Courses / Undergraduate

Summer 2019

  • Avant Garde

    129 | CCN: 15783

    Diana Ruiz

    4 Units

    T/W/TH 11:30 AM – 2:00 PM, Dwinelle 188; Screening Tu 3:30 PM – 6:00 PM, Dwinelle 142 ///

    This course introduces students to the international history of avant-garde cinema, spanning from film innovations of the 1920s to present-day experiments with film form. In this intensive course, students will study the major formal modes of avant-garde cinema and learn about different contributions to film language pioneered by avant-garde artists. How, for example, have filmmakers conveyed radically different senses of place, time, history, and identity on screen? How does experimentation change according to medium specificity? In what ways can aesthetic choices reflect political commitments? What alternative lenses can avant-garde films offer our experience of the quotidian, the personal, and the universal? Under what conditions have avant-garde cinemas infiltrated mainstream media or gone underground? Which experimentations’ legacies live on in our everyday media consumption?

    To answer these questions and more, we will explore film movements and forms such as: surrealism and Dada, abstraction, psychodrama, lyrical films, autobiography, structural film, the film essay, recycled cinema, camp, expanded cinema, and hybrid forms that challenge the boundaries of ethnography, documentary, and fictional modes. Throughout our tracking of avant-garde cinemas, we will pay special attention to film modes and makers– feminist, queer, Black, Native, and Latinx– historically neglected and disparaged by Hollywood and mainstream media.

    Lectures and in-class discussions will situate these cinematic experiments and expressions in relation to larger social, cultural, artistic, and philosophical contexts. Our weekly screenings will show seminal and contemporary works based on the theme of the week. We will watch films by artists such as: Santiago Alvarez, Kenneth Anger, Ephraim Asili, James Benning, Stan Brakhage, Ximena Cuevas, Colectivo los Ingrávidos, Maya Deren, Germaine Dulac, Kevin Jerome Everson, Hollis Frampton, Su Friedrich, Barbara Hammer, Mona Hatoum, Sky Hopinka, Isaac Julian, Adam and Zack Khalil, George Kuchar, Marie Menken, Akosua Adoma Owusu, Carolee Schnemann, Kelly Sears, Cauleen Smith, Pola Weiss, and more! We will read primary sources, such as manifestos and interviews, alongside theoretical and historiographic texts in order to engage the films from multiple points of entry. We will practice close analysis in each session; students will continue to develop film analysis and argumentation skills in their written assignments.