ENGL 386 Fall 2014 Catastrophe/Apocalypse: The Movie

The film industry has always appreciated the visual and dramatic possibilities of catastrophe, and lately the apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic sensibility seems to be everywhere in our mass culture. In fact, being plugged into the zeitgeist might necessarily entail a familiarity with the emerging tropes and assumptions of this subgenre. This course will consider the ways in which such films model for us those moments when our expectations and/or actions collide with the devastating and unforeseeable realities of our physical world and political situation. How do we measure loss when loss occurs at the upper end of the human scale? How do we consider collectively, in either secular or metaphysical terms, the issue of our own complicity in -- if not responsibility for-- disaster? Films to be studied will include W.S. Van Dyke's San Francisco, Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List, Roman Polanski's The Pianist, Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove, George Romero's Night of the Living Dead, Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, Edgar Wright's Shaun of the Dead, Michael Heneke's Time of the Wolf, Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later, Alfonso Cuaron's Children of Men, Bruce McDonald's Pontypool, Yoshiro Nakamura's Fish Story, and Joshua Oppenheimer's The Act of Killing.
Class Format: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: four short papers and in-class presentations
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Prerequisites: ENGL 204 or permission of the instructor
Enrollment Preference: junior and senior English majors
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Divisional Attributes: Division I
Other Attributes: ENGL Literary Histories C
Enrollment Limit: 20
Expected Enrollment: 20
Class Number: 1653
ENGL 386 - 01 (F) SEM Catastrophe/Apocalypse Division 1: Languages and the Arts James R. Shepard
MR 2:35 PM-3:50 PM Hollander 040 1653
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