162 Willard Matthew Jordan Teaching Assistants

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Phil 005

Philosophy, Art and Film

TR 11:15-12:30

162 Willard
Matthew Jordan Teaching Assistants

311 Willard Alia Zapparova

3-1243 auz102@psu.edu

mfj3@psu.edu Joshua Kurdys

Office hours by appointment jjk312@psu.edu


This course will examine the cinema’s potential as a mode of philosophical presentation. We will begin by focusing on film as a form of art with representational rules, narrative genres and semantic codes that are uniquely its own. We will then view a dozen films and think together about how these films can be used to work through important issues in philosophy, from notions of subjectivity, ethics and political theory, to understanding the human, issues of justice and historical knowing. Each film will be paired with readings to help students develop a vocabulary for discussing film and to frame the film in a particular way.


Phil 005 is a reading and viewing intensive course. Students will be required to attend class, keep up with the reading and see all the films. The readings for the course will be posted as pdf files on the class ANGEL page, which can be accessed by going to cms.psu.edu, choosing “my courses,” clicking on this class and then clicking on the lessons section. The bulk of the readings will also be placed on electronic reserve which can be accessed through the library CAT. In order to give students access to the films, some of which are hard to find, we will show the films every Wednesday night at 7:30 in 111 Wartik. Though attendance will not be taken at the film screenings, you will be responsible for knowing the content of the films. So if you are unable to attend, you must find another way to see the film. Periodic quizzes will help ensure that the students are seeing and thinking about the films, and the average of the quiz grades for each student will count for 20% of the final grade.

There will be two essay exams, a midterm and a final, each of which is worth 35% of the final grade. Students must bring their own blue books to the exams.

The final 10% of the grade will be based on attendance and class participation.

Disability Statement:

The Pennsylvania State University encourages individuals with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. Students with a disability should talk to the instructor early in the semester so that accommodations can be made accordingly with ODS.

Academic Integrity:

Academic integrity is the pursuit of scholarly and creative activity in an open, honest and responsible manner, free from fraud and deception, and is an educational objective throughout the university. Students are expected to maintain the highest standards of academic and personal integrity. Academic dishonesty and plagiarism, whether intentional or unintentional, will not be tolerated and students will receive a failing (XF) grade. The rules and policies regarding academic integrity should be reviewed by every student, and can be found online at www.psu.edu/ufs/policies/47-00.html#49-20

Class Schedule
Week 1

TR 9/2: Intro, read Stanley Cavell, selections from The World Viewed

Week 2

T 9/7: Sigfried Kracauer, “The Establishment of Physical Existence” & “Basic Concepts”

TR 9/9: Christian Metz, “Some Points in the Semiotics of Cinema” & André Bazin “The Evolution of the Language of Cinema”
Week 3

T 9/14: Herbert Jhering, “An Expressionist Film” & Lionel Landry, “Caligarism”

Fritz Lang, Metropolis

TR 9/16: Fritz Lang, “The Future of the Feature Film in Germany,” Willy Haas, “Metropolis”

Week 4

T 9/21: Hayden White & Northrop Frye (selections on Comedy as a trope)

George Cukor, The Philadelphia Story

TR 9/23: Stanley Cavell, “The Importance of Importance”

Week 5

T 9/28: Leslie Gossage, “The Artful Propaganda of Ford’s The Grapes of Wrath

John Ford, The Grapes of Wrath

TR 9/30: Vivian Sobchanck, “Thematic Emphasis through Visual Style”

Week 6

T 10/5: Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” (sections) & Triumph of the Will

Charlie Chaplin, The Great Dictator

TR 10/7 Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” (finish)

Week 7

T 10/12: MIDTERM (BYOBB = bring your own blue book)

The Good Fight

TR 10/14 Robert Rosenstone, “The Good Fight, History, Memory, Documentary”

Week 8

T 10/19: Film Noir, Existentialism, Kant and Probability

Billy Wilder, Double Indemnity

TR 10/21: Joan Copjec, “The Phenomenal and the Non-Phenomenal: Private Space in Film Noir

Week 9

T 10/26: The Western, Community Morality

Stephen Prince, “Historical Perspective and the Realist Aesthetic in High Noon

Fred Zinnemann, High Noon

TR 10/28: Joanna Rapf, “Myth Ideology and Feminism in High Noon
Week 10

T 11/2: Historical Knowing, Realism and the Past, Night and Fog

Alain Resnais, Hiroshima Mon Amour

TR 11/4: Michael S. Roth, “You Must Remember This”

Week 11

T 11/9: Pascal Bonitzer, “Hitchcockian Suspense” & theories of Scopophilia

Alfred Hitchcock, Rear Window

TR 11/11: Michel Chion, “The Fourth Side” & Miran Bozovic, “The Man Behind his Own Retina”

Week 12

T 11/16 National Cinema, Cultural Identity, Melodrama

François Truffaut, The Green Room

TR 11/18: Jordan, “Memory, Nostalgia and Melancholia: Unlocking the Secrets of Truffaut’s The Green Room

Week 13:

T 11/23: TBA


Week 14

T 11/30 Post Modernism, Memory and Self

Ridley Scott, Blade Runner (Director’s Cut)

TR 12/2 Kaja Silverman, “Back to the Future”

Week 15

T 12/7 Narrative, Violence and Post-Modern Aesthetics

Pulp Fiction

TR 12/9 TBA


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