Communication and Culture | Introduction to Media
C190 | 1032-1039 | Staff


In our intensely visual and mediated culture, it has become
increasingly important for viewers to become aware of how the media
work.  This course is designed to teach students visual literacy in
relation to two media which have transformed everyday communication
and culture in the twentieth
century: film and television.
The course begins with an extended examination of the elements of film
and televisual form, principally narrative (structure and narration),
and then continues with an investigation of the essential components
of the art of film (mise-en-scène, cinematographic properties,
editing, sound).  This portion of the course will provide students
with the necessary terminology to analyze films and television
programs.  In the third section of the course we will consider the
overarching concept of style in relation to both those types of
narrative films which have proven especially influential (the
Hollywood classical style and art cinema) as well as those films which
do not necessarily rely upon narrative and/or its conventions
(documentary, avant-garde and early cinema).  In the final portion of
the course, we will extend our analytical approach to incorporate
questions of film¹s reception, its ideological dimensions, and the
ways in which the critical category of genre and new media
technologies effect the viewing experience and analytical practice.
This course covers a broad range of film styles and genres within
different periods (from early cinema to late modernity), modes of
filmmaking (documentary, experimental, animation) and countries (USA,
France, Italy, Russia, Australia).  In addition to exploring the
formal properties of film we will discuss a number of themes relating
to the historical context of film, including the emergence of national
cinema, the varieties of non-narrative film, representations of race
and gender, and the meaning of film in a digital age.  We encourage
the mastery of vocabulary as a first step toward visual literacy. But,
as you learn to recognize the technical and artistic components of
film and television, you will also gain analytical and critical
skills­the ability to study specific films and TV shows closely,
relating their style to their meaning. Thus, this course emphasizes
the attaining of visual and critical skills as essential to becoming
an active viewer in the complicated media mix that defines
contemporary culture.