PhD Courses 2017 - 2018
Note: 600-level indicates MA, 800-level indicates PhD. Several courses are offered to both MA and PhD students.
FMST 600: Methods in Film Studies
FB 250 Monday 8:45 -12:45
Instructors: Haidee Wasson (Fall) and Masha Salazkina (Winter)
This is a mandatory course in the Film Studies MA Program. It is designed to help students develop research, writing and presentation skills appropriate to the discipline of film studies. In addition to technical and practical matters, the course helps students develop productive and original research questions by examining notable issues in the field. Course materials examine the ways that film history, criticism, and textual analysis have been and can be written, encompassing a range of ways of seeing, interpreting and understanding cinema and the moving image. Written and oral assignments are designed to develop research and communication skills appropriate to the field. The course also works to facilitate an esprit de corps within the M.A. class.
FMST 605/805: Canadian Cinema
FMST 620/820: Arab Revolutions
FB 250 Tuesday 13:15-17:15
From 2011 onwards, our online repositories have been awash with filmed material detailing, debating and promoting the compulsions and tactics of insurrections in the Arab world. Yet this body of work stands as simply the latest in a long line of alliances within the region between the capacities of film production and broader revolutionary praxis. For instance, Layla – purportedly Egypt’s first ever feature film – erupted out of and fortified the feminist anti-colonial campaigns of the 1920s. Since then, a significant majority of Arab moviemaking has engrossed itself in similar struggles against injustice. This course seeks to acknowledge and analyze cultural-activist engagements with a history of revolt in countries like Egypt, Palestine, Algeria and Syria, alongside related exilic, diasporic and internationalist endeavours. More particularly, this class will ask: how have various revolutions been conceptualized and enacted, and what role has, and can, cinema play within them? The corpus of films onto which this course opens comprises everything from guerrilla ventures to state-sponsored industrial output. In terms of reading matter, the meagre Film Studies writing on these topics will be supplemented with political treatises, historical accounts, poetry, and anti-colonial theory.
FMST 635/835: Digital Media Ethnography
FB 6th floor lab Wednesday 13:15-17:15
This research creation course combines audiovisual practice with critical approaches to digital media. Drawing on sensory ethnography, sarai, and related projects, the course will both examine digital media practices and technologies, and consider how to use digital media to do media studies. Course meetings will combine seminar style reading, writing, and debate with auvdiovisual exercises and “crit” style workshops. We will examine research methodologies and interpretive frameworks from Cinema/Media Studies, Cultural Studies, Critical Theory, Anthropology, Urban Studies, and others, as well as genealogies of ethnographic and experimental media. Students will gain basic facility with video shooting, sound recording, editing, and online capture, develop site-specific digital ethnography projects, and make collaborative video essays. In short, this course is a practice-led introduction to the field of Digital Media Studies—including a focus on forms of emergent media that fall outside of current imaginations of technomodernity.
FMST 665/865: Managing Media
FB 250 Monday 13:15-17:15
Management - on the surface it seems marginal to the films and television we care about; boring, even. Yet there is nothing more critically essential to understanding the process of how an idea for a film makes it to the big screen. This course will examine the mysterious middle realm of media management, from the production processes where film and television and novels get made, to the management of media franchises, star images and brands, to the managing of consumers through increasingly complex and arcane end-user license agreements (EULAs), apps, interfaces and retail environments. It will chart the multiple layers and levels at which media is managed, from platforms to hardware to ad agencies and talent agencies, and will analyze the many self-referential films and TV series that stage these management practices for our enjoyment.
FMST 630/830 Christian Metz and The structuralist Moment in Film Theory
FB 250 Wednesday 13:15-17:15
The heyday of structuralism in film studies lasted roughly from 1964 to 1980. It corresponded to important and lasting changes in the study of cinema. Though it was not the sole factor involved, structuralism played a key role in the academic specialization of film studies. This course aims to provide students with an understanding of what structuralism meant in the history of film studies through reading and discussion of a number of key structuralist texts. There will be a focus on the work of Christian Metz (though the work of other theorists — Bellour, Kuntzel, etc. — will also be considered).
FMST 635/835 Cinema and the City
FB 250 Wednesday 18:00-22:00
The interpenetration of cities and cinemas takes place on many levels, and has shifted considerably over the 120 years of film and media history, from nickelodeons to digital displays. The study of cities and cinema is a means of better understanding the relations between the social world and cultural imagination, memory and the built environment. Themes of utopia and dystopia are pervasive, as well as themes of political activism and alienation; the analysis of visual style likewise extends to architecture and urban planning. This course will look at a wide range of filmmaking, including fiction, experimental, and documentary, to better understand the close affinities between urban space and film practice, spectatorship, and global film history. Screenings will include city “symphonies,” film noir, European art cinema, essay films, Asian cinema, science fiction, and web-based media art. Readings will include key works of modernity theory by Walter Benjamin and Siegfried Kracauer; cultural theorists such as Lefebvre and de Certeau, film theorists Giuliana Bruno and Edward Dimendberg, and a selection of contemporary urban theory. Students will be asked to oral presentations, and final papers in addition to participating in a class project that will produce a “landscapes of Montreal” archival screening.
