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FS101: Introduction to Film Studies (Spring 2015, CRN: 61930)

Class: F 1:20pm-5:25pm, BC Forum

Dr. Drew Ayers

Office Hours: By Appointment


Moodle will reflect updates to the course, changes in the syllabus, assignments, etc. Be sure to
check it regularly. The course syllabus provides a general plan for the course; deviations may be
Course Description
This course will provide an introduction to one of the most powerful cultural and artistic
mediums of our time: Cinema. Topics include film aesthetics (mise-en-scne, cinematography,
editing, and sound), history, technology, narrative, authorship, and genre. This course also
explores the ways in which film form functions to convey meanings, tell stories, and perpetuate
social and cultural ideologies. The class lectures, discussions, and readings will be supplemented
by the screening of representative films.
Student Learning Outcomes
By the end of the course, students will be able to:
Analyze a film or films in relation to style and narrative using film terminology.
Differentiate significant film periods, movements, and genres.
Apply stylistic film analyses to historical and genre research.
Required Texts
1) Barsam, Richard, and Dave Monahan. Looking at Movies: An Introduction to Film. 4th
ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2013.
2) Readings on Moodle
3) Course films
Screenings will be held during class time as indicated in the daily schedule. Students are
expected to attend all screenings, and absences from/tardiness to the screenings will count
against the participation grade. If a student cannot attend a screening, s/he must conduct the
screening on his/her own time. Some materials are available through the library, and most
materials are available through online rental and streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon,
and iTunes. During the screenings, you may not use your phones, tablets, or laptops. Once
the screening starts, please do not leave the room unless it is an emergency.
My approach to this class integrates lecture, discussion, student presentations, and various
exercises and activities in order to explore the principles discussed in the readings and lectures
you cant participate if youre not there. Group discussion of course material will comprise a
large portion of our in-class activity. It is essential that students have carefully read the assigned

material prior to class in order to fulfill their responsibilities as a member of our learning
community. Further, students are expected to participate actively in class discussion.
Participation comprises 10% of the final grade, and the participation grade will be based on both
the frequency and quality of a students participation. Participation does not mean simply
showing up to class. Everyone is expected to participate actively in class discussions, and
tardiness to class will negatively affect your participation grade.
A Note About Laptops and Technology
As a media scholar, I acknowledge the ubiquity and utility of (new) media technologies. Laptops
and other communication technologies can serve as useful educational and professional tools,
provided they are used effectively and responsibly. However, research has shown that a)
technologies frequently become distractions rather than learning aids; b) technologies are
distracting for your classmates as well; and c) multitasking has a negative effect on your ability
to focus (even though you might think youre a pro at multitasking). I leave it to you to decide
how best to utilize your technology, but I have consistently found that students who are
distracted during class tend to earn lower grades than those who engage with the lectures and
discussions. Also keep in mind that if youre tweeting and posting on Instagram, youre not
participating, and your participation grade will suffer. So as not to distract your classmates, I
request that heavy technology users choose to sit near the back of the class.
Think of your time in the classroom as an opportunity to unplug and devote complete focus to a
subject. If youre going to text and Snapchat the entire class, consider staying home. I also
expect laptops to be closed during class screenings. If you want to take notes, please do so in an
analog fashion, with paper and pencil.
Late Assignment Policy
If an assignment is turned in late, one full letter grade will be deducted for each day the
assignment is late. If a student is unable to submit the assignment on the day it is due, s/he must
contact me prior to the class and make alternative arrangements. Assignments must be uploaded
to Moodle by class time on the day they are due (1:20pm). Assignments uploaded after 1:20pm
will automatically be marked as late. When assignments are due, expect the unexpected. Assume
that one (or perhaps all) of the following will happen on exam dates and assignment due dates:
Your internet connection suddenly stops working
Moodle crashes or experiences some other kind of technical difficulty
Your computer crashes and all your data is lost
Your car will not run, busses will skip your stop, and all of your friends will be out of
Please take whatever steps are necessary to prevent these events from affecting the timely
submission of assignments and exams.
Additional Sources of Academic Support
SBCC offers a range of support services for students. Among the resources available are:
Writing Center ( advice and tutoring
in composition
Student Services ( a variety of services,
including tutoring, career counseling, and support groups

