This course surveys the work of arguably the most studied, admired, parodied, and debated filmmaker of the twentieth century, Alfred Hitchcock. Perhaps no figure has been more central to how we think about cinema as an aesthetic, philosophical, and commercial medium. Intellectually unassuming in interviews and publicity, insistent on his image as a popular entertainer, Hitchcock has nonetheless served as a key inspiration, test case, or object of critique for nearly every major movement in film studies of the past half century and more. Widely regarded as among the most significant documents of midcentury America’s sexual, political, and existential anxieties, his films remain inexhaustibly rich in their exploration of guilt, innocence, and complicity; of the subjective nature of perception and the fragility of what we accept as “normal”; and of the voyeuristic and sadistic dimension underlying much of modern life. We will view works spanning the range of Hitchcock’s British and American career, including The Lodger, Shadow of a Doubt, Rear Window, Vertigo, and Psycho. We’ll also sample the critical tradition to consider how Hitchcock has been seen through such various lenses as auteur theory, psychoanalysis, feminism, semiotics, and historical and reception studies.
The Class: Type: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: two shorter essays (4-5 pp.); final paper (~10 pp.); class participation
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 Preference: graduating seniors
Distributions: Division I;