Freshman Seminar
Film / History / Nation

Comparative Literature 111C
Film and Media Studies 111C
German 191C

Washington University, Fall 2000
Lutz Koepnick

Course DescriptionPapers and AssignmentsGrade BreakdownRequired Texts
Class TimeScreeningsOffice HoursTelephone & Email

Course Schedule | Some Useful Links

Link to Special Assignment and Task Page (Week One - Six)
Link to Special Assignment and Task Page (Week Seven - Nine)
Link to Special Assignment and Task Page (Week Nine - Twelve)
Link to Special Assignment and Task Page (Week Twelve - Fifteen)

Link to Questions for Final Essay / Final Take-Home Exam

Course Description
This freshman seminar addresses cinema’s relation to history, memory, and experience, as well as the role of domestic and international feature films in the formation of local, national, and global identities. Special attention is given to the ways in which films from the USA, Germany, the former Soviet Union, France, and Japan have recalled different national histories and envisioned alternative futures; in which various national cinemas have worked through some of the major ruptures and traumas of twentieth-century history; in which filmmakers have conjured legendary pasts and nowadays use digital technologies to blur the lines between the real and the imagined, between past, present, and future. To focus our discussion, we will read a number of seminal essays on the representation of history and memory, on national identity and the role of modern media.

Papers and Assignments
Class participation, regular attendance, and rigorous attention to the assignments are expected. All papers must be completed and submitted on time to receive credit for the course. Extensions are only granted under exceptional circumstances and after prior consultation with the instructor. Scheduled film screenings should be regarded as required texts.

Students will be asked to submit one film review and one analytical paper (5 pages each). Detailed instructions will be handed out well in advance. Students are required to consult about these papers with the instructor at least once. 

All students in the course will be automatically signed up to a class listserv. Over the course of the semester, you will be required to make at least six email postings to the listserv. Two of these should be reactions to course readings (ca. 500 words), and should be posted to the listserv by midnight on the night before the class session for which the readings are assigned. Two of these should address issues relating to films screenings or our discussions thereof (ca. 500 words). And two postings should be responses to reactions posted by your classmates (ca. 300 words). 

Grade Breakdown
Papers: 30%
Participation: 50%
Email Postings: 20%

Required Texts
The following books are required and can be purchased at the Bookstore:

Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso, 1991.
Bordwell, David, and Kristin Thompson. Film Art: An Introduction. 6th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2001.
Carr, Edward Hallett. What is History? New York: Random House, 1961.
Mitchell, William J. City of Bits: Space, Place, and the Infobahn. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996.
Tompkins, Jane. West of Everything: The Inner Life of Westerns. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.

Additional readings are marked with an “*” and will be available at the reserve desk in Olin Library.

Class Time
Monday/Wednesday: 2:30-4 pm

Screenings 
Thursday: 4 pm
9/7     The Birth of a Nation (dir. D. W. Griffith, USA, 1915)
9/21   Battleship Potemkin (dir. Sergei Eisenstein, Soviet Union, 1925)
10/5   The Blue Light (dir. Leni Riefenstahl, Germany, 1932)
10/12 The Seven Samurai (dir. Akira Kurosawa, Japan, 1954)
10/19 The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (dir. John Ford, USA, 1962)
10/26 Hiroshima Mon Amour (dir. Alain Resnais, France, 1959)
11/2   Schindler’s List (dir. Steven Spielberg, USA, 1993)
11/9   Forrest Gump (dir. Robert Zemeckis, USA, 1994)
11/30 The Matrix (dir. Andy Wachowski / Larry Wachowski, USA, 1999)

Office Hours
Ridgley 328
M 4:00-5:00 & W 4:00-5:00

Telephone & Email
314.935.4350
lkoep@artsci.wustl.edu


Course Schedule

Week 1: Introduction

8/30 
Introduction: Film / History / Nation

Week 2: What is a Nation?

9/4 
Labor Day

9/6 
Text: Anderson, Imagined Communities (p. 1-112)

Week 3: Screening the Nation I

9/11 
Film: The Birth of a Nation
Text: Bordwell/Thompson, Film Art (p. 400-406)

9/13 
Film:  The Birth of a Nation
Text:  Anderson, Imagined Communities (p. 113-206)
Text: Bordwell/Thompson, Film Art  (p. 2-34)

Week 4: Screening the Nation II

9/18 
Film:  The Birth of a Nation
Text:  Bordwell/Thompson, Film Art (p.59-90) 

9/20 
Text: Carr, What is History? (p. 3-35, 70-112)

Week 5: Screening the Nation III

9/25 
Film: Battleship Potemkin
Text: Bordwell/Thompson, Film Art (p. 412-415)

9/27 
Film: Battleship Potemkin
Text: Carr, What is History? (p. 113-176)

Week 6: Screening the Nation IV

10/2 
Film: Battleship Potemkin
Text: Bordwell/Thompson, Film Art (p. 249-288)

10/4 
Text: Berger, Ways of Seeing (1-82) 

Week 7: Nature, Culture, Community I

10/9 
Film: The Blue Light
Text: Bordwell/Thompson, Film Art (p. 406-408)

10/11 
Film: The Blue Light
Text: Berger, Ways of Seeing (83-155)

Week 8: Nature, Culture, Community II

10/16 
Film: The Seven Samurai
Text: Bordwell/Thompson, Film Art (p. 156-189)
Text: *Freda Freiberg, “Japanese Cinema”

10/18 
Film: The Seven Samurai
Text: Bordwell/Thompson, Film Art (p. 193-246)

Week 9: Nature, Culture, Community III

10/23 
Film: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
Text: Tompkins, West of Everything (p. 3-22)

10/25 
Film: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
Text: Tompkins, West of Everything (p. 23-88)

Week 10: Representing Historical Trauma I

10/30 
Film: Hiroshima Mon Amour
Text: Bordwell/Thompson, Film Art (p. 419-422) 

11/1 
Film: Hiroshima Mon Amour
Text: Bordwell/Thompson, Film Art (p. 291-323)

Week 11: Representing Historical Trauma II

11/6 
Film: Schindler’s List
11/8 
Film: Schindler’s List
Text: *Saul Friedlander, “Trauma and Transference”
Text: *James Young, “Between History and Memory” 

Week 12: Representing Historical Trauma III

11/13 
Film: Schindler’s List
Text: *Geoff Eley / Atina Grossmann, “Watching Schindler’s List”
Text: *Gertrud Koch, “‘Against all Odds’ or the Will to Survive”

11/15 
Film: Forrest Gump
Text: *William J. Mitchell, The Reconfigured Eye (p. 1-57)

Week 13: Prosthetic Memories, Digital Futures I 

11/20 
Film: Forrest Gump
Text: *Robert Burgoyne, “Prosthetic Memory/National Memory: Forrest Gump”

11/22  Thanksgiving Break

Week 14: Prosthetic Memories, Digital Futures II 
11/27 
Text: Mitchell, City of Bits (p. 1-105)

11/29 
Film: The Matrix
Text: *Laura Kipnis, “Film and Changing Technologies”

Week 15: Prosthetic Memories, Digital Futures III

12/4 
Film: The Matrix
Text: Mitchell, City of Bits (p. 106-173)

12/6 Final Discussion


Some Useful Links

Internet Movie Database
Film Index International
Screensite: Information Services
Cinema Sites
The Cinema Connection
Movie Cliche List