AMST 376
Silent Film Fall 2014
Division II
Cross-listed AMST 376 / COMP 376 / ENGL 376
This is not the current course catalog

Class Details

For many contemporary filmgoers, the silent era represents a cinematic Dark Ages in which the lack of sound and spectacular special effects makes its films seem quaint or primitive. Yet silent cinema represents an era of unparalleled transformation in which structures of narrative and the language of visual representation were virtually re-invented to meet the needs and the potentialities of a new medium, and the very relationship between art and entertainment was re-defined, producing hundreds of films that are the aesthetic equal of any contemporary work. The absence of synchronous sound allowed silent cinema a visual freedom that fostered forms of artistic experimentation unattainable in sound cinema, leading some aestheticians to proclaim the artistic superiority of silent cinema. In this course we will survey classic narrative films by such directors as D. W. Griffith, Erich von Stroheim, and Abel Gance; stars of silent cinema such as Greta Garbo, Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, and Rudolph Valentino; the flowering of American silent comedy in the work of Chaplin and Keaton; the creation of exciting new modes of political art by Eisenstein, Pudovkin, Vertov, and other directors of Soviet montage cinema; expressionist, surrealist, and other avant-garde work by such filmmakers as Murnau, Dulac, Man Ray, Buñuel, and Dreyer; and brilliant silent films by major directors better known for their sound films, such Ernst Lubitsch, Yasujiro Ozu, and Alfred Hitchcock. Films will be regularly accompanied by readings in aesthetic and film theory.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 20
Expected: 18
Class#: 1649
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: regular class participation, two 5- to 7-page papers, and a final examination
Prerequisites: a 100-level ENGL course, or a score of 5 on the AP English Literature exam, or a score of 6 or 7 on the Higher Level IB English exam.
Enrollment Preferences: ENGL and COMP Majors
Unit Notes: satisfies either English Literary History C OR English Criticism requirement
Distributions: Division II
Notes: meets Division 1 requirement if registration is under ENGL or COMP; meets Division 2 requirement if registration is under AMST
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
AMST 376 Division II COMP 376 Division I ENGL 376 Division I
Attributes: ENGL Criticism Courses
ENGL Literary Histories C

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