Cinema Studies Graduate-Level Courses
Listed below are descriptions of graduate-level courses offered by the Department of Cinema Studies. Browse the UO Class Schedule to find out which courses are offered in the coming terms.
Topics courses change each term. Refer to the term course list for current topics courses being offered for a particular term.
Experimental courses change each term. Refer to the term course list for current experimental courses being offered for a particular term. Recent examples of experimental courses include:
Cinema and Censorship (4 credits): In this course, we will explore the connections between the histories, practices, and policies of cinema censorship, and in particular the role that sex and sexualities have played in those histories, practices, and policies. This course will examine significant events in media history as they pertain to these topics—including the development of various technologies; the regulatory responses both internal and external to the film industry; the various laws and court decisions that have defined the legal landscape central to this history; and the changing depictions and representations created by the film industry. We will consider how the film industry has both created and participated in various dynamics of power and privilege, and how those in regulatory positions have exercised their own power and privilege. Topics will include LGBTQ histories and representations, pornography, censorship, feminism, queer theory and media, and the intersections of race, sex, and sexualities. We will also examine historical debates and controversies surrounding these issues, as well as the defining theories and movements within the various academic fields associated with these topics.
Cinematography History/Theory (4 credits): Vittorio Storaro, one of history’s great cinematographers, once defined cinematography as ‘...writing with light in movement. Cinematographers,’ he went on to say, ‘are authors of photography, not directors of photography. We are not merely using technology to tell someone else’s though, because we are also using our own emotion, our culture, and our inner being.’ For Storaro and many others, cinematography is an expressive art. This admittedly romantic definition of cinematography, must be contextualized as it is, after all, an industrial craft, made within a system based on hierarchy, mass-production, and the commercial imperative. Keeping both sides of cinematography in mind, this course will explore the story of cinematography in American cinema, working out how a complex art and craft changed across the decades, from hand-cranked cameras to digital work flows. The course will be a bit of a theory & practice mashup, utilizing both historical research and aesthetic analysis, as well as some low-fi creative exercises and the occasional industry guest speaker on all things camera and lighting.
Cross-Border Hollywood (4 credits): This course explores the film, television, and media exchanges that have taken place between Hollywood and the Mexican media industry from the past to the present. Using a transnational perspective, we will examine moments of collaboration and conflict between the two industries. We will consider Hollywood films and TV shows that have been shot in Mexico. We will look at Mexican and Chicanx talent who have flourished on both sides of the border, from Golden Age movie stars such as Dolores del Río and Cantinflas to more recent filmmakers like Robert Rodriguez and Alfonso Cuarón. We will also analyze media co-productions between the United States and Mexico, as well as transnational film and TV remakes. Throughout, we will investigate how this work shapes perceptions of the border, globalization, immigration, outsourcing, and violence.
Hollywood Film Style (4 credits): This course explores the history of Hollywood aesthetics by studying how changes in the industry and film technology shaped style, storytelling, and representation. To research this history, students will create video essays using edited clips and scripted voice-overs that examine the ways that Hollywood filmmakers have discovered creative solutions to technical challenges while telling engaging stories. By blending analysis and practice, students will gain insight into the expressive possibilities of lighting, camera movement, widescreen, and the blocking of actors.
Transnational Film/Media (4 credits): This course examines border crossing in the Asia Pacific across a diverse range of popular media –film, television, animation, pop music, gaming and new media. Throughout history, the major East Asian cinemas and popular media of Japan, China (Hong Kong, P.R.C., Taiwan), and South Korea have long engaged in intra-regional and transnational exchanges—of personnel, capital, and influence. Shared cultural values, intertwined histories, and new communication technologies have led to what is called Trans-Asian cinema and popular culture. First of all, we will examine the diverse aspects of transnational dynamics in the production, circulation, and reception of popular films and media from East Asia since the mid-twentieth century. But we will also explore their links to popular media of Southeast Asia (here, Thailand, the Philippines, and Singapore and the wider context of the Asia Pacific. A closer examination of transnational dimensions will illuminate the complex and heterogeneous ways in which the concept of “national cinema and media” is challenged and the relationship between the global and the local is reconfigured.
Warner Bros Studio (4 credits): This course looks at the history of the American film industry not just as a sum of its products (films designed for mass consumption) but as a complex business and entertainment system that produces complex cultural products. This course is about the Hollywood film and its relationship to the American film industry, and about the ways in which Hollywood has historically responded to conditions and challenges, whether social, industrial, legal or technological. In attempt to narrow our field of study, we will focus on the development and history of the Warner Brothers Studio, its producers, directors, stars and genres, particularly from the 1920s until the late 1960s. Independent primary research will be required for successful completion of the course.
