COLI 331E, Section 1 

Course Objectives:

Through a close, comparative consideration of both foreign and domestic film, students in this course will examine the ways in which 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.

“ …For we know we are going to die someday, with each second moving us closer to that endpoint. Each moment of life bears a moment toward death, threatening our hopes of immortality with the inevitable violence of decay. We may avoid thinking about our own deaths, yet we are attracted to the performance of violence by others, involving life-threatening fears and glimpses of death, onstage and onscreen” – from Theater of Human Sacrifice, Mark Pizzato

Course Requirements:

Response Paper (1)                                                                            15%

Short Quizzes (7)                                                                                 15%

Participation (Online Discussion Board - 10 Posts)                       30%

Outside Film Review (To be posted on Blackboard)                    10%

Final (Short Answer)                                                                           30%

Required Texts: Selections Available Online

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.

* Pizzato, Mark. Theaters of Human Sacrifice: From Ancient Ritual to Screen Violence. State University of New York Press: Albany, 2005.

Williams, James G. Ed. The Girard Reader. The Crossroad Publishing Company:   New  York, 2003.

Film and Reading Schedule: Assignments are to be read by the dates listed below and corresponding texts are to be brought to class to use in discussion.

Week One: Jan. 27, Jan 29

Introduction: Jim Morrison on Cinema (Handout)

Psychoanalytic Theory and Theatrical Paradigms: Freud, Lacan

Catharsis: “Blood Sacrifice in Ancient Greece and Aztec America,” (Pizzato, 21-45)

Film: Clips from Un Chien Andalou – Luis Bunuel (France 1929) and Alien – Ridley Scott (USA 1979)

Week Two: Feb. 3, Feb. 5

Potential for Catharsis: The Relationship between Cinematic Violence and Ritual Sacrifice

Reading: Aztec Ritual, Tlacaxipehualiztli (Handout)

Selections from Euripides’ The Bacchae

Discussion: Selections from René Girard’s “From Mimetic Desire to the  Monstrous Double”(from Violence and the Sacred)

Unit One: Abjection, Horror and the Fantastic

Week Three: Feb. 10, Feb. 12

Carnival and the Taboo

Film: Freaks – Tod Browning (US 1932)

Discussion: Violence, Catharsis and Transgression

Week Four: Feb. 17, Feb. 19

Fairy Tales and Nightmares: Violence, Fascism and Fantasy Narrative

Film: El Laberinto del Fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth) – Guillermo Del Toro  (Spain/Mexico 2006)

Reading: “Children, War, and the Imaginative Space of Fairy Tales” by Donald  Haase

Available Online: Grimm’s “Bluebeard,” “The Juniper Tree” and “Cinderella”

Week Five: Feb. 24, Feb. 26

The Monstrous Feminine: Abjection, (m)Other and the “return of the repressed”

Film: Selections from Ôdishon (Audition) - Takashi Miike (Japan 1999) and  Alien - Ridley Scott (USA 1979)

Reading: Selections from Power of Horror - Julia Kisteva

“Medusa’s Head: The Vagina Dentata and Freudian Theory” and “Horror and the Archaic Mother”by Barbara Creed (Handout)

Week Six: Mar. 3, Mar. 5

Chain Saws and Virgins: The Lure of the Slasher Film

Film: Dario Argento:An Eye for Horror - Leon Ferguson (Documentary 2000)

Unit Two: Sexuality and the Gaze

Week Seven: Mar. 10, Mar. 12

Disavowal, Fetishism: Buried Psychology and the Cinema Spectator

Film: Blue Velvet - David Lynch (USA 1986)

Reading: “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” by Laura Mulvey (Handout) with clips from Some Like It Hot (United Artists, 1959) and Mildred Pierce (Warner Bros, 1945)

Week Eight: Mar. 17, Mar. 19

Mystery and True Crime

Film: Chinatown - Roman Polanski (USA 1974)

Reading: L.A. Confidential (1990) by James Ellroy

Week Nine: Mar. 24, Mar. 26

Freudian Cliché’s: Cannibalism and Consumer Culture

Film: American Psycho – Mary Harron (US 2000)

Reading: “The Implosion of Meaning in the Media” fromSimulacra and Simulation by Jean Baudrillard (p. 79-86)

Unit Three: Postmodern Forms and Cinema as Violence

Week Ten: Mar. 31, Apr. 2

Media and Spectatorship: Representation and Reception of Violence

Film: A Clockwork Orange - Stanley Kubrick (UK 1971)

Reading: “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” by Walter  Benjamin

Discussion: “The Cubist Perspective, The New World of Relationships: Camera and Cinema” by Wylie Sypher.

Week Eleven: Apr. 7, Apr. 9

No Classes – Spring Recess

Week Twelve: Apr. 14, Apr. 16

Spectator in the Text: Film as Subject

Film: C’est Arrivé Près de Chez Vous (Man Bites Dog) - Rémy Belvaux (Belgium 1992)

Reading: “From The Imaginary Signifier: Identification, Mirror” by Christian Metz (Handout)

Unit Four: Artaud’s Theater of Cruelty vs Brecht’s “Funny Games”

Week Thirteen: Apr. 21, Apr. 23

Audience and Melodrama: Debating the Effects of Screen Violence

Film: Natural Born Killers - Oliver Stone (USA 1994)

Reading: “Choral Edges in Frankenstein and Natural Born Killers,” (Pizzato, 77-109)

Discussion: Grisham vs. Stone: Life Imitating Art (See Court Case Link on Blackboard)

Week Fourteen: Apr. 28, Apr. 30

Film: Funny Games - Michael Haneke (Austria 1997)

Reading: Interview with Funny Games Director, Michael Haneke and “Cinema of Glaciation” by Roy Grundmann

Week Fifteen: May 5, May 7

Final Online Discussion/Deadline for Outside Reviews


Suggested Viewing/Possible Substitutions

Film: Cannibal Holocaust - Ruggero Deodato (Italy/Columbia 1980)

Film: Straw Dogs – Sam Peckinpah (UK/USA 1971)

Film: Scanners – David Cronenberg (USA 1981)

Film: No Country for Old Men – Coen Brothers (USA 2007) along with text by Cormac    McCarthy

Suggested Reading

Braudy, Leo and Marshall Cohen. Eds. Film Theory and Criticism. Oxford University      Press: New York, 2004.

Brottman, Mikita. Offensive Films: Toward an Anthropology of Cinema Vomitif. Greenwood Press: London, 1997.

Girard, René. Violence and the Sacred. Trans. Patrick Gregory. John Hopkins University Press: Baltimore, 1977.

Mayne, Judith. Cinema and Spectatorship. Routledge: New York, 1993.

Neroni, Hilary. The Violent Woman: Femininity, Narrative, and Violence in Contemporary American Cinema. State University of New York Press: Albany, 2005.

Sharrett, Christopher. Ed. Mythologies of Violence in Postmodern Media. Wayne State    University Press: Detroit, 1999.

Attendance: COLI 331E will meet two times a week and due to the nature of the class, attendance is very important. If you miss a class, it is your responsibility to seek assistance from your colleagues.