TOPICS IN FILM,
VIDEO, AND MOVING-IMAGE CULTURE
M 3-6:30 p.m.
(Screenings) and W 3:45-6:15 p.m. (Discussions), HHH 321
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
PROFESSOR BOB NOWLAN
Office: HHH 425,
Office Hours: M
6:50-7:30 p.m., T 9:50-10:30 p.m., W 6:20-7 p.m.,
MWF 12 noon to 1
p.m., and By Appointment.
English 381, Topics in Film, Video, and Moving-Image
Culture: British Cinema offers an introductory survey of major
highlights in the history of British film production, distribution,
exhibition, and reception. Beyond this, the course focuses more
intensively, and extensively, on inquiring into the art and politics of
representation, within British cinema, vis-a-vis British, English,
Scottish, and Welsh identities, along lines of class, race, ethnicity,
nationality, gender, and sexuality.
The English Department offers the rudiments of a
developing program in the critical study of moving-image culture.
English 190, Introduction to Film, Video, and Moving-Image Culture
provides the initial basis, and then English 381, Topics in Film,
Video, and Moving-Image Culture, builds upon this basis to offer a more
tightly focused inquiry into a shifting array of topics. To date,
we have offered the following sections of English 381: 1.)
“Cinematic Representations of Ireland and the Irish”; 2.)
“Hitchcock, the French New Wave, and Dogme 95"; and 3.) “Film
Noir.” We aim eventually to offer as well 1.) a 400 level seminar
on “Critical Theories of Film, Video, and Moving-Image Culture”;
2.) a 200 level course surveying major trends and issues in the
history of “World Cinema”; and 3.) a year-long capstone project
in which students who have completed English 190, our new 200 level
course, English 381 at least twice (with two different offerings), and
our new 400 level course, may work together on producing a video, from
script to screen, that represents a theoretically-informed, critical
inquiry vis-a-vis the art and politics of a specific aspect or
dimension of contemporary moving-image culture. At the same time,
however, English 381 also serves as a general education course where
students maintaining equivalent background (to that of English 190)
and/or some kind of serious, substantial interest in film, video, and
moving-image culture studies are welcome.
I believe it is important to emphasize right at the
beginning, for all of us, whatever your background entering this
course, that we in the English Department at UWEC teach English 381 as
a course in the critical study
of film and video, and, yet even more specifically than this, as a
course concentrating on the interpretation and evaluation of film and
video in cultural context.
everything that we, as human beings, have created, built, learned, and
conquered in the course of our entire history, in distinction from what
nature itself has given us. Specific
cultures (as well as specific
subcultures) comprise the sum total of the particular
knowledges, capacities, fields of work (and fields of play), customs
and habits, traditions, values and attitudes, social roles and
identities, and shared ways of thinking, feeling, acting, interacting,
and behaving that characterize and, more importantly than merely
characterize, that internally unify and externally differentiate
particular regions, classes, and other social groups.
Film and video constitute principal constituents of
1.) moving-image culture (i.e., culture produced, distributed,
exchanged, and consumed in the form of constellations of
moving-images), 2.) human culture at large, and 3.) myriad specific
national, regional, local, racial, ethnic, class, gender, sexual,
generational, political, religious, artistic, philosophical,
recreational, and avocational cultures (and subcultures).
This course is designed neither to teach you how to
make your own films, nor to provide you with an opportunity simply to
enjoy watching films. We will examine the ways that films provide
pleasure for their audiences. Yet our goal will not be simply to
experience these pleasures ourselves, describe what they feel like, and
then offer merely impressionistic and purely opinionated reactions on
top of these descriptions that recount how far we can or cannot
personally identify with and relate to what the films depict and what
they attempt to make us feel. Instead, our objective will be to seek to
understand how and why films produce these pleasures in the ways that
they do–and also to understand what else always happens, simultaneous
with the provision of pleasure, as a result of the kinds of pleasures
and the ways of providing pleasures films characteristically offer.
We will in fact give considerable attention to the
many other effects–other than providing pleasure–that films can and do
achieve, whether deliberately so or not. In particular, we will
inquire into films as providing us valuable knowledge about the real
historical societies and associated specific cultures out of which
these films emerge and into which they exert their impact-even where
offering this kind of insight does not constitute a conscious aim of
the film makers themselves, and even when we must critique the film's
representations in order to produce this knowledge.
Throughout the history of world cinema, three
principal objectives have driven forward the production, distribution,
exhibition, and reception of film:
1.) the provision of entertainment,
especially as diversion, distraction, and amusement;
2.) artistic expression and
communication–concerned with aesthetic issues such as capturing and
conveying the felt experience of the ordinary and the extraordinary,
the everyday and the unusual, the familiar and the unfamiliar, and,
especially, "the beautiful" and "the sublime"–in both the natural world
and human society; and
3.) social critique–as
contribution to, and instrument of, social change.
Many films, as well as many cinemas, aspire to meet two or three of
these goals, often employing one as means toward the achievement of at
least one of the other two (e.g., artistic expression as a vehicle of
social critique). (“Cinema”
here refers to a particular institutional form governing the
production, distribution, exhibition, and reception of a series of
films, especially a series of films sharing common subjects, styles,
social vantage points, and cultural backgrounds: e.g., “German
Expressionist Cinema,” “Classical Narrative Realist Hollywood Cinema,”
“Italian Neo-Realist Cinema,” “French New Wave Cinema,” “Dogme 95
Cinema,” “1960s American Underground Cinema,” “British Free Cinema,”
and “The New Queer Cinema.”)
It is important that we subject film to critical
study because, over the course of the past 110 years, audio-visual
texts, especially audio-visual texts organized around the moving image,
have come to exert an extremely powerful impact upon the shape and
substance of individuals' lived experience of their relationship to the
conditions of their own existence. This impact is today
prospectively as powerful, if not indeed often considerably more
powerful, than that exerted by traditional print media. In
fact, film, television, video, and "cyberspace" have become principal
sites within our contemporary capitalist societies for the production
and dissemination, as well as the reproduction and reinforcement, of
meanings, values, ideas, ideologies, and social modes of thinking,
understanding, feeling, believing, acting, and interacting, even when
presented to us as "sheer entertainment."
