SAC 620 - Seminar in Film or Electronic/Digital Media and Culture
Section: 003 Film and Society: Screened Cities: Cinema, Architecture, and Urbanism
Term: FA 2017
Subject: Screen Arts and Cultures (SAC)
Department: LSA Film, Television, and Media
Waitlist Capacity:
With permission of instructor.
May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credit(s).
Primary Instructor:

In the late 19th century, cinema both emerged out of modern urban life and provided spectators with new ways to see and reflect on urban experience. This class investigates the interaction between cinema and the city by probing the way that film imaginatively engaged with urbanity as both an evolving physical and technological environment and a way of life. Moving from early cinema to the present, we will examine how urban representation has been sustained and transformed within particular international film genres and modes, including the city symphony, slapstick, noir and detective thrillers, romantic comedy, and science fiction. We will also study how the changing form of the city itself gives rise to new modes of representation.

Cinema and cities offer built environments of vast perceptual and experiential richness, both products of the same industrial and social transformations. The city is an arena of social control and discipline, but also a site of pluralistic diversity, historical memory and social liberation; a society of the spectacle but also a place to make and remake one’s self. Cities are places to appear and disappear, to emerge and submerge. Such cinematic effects as montage, movement and subjective camerawork, combined with the organizing structures of narrative, will be seen as integral tactics toward understanding the city as a complex, lived environment.

Ultimately the course will demonstrate how the arrangement of space has economic and political determinants and that when we speak of the city, we refer less to an authentic (or stable) abstract space than an experience produced through representation.

The course will explore how screen and media studies engages with spatial theory, architecture, geography and urban studies, particularly in light of the so-called spatial turn of the past decade. To that end, every week students will read recent screen studies scholarship and their intersections with spatial theory and urban history. Screen studies readings will include: Giuliana Bruno, Mark Shiel, Edward Dimendberg, Sabine Hake, Merrill Schleier, John David Rhodes, Pamela Wojcik, Laura Podalsky, Lawrence Webb, Yomi Braester, and Paula Massood. Additional readings may include: Walter Benjamin, Georg Simmel, Michel Foucault, Henri Lefebvre, Guy Debord, Lewis Mumford, Le Corbusier, Jane Jacobs, Mike Davis, Reinhold Martin, Angel Rama, Beatriz Sarlo, Nestor Perlongher, Julio Ramos, Kathryn O’Rourke, Timothy Hyde, Carlos Monsiváis, Erika Robb Larkins, Frederic Jameson, David Harvey, Saskia Sassen, Edward Soja, Doreen Massey.

The course is organized both geographically and chronologically, triangulating European, North American and Latin American cities at different historical junctures in order to both survey the canon and find fault lines, blind spots, and new lines of inquiry for future study. Inserting Latin America into these key moments in film production and urban history introduces questions pertaining to the region’s patterns of massive growth, urban migration, and global and local uneven development. This structure will provide students with a survey of what work has been done, open onto questions about what work needs to be done, and model avenues for how this work should be done in order to engage successfully with debates in screen studies. Cities considered will include: Berlin, Paris, Rome, London, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Beijing, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago, Caracas, La Habana.

Films screened may include: Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (1927), São Paulo: A sinfonia da metrópole (1929), Safety Last (1923), The City (1939), Naked Cityv (1948), Murder, My Sweetv (1944), Roma Città Apertav (1945), Accattonev (1961), La ilusión viaja en tranvía (1954), Tres veces Anav (1961), Caracas, 2 o 3 cosas (1969), Tout va bien (1972), Playtime (1967), The Conversation (1974), Lolas (2011), Aquarius (2016), Rio em Chamas (2014), Aquí se construye o ya no existe el lugar en que nací (2000)

Class Format:

The course will be conducted in English.

SAC 620 - Seminar in Film or Electronic/Digital Media and Culture
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
8Graduate Standing
M 1:00PM - 4:00PM
002 (LAB)
W 4:00PM - 6:30PM
003 (SEM)
Tu 2:00PM - 5:00PM
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