MISCELLANEOUS COURSE SYLLABI, EXERCISES, AND PAPER TOPICS FROM PROF. CARNEY’S CLASSES. THIS MATERIAL REPRESENTS ONLY A TINY SAMPLE OF THE AVAILABLE COURSE HANDOUTS, BUT IS PROVIDED TO GIVE AN IDEA OF HIS INTERESTS AND APPROACHES TO FILM AND THE OTHER ARTS.

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Spring 2003

COM FT 533 A1

American Independent Film

Mr. Carney

Room B5 8:45–11:00 AM Tues. and Thurs.

Teaching Assistant: Kevin Lavin

TA office hours: To be announced

Mr. Carney’s office hours: Tues. 1–2; Tues. 5-5:45; Thurs. 1–2; Thurs. 5-5:45

Required reading: Exercises and essays handed out in class.

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In the past four decades, American feature filmmaking has undergone an artistic Renaissance. It has seen the birth and flowering of one of the greatest movements in the history of film: the off-Hollywood filmmaking movement.

This course will consider a small number of alternatives to commercial Hollywood “entertainment” moviemaking. The concept of “art film” and the difference between art and entertainment will be explored.

A number of lesser known works will be screened, all made more or less outside the system, many provided personally by the filmmakers for this class. Screenings change from year to year, but this year we will consider the work of the following filmmakers: Tom Noonan, Charles Burnett; Su Friedrich, Bruce Conner, Mark Rappaport, Robert Kramer, Jay Rosenblatt, John Korty, Caveh Zahedi, Todd Haynes, Vincent Gallo, Terry Zwigoff, and Andrew Bujalski.

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CLASS SCHEDULE

Tues. Jan. 14 Acting as a source of meaning Fran Rizzo, Sullivan’s Last Call; Tom Noonan, What Happened Was

Thurs. Jan. 16 John Cassavetes, Love Streams; Tom Noonan, What Happened Was. Writing assignment due.

Mon. Jan. 20 Recommended extra credit screening: John Cassavetes, Shadows, The Coolidge Corner Theater, 7:30 P.M.

Tues. Jan. 21 Tom Noonan, What Happened Was

Thurs. Jan. 23 Tom Noonan, What Happened Was

Tues. Jan. 28 Tom Noonan, The Wife. Writing Assignment due.

Thurs. Jan. 30 Tom Noonan, The Wife

Tues. Feb. 4 The world in a frame–neo–realism Charles Burnett, Killer of Sheep

Thurs. Feb. 6 Charles Burnett, Killer of Sheep

Tues. Feb. 11 Formal structure Charles Burnett, To Sleep with Anger

Thurs. Feb. 13 Charles Burnett, To Sleep with Anger

Tues. Feb. 18 *** No class–substitute Monday schedule ***

Thurs. Feb. 20 Structure and Form Su Friedrich, Sink or Swim

Tues. Feb. 25 Su Friedrich, The Rules of the Road

Thurs. Feb. 27 Bruce Conner, Miscellaneous works:

Ten Second Film, Vivian, White Rose, Looking for Mushrooms, Cosmic Ray, Permian Strata, Mongoloid, A Movie, Take the 5:10 to Dreamland, Valse Triste, Marilyn X5, Report, Breakaway

Tues. Mar. 4 The Boundaries of Fiction Mark Rappaport, The Scenic Route

Thurs. Mar. 6 Mark Rappaport, The Scenic Route

Mar. 10-14 *** Spring Break ***

Tues. Mar. 18 Engaging the World–Moral stances, Robert Kramer, Ice

Thurs. Mar. 20 Robert Kramer, Ice

Tues. Mar. 25 Jay Rosenblatt, Human Remains and Period Piece

Thurs. Mar. 27 Formal Devices John Korty, Crazy Quilt

Tues. Apr. 1 Caveh Zahedi, Little Stiff

Thurs. Apr. 3 Caveh Zahedi, Little Stiff

Tues. Apr. 8 Landscapes of the Mind Todd Haynes, Safe

Thurs. Apr. 10 Todd Haynes, Safe

Optional extra credit screening: I will lead a screening and discussion of Safe at Harvard University at 7:00 P.M.

Tues. Apr. 15 Recent Works Vincent Gallo, Buffalo 66

Thurs. Apr. 17 Vincent Gallo, Buffalo 66

Tues. Apr. 22 Terry Zwigoff, Ghost World

Thurs. Apr. 24 Terry Zwigoff, Ghost World

Tues. Apr. 29 Andrew Bujalski, Funny Ha Ha

Thurs. May 1 Andrew Bujalski, Funny Ha Ha, Conclusions and reflections

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The Rules of the Game:

Attendance is required. Attendance will be taken. (If you are unable to make a class for an exceptional reason, you must speak to the T.A. at least two classes prior to the absence and receive permission, or bring a medical excuse to the following class). Please do not leave messages on my office machine or email me about absences. Each absence that is not officially approved and authorized will result in your final evaluation being lowered one half letter grade.