Cinema? Let me begin to answer this question with my “personal reasons.” First, I have long maintained a
significant interest in British culture, including British film, often
screening considerable numbers of British films in other film courses I
have taught. In fact, for a number of years I taught courses in
“Introduction to Film” with a mini-section on “Contemporary British
Cinema,” focusing on British realist, and naturalist, traditions,
especially films concerned with representations of working-class lives,
from working-class vantage points, as well as British films
foregrounding feminist, multinational/multicultural, and glbt/queer
issues. I personally enjoy a wealth of British films, from a
variety of genres, including comedy, horror, suspense, crime, and
fantasy (as well as social realism and naturalism). Second, as one who has
concentrated in the “disciplines” of “English Studies” from high school
onward, and who has always found it of particular interest and value to
approach the study of literary texts in historical, social, and
political context, while at the same time always impatiently pressing
past boundaries dividing “literature” from other kinds of texts and
areas of culture, I have been long well cognizant of a.) how closely
tied, and in fact substantially indebted, American English Studies
continues to be to British English Studies, and b.) the myriad close
yet complicated ties (beyond the academic and intellectual fields of
“English Studies”) that relate the United States and the United
Kingdom. Third, I
derive considerable pleasure, stimulus, and reward from many, many
products of British culture–from music to theatre to art to language to
print journalism and commentary to radio and television, to name just a
few, and I have had a fantastic time when I have been able to travel in
Britain. Fourth, not
only have I developed friendships with a number of British men and
women over the years, but also I have had many British, especially
English, students take my classes at UWEC, and elsewhere, over
the course of my now nearly twenty years’ teaching at the university
level I have learned and otherwise gained a great deal from
these people; I am grateful for the background, experience,
perspective, interest, and enthusiasm they have brought to my life and
to the life of my classes. In fact, I am offering this course
with this particular focus this semester in part due to the
recommendation of a number of my past British film students. And
I am glad that a significant number of British students will join us
this fall; I am sure you will contribute in an indispensably positive
way to its success–as will also I am sure be the case from my U.S.
students (and any students from other countries enrolled as
well). Fifth, teaching
British Cinema provides me with the opportunity to focus in a sustained
way on learning much more than I have yet to date about this topic; I
find teaching a subject one of the best ways to learn about it.
Beyond these personal reasons for teaching English
381 with this focus (“British Cinema”), I find a number of other, ultimately more
important, reasons for doing so as well and, in particular here
in the United States, in 2004. To begin, the duration and extent
of British impact across the world continues
to be enormous, and cinema provides
not only one significant vehicle for the exertion of this impact but
also a crucial means to examine the broad range of this impact.
To take just one key example, today the United States is the world’s
imperial–and imperialist–power, yet Britain, the British empire, and
British imperialism represents the principal antecedent of this power;
the U.S., and Americans, can–and should–learn a great deal of
considerable value from the history of the British empire, and British
imperialism, including its rise and fall, and, especially, from the
history of the re-creation and re-direction of British society and
culture in the aftermath of its loss of global preeminence following
the end of World War II. I am afraid, however, that this
“American learning from Britain” may well not prove to be the case, at
least any time soon, as I perceive current pride in American
imperial(ist) hegemony as far from abating, at the same time as
dangerous tendencies toward fascism and theocracy at home also draw the
United States steadily further away from commonality not only with
Britain but also with many of the rest of its erstwhile European
“allies.” (To be honest, Britain strikes me, at the present time,
on average, as a considerably more “tolerant” and “accepting” place
than much of the United States for someone like myself, an openly gay
as well as committed leftist–and anti-imperialist–American.) At
the same time, although Britain and America often seem extremely
closely linked, and multiply similar (which is certainly in part quite
true), I find, even in today’s age of the so-called “global village,”
that many extraordinary, striking, and indeed powerful social and cultural differences continue
to distinguish Britain from America (and vice-versa). In
short, Americans can learn a great
deal about the United States, and about American history, society,
politics, and culture by comparison and contrast with that of Britain,
while Britishers can learn a great deal about not only the U.S.–its
history, society, politics, and culture–but also about Britain as well
by studying British cultural production in the United States,
taking into account diverse U.S. vantage points on “Cinematic
Representations of Britain, Britishness, and the British.”
Britain has long faced considerable difficulties in
sustaining a vibrant indigenous film production industry, as well a corresponding,
substantial domestic audience for this production. The economic
power of American, especially Hollywood, film has often proven
overwhelming, while, at the same time, many film scholars have often
tended to denigrate the aesthetic quality of British cinema versus that
of continental European–along with Central as well as East
Asian–cinemas. In fact, British criticism of British cinema, both
popular and scholarly, often appears not only highly self-conscious and
self-critical but also excessively defensive and pessimistic. As
I see it, British film culture,
which is hardly identical with British film industry (especially
British commercial film
industry, and, in particular, British film industry harboring ambitions
of competing with Hollywood on its own terrain) demonstrates a
continuous vitality along with, at its best, an artistic innovativeness
as well as a social-political consciousness, and conscience, that puts
Hollywood to shame. British
films focusing on British subjects, from British vantage points, in
British modes and styles, and with British sensibilities often indeed
stand equal in achievement and value, at least as I see it, to that of
the (classic) repertoires of films produced from any other nation.
In fact, it has proven enormously difficult for me to narrow the
selection of films we will screen and discuss together in this course
to twenty-six; I started with well over 200 possibilities, and I could
easily name 100 other titles beyond this list I would like to consider
as well if I had access to these, which I do not, unfortunately,
because they are not as readily available, at least in VHS or DVD
form. So, in sum, British
cinema has not yet always received due credit, even despite a vast
proliferation of critical study devoted to this field over the course
of the past ten years–along with recent upturns and creative
developments taking place in both production and support for production
of especially low(er) budget, and digital video, work in England,
Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. (Even given this turn
toward short film making and digital video production, most Americans
who falsely imagine that little large-scale film production takes place
outside of Hollywood would likely be greatly surprised to learn that
hundreds of feature-length films continue to made each year in Britain,
by British film makers.) I hope that this course will
foster expanded interest in learning and writing about, teaching, and
possibly even making, more British films and videos in the years
ahead. I myself, for instance, look forward to the opportunity
eventually to teach courses focused exclusively on Scottish and Welsh
cinemas in the not too distant future.
