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 2006:

CAS AM 502 A1
American Studies Special Topic: The Short Fiction of Henry James
Tues./Thurs. 12:30-2:00

A study of the post-1895 short stories, novellas, and other short fiction of Henry James. Titles to be read include: The Sacred Fount, The Turn of the Screw, In the Cage, The Papers, and a selection of James's short stories. James was one of the greatest "stylists" in all of literature. One of the central questions we will explore is the function of style in altering the reader's consciousness and creating alternative realities, and the challenges stylistically inflected works present to ideological or sociological understandings of the functions of art.

COM FT 554 F1
Film Studies Special Topic: In the Workshop of the Artist: John Cassavetes
Tues./Thurs. 9-11:30 AM

A study of Cassavetes' creative process, based on alternate versions of his films, screenplays, and unproduced projects (plays, scripts, and fiction). Using Cassavetes' work as a case study, we will attempt to grapple with a few of the ultimate questions: Where does art come from? How is great art created? What is the connection of the art with the artist's life? What can art tell us about our own lives?

Texts to be consulted (in whole or in part): The Husbands novel, the stage play versions of Faces and Woman Under the Influence, the two versions of Shadows, Faces, and The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, and various produced and unproduced play and film scripts, including: Son, She's Delovely, East-West Game, Woman of Mystery, and others.

COM FT 554 E1
Film Studies Special Topic: Two Indie Masters--Jon Jost and Robert Altman
Tues. 2-4, Thurs. 2-5

We will focus on one "high-budget" and one "low budget" indie master. Both Robert Altman and Jon Jost have created enormous bodies of interesting work over the course of the past forty years. The one filmmaker has generally had budgets in the millions; the other has made films for one-tenth or one-hundredth of that amount. What can their work show us about the expressive possibilities of outsider art?

Works to be considered will include:
Bell Diamond
Last Chants for a Slow Dance
Rembrandt Laughing
Sure Fire
Nashville
Three Women
Short Cuts

and selected works of fiction by Raymond Carver

CAS AM 502A1
Special Topics In American Studies

A survey of twentieth- and twenty-first century short story writing. We will read a selection from the most interesting American short story writers of the last hundred years. Authors to be read include: Eudora Welty, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Vladimir Nabokov, John Cheever, John Updike, Raymond Carver, Joyce Carol Oates, and several others.

AM 501: Special Topics
Word, Image, Sound, and Movement

An interdisciplinary overview of a number of American art works in different forms and media -- ranging from fiction, poetry, film, drama, ballet, and painting to modern dance, jazz, and stand-up comedy. Some questions to be asked: What do different arts do to us? What is the difference between the expressive resources of dance and drama? Of fiction and film? What happens when a novel or short story is made into a movie? What can a play do that makes it different from a poem? Why are some arts abstract and others representational? Do different art forms and media have anything in common?


Spring 2005

COM FT 533 A1 (undergraduates)

COM FT FT723A1 (grad students)

American Independent Film

Mr. Carney

Room B5

9:00㪣:30 AM Tues. and Thurs.

Mr. Carney’s office hours (College of Communication Room 223C):

Tues. and Thurs. 12:00㪤:30 P.M.

Tues. and Thurs. 5ס:45 P.M.

and by arrangement

Tel: 353�

Teaching Assistant: Matt Portner

His office hours in College of Communication Room 223C (Mr. Carney’s office) will be announced.

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Required reading

Bryan Garner, A Dictionary of Modern American Usage, Oxford University Press (available in the bookstore)

Essays and readings 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.” We will consider the work of the following filmmakers: Tom Noonan, Charles Burnett, Caveh Zahedi, Barbara Loden, Andrew Bujalski, John Korty, Bruce Conner, Mark Rappaport, Jay Rosenblatt, Su Friedrich, Todd Haynes, Sean Penn, Vincent Gallo, and Harmony Korine.

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CLASS SCHEDULE

Tues.

Jan. 18

An actor’s cinema

Fran Rizzo, Sullivan’s Last Call

Tom Noonan, What Happened Was

Thurs.

Jan. 20

Tom Noonan, What Happened Was. Writing and performance assignment due.

