Comparative Literature 397 B: SPEC TPCS CIN STD
13943 5 credits; W credit; VLPA credit


Film in the digital age: parables of virtual existence

The course inquires into the changing meaning of existence in the digital age, when data manipulation can change perception and identity. The way in which our lives — and the meaning of life — is altered by gaming, facebook, and smart IDs is reflected and envisioned in recent films.




MTWTh MTWTh 330-520 PCAR 492



Yomi Braester


office: C-504 Padelford


office hours: by appointment


e-mail: yomi@u


CLASS EMAIL (messages accepted only from UW accounts!)






Reading reports:
600 words each. Submitted online, through UW-Catalyst: 4 X 5 = 20 points.
Each report should respond to all questions placed on Catalyst and demonstrate familiarity with the assigned reaings.
All reports must be submitted for passing the course.
All readings are available on e-reserve:

Viewing responses: 300 words each. Submitted online, through UW-Catalyst. 4 X 2.5 = 10 points. All responses must be submitted for passing the course.

In-class resonses:
One paragraph, on a question presented in class. 7 x 2 = 14 points.
Of eight responses, one can be missed without penalty. Six must be submitted for passing the course.

Group Project:
Each group, comprised of 2-3 students, will choose a video (approx. 5 minutes long) to discuss in class.
The video may be a sequence from a film not shown in class or any video material, such as one found on YouTube.
The group starts by presenting the clip and demonstrating, through a 5-10 minute presentation, its relevance to:
(1) the week's readings) and (2) the film watched that week. The group should be prepared to stimulate the ensuing free-for-all 30-minute discussion.
(B) By 5pm on the following day, each group member will submit through UW-Catalyst a 400-word report summarizing the group's argument. 15 points. Must be performed and submitted for passing the course.

Individual project:
Similar to the group project. The presentation, including showing the video, should take ten minutes.
A subsequent 1,200-word essay, elaborating on the argument made in class, will be submitted through UW-Catalyst on 7/18. 40 points.

Participation bonus: up to 5 points.



Week 1    
Monday, June 18

  Seminar: Cinema in the age of digital filmmaking and digital society
Film shown in class: Chris Marker, La Jetée
(in-class response #1)
Tuesday, June 19

  Screening: The Final Cut
(viewing response #1 due 12:01am on Wednesday)
Wednesday, June 20


Seminar: Remediation; film-historical consciousness
Read for today (reading response 1A, due 12:01am):
Chuck Tyron, Reinventing Cinema, Chapters 1 and 5 (excerpts
(in-class response #2)

Thursday, June 21

  Seminar: Indexicality; collecting
Read for today (reading response 1B, due 12:01am):
Laura Mulvey
, “Passing Time: Reflections on Cinema from a New Technological Age”;
Dudley Andrew, "Pursuing Cinema in the Twenty-First Century"

Clips shown in class from: Lumiere and Leconte, “Train arriving at Ciotat”; Chen Kaige, The Promise; Jia Zhangke, The World
(in-class response #3)
Week 2    
Monday, June 25

  Screening:Blade Runner
Read for today (reading response 2, due 12:01am on Tuesday):
Margot Lovejoy, Digital Currents: Art in the Electronic Age, Introduction and beginning of Chapter 5;
Zizek, Welcome to the Desert of the Real, Chapter 1
(viewing response #2 due 12:01am on Tuesday)
Tuesday, June 26

  Seminar: Seeing and believing
(in-class response #4)
Wednesday, June 27

  Seminar: Reality and simulacrum
Film shown in class include: “Collateral Murder”
(in-class response #5)
Thursday, June 28

  Group projects
(online response #1 due)
Week 3    
Monday, July 2


Screening: 2046
Read for today reading response 3, due 12:01am on Tuesday):
Sue Short, "Reality Unplugged: Postmodernism, Posthumanism and the Cyborg"
Michael Nitsche, Video Game Spaces, Chapters 12 ("Virtual Places") and 13 ("Players 'in' the Video Game Space")

(viewing response #3 due 12:01am on Tuesday)

Tuesday, July 3

  Seminar: How to lie with reality
Clip shown in class from: Q3
(in-class response #6)
Wednesday, July 4    INDEPENDENCE DAY – no class
Thursday, July 5

  Group projects
(online response #2 due)
Week 4    
Monday, July 9


Screening: Being John Malkovich
Read for today (reading response 4, due 12:01am on Tuesday):
Clay Shirky, Here Comes Everybody, Chapters 1 and 2;
Eli Pariser, The Filter Bubble, Chapter 2 ("The User Is the Content")
(viewing response #4 due 12:01am on Tuesday)

Tuesday, July 10


Seminar: The right to the self
Clip shown in class from: "Live in RMB City"
(in-class response #7)

Wednesday, July 11

  Seminar: Machinima
Film shown in class: Egoyan, Artaud Double Bill
(in-class response #8)
Thursday, July 12

  Group projects
(online response #3 due)
Week 5    
Monday, July 16   Individual projects
Tuesday, July 17   Individual projects
Wednesday, July 18   Wrap-up; project essays due by 5pm