Because it is so difficult to narrow down the
selection of films, and related topics, to study in a short course
focused on this large a topic (“British Cinema”), we will
concentrate on films made from approximately World War II to the
present, especially films that help us in explore “Britishness” as a complex, dynamic,
heterogeneous, and indeed often sharply contested phenomenon.
Many critics, historians, and makers of British film today emphasize
that it ultimately makes little sense to imagine “British cinema” as a
singular entity; instead, it makes much more sense to discuss “British
cinemas” and to do so by examining the ways these
reflect, refract, respond to, and engage with multiple different,
distinct (albeit related) lines of British identity. In fact,
given the increasingly international dynamics of film making today,
some major writers on British film propose that we not consider film in
“national” terms any more, but rather conceive of it as a
“post-national” phenomenon, articulated along lines that regularly and
extensively cross national boundaries. While I am myself highly
skeptical of positions that conceive of contemporary “globalization” as
having largely effaced, even erased, the significance of national
boundaries, and divisions, finding this often naively utopian and
dangerously blind to the ways that “the nation,” “nationality,” and
“nationalism” continue to function as major crucibles of power, we will
certainly frequently explore what it
means to conceive of films in relation to these categories–nation,
nationality, and nationalism. We will certainly inquire
carefully into what makes “British
films” “British” and in what ways do these films represent “British
nations,” “British national identities,” along with critical
versus appreciative modes of relating to “the nation” and, in
particular, its major established institutions and centers of
power. We will become familiar with a number of key debates
surrounding this nexus of issues. Yet we will also consider the
(potential) problems and limitations of approaching the films we study
by interpreting and evaluating them in terms of their relation to
questions of national, subnational, counternational, international,
transnational, and postnational identities.
At the same time, however, I do want to stress right
away, from the very beginning of our work together this semester, the
great significance of taking well into account regional difference, and diversity,
when approaching “British Cinema.” For instance, the vast
majority of people living today in Scotland and Wales define themselves
as Scottish or Welsh–and not
simultaneously as also British, while, of course, most often at the
same time they do not take at all kindly to using “British” and
“English” interchangeably. (For those unfamiliar with these
facts, Great Britain includes England, Scotland, and Wales, while the
United Kingdom includes England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern
Ireland.) Devolution, recently establishing the Welsh
National Assembly and the Scottish National Parliament, marks the most
visible, to outsiders, sign of a steadily increasing division of
Britain (once again) into three “nations,” yet, for most people living
in Scotland and Wales, the more fundamental divisions lie “closer to
the ground,” in the different
“cultures of everyday life,” including the different “structures of feeling,”
they find prevalent within England, Scotland, and Wales–as well as in the mythical and ideological uses to which
distinct historical traditions are put in these three nations.
At the same time, England hardly exists as a singular homogenous
identity either: e.g., local cultures distinguish areas of Northern,
Central, and Southwestern England from Greater London to often
substantial degrees, even if we accept the idea, proposed by Daniel
Dorling and Bethan Thomas of the University of Sheffield in their book,
People and Places: a 2001 Census
Atlas of the UK (Bristol: the Policy Press, 2004) that the UK is
heading in the direction of a bifurcation between “The Metropolis” (an
expanded and built-up Greater London, that encompasses all of Southern
England, and extends from Gainsborough in the North to Penzance in the
West) and “The Archipelago” (a series of “provinces” that include
Wales, the West Midlands, all of Northern England, Scotland, and
I hope as we approach this course together that you
will find it to be an enjoyable and enlightening experience. I
myself always learn immensely from my students, while I always at the
same time structure my classes so that my students gain the opportunity
to learn a great deal from each other as well as from me. So far,
it seems to work (at least for most of us). Let’s aim to keep it
up this semester. Cheers.
Students are required
to purchase the following books (available at the UWEC Bookstore in
1. Ashby, Justine and Andrew Higson, eds. British Cinema, Past and Present.
London: Routledge, 2000.
2. Murphy, Robert, ed. The British Cinema Book. 2nd
Edition. London: British Film Institute, 2001.
3. Contemporary British Cinema Supplement. Cineaste. New York:
Cineaste. Vol. XXVI, No. 4, Fall 2001.
4. Street, Sarah. British National Cinema.
London: Routledge, 1997.
5. Mike Storry and Peter Childs. eds. British Cultural Identities.
2nd Edition. London: Routledge, 2002.
I will supply copies of other texts we will use in
this course. Some of these will appear in the form of photocopied
handouts, but most will be available on (and through) our Desire2Learn
(D2L) electronic classroom. In other cases, I will post links and
documents on our Desire2Learn electronic classroom website. I
expect you to take responsibility for finding on-line credits
information for the films we will screen this semester. I have
already recommended a considerable range of websites of relevance to
this course, and I will add to this list as you proceed; please make
use of these recommendations (these are available via our D2L
From time to time students may be required to bring
short texts, especially copies of your own writing, to class, and we
will, as proves useful, discuss in class your writings on D2L.
Finally, I will supply copies of all films we will
screen together this semester ( in all cases, in either DVD or VHS
format, with large-screen projection and high fidelity stereo sound
reproduction). I will also provide students copies of films
for interview conference and final project presentations.
Please note well that over 90% of these will be my own personal copies,
so please respect that fact–and that I have willingly spent a
considerable amount of my own money on these DVDs and VHS tapes so that
we can make this the best course possible. (I even
purchased a number of Region 2/PAL standard videos in Britain–which we
will be able to make use of once the classroom is set-up for this
purpose later this semester.)
*** PLEASE NOTE
WELL: ALL READING ASSIGNMENTS INDICATED IN THE SCHEDULE BELOW ARE DUE
AHEAD OF THE CLASS MEETINGS IN WHICH WE WILL DISCUSS THESE
READINGS. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR BRINGING THE COURSE BOOK OR
BOOKS TO CLASS ON THE DAYS IN WHICH WE WILL BE DISCUSSING READINGS FROM
THIS BOOK OR THESE BOOKS. FAILURE TO DO SO WILL NEGATIVELY AFFECT
YOUR LEARNING AND CONTRIBUTION GRADES; STUDENTS WHO CONSISTENTLY FAIL
TO BRING THEIR BOOKS TO CLASS, OR WHO FAIL TO COME PREPARED TO DISCUSS
THE ASSIGNED READINGS WILL UNDOUBTEDLY SUFFER SIGNIFICANT GRADE LOSS AS
A RESULT. ***
W 9/8: Introduction and Orientation; Screening of Selection from Cinema Europe: The Other Hollywood.
