The film industry has always appreciated the visual and dramatic possibilities of catastrophe, and over the last few decades the apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic sensibility appears everywhere in our mass culture, such that 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 likely include W.S. Van Dyke’s San Francisco, Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List, Roman Polanski’s The Pianist, 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, Jordan Peele’s Get Out, and Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing.
The Class: Type: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: four short papers and in-class presentations
Prerequisites: ENGL 203, or 204, or permission of the instructor
Enrollment Preference: senior majors in English or Comparative Literature; then junior majors in either; then newly declared majors in either
Distributions: Division I;
Attributes: ENGL Literary Histories C