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I expect this class to be fun. But it will also be hard. It is a 400-level course, and although I have not made the Intro to Film Course, Engl357, a prerequisite, the essays we are reading are pretty advanced, and a background in either film or literary criticism or both would be helpful.
The basic weekly pattern will be to read several theoretical articles which will be discussed during Monday’s class, to watch a film together during the lab on Tuesday afternoon, and to discuss the film in light of some articles about the film on Wednesday. Every couple of weeks, you will also have to write a journal entry about the readings and the film. (See sections below on READING, VIEWING, and WRITING)
In addition to doing the readings, watching the films, and writing journal entries, each student will participate in a film group and complete a small research project-- either a traditional research paper (8-12pp.) or a web site including a shorter research paper. (See sections below on FILM PROJECT and RESEARCH PROJECT)
There will also be a midterm and a final exam: ID’s will be based on class glossary; essay questions will be handed out before the exam (For weight of various grade components see section below on EVALUATION.
Generally, the readings for Monday are more theoretical -- about sf film in general or the decade or style of film we are looking at -- and those due for Wednesday are more practical interpretations of the specific film we viewed. We will usually read six to eight articles or parts of books per week, depending on length and complexity. Some of these articles will be fairly sophisticated -- using psychoanalytic, archetypal, feminist, semiotic, Marxist, or post-structuralist perspectives -- and so you may have to read slowly and carefully or even re-read articles. Especially on Mondays, we will devote class discussion to a careful explication of these articles, answering questions and working through difficult concepts.
Books for Course (Available at Clemson Newsstand and U Bookstore)
- The Science Fiction Encyclopedia -- out of print, but available on-line and on-reserve (After the initial entries on “Cinema,” the syllabus will not list SFE entries; however, every film in the course has an entry as do most directors and many crucial themes.)
- The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms by Chris Baldick
Materials on Reserve
• Many of the basic books on science fiction and film in the Clemson libraryare on open reserve; some personal copies of my own books are on closed reserve. Reserve List in on the web site.
We will watch the films together in Dan 313, during the class lab on Tuesdays from 3:30-6:15 Just as in a biology or chemistry course, the lab is a mandatory part of this class; absence from the lab will be treated as a double cut. Although I do not believe in talking while the films are being shown, there is a collective experience that the class will have watching the films as a group. There may be some discussion after the films on Tuesdays; however, class will not always last until 6:15 PM. The exception to this are the double feature lab days—weeks 3,4, and 5, 8 and 13. Check the syllabus for dates. Please do your best to adjust your schedule to accommodate double features.
• 1-- Intro to self and discussion of definitions and history of SF film: M, Jan 19About the list serv: Be sure to pay attention to whether you are replying to the list or to an individual person, or you may wind up embarrassing yourself; everyone in class will be able to read everyone else’s journal entries on the list, so don’t say anything you don’t want to be public knowledge. You can get in touch with me personally at email@example.com. Grad students will be added to the 450 list and will participate with the rest of the class.
• 2 -- Metropolis and The Hero’s Journey and a SF film of your choice: M, Feb 2
• 3 -- Fifties Movies (Thing, Day Earth Stood Still, Invasion of BS, Them): M, Feb 16
• 4 – Kubrick (Dr. S and 2001): M, Mar 1
• 5 – Seventies Critiques and Gender Issues (Silent Running, Dark Star, Stepford ): M, Mar 22
• 6 – Scott (Alien and Blade Runner): M, Apr 5
• 7 – Postmodern SF (Blade Runner, Total Recall, Aliens, Independence Day): M, Apr 19
• 8 – Matrix and Wrap-up Retrospective: M, Apr 26
Class discussion will provide suggestions for things to write about in your journal entries. In addition, some entries are posted on the web site from previous classes, and I will try to post some prompts. Entries should focus on the films and articles that are part of the course; references to other films are of course welcome, but part of the purpose of the journal is to show me you are doing the reading, so try to stay focused on class material.
Film Project (16% of grade)
Once in the semester each student will take special responsibility (working with other students) for one film unit (designated by journal assignment). Each group will have to:
An analysis of a SF film of your choice, including criticism and/or reviews. There are two options for this assignment: students may build a small website with links, annotated bibliography, and a short interpretive paper (paper 5-8 pp.), or they may write a more conventional research paper (paper 8-12 pp.). For either option students should choose a particular film or group of films that is/are not particularly widely referenced on the web. (I will offer an optional Friday afternoon class on building web pages for those who need it.)For either option, there will be three different parts to this assignment, each of which must be handed in on time and each of which will receive a separate grade:
• Proposal and Initial Reference biblio 5% DUE: F, Feb 6NB: For students doing websites, your site should be up and running on this date -- which means loading it and getting the bugs out the week before.
• 5 Summaries of important articles 5% DUE: F, Mar 26
• Final Research Paper/ Project 20% DUE: W, Apr 21
Students who wish to be especially efficient in allocating time for this course, may wish to do their research project on the same film they work on for their film project; this is allowed but not required.
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