M 9/13: Screening, A Century of
Cinema: Typically British and The
W 9/15: Discussion, A Century of
Cinema: Typically British, The
Lady Vanishes, and Readings.
For Class): British National
Cinema: “Introduction,” 1-3, and “Studios, Directors, and
Genres,” 28-60. The British
Cinema Book: (Sarah Street) “British Cinema and the National
Interest, 1927-1939," 28-34; (Tom Ryall) “A British Studio System: The
Associated British Picture Corporation and the Gaumont-British Picture
Corporation in the 1930s,” 35-41; (Robert Murphy) “Postscript: a Short
History of British Cinema,” 310-317. British Cultural Identities:
“Places and Peoples,” 35-72.
M 9/20: Screening, Henry V
and Select Short Films from Humphrey Jennings.
W 9/22: Discussion, Henry V,
Select Short Films from Humphrey Jennings, and Readings.
(Read For Class): British
National Cinema: “Borderlines I: Modernism and British Cinema,”
147-168. The British Cinema
Book: (Ian Aitken) “The British Documentary Film Movement,”
60-67; (Robert Murphy) “The Heart of Britain,” 71-78. British Cinema, Past and Present:
(James Chapman) “Cinema, Propaganda, and National Identity: British
Film and the Second World War,” 193-206.
M 9/27: Screening, Kinds Hearts and
Coronets and Dead of Night.
W 9/29: Discussion, Kinds Hearts and
Coronets, Dead of Night,
Readings (Read For
Class): British National
Cinema, “Genres from Austerity to Influence,” 61-78. The British Cinema Book: (Tim
Pulleine) “A Song and Dance at the Local: Thoughts on Ealing,” 79-84;
(Vincent Porter) “Methodism versus the Market-place: the Rank
Organization and British Cinema,” 85-92; (Ian Conrich) “Traditions of
the British Horror Film,” 226-232; (Richard Dacre) “Traditions of
British Comedy,” 233-240.
* First Learning and
Contribution Reflection Paper Assigned. *
M 10/4: Screening, Saturday Night,
Sunday Morning and Darling.
W 10/6: Discussion, Saturday
Night, Sunday Morning, Darling,
Readings (Read For
Class): British National
Cinema, “Genres from Austerity to Influence,” 78-91. The British Cinema Book: (Andrew
Spicer) “Male Stars, Masculinity, and British Cinema,” 93-100;
(Christine Geraghty) “Women and 60s British Cinema: The Development of
the ‘Darling’ Girl,” 101-108;
(Peter Hutchings) “Beyond the New Wave: Realism in British Cinema,
1959-1963,” 146-152. British
Cinema, Past and Present: (Moya Luckett) “Travel and Mobility:
Femininity and National Identity in Swinging London Films,”
Cultural Identities: “Education, Work, and Leisure,” 73-110.
M 10/11: Screening, Peeping Tom
W 10/13: Discussion, Peeping Tom,
Blow-Up, and Readings.
Readings (Read For
Class): The British Cinema
Book: (Jeffrey Richards) “British Film Censorship,” 156-161;
(Allen Eyes) “Exhibition and the Cinema-Going Experience,”
164-169. British Cinema, Past
and Present: (Marcia Landy) “The Other Side of Paradise: British
Cinema from an American Perspective,” 63-79; (Pierre Sorlin) “From The Third Man to Shakespeare in Love: Fifty Years of
British Success on Continental Screens”; (Adam Lowenstein)
“‘Under-the-Skin Horrors’: Social Realism and Classlessness in Peeping Tom and the British New
M 10/18: Screening, If . . .
and Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
W 10/20: Discussion, If . . . ,
Monty Python and the Holy Grail,
(Read For Class): British
National Cinema, “Genres in Transition, 1970s-1990s,”
(David Sterritt and Lucille Rhodes) “Monty Python: Lust for Glory,”
18-23. The British Cinema Book:
(Erik Hedling) “Lindsay Anderson and the Development of British Art
Cinema,” 241-247. British
Cultural Identities: “Youth Culture and Style,” 139-173.
* First Learning and
Contribution Reflection Paper Due. *
M 10/25: Screening, Chariots of Fire
W 10/27: Discussion, Chariots of Fire,
Orlando, and Readings.
(Read For Class): British
National Cinema, “The Fiscal Politics of Film,” 4-27, and
“Genres in Transition,” 102-113. The British Cinema Book: (Sheldon
Hall) “The Wrong Sort of Cinema: Refashioning the Heritage Film
Debate,” 191-199; (John Hill) “British Cinema as National Cinema:
Production, Audience and Representation,” 206-213. British Cinema, Past and Present:
(Amy Sargeant) “Style and Authenticity in Historical Fictions on Film
and Television,” 301-315; (Phil Powrie) “On the Threshold Between Past
and Present: ‘Alternative Heritage,” 316-326. Cineaste: (John Hill) “Contemporary
British Cinema (Industry, Policy, Identity),” 30-33. British Cultural Identities:
“Gender, Sex, and the Family,” 111-138.
M 11/1: Screening, The Draughtsman’s
Contract and The Last of
W 11/3: Discussion, The
Draughtsman’s Contract, The
Last of England, and Readings.
Readings (Read For
Class): British National
Cinema, “Border-lines II: Counter-Cinema and Independence,”
169-187. The British Cinema
Book: (Michael O’Pray) “New Romanticism and the British
Avant-Garde in the Early 80s,” 256-262. British Cinema, Past and Present:
(John Orr) “The Art of National Identity: Peter Greenaway and Derek
Jarman,” 327-338. British
Cultural Identities: “Class and Politics,” 175-207.
M 11/8: Screening, Hedd Wynn
and Human Traffic.
W 11/10: Discussion, Hedd Wynn,
Human Traffic, and Readings.
