ENGL 335: Studies in Film

Principles of film art and the traditional vocabulary of literature as applied to film. Influence of film on modes of thought and behavior. Class meets two hours per week for lecture and discussion. Lab meets up to 3 hours for film screenings.

English 335 is an upper-division college English class as well as an introductory “film” class. Taking it thus imposes a responsibility for exploring the literary, humanistic, and critical impact of film. This means students learn to read about, talk about, and write about the films on the schedule. Our basic goals, then, are two: 1) to make the best sense we can of individual films, and 2) to relate that sense in some systematic fashion to larger frameworks of knowledge, chiefly those already generated by the discipline of film studies.

The last time I taught the class we investigated romantic comedies, particularly (but not exclusively) in Hollywood cinema. As students read during the semester, romance as a narrative element is often used as a means of both introducing and resolving larger cultural or social issues.

As a result, it’s useful to examine how American culture, gender, and sexuality have been figured over the decades. The class will survey a variety of films and explore the cinematic and cultural circumstances that have given rise to many romantic characters (not to say heroes/heroines) who have populated the screen in the twentieth and twenty-first century. Through this exploration, students developed a more sophisticated critical lens that helped them discuss such films more knowledgeably.

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