Policy for Make-Up Exams

Unless we have discussed rescheduling an exam before the exam date, exams may only be madeup in instances of extreme hardship. I will require documentation verifying the hardship, and the
option to complete a make-up exam is at my discretion.
Special Accommodations
SBCC students with verified disabilities who are requesting academic accommodations should
use the following procedure:
Step 1: Obtain documentation of your disability from a licensed professional. You may
use the Disability Verification Form found at
Step 2: Make an appointment to meet with a DSPS Specialist to review your
documentation and discuss reasonable accommodations. To schedule a meeting, please
call DSPS at (805) 730-4164.
Step 3: Bring your disability documentation to your DSPS appointment. The DSPS office
is located in room 160 of the Student Services building.
Step 4: Each semester, reach written accommodation agreement with the DSPS Specialist
and your instructor.
Please complete this process in a timely manner to allow adequate time to provide
There are five primary assignments for the semester. We will talk about each in more detail as
the due dates approach.
1) Weekly Discussion Board Postings: Each week students will post a 350-400 word
response to the readings, discussion, and film from that week. The discussion boards can
be found on the course website on Moodle. The posts should relate a shot, scene, or
element from the film (or clips) screened in class to one of the issues discussed in the
readings or in class. Each post should build on class discussion rather than simply
repeating what was already said, and you should avoid simply stating your personal
opinion about how much you liked or disliked the film. The posts for each week are due
before the start of the next weeks class. So, for example, your post from week one will
be due before the start of the week two class. These posts will be graded on letter grade
system, but in most cases I will not include specific comments or feedback. However, if
your posts are complete and you include an analysis of all required course screenings,
you will likely receive an A or B.
2) Film Analysis Proposal: The proposal consists of four elements: 1) a title; 2) a thesis
statement; 3) a paragraph summary of the argument; 4) an outline of the major sections of
the paper.
3) Film Analysis Essay: In week 5, I will distribute a list of possible films for your essay.
Choose one film from this list and provide a formal analysis of the film using the terms,
concepts, and techniques discussed in class and in the readings. Possible topics of
analysis may include one or more of the following: Mise-en-Scne, Cinematography,
Editing, Sound, Narrative, Genre, Acting, and Technology. The goal of this essay is to
provide an in-depth aesthetic analysis that links the form of the film to its content, so be

as precise and detailed as possible in your description and analysis of the film. The paper
must be 7-8 pages in length.
4) Midterm Exam: The midterm exam will cover information from the class lectures,
discussions, screenings, and readings from weeks 1-7. The midterm will be a Scantron
exam, and it will consist of multiple choice and short answer questions.
5) Final Exam: The final exam will cover information from the class lectures, discussions,
screenings, and readings. The final will cover material primarily from weeks 9-16,
though some questions will require you to synthesize information or ideas from the
course as a whole. The final will be a Scantron exam, and it will consist of multiple
choice and short answer questions.
All materials must be submitted to Moodle by the beginning of the class for which they are due
(1:20pm), and papers should be typed in 12-point Times New Roman, 1-inch margins on all
sides, and double-spaced. Each page should also include your last name and the page number in
the upper right-hand corner. The upper left-hand corner of the first page should include your
name, my name, the course name, and the date of submission. Use Chicago or MLA format for
your citations and works cited page.
Weekly Discussion Board Postings:
Film Analysis Proposal:
Film Analysis Essay:
Midterm Exam:
Final Exam:
Grading Breakdown
94-100% B






Below 60%

Grading Criteria
A indicates truly outstanding work that shows a command of concepts and theories,
presenting them in a well-argued and logically structured manner. The work doesnt
merely address the questions through a repetition of course material and lectures. It
provides fresh, creative, and original perspectives with a unique voice, offering
connections between the topic and broader issues and contexts. Superior research skills
are demonstrated with relevant citations and quotations advancing the argument. The
work is error-free in spelling and grammatical errors. A work significantly surpasses
the expectations of the assignment.
B indicates above-average work that clearly achieves the goals of the assignment. The
work provides smart and solid analyses that I would expect any diligent student to be able
to produce. These assignments take on the questions directly, citing specific materials
from the texts and lectures to illustrate the points being made. These assignments often
offer previously discussed examples illustrating points covered in class. There are usually