Readings (Read For
Class): The British Cinema
Book: (Martin McLoone) “Internal Decolonisation? British Cinema
in the Celtic Fringe” (184-190). Cineaste: (Stephen Chibnall)
“Britain’s Funk Soul Brothers: Gender, Family and Nation in the New
Brit-Pics,” 38-42; (Martin McLoone) “Challenging Colonial Traditions:
British Cinema in the Celtic Fringe,” 51-54. British Cultural Identities:
“Ethnicity and Language,” 209-238, and “Religion and Heritage,” 239-272.
M 11/15: Screening, My Beautiful
Laundrette and My Name is Joe.
W 11/17: Discussion, My Beautiful
Laundrette, My Name is Joe,
Readings (Read For
Class): British National
Cinema, “Border-lines II: Counter-Cinema and Independence,”
187-196, and “Conclusion,” 197-200. The British Cinema Book: (Alan
Lowell) “The British Cinema: the Known Cinema?,” 200-205; (Geoff Brown)
“Paradise Lost and Found: the Course of British Realism,” 248-255;
(Steve Chibnall) “Travels in Ladland: the British Gangster Film Cycle,
1998-2001," 281-291. British
Cinema, Past and Present: (Julia Hallam) “Film, Class and
National Identity: Re-Imagining Communities in the Age of Devolution,”
261-273, and (Claire Monk) “Underbelly U.K.: the 1990s Underclass Film,
Masculinity and the Ideologies of ‘New’ Britain,” 274-287. Cineaste: (Cary Rajinder Sawhney),
“‘Another Kind of British’: an Exploration of British Asian Films,”
M 11/22: Screening, Blacks
Britannia and Secrets and Lies.
* Second Learning and
Contribution Reflection Paper Assigned. *
M 11/29: Screening, Wonderland
and .Morvern Callar.
W 12/1: Discussion, Blacks Britannia,
Secrets and Lies, Wonderland, Morvern Callar, and Readings.
Readings (Read For
Class): The British Cinema
Book: (Jim Pines) “British Cinema and Black Representation,”
177-183; (Brian McFarlane) “The More Things Change . . . British Cinema
in the 90s,” 274-280; (Robert Murphy) “Citylife: Urban Fairy-Tales in
Late 90s British Cinema,” 292-300. British Cinema, Past and Present:
(Andrew Higson) “The Instability of the National,” 35-47. Cineaste: (Charlotte Brunsdon)
“London Films: From Private Gardens to Utopian Moments,” 43-46; (Duncan
Petrie) “Devolving British Cinema: the New Scottish Cinema and the
European Art Film,” 55-57; (Noel McLaughlin) “Short Sighted: Short
Filmmaking in Britain,” 62-63; “British Cinema Questionnaire,”
64-66. British Cultural
Identities: “Conclusion: Britain Towards the Future,” 273-291.
M 12/6: Screening, Aberdeen
and Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself.
W 12/8: Discussion, Aberdeen
and Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself.
* M 12/13, Second
Learning and Contribution Reflection Paper Due, by 5 p.m. in my English
Department Mailbox, Room HHH 405. *
Conference and Final Project Presentation Dates to be Announced. **
*** THE PRECEDING
SCHEDULE IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE ***
CONDUCT OF CLASS SESSIONS
afternoons we will screen
films, usually two per session.
We will try to take a short (five-minutes long maximum) break in between the
screening of each film (we’ll be tight for time, so please don’t
stretch this beyond five minutes; if you need a break, for whatever
reason, other than at this time right between the two films, feel free
to take it, but try to be quick, and also try not to be too distracting
as you leave–for instance, please try not to block the projection as
you walk past it on your way out). Occasionally screening
sessions will run slightly longer than 6:30, although I’ve really tried
hard to fit two films into three and one-half hours each week, and we
should not run past 7 any night; students are expected to stay through
the end of the screening when this happens (unless you absolutely must
go somewhere else immediately at that time). Screening sessions
will in fact end early enough times to counterbalance the number of
times they end late, and when they end early you will be able to leave
early as well. You may bring cushions, pillows, blankets, fold-up
chairs, and any other kind of material that you might find more
comfortable to sit on during these screenings than the seats already
available in the classroom. You do not need to do this, but you may if
you wish. You may also bring snacks as long as you try not to make a
mess and as long as you clean up after yourself. And you may
invite friends to attend screenings, as long as they respect the fact
that students in the class need to pay close attention to the films,
and will not be able to do so if they are distracted.
afternoons we will discuss
readings from textbooks and other sources as well as the screenings
from the previous Monday afternoon. We will take a five-minute break during this
session. Discussion will proceed according to a variety of
formats. At times I will make relatively short, informal
presentations, but I prefer not to lecture; instead I want to work
directly and closely together with you so that we can together come to
grips with the films, and the issues, this course addresses.
Rather than present lectures in class, as need be I'll prepare and post
lectures, and lecture notes, on Desire2Learn for you to study and
review on your own.
At times students will do some short writing before
or during class to help facilitate discussions, at times students will
work in small groups, at times students may make short presentations to
the whole class, and at times we will refer to writings you have posted
on Desire2Learn. Frequently we will watch clips from films
previously screened, and we will also, from time to time, watch clips
and shorts from additional sources as well as DVD extras on the films
we have screened.
I will maintain ultimate responsibility, authority,
and control for the direction of our class discussions, yet I will do
my best to make sure we hear extensively from everyone else. I recognize
and respect that the students enrolled in this class represent
differences in prior knowledge, experience, training, work, or other
preparation vis-a-vis areas central to our collective focus of inquiry,
and that some are more versus less inclined as well as more versus less
comfortable speaking in class. Yet I expect that these
differences, along with differences in social, cultural, economic,
political, and ideological ascriptions, affiliations, and commitments,
all will be brought to the fore so that each member of the class can
contribute to its success from both where she is at and toward where he
aspires to be.
THE GOALS OF THE
This university is a liberal arts institution;
education in the liberal arts (and sciences) represents the historic
and central commitment of what we do together on this UW campus-not
vocational training and pre-professional development. Our
university administration and faculty support this commitment so
strongly that they have asked that all syllabi elaborate the official
goals of the baccalaureate, as well as identify which ones the course
in question will help you achieve. According to the UWEC
administration, the baccalaureate degree shall work to develop the
following for UWEC students:
1.) an understanding of a liberal education.
