PHIL 440 - Philosophy of Film
Winter 2020, Section 001
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: Philosophy (PHIL)
Department: LSA Philosophy
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Waitlist Capacity:
Advisory Prerequisites:
One of the following: a philosophy course at the 300-level or above, one course in History of Art, one course in Screen Arts and Cultures, or permission of instructor.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:


From the moment film came into being in the 1890s a furious and excited attempt on the part of filmmakers took place to discover the possibilities of this new medium, a vast innovation in “film language”. At the same time an equally intense set of conversations and writings by critics, philosophers, intellectuals, and many others began to emerge which sought to articulate the powers, capacities, the possibilities of the new medium. A wide variety of writings have tried to fathom film’s immediate popularity and its social forces (actual and potential). They have interrogated the way film frames women, solicits voyeurism and idealization, fancifies and naturalizes the world, creates a new aesthetic category of person called the star. Since there is no form of art and communication more central to contemporary life than film (more crucial to the fabric of our beliefs, ideologies, enjoyment, politics, advertisements) these features of the medium have been discussed with considerable urgency throughout film history.

This course is about the fact that films have also participated in that ongoing conversation about what film is and can be.

We will then turn to television, thinking about how philosophy must shift when it turns from Casablanca to Family Guy. And we will end with the download-series (Netflix, Amazon, etc.) and its ability to fuse aesthetic elements from film and TV into a new and transformed medium.

Course Requirements:

The schedule of assignments will be one three-page paper due at the midterm (on an assigned topic), and a research paper of ten pages or more on a topic of the student’s own choosing, and due at the end of the class. The second paper will be weighted three times that of the first. There will also be room for classroom participation in assigning the grade, at the discretion of the instructor. However only positively, no deduction will be given for quietness, only a positive one for significant engagement in the conversation of the class.


PHIL 440 - Philosophy of Film
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
 In Person
Tu 10:00AM - 1:00PM

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