Promptness at all classes is absolutely mandatory to avoid disrupting screenings.

There will be no mid-term or final exam.

You will have two major outside-of-class duties/responsibilities:

1) You are responsible for writing four formal papers. Topics will be discussed and distributed during the course of the semester. No extensions may be given. This will count for two-thirds of your final grade. (But note the final paragraph.)

2) You are responsible for a large number of outside reading, writing, and viewing exercises which will be assigned during individual classes for completion by the next class. Many of these assignments will be based on material handed out in the previous class. Others will require viewing tapes of major independent masterworks in the viewing area in the basement microfilm area of Mugar Library. Some of these exercises will be collected on the day they are due, others will not. However, all exercises should be retained in a folder  throughout the semester and turned in at the end of the semester. These exercises will count for one-third of your final grade. (But note the final paragraph.)

With regard to these duties: If you miss a class, be certain you have contacted the teaching assistant or another student to familiarize yourself with what has been handed out or assigned for the following class. This will be an important component in your final grade and must be done in time for the appropriate class. There will be no opportunity to make up this work if you do not do it on time and no extensions may be given.

The final evaluation will be based on your attendance, promptness, quality of class participation, responses to assigned exercises and viewing assignments, and papers. Any wit, wisdom, and passion you bring to class will count as “extra credit” to raise your grade. The reverse is also true: Missed classes, tardiness, and lackluster class participation will lower your grade.


COM FT 533 A1

Mr. Carney

Spring 2003

Paper Topic #1–The sounds beneath the sense

Pick A or B or C:

A. In the final packet of What Happened Was screenplay material distributed in class, pick one, two, or three of the long speeches by Michael and/or Jackie and describe the “tonal path” the actor takes through the speech.  Show that you understand the concepts of beats and subtextual meanings.

B. In The Wife, pick any set of speeches by Wallace Shawn (Cosmo) or Arlie (Karen Young), and describe what the character is “saying” underneath his or her lines and how it shifts.

C. Pick a five to eight minute scene in Tom Noonan’s The Wife or What Happened Was, and discuss how the relationships of the characters are dramatized through tones of voice, facial expressions, pauses, and gestures. Be detailed and specific in your observations.

Multiple copies of both tapes are available from the Reserve Desk in Mugar Library.

Length: 3 double-spaced, typed pages

Due at the beginning of class, Tuesday, February 4. No extensions may be granted.


Spring 2003

COM FT 533 A1

AMERICAN INDEPENDENT FILM

MR. CARNEY

Final Paper Topic (choose A or B):

A. Analyze the structure of Su Friedrich’s Sink or Swim. Is there a beginning , middle, and end? Are there distinguishable chapters or acts? How do various episodes relate to each other? How does the voice-over relate to the images? Treat the entire work as if it were a fictional creation? What choices did the director make? What are the consequences of those choices?

B. Break down the beats in either of the scenes from John Cassavetes’ Minnie and Moskowitz for which the screenplay sections were provided (the scenes between Minnie and Florence and Minnie and Zelmo). Which character controls them? Does the control shift? How do the two characters’ tones mesh (or not)? What is the dramatic effect of these choices? What is Cassavetes doing and why?

Length: 3-5 pages, double-spaced.

Due date: Thursday, May 1, by 4PM, in my office. No extensions may be granted.

Videos of both works are available in Beebe Library.

NOTE: Please turn in your complete exercise folders at the same time as your final paper. Put them in order with your name and student number on a separate sheet as the first page.


Spring 2003

COM FT 533 A1

Mr. Carney

Optional Extra Credit Paper

Undergrads: Discuss John Cassavetes’ Shadows (ten copies available in Mugar) without reference to race or racism. Describe the fundamental organizing drama that links the scenes and characters. Center your argument on three or four scenes or interactions.

Length: 3 double-spaced pages

Grad students: Talk about the limitations of an ideological approach to John Cassavetes’ Shadows (ten copies available in Mugar). How does a discussion of the film in terms of race and racism narrow and distort it? How does Cassavetes demonstrate that the film is not centrally about race but about other issues? How can you tell that this is the case? Talk about the limitations of ideological analysis in general and its inapplicability to certain forms of art. If necessary a brief allusion may be made to Charles Burnett’s To Sleep With Anger, but your attention should be on Shadows as much as possible.

