UC Berkeley Department of Film and Media

Department of Film & Media UC Berkeley

Courses / Undergraduate

Fall 2018

108 | CCN: 32301

Film Genre: Romantic Comedy

Emily Carpenter,

4 Units

M/W 11:00am-12:30pm; W 3:30-6:30pm, Dwinelle 188

 

Although its lovers are legion, romantic comedy is frequently considered to be without value: a “low” cultural form that, like horror or science fiction film, provides pleasures that are simple at worst and guilty at best because they often depend on “tired” or “outdated” generic conventions. Indeed, these conventions have become so transparent for audiences and filmmakers alike that many of the most recent romantic comedies have built their success around a parody or satire of the genre. As the social practices through which we define romance shift rapidly in the early 21st century, and with so many cultural critics crying out that the romantic comedy is dead, this course will aim to re-vivify contemporary romantic comedy as a site at which cultural conversations about desire and intimacy are taking place. In order to do so, we will ask what makes love – or cinema's and television’s approximation thereof – funny: why comedy is such a popular mode for the consumption of narratives about romantic attraction and intimacy. Beginning with the history of romantic comedy in its literary and cinematic forms, we will study a series of cultural shifts that revise and extend what romantic comedy offers its audiences – especially in the form of claims about gender, race, and class.