English 282 Fall 2013

Tuesdays/Wednesday 12:25 ap.m - 2:15 p.m. Caldwell G 107
Instructor: Andrea Mensch
Office: Tompkins G116, Ph: 515-5026
Office Hours: Thursdays 2:15 p.m - 4:00 p.m., and by appointment
e-mail address:
Text: Film; A Critical Introduction by Maria Pramaggiore and Tom Wallis


This course aims to provide students with the critical tools for reading a variety of films. We will begin by looking at certain "classical" films in terms of the sophistication of their components such as editing, cinematography, mise-en-scene and the sound track. We will then examine several more recent films to see how they interact with the present cultural and political environment. We will not restrict our investigation to the narrative film, but we'll also look at the documentary and animated films.

GEP Objectives: This course satisfies a General Education Requirement in the visual and performing arts. Courses in this GEP category have the following rationale:

The Visual and Performing Arts constitute a separate, unique, and independent mode of inquiry distinct from both the Humanities and Social Sciences and the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics disciplines. Being conversant in the symbolic languages of the Arts is as important as familiarity with other modes of inquiry. Many of the most profound expressions of meaning and value are embodied in the arts, and developing sensitivity and responsiveness to these through visual and performing arts courses encourages students’ aesthetic sensitivities, critical judgment, and creativity. Courses in the arts also provide students with an understanding of the cultural and historical dimensions of artistic expression.

Category Objectives:

This course will provide instruction and guidance that helps students to

1) deepen their understanding of aesthetic, cultural and historical dimensions of artistic traditions. More specifically, in this course students will learn how to identify key film terms and employ appropriate film studies terminology.

2) strengthen their ability to interpret and make critical judgments about the arts through an analysis of structure, form and style of specific works. Students will interpret films and practice formulating and supporting arguments about them.

3) strengthen their ability to create, recreate, or evaluate an art based upon techniques and standards appropriate to the genres. More specifically, in this course students will learn how to evaluate films according to the methods and standards of film studies and scholarship.

This course may also be used to satisfy the Global Knowledge co-requisite since it also exists on the university approved GEP co-requisite course list.
Global knowledge is necessary for students to understand the world and their place in it. The global knowledge requirement provides students the opportunity to explore the complex interrelationships among nations, to gain a deeper appreciation of other cultures and peoples, and to evaluate the impact of U.S. culture and policy on the rest of the world.

Grades for the course will be distributed as follows:

On-line quizzes: 15%

Midterm exam: 25%

Essay: 30%

Final exam: 20%

The grades will depend on the quality of writing as well as the quality of content. Your overall grade will be determined by the number of points you have earned out of a possible total of 100 points. I use the plus/minus system so that . . . :
A+=98+ pts.
A =93-97 pts.
A-=90-92 pts.
B+=88-89 pts.
B =83-87 pts.
. . . and so on.

The schedule is subject to revision and all changes will be posted on the webpage. It is the students' responsibility to check the webpage for accuracy. Certain films may be substituted if they are not available to be screened for the purposes of this class. Some films will be available on videotape or DVD in the film studies library, and must be used in the film studies lab. You can make an appointment with the Lab assistant to catch up on movies that you may have missed. I also recommend that you subscribe to Netflix or a similar provider for the duration of the semester.

You must acknowledge all secondary material you use in your papers. Plagiarism will result in a failing grade for the course.

Regular attendance in the course is strongly encouraged since all material covered in class (even if it is not covered by the text book) may appear on the examinations. The instructor will follow university regulations on attendance which can be found at : Your participation grade will be affected negatively not only by absences, but also by late arrivals and early departures from the class room. Please also remember that it is unacceptable to talk or use any kind of electronic devices during the screenings since this interferes with your fellow students' experience of the film.

A number of films examined in this class are R-rated because they contain adult materials such as violence, nudity and explicit language. We will critically analyze these cultural artifacts just as we would any other texts (James Joyce's Ulysses or Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, for example) in an academic setting. If you would prefer not to be exposed to some of these materials, you should talk to me about this at the beginning of the semester. I am willing to suggest alternatives for viewing a few of the marked films outside of class if you inform me ahead of time.

Reasonable accommodations will be made for students with verifiable disabilities. In order to take advantage of available accommodations, students must register with Disability Services for Students at 1900 Student Health Center, Campus Box 7509, 515-7653.

For more information on NC State's policy on working with students with disabilities, please see

You may also find the Film Studies Webpage of particular interest. Feel free to talk to me if you are attending any of the advertised activites, such as film festivals and special screenings and you may receive extra credit points for the class.
Provisional Schedule:

1/7 Introduction and screening of LA JETÉE. Read chapters one and two of P&W.

1/9 Elements of Mise-en-scene. Read chapter 5.

1/14 Screening of MODERN TIMES.

1/16 Discussion of MODERN TIMES. On-line quiz on mise-en-scene due. (Click on the "Practice Test " button on the left hand side. Submit your results to your and my e-mail address Read chapter 4.

1/21 MLK Day

1/23 Read chapter 14, pp 407- 410. German Expressionism and THE CABINET OF DR CALIGARI. Review the different cinematic styles. Discuss narrative structure.

1/28 Screening of CITIZEN KANE. On-line quiz on narrative structure due. Go to Moodle to complete this quiz. Read Chapter 6 in preparation for the screening of Citizen Kane.

Read chapter 14, pp 411- 421

1/30 Discuss CITIZEN KANE. and go over the most important aspects of Cinematography. Moodle quiz on cinematography due. Divide class into discussion groups. Read chapter 10.

2/4 Screening of PLEASANTVILLE. Revision of Mise-en-scene and Cinematography

2/6 Discussion of PLEASANTVILLE. Begin continuity editing. Read Chapter 7.

2/11 Begin screening THE SEARCHERS. Read chapter 12 with special attention to pp 388 - 392.

2/13 Screen THE SEARCHERS. Read chapter 13.

2/18 Discuss The SEARCHERS and the Western Genre.

2/20 Quiz on editing due. Begin Soviet Montage. Read material on reserve.

2/25 Soviet Montage and conferences

2/27 Screen Film to be announced. Sequence Analysis due.

3/4 until 3/9 Spring Break

3/11 Screen DON'T LOOK NOW. Read chapter 3, pp 33 - 42.

3/13 Discussion of DON'T LOOK NOW and alternate editing styles with clips

3/18 Screen SINGIN' IN THE RAIN. Read chapter 8.

3/20 Discuss Sound and SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN. Read pp 398 -401 on the musical genre.

3/25 Screen THE HUNGER (rated R) or another horror film. Read chapter 3, pp 37 - 43.

3/27 Quiz on sound due. Discuss THE HUNGER. Revise Sound. Final topics for presentation.


4/3 Discuss BLADERUNNER. Read pp 396 - 398 on the Science Fiction film.


4/10 The documentary. Read chapter 9, pp 275 -291.

4/15 Screen DO THE RIGHT THING (language). PAPERS DUE

4/17 Discuss DO THE RIGHT THING. Read material on reserve.

4/22 Presentations

4/24 Presentations and exam review


5/3 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Alternate date for final exam (please alert the instructor and provide written verification if you need to use this time)