Courses / Undergraduate

Fall 2019

  • The Craft of Writing – Film Focus / The End

    R1A-003 | CCN: 31550

    Lisa Jacobson

    4 Units

    Tu/Th 11:30am-1:00pm, Moffitt 106; Screening Thur. 5:00pm-8:00pm, Wheeler 202 ///

    The end is nigh, or so we’ve been told. Repeatedly. Predictions of the apocalypse have come and gone for millennia, prophesied by religions and cultures all around the world. Only over the past century, however, have we been able to see visions of the end of the world realized in moving images on film and, later, television and digital media. In this course, we explore the power of such images. We consider their potential to play out “what if?” scenarios across genres such as science fiction, horror, and even romance and comedy. Whether these films extrapolate from our current world or imagine new ones, they reflect preoccupations, desires, and traumas from the times and places in which they were made. Our job in this course will be to analyze these images of The End in order to tease out the tensions embedded within them.

    We begin the course with the claim that film has a unique connection to reality, then ask how that link to the “real” might be used for imagining the unimaginable. Screening films and television shows together will provide us with case studies for our discussions. We will practice closely analyzing moving images to better understand how they convey meaning, not only in terms of plot and dialogue but also through formal cinematic devices. Weekly readings will give us historical framing and theoretical tools with which to discuss the films within a larger context.

    Over the course of the semester, you will be asked to practice translating this process of film analysis into your own writing through a variety of in-class and at-home assignments. By the end of the course, you should be able to identify various cinematic techniques and analyze their roles within a film; interpret challenging theoretical texts; draw connections among films and readings; create your own original arguments; and strengthen your writing by incorporating feedback from your classmates and instructor. This will help prepare you not only for writing in Film & Media and across the humanities, but also for critically engaging with media you encounter every day.