Office: ll-645 Office Hours: M,W 1-2 p m. and by appointment Course Description



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FMS 468

Crime and Violence in American Film
Professor: Dr. Aaron Baker

Email: Aaron.Baker@asu.edu

Office: LL-645

Office Hours: M,W 1-2 p.m. and by appointment
Course Description: Crime and violence have been central elements of American cinema throughout its history. Popular critic Roger Ebert has commented that “More than anything else, the American movie audience loves violence.”
In this course we will address three primary aspects of crime and violence in American film: 1) the limits placed upon them by the Production Code, and how and why those restrictions were relaxed; 2) how the depiction of crime and violence in American movies conveys attitudes in our society about their causes and the best responses to these problems; and 3) theories about the effects on audiences of viewing crime and violence in films.
Although this course is web delivered, it is neither automated nor self-paced. You are expected to engage in all learning tasks and attend threaded discussions on the eBoard. To access the class website and eBoard, you can use your personal computer, one in the library, and/or computer labs at ASU.
Reading: There are two required texts that you need to buy for this class: 1) the FMS 468 Textbook from Pearson Publishing and 2) Walter Mosely’s novel Devil in a Blue Dress. You can buy Mosely’s novel either at the ASU bookstore or from an online distributor such as Amazon.com.
Screenings:  You are responsible for screening one film per lesson. You can purchase the titles through Amazon (or another on-line distributor) or rent them at your local video store or from Netflix. Several are available at the ASU library.  Don’t watch these films for entertainment; watch them for study.  Take notes and view the screenings numerous times.  The films also form the basis of both online discussions and the essay assignments. 
Academic Dishonesty:  In order to avoid plagiarism, your papers must provide full citations for all references: direct quotes, paraphrased, summaries, or borrowed ideas. While you are encouraged to develop your thinking with your peers, you cannot use their material without citing it. Work from other courses will not be accepted in this course without explicit, prior permission of the professor. Allowing your writing to be copied by another student is also considered cheating. Please review the Student Code of Conduct for complete guidelines on academic honesty at http://provost.asu.edu/academicintegrity.


GRADED WORK

We expect every student to leave this course with a better – more insightful – understanding of crime and violence in American film. 


Participation (100 Points): You are responsible for participating in the threaded discussions that take place on the electronic bulleting board (eBoard). You should post two substantive comments or questions per Lesson. A "substantive" post is one that is thoughtful, developed and connected to the lesson topic; typically, substantive posts are at least three sentences long. These posts must keep up with the progress of the course. I will check them the morning after they are due at 9 a.m. To receive credit you must have posted by that time. You cannot, for example, go back to the eBoard and post to a Lesson after it has been completed and expect for the posts to be counted toward your participation grade. Refrain from flaming or ad hominem comments. Please be rigorous but constructive.

Three Essays (300 Points): You will be asked to write three (3 page) critical essays in which you will apply and build upon the main ideas from the course in relation to the films we have seen as well as others that I assign you. Specific descriptions of these assignments will be sent to your e-mail address and posted on the eBoard.

Grading Scale: 0 to 400 Points
A+   ..... 400+ Points

            A     ..... 372 - 400 Points

            A-    ..... 360 - 371 Points

            B+   ..... 352 - 359 Points

            B     ..... 332 - 351 Points

            B-    ..... 320 - 331 Points

            C+   ..... 312 - 319 Points

            C     ..... 280 - 311 Points

            D     ..... 240 - 279 Points

            E     ..... 000 - 239 Points

 

LEARNING TASKS

This course is comprised of 15 lessons.  Each lesson includes all or some of the following tasks:



1.  Reading: Assigned Reading on the Topic of the Lesson.

2.  Lecture: Listen to Streaming Audio Lectures with PowerPoint Slides

3.  eBoard: Answer questions and dialogue with classmates on the Electronic Bulletin Board

 

Lesson 01: What is a crime film? (Tuesday, 8/23)



Reading: “Genre” (Pramaggiore and Wallis, 2008)

Media Clip: Devil in a Blue Dress (Franklin, 1995)- Clip #1

Devil in a Blue Dress (Franklin, 1995)- Clip #2

Lecture:       Course Introduction

eBoard:          Discuss with Classmates

 

Lesson 02:     Gangster Films (Friday, 8/26)



Reading: "The Enemy Goes Public: Voicing the Cultural Other in the Early 1930s Talking Gangster Film" (Munby, 1999)

Screening: Little Caesar (LeRoy, 1931)

Media Clip: Little Caesar (LeRoy, 1931) – Clip #1

Little Caesar (LeRoy, 1931) – Clip #2

Lecture:       The Gangster Film

eBoard:          Discuss with Classmates
 Lesson 03:     Criminology on Film/Film Noir (Tuesday, 8/30)

Reading: "The Death Chamber" (Naremore, 1998)

Screening: Double Indemnity (Wilder, 1944)

Media Clip: The Limey (Soderbergh, 1999) – Clip #1

Double Indemnity (Wilder, 1944) – Clip #2

Lecture:       Criminology on Film/Film Noir

eBoard:          Discuss with Classmates

 

Lesson 04:     Screening Violence (Friday, 9/02)



Reading: “Violence and American Cinema: Notes for an Investigation” (Slocum, 2001)

Screening: Bonnie and Clyde (Penn, 1967)

Media Clip: The Godfather (Coppola, 1972) – Clip #1

Bonnie and Clyde (Penn, 1967) – Clip #2

Mission Impossible II (Woo, 2000) – Clip #3

Lecture:       Screening Violence

eBoard:          Discuss with Classmates
Lesson 05:     Justified Violence: The Outlaw Cop (Tuesday, 9/6)

Reading: “The Thematic Paradigm” and “The Left and Right Cycles” (Ray, 1985)