Alternative topic for grad. students: Conduct a similar discussion of the limitations of an ideological analysis of Cassavetes’ Faces (not available in Mugar). How does a discussion of the film in terms of the wealth, class, and occupation of the characters narrow and distort it? Talk about the limitations of ideological analysis in general and its inapplicability to certain forms of art.

Length: 5 double-spaced pages

Due in the Film Office by 4 P.M. Tuesday, May 6.


Spring 2003

CAS AM 501 A1 Special Topics in American Studies:

Henry James and the question of style. Or, what happened to simply telling a simple story in a straightforward way?

Mr. Carney

11:00–12:30 Tues. and Thurs.

Mr. Carney’s office hours: Tues. 1–2; Tues. 4:45-5:45; Thurs. 1–2; Thurs. 5-6

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A number of Henry James’s late novels present tremendous problems for the average reader. They are written in extremely difficult, strange, or off-putting ways. Many readers are unable to finish or understand these works. Critics have wildly differing interpretations of them.

We will use a number of James’s late fictions as platforms to ask general questions about why an artist would choose to communicate in a deliberately challenging way. What is the function of a difficult style? Why are certain pieces of modern writing so hard to understand? What does the strangeness of some of these works, their inaccessibility to the casual browser, tell us about them, ourselves, and the artist’s understanding of life?

Readings will include: The Sacred Fount, The Awkward Age, The Ambassadors, The Wings of the Dove, and The Golden Bowl. All were written within a few years of each other.

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CLASS SCHEDULE

Tues. Jan. 14 The Sacred Fount

Thurs. Jan. 16 The Sacred Fount, chapters 1-3

Tues. Jan. 21 The Sacred Fount, chapters 4-8

Thurs. Jan. 23 The Sacred Fount, chapters 9-10

Tues. Jan. 28 The Sacred Fount, chapters 11-14. Paper #1 due.

Thurs. Jan. 30 The Awkward Age, Book 1

Tues. Feb. 4 The Awkward Age, Books 2-4

Thurs. Feb. 6 The Awkward Age, Book 5

Tues. Feb. 11 The Awkward Age, Book 6-9

Thurs. Feb. 13 The Awkward Age, Book 10.

Fri. Feb. 14 Paper #2 due.

Tues. Feb. 18 *** No class – substitute Monday schedule ***

Thurs. Feb. 20 The Ambassadors, Books 1-4

Tues. Feb. 25 The Ambassadors, Books 5-7

Thurs. Feb. 27 The Ambassadors, Book 8

Tues. Mar. 4 The Ambassadors, Books 9-11

Thurs. Mar. 6 The Ambassadors, Book 12.

Fri. Mar. 7 Paper #3 due.

Mar. 10-14 *** Spring Break ***

Tues. Mar. 18 The Wings of the Dove, Vol. 1, Books 1-3

Thurs. Mar. 20 The Wings of the Dove, Vol. 1, Book 4

Tues. Mar. 25 The Wings of the Dove, Vol. 1, Book 5

Thurs. Mar. 27 The Wings of the Dove, Vol. 2, Book 6, sections 1-3

Tues. Apr. 1 The Wings of the Dove, Vol. 2, Book 6, section 4 through the end of Book 7

Thurs. Apr. 3 The Wings of the Dove, Vol. 2, Book 8

Tues. Apr. 8 The Wings of the Dove, Vol. 2, Book 9 through the end of Book 10, section 4

Thurs. Apr. 10 The Wings of the Dove, Vol. 2, Book 10, section 5 through the end of the novel.

Fri. Apr. 11 Paper #4 due.

Tues. Apr. 15 The Golden Bowl, Book 1

Thurs. Apr. 17 The Golden Bowl, Book 2, chapters 1-3

Tues. Apr. 22 The Golden Bowl, Book 2, chapter 4 through Book 3, chapter 9

Thurs. Apr. 24 The Golden Bowl, Book 3, chapters 10-11

Tues. Apr. 29 The Golden Bowl, Book 4, chapters 1-5

Thurs. May 1 The Golden Bowl, Book 4, chapters 6-7

Thurs. May 8 Paper #5 on The Golden Bowl due.

1. Attendance is required.

2. There will be no mid-term or final exam.

3. You will be responsible for completing several informal exercises assigned in one class and brought to the following class. Some will be turned in at that point; all should be retained until the end of the semester and submitted as a requirement for completing the course.

4. Five papers will be assigned. No extensions may be granted.

The final evaluation will be based on your papers, your completion of the informal exercises (which are to be accumulated in a folder and turned in at the end of the semester), and your attendance and quality of your class participation.

Certificate of Achievement

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©Text Copyright 2003 by Ray Carney. All rights reserved. May not be reprinted without written permission of the author.