L295 2077 SPERBER
American Film Culture

3:35p-4:50p MW (30) 3 cr.

OPTIONAL FILM SHOWINGS ON TUESDAY EVENINGS.

In this course we will examine films as cultural documents. We will focus specifically on movies about sports, and consider them in their cinematic and historical contexts (and use a number of readings on American sports history to aid us). We will study how and why these films portray athletes, coaches, and sports situations in certain ways and at certain levels of seriousness, and what these portrayals reveal about American society and culture.

In cinematic terms, sports movies form a distinct sub-genre and we will discuss this frequently and view films representative of all forms of the sub-genre: for example, such classical genre films as The Natural, Field of Dreams, Hoosiers, and Rudy; revisionist sports genre movies like Raging Bull, Eight Men Out, and Cobb; mixed-form genre sports films like Bull Durham, A League of Their Own, and White Men Can't Jump; as well as parodies like Major League and Happy Gilmore. In addition, we will view a number of documentary films on sports, including Hoop Dreams and When We Were Kings. Students can see these films during the optional Tuesday night showings. However, the films in the course are also available on videotape in the Main Library Media Center, in some dorm libraries, and in many video rental stores. Thus students can view them in a library or at home.

Student responsibility in the course includes a number of short papers; also a class presentation on any current or past sports movie of the student's choosing; and a midterm and final exam. Students will have the option of substituting a major project for the final exam. The major projects can consist of: a research paper on any topic connected to the course; OR a creative project, e.g., a film or TV script or a short film or videotape on any topic prompted by the course. You do not have to be an English or Film major to take this class. We will use a textbook that explains cinematic terms, and no student will be handicapped by a lack of background in film.

ONE WARNING: DO NOT TAKE THIS COURSE IF YOU DO NOT LIKE SPORTS.