Winter Quarter

Dept Course No and Title Instructor
This course will chart the history of radio and television in the US from a range of perspectives. We will explore the development and evolution of media industries and of the laws and policies that enable and constrain their growth; we will examine both entertainment and informational/public affairs programming and consider how they intersect with the political, cultural, and social contexts in which they circulate; we will historicize and contextualize contemporary practices, such as podcasting and video-on-demand streaming, and consider whether they alter or sustain the sociopolitical role of media and the social experience of listening and viewing.
Considered the most iconic medium of the twentieth century, film acquired some of its distinctive characteristics in the first decades of the twentieth century at the intersection of many forces, disputes, and possibilities. This course will present a historical and theoretical overview of the aesthetic, cultural, and technological aspects of the first decades of the moving pictures, from pre-cinematic technologies until the advent of synchronized sound (1880s–1930). We will look into the consolidation of film as a narrative form, a mode of production, and a cultural artifact, in its many global manifestations and implications in our cultural imagination, exploring different ways that silent film history can be narrated. From Europe, through the United States, to Asia and Latin America, the course will explore the many facets of silent film culture, taking into consideration the dimensions of race, class, gender, and nationality that helped shape it.
This course will be focused on the concept of film genre and analyze genre from historical and theoretical perspectives. We will look at the ways in which genre theory allows us to understand film's specificity  as a medium while expanding on our understanding of the evolution of the industry from American and global perspectives.
This course will explore the historical relationships between cinema and empire by looking at the legacies and practices of militant cinema, which sought to challenge not only the formal and aesthetic conventions of dominant film, but also the institutions and systems out of which dominant cinema was produced. In doing so, we will examine how mainstream Hollywood and European cinema have been and continue to be central to the project of slavery and colonization. We will then explore key cinematic and historical texts that detail the emergence of militant cinema (or what has been called “Third Cinema”), and its continuing impact today.
What is primitivism, when and why did it emerge, and why and how does it persist? For more than the past 100 years, film has been the principal medium by and through which primitivism has ‘survived’ and reinvented its antiquated worldview. Indeed, the aesthetic demands of primitivism have frequently been the occasion for visual media to advance special effects technology and address, resolve, or question key problems of visual representation. This course will examine the theoretical development and critique of primitivism principally in film, and to a lesser degree, other media such as photography and painting.
This seminar on theory and practice in film takes as its primary focus the issue of realism in film.   In addition to reading theory we will use exercises in digital film production and editing to understand film realism.  We will look at montage, sound, film movement, directing, and mise en scene in order to understand how ideology works in tandem with style.  We will examine films as diverse as early silent film, Soviet montage, classical Hollywood, Third cinema, documentary, and experimental video.   The prerequisites for this course are FLM&MDA 85A-B-C, FLM&MDA 120A, and one course from the FLM&MDA 101 series.
Course Requirements:
Prompt attendance and participation at all classes and screenings, completion of all readings, messageboard writing assignments due every week at 12pm on the Friday before class, three digital film assignments and three short papers, final digital film project due on the last day of classes.
With Nas’s landmark 1994 album Illmatic as our guide, this course will utilize film, video, documentary and music to explore the ways in which hip-hop culture has become a powerful tool to probe the larger American landscape. In doing so, we will use Illmatic as a lens to better understand hip-hop and not only the history that made it, but also the history that it made. So that while this course is about exploring hip-hop through Illmatic, it’s also about exploring America through Illmatic, offering us the possibility to explore the fertile ground and volatile minefield that surround it: the post-Civil Rights and Black Power era, the shifting sands of race and the emergence of the global economy, the guerilla artistry around media so central to hip-hop, the changing marketplace and hyper-commodification of the culture, questions around gender and sexuality, art and aesthetics, and also hip-hop’s enduring ability to speak truth to power.
This course will introduce the formal features, thematic elements and historical development of the Western as a key American genre.  The first half will focus on “classical” examples that establish the genre’s codes and conventions. The second half will examine “revisionist” Westerns from the 1960s Spaghetti Western through its more contemporary expressions. More broadly, we will examine the Western and representations of the American West for their cultural, historical, and mythical resonances. What does the “American West” signify? How and why has it endured? Whose story does it tell? Toward this end, the course will question the ambivalent statuses of gender, sexuality, race, and class––particularly of women, Native Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans as subjects and objects in the Western and its cultural imaginary.
