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Course Information

Instructor Info:Lise Sanders
Office Extension x5650
Eva Rueschmann
Office Extension x5378
TA Info:Allison McCarthy
Term: 2014S
Meeting Info: Tuesday Thursday
10:30 AM - 11:50 AM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) WLH
10:30 AM - 11:50 AM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) WLH
07:00 PM - 09:00 PM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) WLH

This course is designed to introduce students to key issues in film studies, focusing on the history of American cinema from 1895 to 1960. We will pay particular attention to the "golden age" of Hollywood, with forays into other national cinemas by way of comparison and critique. Screenings will range from actualities and trick films, to the early narrative features of D. W. Griffith, to the development of genres including film noir (Double Indemnity), the woman's film of the 1940s (Now, Voyager), the western (Stagecoach) and the suspense film (Rear Window). Several short papers and in-class discussions will address how to interpret film on the formal/stylistic level (sequence analysis, close reading, visual language) as well as in the context of major trends and figures in film history.

Course Objectives:

We expect all course participants to attend class on a regular basis, to complete all readings and written assignments by the date listed, and to participate actively in discussion. Attendance at the Monday night screenings is mandatory. Supplemental viewings (of both the assigned and recommended films) are strongly recommended.

This course will require at least six to eight hours a week of work outside of class time. This time commitment includes reading (and often re-reading) assigned course texts; taking careful and detailed notes; seeking out appropriate secondary sources where needed; and preparing, revising, and polishing written work.

Please come prepared with written questions and comments on each day’s readings; these contributions will form the basis of our class discussions. A viewing journal will be expected, as a record of your critical responses to the films; this journal will take the form of weekly posts to the course website, due by 12 noon on Wednesdays. In addition, three formal essays are required: a 3-5 page sequence analysis; a 6-8 page critical explication of a piece of film criticism (a scholarly article or book chapter) not already assigned for the course; and a final research paper (8-10 pages). A prospectus and bibliography will be expected well in advance of the final paper deadline. Deadlines are noted below. Please bring three copies of each written assignment for distribution to the professors and TA.


Evaluation Criteria:

Students may take one automatic extension of 72 hours on any one of the writing assignments; otherwise, late papers will not be accepted. More than two unexcused absences constitute grounds for no evaluation. Likewise, any student who is more than one assignment behind at any point in the semester will not receive an evaluation for the course. In order for you to receive an evaluation, the final portfolio must be complete and handed in by the deadline stated on the syllabus. Final portfolios will consist of the Moodle viewing journals; the sequence analysis; the critical explication; the prospectus, bibliography, and draft(s) of the final research project; and the final version of the research project, substantially revised.


Additional Info:

Incomplete Policy

Incompletes are permitted only in emergencies, and only when negotiated in advance. Here is an excerpt from the College policy on incompletes (available in Non Satis Non Scire):

To record an incomplete, both student and faculty member will fill out the appropriate form to record the new negotiated deadline by which the student will complete all remaining work for the course. That date will not exceed the first day of the spring semester for a fall incomplete, and June 30th for a spring incomplete.

If the negotiated deadline passes without the faculty member receiving and recording the completed work from the student, the incomplete will be converted to a "No Evaluation." Faculty have one month from the negotiated date to evaluate the work.

Students experiencing exceptional circumstances that could make it difficult to adhere to any part of this policy should immediately be referred to CASA for assistance with accommodating circumstances.

Sensitivity and Respect

The classroom is a place of academic discussion and scholarly engagement, but just as the personal is political, the intellectual can also be personal. All course participants should feel comfortable expressing their views in an atmosphere of respect. In particular, please be aware of your peers' preferred names and pronouns and use them in class.

The following is an excerpt from Hampshire's antidiscrimination and harassment policy (available at

Discrimination and harassment on the basis of race, age, color, national origin, religion, sex (including sex stereotyping), sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disability, genetic information, transgender status, or military service (henceforth, the “Protected Factors”) is in conflict with the mission of the College and is strictly prohibited by its Policy. Hampshire College is strongly committed to building an inclusive environment and will not tolerate any actions of any individual that violate this Policy.

A Note on Plagiarism

Plagiarism – passing off another person's words as your own – is a serious infringement of scholarly ethics, and necessitates disciplinary action on the part of the School Dean and the Advising Office. Please see the accompanying handout for further details, and cite sources diligently in your written work.

Office Hours/Contact Information

Eva Rueschmann: by appointment, call Dean of Faculty Office at x5378, to set up a time;

Lise Sanders: Wed & Thurs 1-2:30 & by appointment; ASH 103; ext. 5650;

Allison McCarthy: by appointment;

Required Text

David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson, Film Art: An Introduction (9th or 10th ed.)

Note: Photocopies of additional required readings (X) will be available on the course website. Please bring a copy of each day's required reading to class as we will work extensively with the text(s) in our discussions. (Laptops and other electronic devices pose a distraction and are not allowed unless specific accommodations are requested.)