FT 533 A1
B5 8:45–11:00 AM Tues. and Thurs.
Teaching Assistant: Kevin
office hours: To be announced
Carney’s office hours: Tues. 1–2; Tues. 5-5:45; Thurs. 1–2;
Required reading: Exercises
and essays handed out in class.
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.
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
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
23 Tom Noonan, What Happened Was
28 Tom Noonan, The Wife. Writing Assignment due.
30 Tom Noonan, The Wife
4 The world
in a frame–neo–realism Charles
Burnett, Killer of Sheep
6 Charles Burnett, Killer of Sheep
Tues. Feb. 11 Formal structure
Charles Burnett, To Sleep with Anger
13 Charles Burnett, To Sleep with Anger
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,
The Boundaries of Fiction Mark
Rappaport, The Scenic Route
Thurs. Mar. 6 Mark Rappaport,
The Scenic Route
*** Spring Break ***
Tues. Mar. 18 Engaging the
World–Moral stances, Robert
Thurs. Mar. 20 Robert Kramer,
25 Jay Rosenblatt, Human Remains and Period Piece
Thurs. Mar. 27 Formal
Devices John Korty, Crazy Quilt
1 Caveh Zahedi, Little
Thurs. Apr. 3 Caveh Zahedi,
Tues. Apr. 8 Landscapes
of the Mind Todd Haynes, Safe
10 Todd Haynes, Safe
Tues. Apr. 15 Recent Works
Vincent Gallo, Buffalo 66
Thurs. Apr. 17 Vincent Gallo,
Tues. Apr. 22 Terry Zwigoff,
Thurs. Apr. 24 Terry Zwigoff,
Tues. Apr. 29 Andrew Bujalski,
Funny Ha Ha
Thurs. May 1 Andrew Bujalski,
Funny Ha Ha, Conclusions
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
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.)
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.
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
COM FT 533 A1
Paper Topic #1–The
sounds beneath the sense
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
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.
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.
copies of both tapes are available from the Reserve Desk
in Mugar Library.
Length: 3 double-spaced,
at the beginning of class, Tuesday, February 4. No extensions
may be granted.
FT 533 A1
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
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.
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.
COM FT 533 A1
Optional Extra Credit Paper
Undergrads: Discuss John
(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.
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
Length: 5 double-spaced pages
Due in the Film Office by
4 P.M. Tuesday, May 6.
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
office hours: Tues. 1–2; Tues. 4:45-5:45; Thurs. 1–2; Thurs.
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.
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?
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
Tues. Jan. 14 The Sacred
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,
Tues. Feb. 25 The Ambassadors,
Thurs. Feb. 27 The Ambassadors,
Tues. Mar. 4 The Ambassadors,
Thurs. Mar. 6 The Ambassadors,
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
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
#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