Communication and Culture | New Media (Cinema in the Digital Era)
C337 | 30924 | Klinger, B

CMCL-C 337: New Media
(Topic: Cinema in the Digital Era)
Class Number: 30924

TuTh, 2:30 PM-3:45 PM, SE 105
Required Film Screening: Tu, 7:15 PM-10:15 PM, SY 002

Instructor: Barbara Klinger
Office: C2 225
Phone: 855-1796

This course focuses on debates about the impact that digital
technologies have had on central aspects of Hollywood and
independent cinemas. Rather than analyze how digital effects are
achieved, we will explore how the ‘digital revolution’ has
influenced concepts of the visual image, developments in film
narrative and performance, and the relationship between audiences
and movies. We will also consider the effects the digital era has
had on filmmaking, marketing, and exhibition. Films studied will
include the works of Hollywood directors, as well as alternative
filmmakers associated with Dogme 95, New Punk Cinema, and DIY (do-it-
yourself), ‘low-tech’ movements that have been substantially
influenced by the arrival of new technologies and media for the

We will begin by examining the digital film image’s relation
to ‘truth’ and to the photographic image upon which cinema has long
been based. We will then pursue a series of often raised questions
about film narrative today: whether special effects in action and
science-fiction blockbusters have altered classic Hollywood
storytelling priorities; if there has been a rise in more complex
storytelling, as evidenced, for example, in ‘puzzle’ films like
Inception; and what implications transmediation or the ‘spreading’
of film characters and narratives across multiple media such as
video games, TV, and toys, have for thinking about contemporary
media circulation and consumption. Digital capabilities have also
deeply affected performance. Does the creation of more life-like
characters (such as Gollum in The Lord of the Rings) or the dramatic
altering of a star’s appearance change the way we think about acting
and celebrity? While films and filmmaking have been influenced by
the digital turn, this development has also transfigured film
marketing and exhibition. We will explore, then, the Internet’s use
for selling and showing films and constructing fan bases, along with
changes in motion picture exhibition that include the rise of
digital theaters and the increase in home and mobile viewing outlets
for films.

These and other issues raised will help to address what cinema means
today and what we might expect of the medium in the future, as it
continues to be shaped by new technologies. Rather than asking
whether the arrival of digital media signals the end of cinema, we
will examine the relationship between film and technological change
looking for both continuities and ruptures with the past.

The course will include weekly screenings of films that have been
significantly involved in the digital revolution. Readings will be
drawn from the work of film and media scholars who likewise have
been central to debates about the relationship between cinema and
digital media. In terms of assignments, there will be three exams,
including the final, a class presentation, and a short paper.