FMA 461                                                                                  Instructor: Dr. Chris Cagle

Film History and Theory                                                         Office: Annenberg 132

Fall 2006                                                                                  Phone: 14812

Tuesdays, 5:10-9:00                                                                Office Hours: Tues. 10-noon, or by appt


This course surveys the body of critical cinema studies scholarship in order to give an introduction to the positions, issues, and concerns of film theory and film history. It comprises three parts. The first will examine central concepts in film theory, particularly what has come to be known as 70s film theory: concepts such as realism, spectatorship, narrative space, and textual contradiction. The second will follow more recent trends in film theory which have been taken up by mediamakers themselves. Examining themes of time, the body and the archive, we will juxtapose the critical scholarship with the experimental, documentary and even narrative work that thematizes them. The third section surveys the history of cinema, with an eye to how film historians approach the cinema. Each week will offer a different case study that both ties to larger historical narrative of the development of cinema and also offers a chance to look at film scholarship in its historical specificity.


Kristin Thompson and David Bordwell, Film History

Mary Ann Doane, Emergence of Cinematic Time

Donald Crafton, The Talkies: American Cinema's Transition to Sound

Leo Braudy and Marshall Cohen, Film Theory and Criticism, fifth or sixth edition (suggested)

Philip Rosen, Change Mummified (suggested)

Additional readings by electronic reserve



In addition to in-class screenings, students will be asked to watch the following on their own time, according to their own schedule, by the dates listed:


9/12     Klute (Alan Pakula, 1971, 114m)

9/26     any Douglas Sirk film – All That Heaven Allows (Sirk, 1955, 89m) is a good starting place

10/10   any Italian neorealist film

10/31   Forrest Gump (Robert Zemeckis, 1994, 142m), if one has not seen before

11/7     Fall of the House of Usher (Jean Epstein, 1928, 63m)

11/28   …And God Created Woman (Roger Vadim, 1956, 92m)



The syllabus and relevant class material will be posted on BLACKBOARD. Students should check the course blackboard posting on a weekly basis for course updates and changes.


The main project and assignment of the seminar will be a substantial body of writing. Students have the choice of A) one 20-page seminar paper due at the end of semester, with an annotated bibliography due earlier; or B) two 10-page shorter papers, one due at semester-end, one due earlier, each with a shorter bibliography. The paper or papers will comprise the majority (70%) of the final grade. Details on topics and due dates will be forthcoming as the semester progresses.


Discussion is the mainstay of the seminar. Up to two absences are allowed; however, I urge full attendance and regular participation. The remainder (30%) of the final grade will come from class participation and weekly response papers on one of each week’s readings (marked with asterisks below – subject to change). I will allow for two missed response papers; otherwise papers should be sent electronically to the instructor by Monday noon. The first week’s can be brought in hard copy to the September 5 class.



It is Temple University’s policy to provide reasonable accommodations to students with disabilities under the American Disabilities Act (ADA). At the beginning of each semester, any student with a disability should inform the course instructor if instructional accommodations or academic adjustments will be needed. For more information about the ADA and academic accommodations or adjustments, contact the Office of Disability Resources and Services (215-204-1280 or






1. The Emergence of Classical Narrative

Thomas Edison shorts (W.K.L. Dickson, Billy Bitzer, or Edwin S. Porter cameraman/director, US)

1894-1985: Edison kinetoscopic record of a sneeze, January 7, 1894

Annie Oakley

Imperial Japanese dance

Fire rescue scene

Dickson experimental sound film

Annabelle serpentine dance

The execution of Mary, Queen of Scots

1896-1897: The John C. Rice-May Irwin kiss

Fatima, muscle dancer

Mess call

Inventor Edison sketched by world artist

Watermelon eating contest

The lone fisherman

Interrupted lovers

Feeding the doves

A morning bath

Mounted police charge

McKinley parade

1901-1902: What happened on Twenty-Third Street, New York City (1 min., 30 sec.) –

Trapeze disrobing act (2 min.)

The burning of Durland's Riding Academy (3 min., 30 sec.)

1903:   Electrocuting an elephant (1 min., 30 sec.)

The life of an American fireman (7 min.)

The gay shoe clerk (1 min.)

What happened in the tunnel (1 min.)

The great train robbery (12 min.)

1904-1905: How a French nobleman got a wife through the New York Herald personal columns (9 min.)

Coney Island at night (4 min.)

1907:   The "Teddy" bears (14 min.)

