Film History

Film History


Fall 2010
08/23/2010 - 12/12/2010

Course Information

Section 002
TTh 18:00 - 20:15
EVC9 9211
Philip Fagan

Office Hours

  • Voice Mail: 512-223-1790-26442
  • M W
    5:45 - 6:45
    RGC Portable
  • T Th
    5:20 - 5:50
    EVC 8313

Course Requirements


There will be one research paper, which will be assigned and discussed later in class (see calendar). The paper will draw on class readings and lectures as well as your own scholarly research, observations, and knowledge pertaining to the course material. The paper will constitute 20% of your grade. Papers must be turned in on or before the due date and there will be a class meeting devoted to discussing your papers-in-progress. Papers are due Tuesday, November 23.



There will be a midterm and a final exam. The exams will include multiple choice, true/ false, short answer, and essay questions. The midterm will be cumulative, covering material since the beginning of the semester. The final exam is not cumulative and will cover material since the midterm. Each exam will count as 20% of your grade for a total of 40%. As a general rule, exams cannot be made up. Your exams will be on Tuesday October 19 and Thursday December 9.



There will be four multiple choice/ true or false type pop quizzes throughout the semester. The material covered on quizzes will not be cumulative. The four quizzes will each count for 5% of your grade for a total of 20%. Quizzes cannot be made up. See the course calendar for quiz dates.



Attendance and participation will constitute 20% of your final grade. Each student is allowed two absences throughout the semester. However, each subsequent absence will result in losing five points. Upon a sixth absence the student will either a) be withdrawn from the course by the instructor or b) receive an F for their final semester grade. Unless you are sick or have an emergency, I highly encourage you to attend all classes. Much of the lecture material will not come directly from your text and you don’t want to miss any pop quizzes. On occasion, lecture and film days may be switched or a different film or topic may be presented. Also, if you are absent frequently, your final grade will be whittled down significantly no matter how well you do on the exams, quizzes, and paper. In short, it will be very difficult for you to do well in this course with poor attendance. At the same time, good attendance is an easy way to enhance your grade in the course. The instructor reserves the right to administratively withdraw any student based on poor performance and/or attendance.


Attendance Policy:

2 absences or less: 20

3 absences: 15

4 absences: 10

5 absences: 5

6 absences: Withdrawal from course or F in course.


Similarly, all students are strongly encouraged to participate in class discussions in this seminar-style course. In any classroom situation that includes discussion and critical thinking, there are bound to be many differing viewpoints.  These differences enhance the learning experience and create an atmosphere where students and instructors alike will be encouraged to think and learn.  On sensitive and volatile topics, students may sometimes disagree not only with each other but also with the instructor.  It is expected that faculty and students will respect the views of others when expressed in classroom discussions. While you will not be penalized for not being actively engaged with the material, I do reserve the right to consider your class participation when considering final grades that are “on the cusp.”




Note:ACC does not post grades. The College will mail your grades to you.


                        4  Quizzes                               20 (5 points each)

                        2 Exams                                  40 (20 points each)

                        Research paper                        20       

                        Attendance/ Participation       20

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Total               100


                        100-90:  A        Incomplete:  I

                        89-80:    B        Withdrawal:  W

                        79-70:    C

                        69-60:    D

                        59-0:      F




Course Text: Wexman, Virginia Wright (2006). A History of Film (Seventh Edition). Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.


Other than your research paper, all course material will be drawn from class lectures, screenings, and the above text. The class syllabus notes what portions of the text should be read before each class meeting. Additional resources may be posted on Blackboard. Each student is responsible for bringing their copy of the textbook to each class in order to facilitate discussion. However, the textbook is a supplement to class lectures and discussions, not vice-versa. The majority of material for which you will be held accountable will come from lectures.

Course Subjects

CLASS #        DAY/DATE               TOPIC


1                      Tues/ Aug 24             Introduction to Class/ Silent Cinema

2                      Thurs/ Aug 26          Silent Cinema to 1930s

 (Terms to consider: Silent cinema, German Expressionism, Modernism, Surrealism, Soviet Montage, horror/suspense)

Reading Due: Chapters 1-2


3                      Tues/ Aug 31              1930s continued

                                                            Reading due: Chapter 3-4

4                      Thurs/ Sep 2              Screening: King Kong. Merian C. Cooper,

                                                            1933. (Terms to consider: Early Hollywood sound                                                                cinema, CHC, special effects movie, “Universal”                                                                  horror, fantasy).         

