Theories of Cinema: Women, Cinema, Nation #
📂 This syllabus was created and taught by Dr. Alexandra Edwards in Spring 2023 as ENGL 30803: Theories of Cinema.
Course Description #
ENGL 30803, Theories of Cinema, explores spaces where film and critical theory overlap by juxtaposing key theoretical texts and approaches with films directed by women from around the world. We’ll ask questions like:
- What can Dorothy Arzner and Ida Lupino teach us about the male gaze and the panopticon?
- Does a documentary about queer black and Latino ballroom culture help us understand why Judith Butler called gender performative?
- How do gender, race, class, and national identity intersect in horror films? In Oscar-winning dramas? In the brief ethnographic films of Zora Neale Hurston?
- How have indigenous women filmmakers worked to decolonize the film industry?
- What do bell hooks and an imaginary movie star have in common?
Our class meetings will include discussions, breaks to recharge, and screenings of all required films; students are encouraged to bring their own snacks or meals for a movie bistro-style experience. I take seriously the feminist insistence that we are both our minds and our bodies—you can’t learn when you’re hungry or exhausted. So even though our class is a long block of time, we’ll mix it up and keep it moving and hopefully have fun digging into the writing and filmmaking work of feminist, queer, decolonial and anti-colonial thinkers.
My wildest dream for this course is to recreate the magic of 1970s feminist film festivals, 90s riot grrrl scenes, and the contemporary queer feminist collective Club des Femmes. So I’ve tried to create a class that is less like a stuffy academic space and more like an exciting, generative, and inspiring hangout spot where we watch, think, talk, and write together. We’ll create weekly responses to the course material, film introductions, and a collaborative film zine.