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John Zaixin Zhang

 
 
 

日志

 
 

Western Culture and Film  

2015-06-07 00:05:05|  分类: +西方文化与电影 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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Western Culture and Film  (Updated, July 21, 2015)                                            

Zhang Zaixin

 

Course Objectives

This seminar aims to help students to better understand Western culture and enhance their critical thinking skills by interpreting films from different critical perspectives. The students are expected to watch twelve Hollywood movies (with Chinese or English subtitles) before coming to class for discussions. These movies concern such issues as parent and child, fear of intimacy, man and woman, commodity and ideology, racial conflict, truth and deconstruction, power/knowledge, desire, reality and representation. The critical theories we are going to focus on are psychoanalysis, feminism, Marxism, postcolonialism, deconstruction, new historicism and cultural criticism, queer theory, postmodernism, etc.

 

Textbook

Tyson, Lois. Critical Theory Today: A User-friendly Guide. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 2006.

 

Films for Discussion

Tadpole (2000), Elegy (2008), The Ugly Truth (2009), Down with Love (2003), The Million Pound Note (1954), The Pursuit of Happyness (2006), Ghosts of Mississippi (1996), Doubt (2008), Chicago (2002)Gigli  (2003), The Truman Show (1998), and Simone (2002).

 

Optional Texts

Boggs, Joseph M. and Dennis W. Petrie. The Art of Watching Films, 7th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2008). Beijing: World Book, Inc., 2012.

Bressler, Charles E. Literary Criticism: An Introduction to Theory and Practice. Beijing: Higher Education Press, 2004.

Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge, 1990. (Excerpts)

Eagleton, Terry. Literary Theory: An Introduction. Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, 2004.

Easthope, Antony. “Postmodernism and Critical and Cultural Theory.” Ed. Stuart Sim. The Routledge Companion to Postmodernism. London: Routledge, 2001. 15-27.

Freud, Sigmund. The Interpretation of Dreams. Trans. A. A. Brill. Intro. Stephen Wilson. Ware, Hertfordshire: Wordsworth, 1997.(Excerpts at http://bfsutheory.blog.163.com).

---. Sigmund Freud on Sexuality. Angela Richards, ed. London: Penguin, 1991. (Excerpts at http://bfsutheory.blog.163.com).

Frith, Gill. “Women, Writing and Language: Making the Silences Speak.” Introducing Women’s Studies: Feminist Theory and Practice, 2nd ed. Ed. Victoria Robinson and Diane Richardson. Houndmills: MacMillan, 1997. 98-124.

Laz, Cheryl. “Act Your Age.” Sociological Forum 13.1 (1998): 85-113.

Selden, Raman, Peter Widdowson, and Peter Brooker. A Reader’s Guide to Contemporary Literary Theory. Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and ResearchPress, 2004.

Spelman, Elizabeth V. “Woman as Body: Ancient and Contemporary Views.” Feminist Studies 8. 1 (1982): 109-131.

Zhang, John Zaixin. Deconstruction and Poststructuralist Cultural Criticism: Lois Tyson’s Misreading. 22 May, 2014. http://bfsutheory.blog.163.com/.

 

Requirements and Grades

1. Fifteen-minute presentation on an interpretation of an assigned movie (pair work), 15%.

           2. Active participation in discussion, 15%.

3. Term paper on a Hollywood movie of your own choice (around 3,000 words, with 

a literature review and one of the theoretical approaches you have learned from this seminar), 60%.

4. Five-minute presentation on the term paper, 10%

 

Tentative Schedule

Week 1   Introduction

Reading: Boggs and Petrie, Chapter 12, “Analysis of the Whole Film” (The film as a political or gender statement or as an insight into the mind).

Week 2   Parent and Child

Presentation 1: Tadpole – the Oedipus complex

Tyson, Chapter 2,   “Psychoanalysis.”

Week 3   Fear of Intimacy

Presentation 2: Elegy – age as performance

Reading: Laz, “Act Your Age.”

Weeks 4-5   Man and Woman

(Week 4) Presentation 3: The Ugly Truth – woman as body (man as mind).

(Week 5) Presentation 4: Down with Love – women and writing

Reading: Frith on women, writing and language; Spelman on body; Tyson, Chapter 4,  “Feminism.”

Weeks 6-7   Commodity and Ideology

(Week 6) Presentation 5: The Million Pound Note – capital as commodity

(Week 7) Presentation 6: The Pursuit of Happyness – the American dream as ideology

Reading: Tyson, Chapter 3 “Marxist Criticism.”

Week 8   Racial Conflict

       Presentation 7: Ghosts of Mississippi – racism

Reading: Tyson, Chapter 12, “Postcolonial Criticism.”

Weeks 9-10   Truth and Deconstruction

       (Week 10) Presentation 8: Doubt – “transcendental signified” challenged

       Tyson, Chapter 8, “Deconstructive Criticism”; Zhang on Tyson (blog).

Week 11   Power/Knowledge

Presentation 9: Chicago - power/knowledge

Reading: Tyson, Chapter 9, “New Historicism and Cultural Criticism.”

Week 12   Desire

Presentation 10: Gigli – sex/gender as performance

Butler, 10-23, 141-3, 178-80; Tyson, Chapter 10, “Lesbian, Gay, and Queer Criticism.”

Week 13   Reality and Representation

Presentation 11: The Truman Show – hyperreality

Presentation 12: Simonesimulacrum

Reading: Bressler, Chapter 5, “Modernity and Postmodernism”; Easthope on postmodernism; Selden, Chapter 8, “Postmodernist Theories.”

Week 14 Conference on term paper topics

Weeks 15-16   Presentations on term papers

Week 17   Term paper due

 

Optional Films

Abjection/maternity: The Backup Plan (2010)

Act your age/gender: Hard Candy (2005), Mamma, Mia! (2008)

American Dream as ideology: The Great Gatsby (1974, 2013), Wall Street (1987)

Art and reality: Deconstructing Harry (1997), Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)

Colonizer and colonized: Anna and the King (1999), Man to Man (2005)

(Dis)ability: How to Train Your Dragon (2010), I Am Sam (2001), Rain Man (1988)

Gender roles: The First Wives Club (1996), Heartbreakers (2001)

Homophobia: Notes on a Scandal (2006)

Hyperreality/cyborg: The Stepford Wives (2004)

Oedipus complex: Hallam Foe (2007)

Power and space: The Apartment (1960)

Power/knowledge: Changeling (2008)

Sibling rivalry: 27 Dresses (2008)

Woman as commodity: Indecent Proposal (1993)

 

Useful Sources

www.jstor.org: Cinema Journal, Film History, Film Quarterly

 

Academic Honesty

       To plagiarize is to use someone else’s work (words, ideas, etc, published or unpublished) as if it was one’s own. Any act of plagiarism in the assignments for this class will be reported to the dean.

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