2.) an appreciation of the University as a learning community.
3.) an ability to inquire, think, analyze.
4.) an ability to write, read, speak, listen.
5.) an understanding of numerical data.
6.) a historical consciousness.
7.) international and intercultural experience.
8.) an understanding of science and scientific methods.
9.) an appreciation of the arts.
10.) an understanding of values.
11.) an understanding of human behavior and human institutions.
UWEC strives to
help you meet these objectives in the course of the higher
education you pursue here. Please note that in making these our
foremost aims, we at UWEC clearly distinguish ourselves from technical
colleges as well as from all other UW schools, especially places like
Stout, River Falls, and Stevens Point. English 381, British
Cinema aims to help contribute to you meeting goals 1-4, 6, and 9-11.
These goals cannot be met passively by the student:
each requires your striving
toward it to be met. Striving means learning actively, completing
assignments in a thorough and timely fashion, participating in class
discussion, and making connections (above and beyond those emphasized
by us in the classroom) between what we do while meeting in class and
what you do when engaged outside of the classroom.
RESPONSIBILITY, ACADEMIC FREEDOM, AND CURRICULAR INTEGRITY
The English Department aims to provide you with an
intellectually challenging education. This means we will often include
texts and introduce topics in our courses that candidly explore adult
issues, including ones offering representations that may, on occasion,
prove unsettling, disturbing, and even offensive to some of you.
The higher educational academy is not a "safe space"
separate from the rest of the "real world" where you can expect to be
sheltered from encountering anything you might find disagreeable or
objectionable. On the contrary, we expect you to take up the
challenge to confront these kinds of texts and topics in a mature,
responsible way, and that means bringing directly to bear your negative
reactions-including your reactions of shock, dismay, and discontent-in
class discussions and in your writings and presentations for
class. If you find a position or practice represented in a text
or topic included in the assigned readings for class or screenings in
class to be objectionable, it is therefore of crucial importance that
you raise your objections openly and honestly, not simply claim
personal exemption from having to see, hear, or talk, read, and write
about these kinds of matters. After all, disturbing positions and
practices exist extensively outside of the classroom as well as in what
we read, see, hear, and otherwise confront in and for class; what we
confront in class exists in this institutional space as symptomatic of
positions and practices that operate beyond the confines of the
classroom, the course, and the university. If and when you find
any text or topic genuinely appalling, you maintain the ethical
responsibility, as a mature adult and as a responsible citizen, not
simply to try to hide from these positions and practices but rather to
work to critique and change them.
Students should expect therefore that you may well
on occasion encounter representations that you will find troubling, in
this UWEC course and in many others as well; within this Department you
will receive no right of exemption from engaging with these and no
welcome for simply complaining (especially to a higher administrative
authority) about their inclusion. Instead you should bring your
objections forthrightly to bear in your contributions to class
discussion. Finally, to conclude this particular point of
discussion, a professor differs from a high school teacher in many
respects, but one key difference is that we maintain a principal
professional, ethical responsibility forthrightly to represent the most
advanced knowledges in our fields of expertise and to proceed from
there to work toward their further development and dissemination.
In short, we must create, advocate for, and profess these knowledges;
you should expect that your professors may from time to time take
strong and indeed controversial positions on difficult and challenging
issues, eschewing the pretense of disinterested neutrality. To do
anything less than assume this responsibility, and to do so with
alacrity, would be to shirk our professorial responsibility and to
render ourselves unworthy of maintaining our professorial position.
EXPECTATIONS OF STUDENTS
I expect students in this course to strive to become
sincerely interested in learning about the subject matter of this
course, and to be consistently intellectually serious as well as
academically diligent in their pursuit of this learning. I expect
students to bring actively and extensively to bear-in your writing and
your contributions to class discussion-insights you gain through your
engagement with the texts and topics addressed as part of this course,
and I expect you at the same time to relate these texts and topics as
closely and as fully as possible to subjects of genuine interest and
concern in your own lives. Finally, I expect students to let me
as quickly as possible when and if you have any questions or problems
about any aspect of how you are doing in and with the course, so that I
can do everything I possibly can to help answer these questions and
solve these problems.
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE COURSE GRADE
In evaluating all work done for this course, I will
take account of how carefully, seriously, intelligently,
enthusiastically, and imaginatively students engage with the concepts,
issues, positions, and arguments addressed in the course and
represented by the texts we read, the films we screen, by me, and by
required at both screening and discussion sections.
Students are allowed
three unexcused absences, maximum. Other than that, except
for a serious problem or a significant emergency, your grade will
suffer significantly if you miss class. If such problems or
emergencies require you to miss additional classes beyond the three
allowed, you need to supply me with written documentation that explains
why you needed to miss class and/or arrange to talk with me in my
office about what you have been dealing with. No student who misses more than seven
classes total will pass this course.
I also expect students to arrive on time and to stay through the end of class; I
will not count you as present if you do not do so (unless you explain
what serious problem or significant emergency requires you to arrive
late or leave early).
What This is and
Why it is Important
My foremost aim in teaching this course is to help
you learn something of significance and value. I will judge you
to a significant degree on what you learn, how–and how hard–you strive
to learn, and on how–along with how well–you contribute to the learning
for the rest of the class.
You cannot learn or help others learn if you do not
contribute. If you don't contribute to the work of this class not
only will you fail to derive as much gain from it as would be the case
if you did contribute, but also you will deprive everyone else of the
benefit of your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, values, knowledge, and
experience. In fact, to remain passively silent in class exploits
the work of others who actively engage.
Class participation represents an important
opportunity to learn, not just a place in which to demonstrate what you
have learned. By raising questions, testing and trying out ideas,
taking risks and making mistakes, you learn a great deal–and help
others learn a great deal as well. You learn through talking, not
just talk to show what you have learned. Don't ever hesitate to
speak forth in class if you have anything at all to throw into the mix.
At the same time, just talking a great deal does not
necessarily mean that you are making a quality contribution to the
class by aiding the learning that we aim to accomplish. Quality
of participation is much more important than quantity, although a
sufficient quantity is indispensable to insure quality. Still, I
want to emphasize here that I perceive talking for talking's sake,
especially talking which pulls us off on far-fetched tangents, which
remains disconnected from and disengaged with the readings, the
screenings, and the focus of class, or which effectively silences
others, to be negative participation.