FMST 640/840 Women and Film Culture
FB 250 Monday 13:15-17:15
This seminar investigates women’s contributions to film culture in initiatives, publications, and events associated with cinema as an art, a form of entertainment, and an educational tool. Particular attention will be put on activities, texts, and services that explicitly advocate women’s cinema and on the role of women within film-related institutions such as archives, museums, schools, and universities. While offering a theoretical approach to film culture, the course will select specific historical periods and geocultural contexts and present them through a series of case studies. The final part of the course will consider women’s participation in cinema’s transition to global digital culture.
FMST 660/860: Approaches to Pasolini's Cinema
FB 250 Tuesday 18:00-22:00
This class will analyse Pier Paolo Pasolini’s cinema and its global legacy, as well as the different methodological and theoretical paradigms in the study of film and authorship. More specifically, this course will move chronologically through Pasolini’s filmmaking career (1960-1975) in the context of post-WWII European modernist cinema while, at the same time, it will allow students to interrogate the different scholarly approaches (auteur theory, Marxism, Semiotics, Postcolonial and Queer Theory, among others) which have been applied to this canonical director’s films. This class will also introduce students to “remakes” and visual ripostes of and to Pasolini’s work from filmmakers and artists the world-over, thus further interrogating the notion of cinematic legacy and impact.
PhD Courses (courses only available for students enrolled in a PhD program):
FMST 801 (Winter). Instructor: Haidee Wasson
Film and Media Historiography
In this class, we will investigate recent directions in film and media scholarship focusing on historiography The term “historiography” traditionally denotes three related fields of inquiry: the theory of history, the writing of history, and the history of history. In this class we will take all three of these meanings and use them to examine the dynamics of knowledge creation in cinema studies. We will begin with a consideration of the archive and its particular importance in film studies over the last several decades. Ideas and practices of the archive will then be put in dialogue with key scholarly paradigms used by film scholars to make use of the archive and the things it holds: films, photographs, advertisements, correspondence, technological artefacts. We will examine questions foundational for historical and indeed all film scholarship: What is a film? What is film history? How to define or delimit a historical, social or cultural context? What is the relationship of film and cinema to other media and their institutions? What are the dynamics of time, causality and change in film history? What counts as evidence in forwarding historical arguments? How and why to reinsert the lost, forgotten, and neglected in film history? What is the role of cultural difference and dispersed national and political contexts for the ways in which history is written? In short, we will seek to answer the question: how do scholars make knowledge? Attention will be paid to recent challenges to film historiography including the expanded geographies of North American Cinema Studies as well as the diversified institutions, viewing platforms, technologies and types of films now being considered integral to film research. Each week of this course will be framed as a set of research questions concerning how to investigate, theorize and research ideas that are both familiar and new or “expanded” about cinema. This may include examining specific films that lie outside of the established film canon (amateur, institutional, experimental), technologies (electricity, portable projectors, television, Computer screens) and spaces (homes, fairs, museums, factories). We will also include case studies that call upon integrating approaches to design, architecture, exhibition design, world’s fairs, among others.
FMST 804 (Fall). Instructor: Catherine Russell
EV 10th Floor Thursday 13:15-17:15
Walter Benjamin and Film Studies
This PhD seminar covers Benjamin’s writings on cinema and photography along with other key texts from his larger oeuvre. It is by no means a comprehensive survey of Benjamin’s writing, but is focused on the work that has implications for film and media studies, which is necessarily interdisciplinary given Benjamin’s idiosyncratic method. Weekly readings will include primary and secondary sources so that not only Benjamin’s own writings will be covered, but also some of the ways that Benjamin has been interpreted. Each week also features a screening of a film or films (or other media) that is related either directly or tangentially to Benjamin’s writing. These screenings are designed to provoke discussion and provide context for the usefulness of Benjamin’s thought for film studies research and analysis.
FMST 806 (Fall) Proseminar I. Instructor: Martin Lefebvre
EV 10th Floor Wednesday 13:15-17:15
The first half of the Proseminar offers a forum for discussing problems of disciplinarity with regards to the study of film and cognate areas in the Humanities. The central objective is to sensitize Ph.D. students to problems facing film studies disciplinarity as part of their training. What does “training in film studies consists of? What is the nature of the knowledge produced in film studies? What, if any, are the disciplinary boundaries of the discipline? The course will be divided into two unequal sections: Part I: Film Studies Looks at Itself: Some Historical Developments; and Part II: The Idea of Disciplinarity: Institutional, Cultural, Epistemological Issues.
FMST 807 (Winter) Proseminar II. Instructor: Masha Salazkina
EV 10th Floor Thursday 13:15-17:15
“The Geopolitical Imaginary of Film and Moving Image Studies”
The second half of the Proseminar will introduce students to the historical trajectory of the debates on the geopolitical contours of the subject of film studies from the 1950s to present day. These debates seek to address fundamental questions about the relationship between the geopolitical production sites of films, their global networks of circulation, the power relations and systems of representations they engender. It will explore several theoretical and historiographic developments in the discipline which emerged as responses to these questions in the course of the history of film studies: Orientalism and the post-colonialist critiques; theories of globalization; the emergence and debates around such theoretical and methodological formations as Third Cinema, World Cinema, Accented Cinema, and the more recent shifts towards transnational approaches to film history and theory.