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A Sample Syllabus
The following is a sample syllabus from a class entitled "The Film As Literature":
At the conclusion of the course, the student in English 114 should be able:
- To apply the concepts of "visual literacy," including the abilities to recognize
principles of narrative;
- To describe how mood and message can be affected by cinematographic properties
such as lighting, music, framing, composition, duration of image, etc.;
- To examine the history of film along with technological advances and changing conventions
which have affected the portrayal of themes and characters;
- To identify the conventions of various film genres;
- To describe how a film's content, audience, and production techniques work together
to determine and convey a given message;
- To identify the values and assumptions behind a film's ideology, and examine the
cultural context in which the film was created;
- To define "cultural metaphor" and identify examples of how visual media defines
and influences our culture;
- To develop critical thinking skills and personal criteria for evaluating films.
The course will typically cover in the quarter the following major areas:
- History of film
- The vocabulary of film technique and criteria for evaluation
- Analysis of individual films, at least one per week
- The distinguishing characteristics of various film genres
- May include in-depth study of style and technique of particular directors or filmmakers
such as Akiro Kurosawa, Federico Fellini, Alfred Hitchcock, Jean-Luc Godard, etc.
- May include evaluation of foreign films and major schools of filmmaking such as
German Expression, French New Wave, Italian Neo-Realism, etc.
- Analysis of visual images and editing
- Instruction and evaluation of student writing on film in such genres as review,
critical analysis, and short response
- May include study of documentary as an expression of ideology or portrayal of history
Achievement of the objectives will be evaluated through writing a film journal,
a group project, seminar participation and response papers, a mid-term exam and a final exam
consisting of essay questions and a self-evaluation. Emphasis will be placed on interpretive
use of information.
Although time will permit me to require only one or two individual conferences with
each of you, I welcome you to drop in during office hours whenever you have a question or a
comment about your work or about the class in general. All or most of my comments will be
made during conference. If you have a class then, please make an appointment with me.
I know that students who work are often pressed for time. If we cannot find a time to
meet, then it should be understood that the student's work schedule conflicts with their
academic schedule. Students often have such conflicts and such conflicts often affect
their academic achievement.
Presentation of Response Papers
Respond to both the film and weekly chapter . . . connect!!!
Papers must be typed or word processed. (1-inch margins all sides, 50-54 lines per page,
and standard type (12 point)or adjust the length of your paper if your type is larger.
Include them in your portfolio.
For each of the films we see in class you will write a response paper to be submitted to the
instructor. You will also need to view at least 5 additional films, take notes on some
assigned films, and work in your journal. It is my hope that you will be able to make
additional connections and deepen your understanding of film art. See Handout.
Presentation of Group Project Formal Paper
Papers must be word-processed. They must be 3-5 pages, double-spaced, stapled
(no plastic folders), neat, and they must have the MLA title page format found in your WRP
text (1-inch margins all sides, 25-27 lines per page, and standard type [12 point] or
adjust the length of your paper if your type is larger). The student is required to make
a copy (or use a back-up disk) of all papers submitted for evaluation eliminating the
possibility of list papers. It is the student's responsibility to keep all papers for the
final portfolio. All or most of my comments about your work will be made during conference.
This is your chance to ask questions. You may also come during my office hour.
If you have class, please make an appointment with me.
- 33%: Film Journal, Group Project, Formal Paper, Self-Evaluation
- 33%: Seminar Participation and Response Papers
- 33%: Mid-Term and Final
Any student who needs to be absent for an extended period must notify the instructor in
advance. Read the Division Policy.
I like to think your membership in this class to be a contract in which your commitment
gains my commitment. I am committed to a well-organized class that runs smoothly to the
benefit of all involved. Your attendance and preparedness in class helps all the members
of your workshop group much as it will in your future work place.