Courses / Undergraduate

Fall 2015

  • Special Topics in Film: Romantic Comedy

    108 | CCN: 31696

    Emily West

    Date and Time: TUTH 930-11A, 188 DWINELLE

    4 Units

    This class will investigate what makes romance — or cinema’s approximation thereof — funny: how and why comedy is one of the most popular genres or modes through which audiences consume romance narratives. This undertaking consists of four overlapping projects: (1) to examine the conventions of romance narratives, exploring the distinction between literary-historical understandings of the romance as a quest tale and the popular-contemporary idea of romance-as-love-story; (2) to study theories of comedy; (3) to investigate how these discursive fields join in romantic comedy as a popular film genre; and (4) to ask what arguments this genre makes about sex, gender, race, and class. We will aim to excavate a history and theory of romantic comedy, mobilizing multiple critical lenses in order to evaluate the cultural work performed by this under-theorized genre.
    Texts may include: Masculinity in Contemporary Romantic Comedy: Gender as Genre, John Alberti; Comedy and Cultural Critique in American Film, Ryan Bishop; “Jokes and their Relation to the Unconscious,” Sigmund Freud; “Magical Narratives: Romance as Genre,” Frederic Jameson;  All Joking Aside: American Humor and Its Discontents, Rebecca Krefting; Taking Laughter Seriously, Jean Morreal; Reading the Romance, Janice Radway; The Death of Comedy, Erich Segal.

    Films may include: Sherlock, Jr. (Buster Keaton, 1924), It Happened One Night (Frank Capra, 1934), His Girl Friday (Howard Hawks, 1940), Some Like it Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959), Pillow Talk (Michael Gordon, 1959), I Love You, Alice B. Toklas (Hy Averback, 1968), Les Demoiselles de Rochefort (Jacques Demy, 1967), Harold and Maude (Hal Ashby, 1971), Annie Hall (Woody Allen, 1977), When Harry Met Sally (Rob Reiner, 1989), Hairspray (John Waters, 1988),Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis, 1993), Chasing Amy (Kevin Smith, 1997), Clueless (Amy Heckerling, 1995), Lars and the Real Girl (Craig Gillespie, 2007), I Love You, Man (John Hamburg, 2009).