This course traces the past and present of the U.S. film industry. We examine key moments in the development of Hollywood, including the consolidation and restructuring of the major movie studios, the film industry’s relationship to TV and the Internet, the constant need to innovate through new technologies, and the eventual conglomerates that now rule the circulation of film and media. The course mixes lectures and discussions of critical events with screenings of films to reveal the impact of industry strategies on creative decisions. Throughout, we will consider concepts such as ownership, regulation, and standardization vs. innovation to understand one of the most powerful media industries in the world. Previously taught as J 412 Top US Film Industry; not repeatable.
Explores cinematic traditions, artistic styles and industrial practices in specific national and regional contexts as well as cinema’s global development. Also examines issues of transnationalism, globalization, and diaspora. Repeatable twice for a maximum of 12 credits. Topics courses change each term. Refer to the term course list for current topics courses being offered for a particular term. Examples of topics include:
Canadian Cinema >GP >IC: This course offers a survey of Canadian cinema history with an emphasis on its relationship to politics, culture, aesthetics, and media industries. We will explore the role of cinema in defining national identity, both locally and internationally, while also highlighting approaches to Canadian cinema that capture the diversity of the nation and its cultures. In doing so, we will discuss English language, French Canadian, Indigenous, and diasporic cinema, and examine the transnational relationship between Canadian and US media cultures.
Mediterranean Film and Media (4 credits): This course focuses on contemporary documentaries, fiction films and video art from North Africa, the Middle East and Southern Europe. In the current era of mass migration and increased border policing, the Mediterranean is frequently described as the troubling ‘blue frontier’ of Europe. This course appraises the ways in which a number of filmmakers, activists and industry professionals have come to imagine and practice the Mediterranean as a shared transnational space of media cooperation, one in which it may be possible to contest dominant Western narratives about citizenship, identity and mobility. Students will examine the media infrastructures of cultural production and circulation supporting these practitioners and their work including film festivals and activist media networks.
Southeast Asian Cinema >GP >IC (4 credits): This course is a survey of the cinematic arts from film producing countries in Southeast Asia. You will be introduced to the themes, narratives, styles, and popular genres explored by filmmakers in Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. The course will do so in three ways: Firstly, by showing you a selection of films made within a spectrum of production and distribution context—from the big-budget studio-financed movies to independently produced festival films; secondly, by showcasing the works of women and LGBTQ filmmakers; thirdly, by making you engaged with the scholarly literature produced in the field of Southeast Asian cinema studies. While the course title includes the label "Southeast Asia," we will examine the concept of regional cinema through our discussion of the films and readings with the goal for us to be able to answer the question: Is there such a thing as Southeast Asian cinema? All films will have English subtitles. No specific prior knowledge of cultures, languages, and countries in Southeast Asia or prerequisite is required.
- Transnational Asian Film & Media (4 credits): This course examines border crossing in the Asia Pacific across a diverse range of popular media –film, television, animation, pop music, gaming and new media. Throughout history, the major East Asian cinemas and popular media of Japan, China (Hong Kong, P.R.C., Taiwan), and South Korea have long engaged in intra-regional and transnational exchanges—of personnel, capital, and influence. Shared cultural values, intertwined histories, and new communication technologies have led to what is called Trans-Asian cinema and popular culture. First of all, we will examine the diverse aspects of transnational dynamics in the production, circulation, and reception of popular films and media from East Asia since the mid-twentieth century. But we will also explore their links to popular media of Southeast Asia (here, Thailand, the Philippines, and Singapore and the wider context of the Asia Pacific. A closer examination of transnational dimensions will illuminate the complex and heterogeneous ways in which the concept of “national cinema and media” is challenged and the relationship between the global and the local is reconfigured.
Transnational Women Filmmakers (4 credits): This course will focus on cinema from multiple international locations - France, Argentina, India, Lebanon, China and Iran - in both fiction and non-fiction that have transnational modes of production and exhibition. We will explore the concept of women's cinema as world cinema and ask why women filmmakers enact such powerful critiques of national film infrastructures.
Study of emerging media forms and techniques, such as digital cinema, video games, viral videos, and interactive media. Offered alternate years. Repeatable twice for a maximum of 12 credits. Multilisted with ENG 586M.
Aesthetic, historical, and theoretical analysis of films, video, and television. Repeatable twice for a maximum of 12 credits when the topic changes. Topics courses change each term. Refer to the term course list for current topics courses being offered for a particular term.
- The Films of Ang Lee (4 credits): This course will examine the films of Ang Lee whose influence go beyond national, industrial and cultural boundaries. Due to his work’s global appeal and the incongruity across his films, Ang Lee is often labeled as a “transcendent,” “transnational” or “postmodern” filmmaker whose work raises new critical questions for many theories of film studies. In this class we will inquire into Ang Lee’s films with the theoretical framework of film authorship. The course will begin with tracing the origin and development of the theory of film authorship and the role it played in shaping the field of film studies. While employing different approaches and theorizations of film authorship in analyzing formal elements, narrative strategies and subject-matters that define Lee’s work, we will also try to expand our sense of film authors by examining them not simply as “authors” who deftly encode their artistic visions into their works but as cultural “signifiers” that influence film and culture industries and circulate across the national boundaries.