                                                            Reading due: Chapters 5-6


5                      Tues/ Sep 7                 HollywoodFilm in the 1940s and 50s

                                                            Reading due:   Chapter 7 

6                      Thurs/ Sep 9              Screening: Citizen Kane. Orson Welles, 1941.

(Terms to consider: CHC, film noirand cinema style)


7                     Tues/ Sep 14                Defining Genre and Style: A look at film noir

                                                            Reading due. Chapter 10

8                     Thurs/ Sep 16             Screening: Nightmare Alley. Edmund Goulding.

                                                            1947. (Terms to consider: Film noir, crime film,                                                                    anti-hero, formalism, World War II, pessimism)


9                     Tues/ Sep 21                InternationalArt Cinemain the 1940s and 50s         

                                                            Reading Due:  Chapter 8

                                                            Quiz #1

10                   Thurs/ Sep 23             Screening:  I Vittelone, Federico Fellini, 1953     

(Terms to consider: Italian Neorealism, comedy, art house)

Reading due: Chapters 11-12



11                    Tues/ Sep 28               Hollywood’s Nervous Breakdown, the American

Avant-Garde, and International Cinema in the Sixties (New Modernism)                                                        

                                                             Reading due: Chapters 16, 18, 19

12                    Thurs/ Sep 30            Screening: Breathless.  Jean-Luc Godard, 1959.

(Terms to consider: French New Wave, auteur, art house, counterculture)  


13                    Tues/ Oct 5                 An Alternative Film History: Avant-garde,

                                                            Experimental and Underground Cinema. Screening:                                                            various clips. (Terms to consider: UG, AV, Beat,                                                                  Experimental, film poetry, counterculture)

                                                            Quiz #2

14                    Thurs/ Oct 7               The Documentary Tradition

Reading Due: Chapter 9

Screening: Gimme Shelter. Maysles Brothers, 1970.

(Terms to consider: Documentary, counterculture film, rock and roll/performance film)


15                    Tues/ Oct 12               Other Visions, Other Nations: Clips and lecture

                                                            Reading Due:  Chapters 13, 14, 22

                                                            Review Sheet for midterm exam posted on                                                                           Blackboard.

16                    Thurs/ Oct 14             Paper assigned, Exam Q-n-A


17                    Tues/ Oct 19               Midterm Exam                     

18                    Thurs/ Oct 21            The Seventies: The Counterculture Goes to


                                                            Reading due: Chapter 20


.19                   Tues/ Oct 26               Screening:  Mean Streets, 1973.Martin Scorsese.

(Terms to consider: New Hollywood, counterculture film, rebel/ anti-hero, realism, crime film)

Reading due: Chapter 17

20                    Thurs/ Oct 28             New German Cinema (Terms to consider: NGC,                                                                   social problem film, documentary style)                    


21                   Tues/ Nov 2                Screening: Stroszek. Werner Herzog, 1976.

22                    Thurs/ Nov 4              The Death of New Hollywood and the Rise of the

            Multiplex and Independents

 (Terms to consider: New York film; (truly) Indie film; neo-noir, punk/counterculture film)

Quiz #3


23                    Tues/ Nov 9                Screening: Buffalo66. 1998. Vincent Gallo .

24                    Thurs/ Nov 11            Ireland: A Case Study in Third World Cinema

                                                            Reading due: Chapters 15, 21, 23


25                    Tues/ Nov 16              Screening: Bloody Sunday. Paul Greengrass. 2002.

(Terms to consider: Third World/ indigenous cinema, Irish film, human rights, docudrama, documentary style, “ultra-realism”)

26                    Thurs/ Nov 18            Discuss Papers-in-progress


27                    Tues/ Nov 23              PAPERS DUE

                                                            One-World Culture: The International Art Film Hits

the Multiplex  

Screening: Volver. Pedro Almodovar, 2007.

                                                            (International hit film)

                                                            Review sheet for Final Exam posted on Blackboard

28                    Thurs/ Nov 25            Thanksgiving Holiday


29                    Tues/ Nov 30              Postmodernism: Where do we go from here?

                                                            Reading due: Chapter 24       

30                    Thurs/ Dec 2              Screening: I’m Not There.

Todd Haynes. 2007. (Pomo, musical biopic, fragmentation)

Quiz #4


31                    Tues/ Dec 7                Exam Q-n-A

32                    Thurs/ Dec 9              Final Exam

Student Learning Outcomes/Learning Objectives

COURSE GOAL AND OBJECTIVES: The goal of this course is to take the student beyond the role of a passive spectator of movies, and to explore the history of cinema from a cultural, ideological, and theoretical standpoint. Rather than viewing a film as some preexisting piece of art and/or entertainment, we shall examine how films are very much “of their time.” Students are encouraged to develop their faculties for critical thinking regarding the history of film and how it relates to culture and ideology, and to demonstrate ability to discuss and write about these topics.