Seminar in Criticism and Theory: Looking at Screens

Looking at Screens
English 8060
Joanna Hearne
12:20-3pm; 4-6:30pm screening
Course Description

This course provides a foundation for looking at, thinking about, and theorizing photography, film, and digital media, exploring multiple ways of reading screen images in light of historical and contemporary trends in media theory.  Our conversations will revolve around issues of gender, race, ethnicity, and Indigeneity, emphasizing both close reading skills and the social dimensions of our relationships with visual representations.  How are digital, cinematic and new media images and our apprehension of those images affected by social institutions, systems of power, and histories of colonialism?  How and when do screen images intervene in such systems?  We will discuss elements of screen aesthetics as well as spectatorship, genres, stars and performance, realism, stereotypes, cultures of production, and other topics.  We will think about the politics of the camera and also the “cameraless” realms of animation and digital media; we will think about screens, while also thinking beyond the “screen-deep” politics of representation to consider practices and circuits of film production, distribution, exhibition, and reception.  Course requirements include short papers responding to course readings and screenings, one class presentation, a mid-semester paper proposal and seminar-length final paper, and active involvement in class discussion.