Quality class participation does not, moreover,
involve merely asking questions of me and responding to my questions;
quality class participation requires you to work as assiduously as you
can to advance a serious and substantial discussion with your peers as
well as with me about the texts and topics subject to discussion.
Students in this class should, therefore, be prepared to engage with
and respond to each other in class discussion, and I will take
particular note of how well you do so.
I would like you to come to class with strong
opinions on the topics of discussion, to be ready to share your
opinions with the class, and to be open-minded enough to debate your
thoughts and to push them as far as they will go. This last
aspect will at times involve what some may think is overanalyzing
things, or pushing the envelope to the point where meaning may even
seem to break down, but this process is often absolutely necessary to
understand a topic fully.
In evaluating class participation, I find a
modification of a system designed by my colleague, Professor Mary Ellen
Alea, useful: A = Nearly daily response, but always with consistently
useful, insightful comments and questions; B= Daily response, with
regular comments and questions; C = Less frequent, occasional questions
and comments; D= Usually or entirely quiet, or, F=Engaging in behavior
that disrupts the learning processes for you and your fellow students,
such as by talking while others are speaking.
Contribution to the class certainly can extend far
beyond mere speaking in class: it may include a variety of ways in
which you can bring to bear your insights to help yourself as well as
the rest of us gain from the experience of this course. Excellent
writings for and in response to class in papers, conferences,
presentations, and Desire2Learn postings can help make up for
limitations as far as participation in class goes. At the same
time, listening carefully, respectfully, and thoughtfully in class
discussions is an important contribution to class as well.
Contribution Reflection Papers/Learning and Contribution Reflection
and contribution will constitute 40% of the overall course grade.
A significant component of this will involve you writing two learning
and contribution reflection papers. The assignments for these
papers will each
involve two parts.
I will ask you questions that will require you to engage in extended
written form with issues concerning some of the films and readings we
have been studying for the immediately preceding portion of the
semester, as well to demonstrate what you are learning from working
with these texts. These questions will change from the first to
the second paper, and you will most likely have multiple options from
which to choose, with each option involving somewhat different kind of
work on your part.
I will ask you questions that will require you to assess how, and how
well, you have been contributing to your own learning, and that of
others in the class.
As I see it, these papers provide you a useful
opportunity to communicate with me how you believe you are doing with
the course, as well as why so, and to demonstrate your critical
self-reflexivity, the hallmark of a liberal arts education. As
you are assessing your own learning and contribution, you may include
thoughts in reaction to issues raised in class discussion that you did
not have the opportunity or did not feel comfortable enough to share in
class; these additional reflections will help me get a better sense of
what you have been thinking about and how you have been responding to
class discussions, as well as to the readings. I will take into
account what you write in determining your learning and contribution
grade for the preceding semester period; performance on these papers
represents a vital component of your learning and contribution grade.
These papers should be typed, double-space, on
single sides of standard white letter-sized (8" X 11") typewriter,
computer printer, or photographic paper. All pages should be
numbered, and you should place your name at the top of each page.
You may use any standard font you wish, yet you should keep your point
size between 10 and 12 points. Papers must be stapled, and you
are responsible for doing so, not me. You should try as best possible
to follow all rules and conventions of Standard Written English and MLA
format (or any other well-established, conventional format) for
citation and documentation of sources.
I recommend an
approximate average target range of 2000 words (roughly eight
double-space, typed pages) for each learning and contribution
learning and contribution grade (including each learning and
contribution reflection paper) will be worth 20% of the overall course
grade. Late papers will
lose 1/3 of a letter grade for each day they are turned in after the
deadline, unless you arrange with me ahead of time for an
extension due to some kind of serious problem that prevents you from
completing your paper on time.
Postings (Reflections, Comments, Critiques)
I am creating a Desire2Learn electronic classroom
website for this class. Beyond me posting material here for you
to retrieve, I am also asking you periodically to post short
reflections, comments, and critiques on this site that engage with
readings and screenings in dialogue and debate with your fellow
Here's how this assignment will work. After
each Wednesday discussion class meeting you will have the opportunity
to post a reflection, comment, and/or critique on issues directly
related to the films and readings discussed in class that
Wednesday. Then, once your fellow students have posted their
thoughts, you will have the opportunity to post in response–especially
arguing with and/or against, and critiquing what they have written (you
may also respond to yourself).
In writing these reflections, comments, and/or
critiques I suggest an approximate
target average of 500 to 1000 words. These are
“semi-formal,” which means you should try to write as clearly and
cogently as possible, but I will not be a stickler for minute kinds of
fine points of style in evaluating what you write.
need not post on Desire2Learn every week; I expect a minimum of
three initial posts and a minimum of nine response posts during each
half of the semester, for a minimum total of six initial posts
and eighteen response posts.
You may respond for up to eighteen days after class
meets for assignments 1-5, up to eleven days for assignment 6, up to
four days for assignment 7, up to eighteen days for assignments 8-12,
up to eleven days for assignment 13, and up to four days for assignment
14. Aim to keep up with this task on a regular basis so
that you are not cramming responses in at the last moment, and so that
what you post does contribute to (your own and fellow students’)
significant learning, reflection, discussion, and debate–the more your
posts do so, the better your grade will turn out to be.
Please do feel free to argue with and critique each other (focusing, of
course, on positions represented by and practices supported by your
peers, not on denigrating persons).
I expect the opportunity to engage in this kind of
supplementary, informal dialogue will help you in your learning and
contribution, as well as make the course more interesting and
meaningful for you. It will also give you the chance to test out
and receive potentially helpful feedback on ideas you might want later
to pursue in class discussions, in papers, with your interview
conference assignment, and as part of the final project. In
addition, this will give you a chance to share ideas that you thought
of after class discussion, or that you needed more time to think out
and formulate effectively in your own mind before sharing these, and
Desire2Learn postings should help students who are shy about speaking
forth extensively in class discussion. I know everyone in class
has much of value to offer, including those who do not feel as readily
inclined or as comfortable to voice this in class discussion as some
The Desire2Learn postings will be graded twice, once
half-way through the semester and once at the end of the
semester. Here, my evaluation will be quite succinct, focused,
and holistic. The grade for your
Desire2Learn postings will contribute the following percentages of the
overall course grade: 12.5% for the first half of the semester, and
12.5% for the second half of the semester.