The Country Doctor (D.W. Griffith, 1909, 14m)

The Lonedale Operator (D.W. Griffith, 1911, 17m)


Thompson/Bordwell, FH, ch.1-2

NoĎl Burch, “Primitivism and the Avant-Garde” *


2. Narrative Time/Cinematic Time: the Montage/Mise-en-Scene Debate

Machorka-Muff (Jean-Marie Straub, 1962, 18m)

Gertrud (Carl-Theodor Dreyer, 1964, 120m)


Eisenstein, from Film Form (FTC)

Eisenstein, "Dickens, Griffith, and Ourselves" (FTC)

Andre Bazin, from What is Cinema? (FTC)



3. The Realist Text

Death by Hanging (Nagisa Oshima, 1968, 114m)


Colin McCabe, "Realism in the Cinema: Some Brechtian Theses"

Christine Gledhill, "Klute: an Investigation" *

Christian Metz, "Story/Discourse, Two Kinds of Voyeurism"

Roland Barthes, from S/Z



4. Subject Position, Narration, and Spectatorship

Gilda (Charles Vidor, 1945, 110m)

Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren, 1943, 18m)


Nick Browne, "Spectator-in-the-Text: Rhetoric of Stagecoach" (FTC)

Pascal Bonitzer, "Film and the Labyrinth"

Laura Mulvey, "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema" (FTC)

Stephen Heath, "Narrative Space" *

Jacques Lacan, “The Mirror Stage…”



5. Melodrama, Contradiction

Musketeers of Pig Alley (D.W. Griffith, 1912, 17m)

Far From Heaven (Todd Haynes, 2002, 107m)


Paul Willemen, "Towards an Analysis of the Sirkian System", "Distanciation and Douglas Sirk"

Cahiers du Cinema, "Cinema/ Ideology/Criticism" (FTC)

Cinema Journal debate on Stella Dallas

Berthold Brecht, from Brecht on Theater

Rick Altman, "Dickens, Griffith and Film Theory Today" *




6. Corporeality and The Star Body

Pumping Iron II (George Butler, 1985, excerpt)

Seconds (John Frankenheimer, 1966, 100m)

Superstar (Todd Haynes, 1987, 43m)


Judith Butler, Bodies That Matter

Chris Holmlund, "Visible Difference and Flex Appeal" *

Richard Meyer, "Rock Hudson's Body"

Richard Dyer, "Marilyn Monroe" from Heavenly Bodies



7. Body Genres

Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh (Sergio Martino, 1971, 94m)

Screening TBD


Linda Williams, "Body Genres" *

Rick Altman, from Film/Genre

Carol Glover, “Her Body, Himself”

Readings TBD



8. Time and Modernity

Menilmontant (Dimitri Kirsanoff, 1926, 38m)

Smiling Madame Beudet (Germaine Dulac, 1922, 53m)

Man with a Movie Camera (Dziga Vertov, 1929, excerpt)


Mary Ann Doane, The Emergence of Cinematic Time, selections TBD *

Alan Sekula, "The Body and the Archive"



9. Archive: Document/Documentary

screening TBD


Andre Gaudreault, "The Cinematograph" *

Philip Rosen, "Document and Documentary"

Pascal Bonitzer, "Silences of the Voice"

Hayden White, “The Value of Narrativity in the Representation of Reality”



10. Postmodernity and the Media Archive

A Movie (Bruce Conner, 1963-1967, 16mm, 13m)

Tribulation 99 (Craig Baldwin, 1991, 48m)

Point of Order (Emile de Antonio, 1964, 93m)


Fredric Jameson, "Postmodernism and Consumer Society" *

Jean Baudrillard, from Simulations

Michael Zryd, "Found Footage Film as Discursive Metahistory: Craig Baldwin's Tribulation 99"

Thomas Waugh, "Beyond Verite: Emile de Antonio and the New Documentary of the Seventies"



11. Emergence of National Cinemas: The Case of France

Troubles of a Grass Widower (Max Linder, 1908, 10m )

Judex (Louis Feuillade, 1912, episode, 30m)

Quai des Brumes (Marcel Carne, 1938, 91m)


Thompson/Bordwell, FH, ch. 3- 6, 13

Ernst Renan, "What is a Nation"

Benedict Anderson, from Imagined Communities

Andrew Higson, "The Concept of National Cinema" *



12. Industrial History: The Case of Sound's Arrival

The Jazz Singer (Alan Crosland, 1927, 88m)


Douglas Gomery, “Writing the History of the American Film Industry”

Thompson/Bordwell, FH, ch. 7, 9

Donald Crafton, The Talkies, selections TBD *



13. Economic Organization: Hollywood from Classicism to the New Hollywood

Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947, 97m)


Thompson/Bordwell, FH, ch. 10, 15, 22, 27

Paul Kerr, "Out of What Past?"

Michael Conant, from Antitrust in the Motion Picture Industry



14. Art Cinema as Institution

Il Posto (Ermanno Olmi, 1961, 90m)


Steve Neale, "Art Cinema as Institution"

Thompson/Bordwell, FH, ch. 16 - 20

Mark Betz, "Name Below the (Sub)title" *

Thomas Guback, from The International Film Industry: Western Europe and America since 1945



15. Postcoloniality and Globalism

Ceddo (Ousmane Sembene, 1977, 120m)


Manthia Diawara, "Popular Culture and Oral Traditions in African Film"

Philip Rosen, "Toward a Radical Historicity: Making a Nation in Sembene's Ceddo" *

Thompson/Bordwell, FH, ch. 23, 26, 28

Robert Stam and Louise Spence, "Colonialism, Racism and Representation" (FTC)

Homi Bhabha, "The Other Question"