Tues.

Jan. 25

Tom Noonan, What Happened Was

Acting as a source of meaning: Love Streams and Mikey and Nicky

Thurs.

Jan. 27

Tom Noonan, What Happened Was

Tues.

Feb. 1

Tom Noonan, The Wife

Acting as a source of meaning: Vampire’s Kiss and Twister

Writing Assignment due.

Thurs.

Feb. 3

Tom Noonan, The Wife

Writing assignment due.

Thurs/

Fri

TBA

Possible visit by Tom Noonan.

Tues.

Feb. 8

Putting the world in a frame

Neo–realist influences:

Charles Burnett, Killer of Sheep

Thurs.

Feb. 10

Charles Burnett, Killer of Sheep

Required outside viewing of Sean Penn’s Indian Runner

Tues.

Feb. 15

Bressonian influences:

Caveh Zahedi, A Little Stiff

Thurs.

Feb. 17

Caveh Zahedi, A Little Stiff

Writing assignment due.

Tues.

Feb. 22

*** No class—substitute Monday schedule ***

Thurs.

Feb. 24

The use of time and space

Barbara Loden, Wanda

Tues.

Mar. 1

Barbara Loden, Wanda

Thurs.

Mar. 3

Visual effects I:

John Korty, Crazy Quilt

Mar. 5-13

*** Spring Break ***

Tues.

Mar. 15

Visual effects II:

Todd Haynes, Safe

Thurs.

Mar. 17

Todd Haynes, Safe

Exercise due.

Tues.

Mar. 22

Bruce Conner, 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

Thurs.

Mar. 24

Mark Rappaport, Local Color

Required outside viewing of Casual Relations

Tues.

Mar. 29

Mark Rappaport, Local Color / The Scenic Route

Required outside viewing of Chain Letters

Thurs.

Mar. 31

Mark Rappaport, The Scenic Route

Writing assignment due.

Tues.

Apr. 5

Mark Rappaport, Rock Hudson’s Home Movies or From the Journals of Jean Seberg

Required outside viewing of Imposters

Thurs.

Apr. 7

Su Friedrich, Sink or Swim

Tues.

Apr. 12

Su Friedrich, The Rules of the Road

Thurs.

Apr. 14

Engaging the World: moral stances

Jay Rosenblatt, Human Remains and Period Piece

Tues.

Apr. 19

Jay Rosenblatt, Restricted, Short of Breath, King of the Jews, A Pregnant Moment, Friend Good, I Used to be a Filmmaker, Underground Zero, and others

Thurs.

Apr. 21

Harmony Korine, Gummo

Tues.

Apr. 26

Harmony Korine, Julian Donkey Boy

Thurs.

Apr. 28

The work of Harmony Korine and questions of an “art cinema”

Writing assignment due.

Mon.

May 2

View Andrew Bujalski’s Funny Ha Ha outside of class

Tues.

May 3

Making it: Issues of fund–raising, production, advertising, promotion, and distribution

Andrew Bujalski visits the class

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 one class prior to the absence and receive permission.) 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.

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 a number of formal papers. Topics will be discussed and distributed during the course of the semester, based on subjects that come up in class discussions (or subjects that we do not have time to deal with adequately in class). No extensions may be given. This will count for two-thirds of your final grade. (But note the final paragraph.) The marking of the papers will be based on and keyed to the symbols used in Bryan Garner’s A Dictionary of Modern American Usage.

2) You are responsible for a 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 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.


Spring 2005

COM FT 533 American Independent Film

Mr. Carney

Supplementary viewing assignments:

(Videos available in Mugar Library)

Thurs. Feb. 10  Burnett Killer of Sheep

Tues. Feb. 15 Burnett To Sleep with Anger

Supplementary reading assignments:

Thurs. Feb. 10 Garner: 3, 26, 47, 62, 73, 80, 91

Tues. Feb. 15  Garner: 67, 70, 87


COM FT 533 A1/B1

COM FT FT723A1

American Independent Film

Mr. Carney

Spring 2005

“The mystery of life is not the invisible but the visible.”