Exploitation Cinemas (4 credits): The genre known as exploitation cinema has historically been a site of intersecting cultural interests, where moral, legal, and regulatory discourses exist alongside fan activities, cult interest, and ritualized movie-going habits. The wide-ranging content in this genre often deliberately offends its audience even as it entertains it, leading to a paradoxical set of anxiety-ridden circumstances somewhat unique in film history. This course examines American exploitation films beginning in the 1930s and continuing to the present day from perspectives of the industry, the audience, and the film texts. Particular attention will be paid to recurring themes of youth, family, race, class, and sexuality, and the anxiety and fascination accompanying them, as well as issues of taste, fandom, and judgment. Ultimately this course works toward a fuller understanding
of mainstream cinemas, which have often copied or reflected exploitation cinemas even as they have maintained an anxious distance.
Global Auteurs (4 credits): The word “auteur” (French for author) emerged in the late 1950s and early 1960s to ascribe to film director’s idiosyncratic vision a creative role of authorship and critique comparable to the expressive autonomy claimed by literary authors. No longer a mere agent among other agents producing a film, film director as auteur was granted a creative agency whose unique view was expressed in the film. However, auteurism was later on challenged by shifting critical attention to the role of the production conditions, constructivist contexts, and deconstructive intertexts. As we shall see, these alternative theories challenged auteur theory by emphasizing the collective role of various agents in filmmaking, by highlighting the role of the nonhuman elements of genre and language in preconditioning of plots and characters, and by considering films as sites of contradictory expressions which must be determined by the authorial role of spectator rather than director. However, the view of the film director as auteur has thus far survived this critical shift to the spectator, with the director’s name consistently utilized for both commercial and, in particular, art- house cinema. In this course, we will examine these critical debates alongside the films of global auteurs to review the key features of contemporary auteur cinema, but also to explore the ways in which auteur theory reveals the complex relations between aesthetics, politics, and philosophy in film form.
- Global Blockbusters (4 credits): This course explores one of the most visible, yet least critically discussed forms of popular culture: the movie blockbuster. We will endeavor to evaluate or re-evaluate the cultural significance of this often easily dismissed cultural phenomenon by positioning it at the intersections of such discourses as globalization, transnationalism, film historiography and genre. At the same time we will trace the genealogy of the movie blockbuster and examine its shifting definitions and generic conventions. In particular, challenging a myopic perception that blockbusters are the exclusive products of Hollywood, this class will survey the global dissemination of the movie blockbuster and focus on blockbusters, spectacles or “event movies” from Asia, including, but not limited to, China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, and India. In addition to looking into the formal, aesthetic, and industrial elements of blockbusters across nations, the analysis of films will lead us to interrogate cinematic and cultural constructions of history, nation, gender and sexuality.
- Slapstick Comedy (4 credits): In this course, we will study why a well thrown pie to the face is funny. That is, this course is about slapstick, an important (and often hilarious) subgenre of comedy that has been around since the fifteenth century, but which arguably found its fullest form in American cinema. In particular, this course will focus on slapstick’s practitioners; from well- known actors like Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Laurel & Hardy to other important, but now lesser-known performers, such as Mabel Normand, Carole Lombard and Monty Banks. We will concentrate on the form and its stars' importance in the silent era, but trace the genre’s popularity from 19th century vaudeville all the way through Something About Mary.
- Transnational Film Genres (4 credits): Genres are constantly changing, whether it is to adapt, understand or challenge new social and political environments. Genre films have been important cultural texts that continually mediate complicated relations of power. With all of this in mind, what can we gain by thinking of genre not just in terms of conventions and expectations, but in relation to national context and transnational influences?
Though perceived as "the most American film genre," if we follow the paths of the Western genre starting in the United States, it will lead us to Italy, to Japan, to India, to Mexico, and to East Germany. The recent trend of remaking Asian melodramas, gangster films and horror movies in Hollywood obviously reverses the presumed flow of influence from Hollywood to other national and regional cinemas. This course examines the transnational dissemination of genre films across nations and explores the ways in which genre conventions are constituted, redefined and transformed within these processes of global exchange.
In this course, we will primarily consider westerns and then melodramas that have traditionally been coded as a “female” genre (to the “male” western). In addition to exploring the formal and industrial elements of cinema across nations, the analysis of westerns and melodramas will lead us to interrogate cinematic and cultural constructions of violence, family, gender, sexuality, and territory across seemingly opposed genres.