Hum 3/Lit 520:
Film Principles/Film Appreciation
Textbooks and References
Course Description and Overview
Hum 3/Lit 520 (Film Appreciation/Film Principles) is an introduction to the scholarly, aesthetic analysis and study of the cinema. It is not a "Great Films" class; the films we will be viewing are not intended to represent "the greatest films ever made" (as if such a list could ever be generated and agreed upon). Rather, the course is designed to present a broad spectrum of genres and modes of cinematic storytelling and expression. We will see both classic and contemporary films, and although several of the films we will see (e.g., Schindlers List, Bridge Over the River Kwai, Doctor Zhivagp, Kramer vs. Kramer) will likely be familiar to you, we have deliberately included lesser-known European films that challenge and diverge from the conventions and paradigms of traditional Hollywood filmmaking and the mainstream popular cinema. Consequently, one recurring concern of our class will be to better understand the formal, stylistic, and ideological relationships between the Classical Hollywood Cinema and its alternatives in both the art cinema and in the post-classical popular cinema. During the first half of the course, we will focus on mastering the various terms, concepts, and theoretical constructs--in other words, the critical vocabulary--of cinematic aesthetic analysis. In the second half of the course we will expand our focus to include consideration of the social and historical contexts of the films we are studying.
We all enjoy watching films (and we will likely explore the sources of this pleasure in our discussions), but be prepared to work hard in this course. The reading load can get heavy at times, and the material is often challenging and complex. Every student is required to view every assigned film, complete all reading and writing assignments on time, attend every class meeting, and actively participate in the class. You will need to keep up with the deadlines, because to do otherwise will throw you far behind and will not allow you to develop your skills at an appropriate pace. Your written work will be the focus of intense scrutiny, and I will give you as much feedback as humanly possible to guide your mastery of the course skills. You should expect to get written work returned with many comments and suggestions for improvement even if it receives an A. Below is a breakdown of the required work for this course, and their relative values expressed as percentages of the final course grade.
1/3 - Papers, Quizzes, Examinations
1/3 - Papers, Quizzes, Examinations
1/3 - Papers, Quizzes, Examinations
Note: All written work must be turned in to pass the course. This means that you must turn in all 3 papers and both exams in order to get a passing grade. A zero on any of these assignments will automatically result in a failing grade for the course.
NOTE ON ACADEMIC INTEGRITY:
If any student plagiarizes in writing a paper--that is, copies or closely paraphrases from a source without proper quotation and acknowledgment of the source--then that student will be given a failing grade either on the paper or in the course.
University Grading Standards
A - achievement that is outstanding relative to the level necessary to meet course requirements. (92-100)
B+ - achievement that is significantly satisfactory to meet course requirements. (88-92)
B - achievement that is significantly above the level necessary to meet course requirements. (84-87)
C+ - achievement that meets the course requirements in every respect. (79-82)
C - achievement that fairly meets the course requirements. (76-78)
D - achievement that is worthy of credit even though it fails to meet fully the course requirements. (75)
F - Represents failure (or no credit) and signifies that the work was either (1) completed but at a level of achievement that is not worthy of credit (70) or (2) was not completed and there was no agreement between the instructor and the student that the student would be awarded an INC.
INC (Incomplete) Assigned at the discretion of the instructor when, due to extraordinary circumstances, e.g., hospitalization, a student is prevented from completing the work of the course on time. Requires a written agreement between instructor and student. (65)
FD (Failure Debarred) Represent failure (or no credit) due to tardiness and absences. The student absences and tardiness must not exceed 20% of the total number of session hours. (60)
1) Late arrival should be the exception. It is disruptive and extremely annoying, and common sense should tell you that it is a bad thing to annoy the teacher. When it is unavoidable, however, sign the late arrival form posted on the wall by the door and sit in the nearest available seat so as not to further disrupt the class. You are responsible for any information you miss, and because I often cover important business (such as assignments, due-dates, changes in the syllabus, etc.) in the first few minutes of class, make absolutely sure that you find out what you missed from one of your classmates.
2) Early preparation for departure---please dont. Class ends at the scheduled time and not one, two, or three minutes before. If you promise to give me 3 full hours of your undivided attention, I promise to never keep you past the final bell. Give me 3 hours and Ill never take more.
3) Participation in this class is required. This does not mean, however, that you MUST talk. I certainly appreciate, enjoy, and encourage lively class discussions, but "participation" simply means that you are actively taking part in the learning process occurring around you, and theres no reason this cant be done silently. You are participating as long as you come to class prepared, pay attention, take notes, and are generally engaged with the material. (You would be astounded, by the way, at how easy it is for a teacher to tell whether a quiet student is engaged with the class or is simply unprepared or uninterested in what is going on around her or him.) I understand that some folks are reluctant to speak, whether this reluctance arises from fear, self-consciousness, or cultural differences, and I will not force anyone to speak who doesnt want to. However, I consider the ability to formulate and articulate questions and comments in the context of an informal class discussion to be one of the most important, valuable, and rewarding skills that the college experience has to offer (and one of the most valued skills in the "real world"), and those who choose not to take advantage of opportunities to speak in class are doing themselves a grave disservice. Everyone in class should try to raise their hand and contribute to class discussions (whether it be to ask a question or offer an insight) regularly throughout the semester.
