have seen it in decline, its identity as a medium dissolving into a broader context of visual media. Others have argued that cinema is instead proliferating in unimagined ways, because moving images are now consumed on new screens and in new spaces. This course seeks to take stock of cinema’s legacy in light of these changes by offering an overview of major topics in the history, analysis, and critical study of the medium. It does so, moreover, on the premise that cinema needs to be understood comparatively, in relation to the context of surrounding media forms from which it first differentiated itself and into which it now risks dissolving.


The course begins with an examination of the basic elements of film form that have been thought to define cinema’s “medium identity” (cinematography, editing, mise-en-scène, etc.). We next turn to cinema’s historically dominant function as an entertainment institution and the critical models that have been applied to it (genre theory, auteurism, and psychoanalysis), before examining alternative modes of film practice that have repudiated this mainstream role (documentary, animation, experimental film). Finally, the class ends by considering the digital revolution and how contemporary media change requires us to rethink the fundamental question: what is cinema?


All courses subject to change.


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