Paper topic #1 - The sounds beneath the sense

Pick a five to eight minute scene in Tom Noonan’s The Wife or What Happened Was that was not already discussed in class at any length, and discuss how the relationships of the characters are dramatized through tones of voice, facial expressions, pauses, gestures, movements, etc.. Be detailed and specific in your observations.

Don’t try to “read minds” (do psychology). Read bodies, faces, voices.

Multiple copies of both tapes are available from the Reserve Desk in Mugar Library. Remotes and headphones are down in the viewing area.

Length: 3 double-spaced, typed pages

Due at the beginning of class, Tuesday, February 8. No extensions may be granted.

For Film Studies Grad Students only:

Write one extra page (viz. a 4-page paper) in which you discuss the difference between “an actor’s cinema” and “a director’s cinema.” This may be done as a separate page at the end of your paper, or may be integrated into the rest of your argument, adding an extra page to its length.


COM FT 533 A1 (undergraduates)

COM FT FT723A1 (grad. students)

American Independent Film

Mr. Carney

Spring 2005

Paper Topic:

Focus on the way Todd Haynes organizes the visual and acoustic experience in Safe. Discuss the narrative organization and structure of the film as they are enacted visually and acoustically. Avoid summarizing the plot or listing events as much as possible. Avoid wool-gathering psychological generalizations as much as possible.

You are required specifically to discuss as many of the following as possible:

·        the function of the film’s set design (Carol’s house and other interior spaces)

·        the function of the film’s sound design

·        the function of the characters’ costumes

·        the way we get to know Carol as a character (the order in which specific scenes occur and what they make us see and feel at any given moment)

·        the difference in the film’s depictions of the narrative roles of men and women

·        the use of indoor and outdoor settings

·        the difference between the first half of the film (Carol at home) and the second (Carol at Wrenwood).

In the course of your argument, you should discuss how several specific scenes present some of the film’s central artistic concerns and issues:

·        the baby shower scene

·        the introductory meeting on Carol’s first day at Wrenwood

·        the final scene of the film

·        any other scenes which you find meaningful and important

Length: 3-5 pages, double-spaced (undergrads); 5-7 pages (film studies grad students)

Due: Tuesday March 29 at the start of class.


Spring 2005

COM FT 533 A1 (undergraduates)

COM FT FT723A1 (grad. students)

American Independent Film

Mr. Carney

Paper Topic

“Narrative film is really only a tiny rivulet in the vast stream of artistic expression.”

Su Friedrich’s Sink or Swim consists of a series of apparently disjointed episodes and images. They do not tell a seamless story like a Hollywood feature. Yet they are not randomly chosen or casually assembled. Each of the sections relates to, connects with, or comments on other sections. They progress with a very definite structure. This is the formal organization of the film.

Your task is to describe how Sink or Swim is formally organized. Without merely repeating the “plot,” talk in detail about how Su Friedrich controls what we know, when we know it, how we know it, and what it means in the course of the film.

Some issues to consider (but do not limit yourself to these questions):

·        How do the film’s three components (the images, the voice-over narrations, and the alphabetic headings) comment on and relate to each other?

·        What follows what? What precedes what? Are individual sections compared, contrasted, or juxtaposed with the sections that  precede or follow them?

·        Is there a progression of meaning, tone, or attitude? I.e. do earlier episodes have a different feel from ones in the middle or near the end of the film?

·        Do certain references (in the sound or images) repeat in the course of the film? What is the effect of the repetitions? Is there a progression?

Due at the start of class: Tuesday, April 12

Length: three pages double-spaced and typed


Spring 2005

COM FT 533 A1 (undergraduates)

COM FT FT723A1 (grad students)

American Independent Film

Mr. Carney

Paper Topic

The sense of an ending

Write a well-organized consideration of the ending of Vincent Gallo’s Buffalo 66. Focus on the section of the film that begins in the motel room and goes on to the end. Talk about the decision-process that went into the choices Gallo made, the function of the ending, and your view of its satisfactoriness.

Due at the start of class: Tuesday, April 26

Length: thee pages double-spaced and typed

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© Text Copyright 2006 by Ray Carney. All rights reserved. May not be reprinted without written permission of the author.