The Craft of Writing – Genre and Technology
R1B - 004 | CCN: 31621
Justin Vaccaro and Robert Alford
This course fulfills the second part of the Reading and Composition requirement. We will continue to work on writing analytical, argumentative papers but with an added emphasis on research, both doing research – from generating research topics to locating and evaluating sources – and writing research papers which will integrate and correctly cite sources in support of your own original and provocative claims. We will screen Films, TV series, and short subjects paying close attention to formal, historical, and thematic elements. This attention to detail will direct research and be the subject of critical analysis, culminating in a substantial research paper. Our topic for this spring is film genres and technology.
Genre films are the most produced and arguably the most popular type of film in the history of cinema. And as ‘the cinema’ has expanded out to include television and New Media this tendency has only increased. Westerns, Musicals, Rom-Coms, Thrillers, Superheroes, Tearjerkers, Gangsters, many of these genres come from or appear in other media – the theater, novels, comics – but audio/visual genres are their own beast. The unparalleled success of Hollywood has meant that the cinema often sets the terms for what we understand a genre to entail. Film genres are everywhere. Genres are one of the most important ways mass culture communicates with itself. They tackle all the great issues and concerns of the day, sometimes literally, more often figuratively. Genres, though, never merely reflect their times, but help shape cultural discourse. And for its entire history, one of the great themes of cinema genres has been technology. Genre films are founded on and engaging with their technological base more than any other form (even more than videogames). We will look at various genres and how they are shaped by technology and occasionally shape technology. Just as importantly will examine the ways that genre comments, critiques, reacts, and frames technology both overtly and covertly. We will consider how this is similar to but also different from how genre engages with other aspects of culture.