COMPLIT 438 - Comparative Studies in Film
Section: 001 The Imagination of Disaster: From The War of the Worlds to 9/11
Term: WN 2014
Subject: Comparative Literature (COMPLIT)
Department: LSA Comparative Literature
Advisory Prerequisites:
Junior standing.
May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credit(s).
Primary Instructor:

This course invites students to explore the cinematic representations of catastrophic events in postwar America, from The War of the Worlds (1953) to more recent documentaries and films inspired by the September 11 terrorist attacks. A sub-genre of the horror film, the “cinema of catastrophe” has flourished after WWII under the direct influence of large-scale technological warfare, civilian destruction and mass extermination. The threat of nuclear annihilation only increased with the Cold War, and later, with the emergence of global terrorism. Notwithstanding the reality of the threat, cold-war ideology and political expediency have shaped the ways in which the American public has been prepared for the unthinkable. The study of the “visual language of fear” in disaster movies of the past fifty years will initiate students into the terminology of film aesthetics, the ideology of images, and interpretive techniques.

The course materials cover a selection of movies in chronological order, background documentation, articles on filmic representation and interpretation.

Movies will include classics such as:

  • The War of the Worlds,
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers,
  • The Beginning of the End,
  • The Monster of Terror,
  • The Missiles of October,
  • The Alpha Incident,
  • 2019: After the Fall of New York,
  • Ghostbusters,
  • The Terminator,
  • Return of the Living Dead,
  • Urban Warriors,
  • The Day Before Midnight,
  • Armageddon,
  • The Day After Tomorrow,
  • World Trade Center.

Course Requirements:

Evaluation will be based on two short papers, and a final research project on a subject related to the problematic of the course. This project can take the form of a written final essay, a power-point presentation or a combination of media.

Intended Audience:

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Class Format:

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COMPLIT 438 - Comparative Studies in Film
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
TuTh 2:30PM - 4:00PM
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