Infographics are pivotal in media as a codification of knowledge into abstract symbols, but they are rarely studied systematically. This course will survey the history of infographics and outline approaches both to their design and their analysis. Today, infographics are omnipresent and their importance is almost taken for granted in the politics of visual communications, but perhaps we do not worry enough about their interpretive impact. The course will highlight the interplay of pictograms, typography, and the graphs and charts of data visualization, while also emphasizing their role in advertising and news, propaganda and politics, consulting and education. Students will learn to dissect historical and contemporary aspects of infographics in their aesthetic, statistical, and psychological dimensions.
This course explores the ascendency of television creator-producer, Shonda Rhimes, from the premiere of Grey’s Anatomy (ABC 2005) through the period drama sensation, Bridgerton (Netflix 2020) and beyond. In addition, we will interrogate how the “colorblind” core of Rhimes’ work intersects with conversations about the myths of Post Racial America. (Cross-listed with African/African American Studies)
Students learn about "the world of the screenwriter" by reading and studying screenplays, and writing parts of them-including the beat outline, treatment and character biography. Assignments include reading, viewing and analyzing selected films; and writing papers that explore facets of the screenplay such as structure, character and theme. The final grade is based on participation/attendance, writing the set-up for an actual feature film and storyboarding a traditional 3-act screenplay. The prerequisite for this course is FLM&MDA 85A.
A beginning screenwriting class, in which the one-hour television format will be used to introduce character, storytelling, structure, and scene development. In this lecture and screenwriting workshop series, we will study a critically acclaimed television series with a focus on the long narrative and episodic story structure. The series selection may vary from year to year. We will analyze the creative decisions, approaches and techniques of the writing team. Weekly writing exercises and in-class free-writes will culminate in student groups presenting a one-hour drama series treatment and pitch materials for an original pilot.
In this second part of the production series, students will expand their filmmaking skills and develop their vision as a director. Class covers a variety of approaches such as documentary, experimental and mockumentary, as well as traditional narrative filmmaking. This course is also designed to improve your ability to collaborate as a filmmaker. Class is organized as a workshop: there will be lectures, exercises, video projects, screenings, and discussions. The prerequisite for this course is FLM&MDA 120A.
This course will provide an introduction to the history of “Black film.” The term “Black film” is complex due to the fact that throughout film history it has functioned to group films of all genres together into one non-discriminative category. Consequently, it has been defined in various ways including films with predominantly Black casts, films made by Black directors, and/or films deemed “authentic” to the Black experience. This course will track these changing definitions by looking at a wide range of films that have been included within the category of “Black film.” We will also consider how the socio-political climate impacts and/or is shaped by Black popular culture. Furthermore, during this quarter we will explore how authorship, performative agency, and spectatorship have worked, both in partnership with and in opposition to, claims of what defines a “Black film.”
This course will provide an historical overview of the complex relationship of Latinxs to U.S. audiovisual media from the early sound era in the 20th century to the present.  Highlights include the sea change that took place during the “Good Neighbor policy,” the sitcom from “I Love Lucy” to “One Day at a Time,” and the pivotal “Decade of the Hispanic” which saw the emergence of several new directors both independently and within the ambit of Hollywood.  Although Latinxs currently represent over 18.5 percent of the national population, their representation in front of the film camera has hovered at around only 5%, and television is only 1% ahead of that.  We will be looking into some of the causes of these persistent gaps in the digital age, as well as into what media advocates have done to improve the prospects for Latinx performers, writers, crew members, directors, and producers.   Students will have the opportunity to study theories of stereotyping, genres, and authorship, as well as engage with contemporary media in in-class presentations.  Prerequisite: FMS85A or by permission of instructor.
This course will investigate how cinema influenced the development of video games, and vice-versa, how video games are transforming contemporary films. We will analyze a wide variety of issues such as the similarities and differences between video game and film narratives, the relationship between the film and video game industries, how the two mediums have been theoretically distinguished, and how games and films repurpose each other’s aesthetic qualities. The class will examine films that have been influenced by video games and games influenced by cinematic conventions.

This writing-intensive seminar will examine the history of secret communication. While it may seem paradoxical to combine communication and secrecy, in fact media history can be told as the story of secrecy - from long before the earliest radio transmissions and interceptions to long after the commercial union of military technology and entertainment in television. We will discover the media history of codes and ciphers from ancient cultures to the advent of computing. We will focus on centuries of secret communication (mostly before the proto-computers of Bletchley Park), but also connect historical methods to contemporary questions of secrecy, privacy, and security in the Internet age. Readings will include short stories and selected articles and chapters from the history of encryption and code breaking. Each week will also feature hands-on exercises and workshops on 21st century applications of historical models we read and write about, with particular attention to often irreconcilable demands of privacy, security, trust, data integrity, and freedom of speech.
