Why do film studies matter? Or put otherwise, how does our love for cinema translate into a commitment to build our lives around films, and what is the role of scholarly pursuit?

Cinephilia is not just the love for films. It is a way of placing ourselves in particular positions: as audience, as critics, as writers, and as part of a community. What special access to cinema do we have by dint of being avid fans? By knowing film history? By writing about films?

How have these answers changed in different periods? How is cinephilia different now, since the introduction of digital production and distribution?

The seminar explores these questions through discussion of film criticism and theory, analysis of specific films, and writing assignments about film in various modes: as fans, cinephiles, and contemporary viewers.

This seminar is intended as a capstone course for cinema majors. It is open for all students who have declared a CLCM (formerly C LIT) major, but is not advised for students who have not taken at least one course in film analysis, and preferably also one course in film history, since basic knowledge of both formal concepts and historical milestones is expected.


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Hours:MW 3:30-5:20

5 credits


Instructor: Yomi Braester
  office: C-504 Padelford
  office hours: TBA and by appointment
  e-mail: yomi AT uw.edu


All assignments must be printed, double-spaced, font size 12, with numbered pages, and stapled together. The course emphasizes good writing if you feel unconfident about your writing, please contact the writing workshop. Late submissions must be pre-approved by the instructor. The course adheres to UWs rules on plagiarism (see http://depts.washington.edu/grading/issue1/honesty.htm). Students with disabilities are encouraged to inform me, and Ill do my best to provide suitable accommodations.


Reading reports 9 x 2 18
Essay #1   19
Essay #2   22

Essay #3

Evaluation of peers' essays   8
Participation   5

Nine 500-word responses to the readings and film assigned for the week ahead. One response due by the end of each Sunday, weeks 2 thru 10, via Canvas. The responses should not be descriptive. Rather, they should offer a sense of "what have I taken from the reading/film" and raise questions for discussion. (Each report is calculated at 2% of the final grade.)

All readings are available online through Canvas . Students are responsible for viewing the films on their own. (DVDs of the required films will be placed on reserve at the media library, and they should also be available on Netflix and similar services.)

Essay #1
A 800-1,000-word essay describing a chosen film from a personal viewpoint and addressing a general movie-going audience. The essay should include both subjective judgment and explanation why the reader should watch the film. Due 10/19 noon. (The essay is calculated at 19% of the final grade.)

Essay #2
A 1,000-1,200-word essay analyzing a film in line with classical cinephilia. The essay should use formal analysis to argue for the historical and theoretical importance of the film. Due 11/16 noon. (The essay is calculated at 22% of the final grade

Essay #3
A 2,800-3,200-word essay, incorporating papers #2 and #3. The essay should reflect on the difference between the two modes of analysis and suggest a way to reconcile them, possibly with the aid of the new paradigms established after the introduction digital technology. Due 12/14 noon. (The essay is calculated at 28% of the final grade.)

The class will be divided into groups of 3-4 students. All students in a group will read one another's drafts of essay #3 and will discuss ways to improve upon it. (The peer evaluation task is calculated at 8% of the final grade.)

This is a seminar, not a lecture class. All students are expected to participate actively in the discussion on a regular basis. (Participation is calculated at 5% of the final grade.)

CLASS SCHEDULE (subject to change)


WEEK 1 (meeting on Wednesday, 9/30): Introduction



No assignments for this week


WEEK 2 (meetings on Monday, 10/5 and Wednesday, 10/7): It's always personal



Assignments for this week:

- Pauline Kael, “Zeitgeist and Poltergeist”
- Jonathan Rosenbaum, from Movie Wars

Watch: The Act of Killing

Reading report due 10/4


WEEK 3 (meetings on Monday, 10/12 and Wednesday, 10/14): Historicizing cinephilia



Assignments for this week:

- Paul Willemen, “Cinephilia Reconsidered”
- Laurent Jullier. “Philistines and Cinephiles: The New Deal”
- Thomas Elsaesser, “Cinephilia or the Uses of Disenchantment”

Watch: Desperado Square

Reading report due 10/11


WEEK 4 (meetings on Monday, 10/19 and Wednesday, 10/21): Audiences as Critics



Assignments for this week:

- Tom Gunning, “Aesthetic of Astonishment”
- Greg Taylor, "The Spectator as Critic as Artist"
- Greg Taylor, "Movies to the Rescue: American Modernism and the Middlebrow Challenge"

Watch: To Each His Own Cinema

Reading report due 10/18

ESSAY #1 DUE 10/19 by 12pm


WEEK 5 (meetings on Monday, 10/26 and Wednesday, 10/28): Bazin's legacy



Assignments for this week:

- Christian Keathley, from Cinephilia and History
- Victor Burgin, “The Remembered Film”

Watch: Goodbye, Dragon Inn

Reading report due 10/25


WEEK 6 (meetings on Monday, 11/2 and Wednesday, 11/4): The Ethics of high modernism



Assignments for this week:

- Serge Daney, “The Tracking Shot in Kapo
- Annette Michelson, “Gnosis and Iconoclasm: A Case Study of Cinephilia”
- David Bordwell, “The Art Cinema as a Mode of Film Practice”

Watch: In the Mood for Love

Reading report due11/1


WEEK 7 (meeting on Monday, 11/9; Wednesday, 11/11, is Veteran's Day): Did film studies kill film?



Assignments for this week:

- Matt Hills, “Who’s Who? Academics, fans, scholar-fans and fanscholars”
- Toby Miller, “Cinema Studies Doesn’t Matter; or, I Know What You Did Last Semester”
- Terry Bolas, “Film Appreciation”

No film assignment this week

Reading report due 11/8


WEEK 8 (meetings on Monday, 11/16 and Wednesday, 11/18): Cinephilia extreme: the digital fragment



Assignments for this week:

- Jason Sperb, “Sensing an Intellectual Nemesis”
- Jason Sperb, “Déjà Vu for Something that Hasn’t Happened Yet”
- Jonathan Rosenbaum, “Goodbye Cinema, Hello Cinephilia”

Watch: The Final Cut

Reading report due 11/15

ESSAY #2 DUE 11/16 by 12pm


WEEK 9 (meeting on Monday, 11/23; Wednesday off for Thanksgiving): Will digital distribution save cinephilia?



Assignments for this week:

- Melis Behlil, “Ravenous Cinephiles: Cinephilia, Internet, and Online Film Communities”
- Barbara Klinger, “The Contemporary Cinephile Film Collecting after the VCR”

Watch: Steal This Film

Reading report due 11/22


WEEK 10 (meeting on Wednesday, 11/2; no class on Monday): The geography of cinephilia



Assignments for this week:

- Jenna Ng,  “Love in the Time of Transcultural Fusion: Cinephilia, Homage and Kill Bill
- Kim Soyoung, “ ‘Cine-mania’ or Cinephilia: Film Festivals and the Identity Question”
- Liz Czach, “Cinephilia, Stars, and Film Festivals”

Watch: Shirin

Reading report due 11/29


WEEK 11 (meetings on Monday, 12/7 and Wednesday, 12/9): Writing workshop



Assignments for this week:

Submit final paper draft to instructor (via Catalyst) and peers (via email) by 12/6
No readings or film to watch

ESSAY #3 DUE 12/14 by 12pm