Introduces students to the critical study of film, television, and/or new media through the lens of a specific concept, issue in film or media cultures and traditions, or scholarly trend. Topics might focus on a single medium or take a comparative approach. May be repeated for credit with a different topic.
Fall Semester informationVictoria Wiet
241A: Tps:Censorship & Storytelling
What are the limits of free speech? When does legitimate speech turn into obscenity, sacrilege, or even sedition? While the emergence of liberal democracy in the 18th and 19th centuries might lead us to presume that artists and writers can now prioritize their own creative visions over the demands of society or the state, the last 150 years has witnessed a proliferation of highly developed censorship regimes across the world, from the Hollywood "Production Code" in the United States to state-run media in the People's Republic of China. This course will explore what happens to the universal human need to give life meaning by telling stories in the context of restricted freedom of expression. Focusing on the narrative media of fiction, drama, and film, we will study both rule breakers and creative compilers: artists who whose work was penalized for breaking the official or unofficial rules of what can be expressed as well as artists who found creative ways to produce socially conscientious works that outwardly complied with regimes of censorship. After a brief introduction to liberal ideas about freedom of speech, the course will then focus on the three main targets of attempts to limit artistic expression: sex (obscenity), politics (sedition), and religion (sacrilege). We will then conclude with a brief unit on the question of art and "cancel culture." Assigned materials will include plays by Alexandre Dumas fils, Holly Hughes, Oscar Wilde; fiction and poetry by Anna Akhmatova, Isabel Allende, Rashid Jahan, and Salman Rushdie; and films by Howard Hawks, Zhang Yuan, Wanuri Kahiu, Gillo Pontecorvo, Jafar Panahi, Luis Buñuel, and Marjane Satrapi.
Spring Semester informationJordan Sjol
241A: Tps:The Internet is Terrible: Critiques of Digital Culture
Newspaper headlines are full of proclamations about mental health crises caused by social media, technology addiction, violent video games, online pornography, etc. etc. We're told that digital media are turning us into sad, isolated consumerists with short attention spans. But is any of this new?
In this course, we will try to look past the hype, aiming to get a view of what unique difficulties are posed by digital technologies and the cultures surrounding them. Why does going online often make us feel so bad? Is the internet getting worse? What happens when we hand all our data to international megacorporations? We will study detailed critiques of digital culture developed from an array of perspectives.
Primary topics covered will include labor exploitation and forms of alienation created by the digital organization of work; the monetization of attention in online spaces; digital media's tendency to amplify racist, sexist, and extremist ideologies; and the ecological devastation wrought by digital technologies, including massive electrical consumption by data services and the proliferation of toxic e-waste.