This class is designed to help you think and write about film and media. Students will work on humanistic academic writing, creative writing, and clear, effective writing for a general audience. The course will also hone your critical thinking and reading skills. This quarter’s focus will be on examining the representation of Latinxs in media and popular culture. We will examine the production, representations, and cultural meaning of Latinxs in media and reflect on the impact of Latinx media production on identity formation. Special attention will be paid to the intertwined questions of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality.
This course is dedicated to advancing your skills in argumentative, analytical, and critical writing about new media and digital cultures. As good writing requires good reading, we will spend significant time sharpening techniques of close reading and rhetorical analysis, as applied to current discourses and debates around such topics as social media use, algorithmic bias, human-robot relationships, and the business of big tech. We will examine a variety of sociological, political, historical, and ethnographic approaches to such topics, and you will have some freedom to choose which approach(es) you’d like to develop in your own writing. Essay assignments will involve close collaboration with your classmates, in the form of peer-review workshops, as well as with the instructor.
This course examines the South Korean cinema today, and seeks to understand how it is shaped by re-interpretation of history and genre bending. The course will explore the Korean film history, aesthetics, and commercial industry, and also analyze several key texts that are critical to their understanding. This class, I insist, is on learning how to watch, think about, and write about film; in the same vein that we need to learn how to think about literature or other topics in humanities. Please be advised that some of the films featured in this class may contain scenes of explicit sexual or violent nature. All films listed on the syllabus as required viewing will be available with English subtitles. Cross-listed: (same as 24330 Flm&Mda 160, Lec A)
In this course, we will examine the “juicy faults” about the European Renaissance that we find in a series of movies from the 1940s up through the early twenty-first century and look at them in conversation with primary and secondary historical and literary texts from and about the period. We will ask what role cinematic representations of the European Renaissance and European early modernity (c. 1500-1650) played in the fashioning of modern and post-modern political, religious, cultural, and scientific identities in the West from the Cold War up through the aftermath of 9/11 (c. 1945-2007). Among the topics we cover will be the persecution of witches, female leadership, Machiavellianism, the Reformation, Dutch and Italian Renaissance art history, contact with the Muslim Ottoman Empire, and the endless series of wars that raged across Europe at the time. Production elements, director bios, and film marketing also discussed. Lecture attendance, completion of short reading assignments, and watching the films are mandatory as is completion of on-line quizzes, two movie reviews, and short final paper.
Gangster Capitalism is a course that will focus on the gangster narrative genre, looking at the ways in which ideologies of violence, success and individualism in capitalism come into narrative crisis at specific moments of 20th and 21st century economic collapse. Beginning with the Great Depression, the 1970s and then concluding with the 2008 financial collapse, this course will look at the gangster narratives that each historical moment produced both as escapist entertainment and reflection on crisis and contradiction. Films to be screened and studied include Scarface, both versions, the Godfather trilogy, Goodfellas and prestige TV series, the Sopranos, Breaking Bad and Gomorrah.
Designed as an introduction to the fundamentals and interaction of acting and directing in the creative process of producing a film or
video. Through lecture and workshop students will begin to develop the craft to create strong performances for camera. Every student will write, perform in, direct, and record on video a short work. The prerequisite for this course is FLM&MDA 85A.
This course will dissect the elements behind cinematography and lighting design for 4K digital filmmaking. The class will cover pre-production visualization tools and techniques for cinematographers with emphasis on lighting, lens, camera, movement, and color design. The instruction will train students on proper set etiquette and production procedures. Each week, students will participate in hands-on exercises and workshops of increasing complexity designed to understand the skills used for visualizing and executing the design, compositional balance, and exposure of digital film.
Intermediate screenwriting students are introduced to the “development"
process through lecture, case studies, guest speakers and script analysis.  Students will study story structure and explore script evaluation through the practice of writing story notes and coverage for screenplays for television.  Each student will develop their own 30-minute comedic series idea and prepare preliminary materials for their "pitch".  This project culminates with an in-class "pitch festival" with invited guest judges.  The prerequisite for this course is FLM&MDA 117A or FLM&MDA 118A.