4) Attendance in this class is mandatory. There is a tremendous amount of material to cover, terms and concepts to learn, and skills to develop in this course, and actual classroom time is limited to 30-75-minute lecture per week. Excessive absences and/or tardiness will affect what you learn and, consequently, the grade you earn. IMPORTANT: Four (4) absences will result in an automatic failing grade.
5) Keep the lines of communication open. Feel free to tell me if Im covering the material too fast or too slow, if you are having trouble seeing the blackboard, if you cant read my handwriting, if I havent explained something clearly enough, if you need me to clarify my expectations for a particular assignment, and so on. My goal is to do everything I can to help you succeed in this course, and your comments and constructive criticism are welcomed and encouraged. If you find yourself having difficulty understanding or keeping up with the readings or our class discussions, or completing assigned work on time, come see me before you fall too far behind. Keeping me informed of problems is always in your best interest. First of all, I may be able to help you resolve the problem. A little one-on-one discussion can often clear things up quickly. Second, if you keep the lines of communication open, Ill be more responsive to requests for extra help, extensions, and so on, because Ill know youve been engaged and working hard all along. I will make myself available to everyone--via email, phone, and one-on-one conferences--throughout the semester to answer questions, explain assignments, provide individualized help and encouragement, or just to chat about the cinema. I value the opportunity to meet with students on an individual basis, and encourage you to stop by my office early in the semester to introduce yourself.
6) All due-dates in this class are firm, serious deadlines. No late work will be accepted. Whenever you turn in a paper, always make sure you keep a copy for yourself. Never give me (or anyone) the only copy of your work--too many things could happen.
**An important note concerning technology**
Often students will come to class on the day a paper is due and tell me that one of the machines in the computer lab destroyed their disk, that all of the printers in the computer lab are broken, that their system mysteriously crashed the night before, or offer some other reason for turning in a late paper. Although I sympathize with the frustration technology can cause, I do not consider technological failure to be a valid excuse for turning in late work. Use your common sense if you do your work on a computer--save your work often and make backup copies of your files and disks. Whenever you print something out, print two copies; one to turn in, and one for you to keep. Its also important--and this applies to everyone, not only those working on computers--to start working on assignments early, so that you have plenty of time to accommodate any technical difficulties that arise. Starting a paper the night before its due is a recipe for disaster.
7) Plagiarism: Plagiarism is trying to pass off someone else's words or ideas as your own. It's very hard to get away with and the consequences of it are severe (including expulsion from the university). Don't do it.
8) Extra Credit: The web bulletin board on our class's website provides a forum for students to post responses to the course material. Posting to the bulletin board is not required, but is encouraged and welcomed. I read every post, often using student comments to help guide class discussion. To encourage use of the bulletin board, I offer an extra credit bonus for students who post their thoughts regularly. Anyone who posts five (5) or more messages to the bulletin board over the course of the semester will have their lowest grade on an assignment raised one full letter grade. See the handout on the bulletin board option for more details concerning what counts as a legitimate post.
9) Labs: You must attend the weekly film screening lab. Videotapes are convenient and acceptable for close study or quick review, but they cannot provide the superior quality (and cultural evocativeness) of the projected image. Sometimes videotapes cut off part of the image--you're not seeing the entire film! Moreover, some of the films we will watch are not be readily available on videotape. Again, every week you must come to class prepared to discuss the assigned films and readings. The lab screening is a class, and as such you are expected to conduct yourselves appropriately. Please review and follow the rules for lab screenings.
My Learning/Teaching Philosophy
"Understanding" and "learning" are not synonymous terms. It is my primary responsibility to ensure that you understand the content of the course (i.e., the various terms, concepts, and theoretical constructs associated with the serious and scholarly study of cinema). Your job is to learn the material; that is, you need to be able to apply the terms, concepts and theories we discuss to the films we watch as a class (and to other films you have seen or see outside of class), and reflect on how they help you interpret the meanings films communicate and make sense of an account for the impact they have on you as a viewer. This learning requires that you do two things:
1) ask questions
whenever you don't understand or need further clarification; and
I will do my best to fulfill my responsibility by
1) striving to
In order for learning to take place, we must both do our jobs and fulfill our respective responsibilities. Your responsibilities include:
1) coming to
class regularly and on time;
Please take the time
during the semester to reflect periodically on the extent to which we are each fulfilling
our respective responsibilites.
Ateneo de Davao University
All Rights Reserved 2001