Approximately one-third of the way through the
semester, I will ask you to meet in conference outside of class with me
to engage in an extended, serious, critical discussion of one British film we have not yet
previously screened together this semester. I
estimate we will talk together for approximately
one hour. You will work on this assignment in a group of three to four students
from our class.
I will give you a copy of the film sufficiently
ahead of time so you can screen it, review it carefully, and prepare to
offer an incisive reading of it in our conference. I will
also give you specific questions ahead of time that I want you to come
to the conference prepared to address.
assignment will be worth 15% of the overall course grade.
I will give you individual grades
for this assignment (although they may well turn out all the same), and
I will give you all copies of a written form after the conference
providing each of you an opportunity
individually to evaluate (in confidence) each other member’s
contribution to the group’s work–as well as to evaluate yourself.
I will take into account these evaluations in determining your
Final Group Project
Once again, you will work together with fellow
students from our class on this project. Groups may consist of four to six students. I will
give each group three British films
we have not screened together as part of the course. Your
task will be to prepare a presentation that uses these films as a point of departure, reference, and
return in order to helps illuminate,
as well as stimulate thinking and discussion, in relation to
a.) a significant issue in
British cinema studies, as well as b.) a significant issue in British history,
society, politics, and/or culture. You yourselves, in your
groups and in consultation with me, will determine, based upon what the
films you are working with suggest, precisely what these specific
issues will be. At the end of the semester you will present what
you have come up with as part of a public
class conference; you will have approximately 45 minutes time to
present, followed by 45 minutes time to engage in–and lead–discussion.
These projects may
involve incorporation of original creative work, depending upon
the interests and talents of the members of your group. For
instance, you may create and present a.) your own short video (or
film); b.) an exhibition of visual or plastic art; c.) a music,
theatre, dance, and/or spoken word performance; and d.) other kind of
collages or montages from multiple, mixed media. You certainly
should incorporate use of clips from the three films into your
presentation, including into the creative portions I have just
described as possible forms this presentation may take. You do
not need to create and present any of this kind of material, however,
if you do not wish to do so, as long as you can find a way successfully
to illuminate and stimulate (as I described in the preceding
paragraph). In other words, you can present the results of
research and critical analysis to us, together with the screening of
illustrative clips, along the lines of what you would commonly find at
a professional academic conference (and you may prepare the same kind
of poster or array of posters that many academic conferences often
include at “poster sessions”).
I will make more specific suggestions to you for
this project with the assignment, and this assignment will describe the
goals, parameters, and criteria for evaluation in greater detail than I
do here. Also, we will,
each group and I, meet in a conference sufficiently ahead of
the time of the presentation so I can
help assist you in your planning and preparation. I do
recommend, however, that you right away start paying attention to ideas
addressed in the readings and screenings for the course that
particularly interest you, so that you may well be able to pursue these
further with your final group project. I will give you some
choice over what films you will use to launch and anchor this project,
but this will be limited to titles of which I myself, the English
Department, and McIntyre Library own copies, as well as what else we
might be able readily to find at local libraries and video stores.
Just to give you some initial idea of what might be
areas in which you focus with this project, consider production,
distribution, and exhibition as each separate areas, and imagine you
might inquire into a specific issue in one of these areas, and think
about the prospect of looking into a particular issue involving the
representation, reception, influence, impact, or engagement these (and
other, related British) films provide versus one specific aspect of
British, English, Scottish, or Welsh identities–such as one specific
question of class, race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, or sexuality.
assignment will be worth 20% of the overall course grade.
Once again, I will give you individual grades (although they may well
turn out all the same), and once again I will give you all copies of a
written form after your presentation providing each of you an opportunity individually to evaluate (in
confidence) each other member’s contribution to the group’s work–as
well as to evaluate yourself. I will, as with the earlier
interview conference, take into account these evaluations in
determining your individual grades.
Finally, each student is required to attend and participate
actively in discussion for one other
group’s project presentation besides your own. In
addition, you will receive 2.5% extra credit for
each additional group project presentation you attend and
engage with in discussion beyond the one required of you.
I will work together with you to organize a class
field trip related to the focus of this course. I want to make
this a fun occasion that expands beyond what we do in class as well as
enhances it. Students
who help organize the field trip will receive 5% extra credit for so
doing. Students who participate in the field trip will also receive 5%
additional extra credit. I will pay for a significant
percentage of the cost of the field trip, i.e., transportation (within
reason). I welcome suggestions, although I can tell you right
away that most likely whatever we do will involve us traveling on a
Saturday to the Twin Cities. I hope to plan this fairly early in
the semester, and then do it sometime in, say, mid to late
October. Friends are welcome to join us. If you can’t make the field trip, but
would like the opportunity for extra credit, I will find something else
that you can do.
I encourage you to meet with me in conference during
office hours or at another mutually convenient time to discuss any
issue of interest or concern that you develop as a student in this
course and as a member of this class. I recognize the value of
learning that takes place in conferences; I know this can at times be
equally as important, and in fact occasionally even more important,
than what takes place in class. It also provide you an
opportunity to contribute beyond what you say in class and write for
class. So please do not hesitate to meet with me at any time you
think this might be helpful to you. I want to help you in your
understanding of issues addressed in readings, screenings, and
discussions, as well as in your writing and participation. And
you may certainly also feel free to contact me by e-mail or by (my
campus office) phone as well.
student who has a disability and is in need of classroom
accommodations, please contact the instructor and the Services for
Students with Disabilities Office.
PHILOSOPHY OF TEACHING
I strive to be as accountable to my students as
possible. I believe it is crucial that students become aware of the
ideas and the values which shape and direct their education, and I
believe students should expect that all of their teachers will be
prepared to explain why they teach as they do. Please, therefore,
take the time, as early as you can this semester, to read through and
think carefully about my "Statement of Teaching Philosophy" that I have
posted on my UWEC faculty website:
This statement explains WHY I teach as I do. I think it is
extremely important that you know and understand where your teachers
are coming from in teaching you as they do. You will find me one
who trusts you sufficiently always to be frank about this with you.
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