LTAF 120 - LIT & FILM OF MODERN AFRICA
After the Cold War, What?
Instructor: Robert Cancel
If we assume that for years the West had "written" Africa for not only westerners but for Africans as well, it is important to recognize the power of African artists who come to create their own representations. We will focus on the period after the fall of the Soviet Union, the end of the Cold War and the trending toward “Globalization” as reflected in films and literature from, roughly, 1990 to the present. Themes examined will be the end of apartheid in South Africa, ongoing legacies of the Nigerian Civil War and Somalia’s wars with Ethiopia, and evolving styles in filmmaking (i.e. “Nollywood”) and writing (i.e. postmodernism). While political, historical and cultural themes developed by African writers and filmmakers are as varied as the continent itself, using this chronological frame we can see how history becomes mythologized and appropriated for various reasons by different artists. We will explore these many ideas and the forms they take, seeking to derive a means of description for understanding their content and context. The course will include lectures designed to provide background for the works assigned. Short stories, novels, plays and films constitute our primary data.
LTCS 111 - SPECIAL TOPICS IN POPULAR CULTURE IN HISTORICAL CONTEXT
Please contact instructor for course description.
LTCS 150 - TOPICS IN CULTURAL STUDIES
This Medical Humanities course will look at some of the most pressing issues related to health and illness in contemporary societies that have garnered the attention of the general public, healthcare and public health professionals, NGOs, and national and international government organizations. Most issues are not confined within any one country but have an international dimension that we will explore in this course. Examples are the HIV/AIDS pandemic; the War on Drugs; rise in reported incidents of bullying and bullying-related suicide in schools and the workplace; the wave of obesity among young populations of industrialized and industrializing societies; the exponential rise in disabling chronic conditions (from asthma and anorexia to depression, allergies, diabetes, and arthritis); and the health ravages of environmental pollution and contaminated food supply. Work will be primarily readings of fictional and journalistic accounts, biographical narratives, historical and sociological essays, and public health studies as well as screenings of fictional and documentary films and public health advertising with an attention to issues such as the narrating of personal experience, the transformations of patients’ identity or sense of self, the authority of biomedical science, the social geography of health and illness, ethical challenges, and the role of government.
This class is part of the course offerings of the Global Health Minor and will apply towards the "Culture & Globalization" requirement for LTCS majors.
► LTCS 150 is a LTEN equivalent course
► LTCS 150 will fulfill Literature/World major’s non-European/non-U.S. requirement.
LTWL 120 - POPULAR LITERATURE AND CULTURE
J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings inspired an international cult in the 1960s and 70s and a popular movie trilogy in this century. It also spawned an entire popular genre as well as a considerable body of sophisticated literary criticism. We will consider the materials—historical, biographical, mythical, literary, and linguistic—that went into the creation of the twentieth century’s best-known fantasy epic before launching on our own quest through the text. In the process we will read the works that frame Lord of the Rings: Tolkien’s children’s book The Hobbit and the “Bible” of Middle Earth eventually published as The Silmarillion, along with related tales not published in Tolkien’s lifetime. Previous knowledge of Elvish not required.
LTWL 128 - INTRODUCTION TO SEMIOTICS AND APPLICATIONS
How do we compare our own analysis of our everyday dreams with the dreams represented in film? Our readings in film interpretation will run the gamut from Freud’s basic Interpretation of Dreams, to today’s psychoanalytic theories and neuroscience so as to elaborate upon this question. Films proposed for extended study will include such classics as Alfred Hitchcock’s renowned Spellbound (1945) and Ingmar Bergman’s Wild Strawberries (1957). Other films which explore dreams and dream-like fantasies will extend to Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut (1999), Chris Nolan’s complex dream-within-dreams in Inception (2010), Michael Haneke’s The Piano Teacher (2001) –whose main protagonist does not dream as her life experience is that of a lived nightmare –, as well as clips from several other contemporary films. These clips will illustrate the relationship of psychoanalysis and cinema which is at the heart of film theory and film history, as are several approaches to the semiotics of cinema. The films with explicit dreams, fantasies, and reveries will be studied with focus on the psychoanalyst and patient interaction, and the interpretation of symptoms, anxiety, conflict, repression, et al.
The course will be run in seminar style around the main topics of dreams, dream interpretation, the flashback as art and convention, audiences’ involvement, patients and psychoanalysts in cinema, with rf. to the foundational texts of film theory (by C. Metz, L. Mulvey, G. & K. Gabbard). Lectures will also deal with methods of psychoanalytic theory applied to dreams in film – which involve psychoanalysts and semioticians from early Freud to contemporary research in neuroscience.
For their paper on close analysis and for their course project, students will choose on their own a specific film involving dreams, in conjunction with at least one of the authors selected from the reading list and from the course Reader (made available by week 3 through University Readers). Several films will be suggested for such, during the first half of the course – e.g., Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), or his amusing The Science of Sleep (2006), among so many films where dreams appear.
Course may be taken as a LTEN equivalent.
Graduate students are welcome.
► LTWL 128 is a LTEN equivalent course
LTWL 183 - FILM STUDIES AND LITERATURE: DIRECTOR’S WORK
Films about “relationships” may be constructed as a quasi “genre” in the history of cinema. This course will vet the psychology and æsthetics of modern/postmodern “relationships.”
Couples meet, love, fight, part, meet again, in the everyday as well as during war and other traumatic circumstances. Filmmakers have found myriad ways of presenting these convoluted relationships, and have challenged us with their portrayals. Excerpts from classics or cult films will highlight these conflicted relationship entanglements. Clips will include excerpts from Mike Nichols's Closer (2004) on crisscrossing couples – played by C. Owens, J. Roberts, N. Portman and J. Law–, contrasted with his cult film Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), Woody Allen’s self-destructive characters in his classic Manhattan (1979) contrasted with his more recent and stylistic Celebrity (1998), or amusing Midnight in Paris (2011), David Lynch’s identity and gender identity crisis in Lost Highway (1997) and Mulholland Drive (2001), Stanley Kubrick’s study of the aggressive use of dreams and fantasies in Eyes Wide Shut (1999), Lisa Cholodenko's tortured women lovers in High Art (1998), Paul Schrader’s postmodern lovers lost in an uncanny Venice in The Comfort of Strangers (1990), and a few other more contemporary clips.
Excerpts from several other films will also be included.
As usual, precise methods of film analysis – frame and shot composition, shot-by-shot analysis, narrative programs, filmic figures, film genre, deep structure, integration of specific films into the history of cinema, and filmic poetics – will be emphasized during the first weeks of the term. Students will explore the case of the compelling effect of /Relationships/ films. “Veteran” students will be asked for work building upon their previous research.
Course may count for Lit-in-Eng credit.
► LTWL 183 is a LTEN equivalent course