few typos or spelling errors (if any), sentences are relatively clear, and thoughts are
organized into a concise argument.
C indicates meeting the course requirements in an adequate fashion. The work
addresses the questions but doesnt explicitly cite specific texts and discussion. This work
tends to recycle examples from discussion without discussing how they fit with the
analysis and repeats information given in class. There are usually typos, spelling errors,
and poorly structured sentences that render the argument vague or unpersuasive.
D indicates work that is off-topic, poorly written, disorganized, and instead of the
course materials, relies on personal experience alone or materials from other classes. In
other words, the assignment shows no evidence that the student was paying attention in
class and does not incorporate materials used in the readings or in class discussion. Often
these assignments seem more like summaries or reviews rather than analyses. These
assignments may also fall short or far exceed the page limits or time constraints for the
assignment. They do not use appropriate grammar and often are not proofread.
F indicates work that dramatically fails to meet course goals and course expectations.
It is incoherent, plagiarized, and/or never turned in.
Regarding Scholastic Dishonesty: I take this matter very seriously and will report any suspected
cases of academic dishonesty to the Dean of Educational Programs and Student Support
Services. For details on the Universitys policy on Academic Integrity, please consult the
Offices website at
df. The policy prohibits cheating, fabrication, fraud, misrepresentation, lying, plagiarism,
multiple submissions, and facilitating academic dishonesty. The process by which the university
handles academic misconduct cases is also very specifically spelled out in the policy. Violation
of the policy may result in failing the class as well as disciplinary sanctions. The internet makes
it easy to plagiarize, but also easy to track down plagiarismIf you can google it, I can google
it. Bottom line: Dont plagiarizeits not worth it. Cite all your sources, put all direct quotations
in quotation marks, and clearly note when you are paraphrasing other authors work.

Daily Schedule
Week 1: 1/23


Looking at Movies; Why Study Film?

Smith, Its Just a Movie
Barsam and Monahan, Chapter 1
Hugo (Scorsese, 2011, 127 min.)

Week 2: 1/30


Principles of Film Form

Barsam and Monahan, Chapter 2
Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941, 119 min.)

Week 3: 2/6


Writing a Film Essay; Film History

Barsam and Monahan, Chapter 10
Zoller Seitz, Please, Critics, Write about the Filmmaking
Early film shorts
The Kid (Chaplin, 1921, 68 min.)
Sherlock Jr. (Keaton, 1924, 45 min.)


Week 4: 2/13


Week 5: 2/20


Film History, ctd.

Distribute Film Analysis Essay Topics
Sunrise (Murnau, 1927, 95 min.)

Week 6: 2/27


Barsam and Monahan, Chapter 5
Do the Right Thing (Lee, 1989, 120 min.)

Week 7: 3/6


Week 8: 3/13


Week 9: 3/20


Week 10: 3/27

Assignment: Film analysis essay due

Week 11: 4/3


Barsam and Monahan, Chapter 6
Grand Budapest Hotel (Anderson, 2014, 99 min.) OR
Passion of Joan of Arc (Dreyer, 1928, 82 min.)
Assignment: Film analysis proposal due

Barsam and Monahan, Chapter 8
Requiem for a Dream (Aronofsky, 2000, 101 min.) OR
Man with a Movie Camera (Vertov, 1929, 68 min.)

Week 12: 4/10


Barsam and Monahan, Chapter 9
The Conversation (Coppola, 1974, 113 min.)

Week 13: 4/17


Elements of Narrative
Barsam and Monahan, Chapter 4
Stagecoach (Ford, 1939, 96 min.)

Week 14: 4/24


Types of Movies
Barsam and Monahan, Chapter 3
Star Wars (Lucas, 1977, 121 min.)

Week 15: 5/1


Barsam and Monahan, Chapter 7
The Shining (Kubrick, 1980, 144 min.)

Week 16: 5/8


Filmmaking Technologies and Production Systems

Barsam and Monahan, Chapter 11
Side by Side (Kenneally, 2012, 98 min.)

Final Exam:

Friday, May 15, 2:00pm-4:00pm