Through a close, comparative consideration of both foreign and domestic film, students in this course will examine the ways film and mass media inform and are formed by popular culture in addition to familiarizing themselves with various theories on violence, censorship, art in the “age of mechanical reproduction” and spectatorship.

Students will also be introduced to the formal elements of cinema such as the “shot,” the “cut,” “composition” and the “suture effect” and learn how to apply such terms in their critical approach to film. Every student is required to participate in the online discussion forum and will be responsible for posting their ideas each week so as to foster discussion both in and outside of the classroom. By the end of the course, students will be able to identify and apply theories and terms relating to the culture of violence and cinematic theory to film and other forms of mass media in addition to having gained the ability to intelligently discuss the political, social and artistic interests they perpetuate.

Possible films for this class include Freaks by Tod Browning (US 1932); Ôdishon (Audition) by Takashi Miike (Japan 1999); Blue Velvet by David Lynch (USA 1986); Funny Games by Michael Haneke (Austria 1997); A Clockwork Orange by Stanley Kubrick (UK 1971). Texts may include 

  • Baudrillard, Jean. Simulacra and Simulation. Trans. Sheila Faria Glaser. University of  Michigan Press: Ann Arbor, 1994.
  • Creed, Barbara. The Monstrous-Feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis. Routledge: New York, 1993.
  • Euripides. Bacchae. Trans. Paul Woodruff. Hackett Publishing Company: Indianapolis, 1999.
  • Kristeva, Julia. Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection. Trans. Leon S. Roudiez. Columbia University Press: New York, 1982.
  • Interview with Funny Games Director, Michael Haneke and “Cinema of Glaciation” by Roy Grundman.

(Image: Prop from Kubrick's Film "A Clockwork Orange," Photograph by A. Heney, 2014)


Cultural Expressions of WWII

The proposed course, “Expressions of WWII,” is a year-long upper-division undergraduate course that addresses the varied cultural expressions of World War II and the interwar period from a transnational perspective. Throughout this project, students will focus on key ideas regarding the artist’s representation of war and consider critical questions, such as; “what cultural, social, and ethical issues are at stake in the representation of monstrosity?” and “how might we attempt to write horror through the lens of realism and the lens of fantasy while questioning the viability of both?”

            Possible texts for this project include The Book of Franza by Ingeborg Bachmann and the memoir Down Below by Leonora Carrington; films such as Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth; and the visual artwork of anti-Nazi activist Hans Bellmer and photojournalist Lee Miller. Connections will be made to some of these artists’ influences including work by the Jewish poet Paul Celan, Breton’s Surrealist Manifesto, “The Storyteller” essay by philosopher Walter Benjamin, and select scenes from Offenbach’s opera, The Tales of Hoffmann.


(Image: Hans Bellmer, Die Puppe/The Doll, Photgraph, 1934-36)



Mystery Fiction and Film Noir

Survey mystery fiction and its conventions, from the genre's 19th-century origins to the classic Golden Age puzzle to its many postmodern manifestations. Writers to be studied will include Edgar Allan Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Jorge Luis Borges and others. Understand the mystery novel's status as a significant form of modern fiction, the literary nature of Film Noir, and how human consciousness makes sense out of what might otherwise be viewed as random experience and meaningless violence.

Students in this course will take a critical look at several texts that represent the historical evolution of the mystery genre including “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and “The Purloined Letter” by Edgar Allan Poe, and then compare elements in these stories to those in works from the golden age of detective fiction, including novels by Agatha Christie and in the “hardboiled” crime novels of Raymond Chandler. Throughout the course, students will be encouraged to identify and reflect upon what they perceive as important commonalities among the works and then complete activities wherein they formulate concise and thoughtful questions about the genre in order to foster further dialogue among their classmates and strengthen their analytical and writing skills.

#BerkeleyMysteryFiction #BMFiction

(Image: Buster Keaton in Sherlock Jr., 1924)


Western Civilization and Human Development


The primary goal of this course is to help students understand the historical context for philosophical issues and controversies that have shaped the contemporary study of human development. The historical inquiry traces conceptualization of human nature from the Greek philosophers and the Hebrew scriptures to current Western beliefs about child and adult development.

Two traditions addressing the nature of human nature, the Greek and Hebrew, will be explored for their continuing influence on contemporary scientific, educational, and therapeutic perspectives on human lives. Within this inquiry, the course considers central philosophical issues that inform and divide the field today: the nature-nurture controversy; continuity versus discontinuity in development (including the controversy surrounding stage theories); and the basic good or evil nature of the human.

Students will gain an appreciation for the major intellectual debates about human nature that have influenced the field of human development. The course will consider their divergent expressions in academia and the world of policy and practice. Throughout this inquiry students will consider the shaping of modern perspectives on human development through the interaction of facts with values and research with beliefs.

Prerequisites: A course in the social sciences or humanities and upper level critical thinking skills.

(Image: Aristotle and Plato | Detail from the fresco 'The School of Athens' by Raphael Sanzio in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican)


Course Hashtag on Twitter: #WCHDOnline