Media Clip: Dirty Harry (Siegel., 1971) – Clip #1

Dirty Harry (Siegel., 1971) – Clip #2

Unforgiven (Eastwood, 1992) – Clip #3

Casablanca (Curtiz, 1943) – Clip #4

Lecture:       Justified Violence: The Criminal Cop in Dirty Harry

eBoard:          Discuss with Classmates
Lesson 06:    The Gangster and Film Authorship (Friday, 9/9)

Reading: "Godfather II: A Deal Coppola Couldn’t Refuse " (Hess, 1976)

Screening: The Godfather (Coppola, 1972)

Media Clip: The Godfather (Coppola, 1972) – Clip #1

The Godfather (Coppola, 1972) – Clip #2

The Godfather (Coppola, 1972) – Clip #3

Lecture:       The Gangster and Film Authorship: The Godfather

eBoard:          Discuss with Classmates
Essay #1: Due as an email attachment Monday, 9/12, at 5 p.m. Arizona time.
Lesson 07:     Noir History (Tuesday, 9/13)

Reading: "Chinatown and Generic Transformation in Recent American Films"

(Calweti, 1995)



Screening: Chinatown (Polanski, 1974)

Media Clip: Chinatown (Polanski, 1974) – Clip #1

Chinatown (Polanski, 1974) – Clip #2

Chinatown (Polanski, 1974) – Clip #3

Lecture:       Noir History in Chinatown

eBoard:          Discuss with Classmates
Lesson 08:     Murder in Hollywood (Friday, 9/16)

Reading: “Hollywood and the Age of Reagan” (Sklar, 1994)

Screening: The Player (Altman, 1992)

Media Clip: The Player (Altman, 1992) – Clip #1

Lecture:       Murder in Hollywood: The Player

eBoard:          Discuss with Classmates
Lesson 09:      Race and the Crime (Tuesday, 9/20)

Reading: “Nihilism in Black America” (Cornel West, 1994)

Screening: Boyz N the Hood (Singleton, 1991)

Media Clip: Boyz N the Hood (Singleton, 1991) – Clip #1

Boyz N the Hood (Singleton, 1991) – Clip #2

Boyz N the Hood (Singleton, 1991) – Clip #3

Lecture:       Race and Crime: Boyz N the Hood

eBoard:          Discuss with Classmates

 

Lesson 10:    Devil in a Blue Dress (Friday, 9/23)



Reading: Devil in a Blue Dress (Walter Mosely novel, 1990)

Screening: Devil in a Blue Dress (Franklin, 1995)

Media Clip: Devil in a Blue Dress (Franklin, 1995) – Clip #1

Devil in a Blue Dress (Franklin, 1995) – Clip #2

Devil in a Blue Dress (Franklin, 1995) – Clip #3

Lecture:       Adapting Crime: Devil in a Blue Dress

eBoard:          Discuss with Classmates
Essay #2: Due as an email attachment Monday, 9/26, at 5 p.m. Arizona time.
Lesson 11:     Pulp Fiction as Postmodern Crime Film (Tuesday, 9/27)

Reading: “Pulp Friction: Two Shots at Quentin Tarentino’s Pulp Fiction

(Dowell, 1995)



Screening: Pulp Fiction (Tarentino, 1994)

Media Clip: Pulp Fiction (Tarentino, 1994) – Clip #1

Pulp Fiction (Tarentino, 1994) Clip #2

Pulp Fiction (Tarentino, 1994) Clip #3

Lecture:       Pulp Ficton as Postmodern Crime Film

eBoard:          Discuss with Classmates
Lesson 12:     Whiteness and Crime (Friday, 9/30)

Reading: “The Matter of Whiteness” (Richard Dyer, 2003)

Screening: Falling Down, (Schumacher, 1993)

Media Clip: Falling Down, (Schumacher, 1993) -Clip #1

Falling Down, (Schumacher, 1993) - Clip #2

Lecture:       Whiteness and Crime: Falling Down

eBoard:          Discuss with Classmates
Lesson 13:     Celebrating the Criminal (Tuesday, 10/4)

Reading: “Brad Pitt and George Clooney, the Rough and

the Smooth: Male Costuming in Contemporary



Hollywood.” (Church Gibson, 2005)

Screening: Ocean’s Eleven (Soderbergh, 2001)

Media Clip: Casino Royale (Campbell, 2006) – Clip #1

The Limey (Soderbergh, 1999) – Clip #2

Ocean’s Eleven (Soderbergh, 2001) – Clip #3

Lecture:       Criminal Heroes

eBoard:          Discuss with Classmates
Lesson 14:     Goodfellas and the Gangster Film (Friday, 10/7)

Reading: “The Society of Transgression: Goodfellas” (Casillo, 2006)

Screening: Goodfellas (Scorsese, 1990)

Media Clip: Goodfellas (Scorsese, 1990) – Clip #1

Goodfellas (Scorsese, 1990) – Clip #2

Goodfellas (Scorsese, 1990) – Clip #3

Goodfellas (Scorsese, 1990) – Clip #4

Goodfellas (Scorsese, 1990) – Clip #5

Lecture:       Goodfellas Grangster as Transgressive Consumer

eBoard:          Discuss with Classmates
Lesson 15:     Criminal Cops (Tuesday, 10/11)

Reading: "Beyond the Thin Line of Black and Blue" (Baker, 2004)

Screening: The Glass Shield (Burnett, 1994)

Media Clip: The Glass Shield (Burnett, 1994) – Clip #1

The Glass Shield (Burnett, 1994) – Clip #2

Lecture:       Criminal Cops

eBoard:          Discuss with Classmates
Essay #3: Due as an email attachment Thursday, 10/13 at 5 p.m. Arizona time.

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