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Professor Stephen Bluestone
Office: 110B Ware Hall | Telephone: 478-301-4010 | email: bluestone_se@mercer.edu
Office Hours: 9:30-10:40 a.m. (T/Th) and by appointment
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Spring 2009 
 
English 382
 
The Critical Study of Film
In this course we will study the work of Federico Fellini, the leading director of Italian cinema. We will place his early work in the context of the post-WWII film movement known as Neorealism and then follow his development of a style of cinema that explores the inner lives of his characters and expands the narrative possibilities of film.    

Class Album

 ENGLISH 382 (SPRING 2009)–THE CRITICAL STUDY OF FILM

Prof. Stephen Bluestone
Office: 110B Ware Hall
Office hours: Tues/Thurs 9:30-10:40 a.m. And by appointment.
Office telephone: 478-301-4010.
E-mail: Bluestone_SE@mercer.edu
Web site: www.sbluestone.com      

 
Texts
 
Peter Bondanella, The Cinema of Federico Fellini
Federico Fellini, Fellini on Fellini
H. Ramsey Fowler, Little, Brown Handbook
Louis Giannetti, Understanding Movies (optional; recommended for students who have not taken English 237)

Note: Supplemental list of secondary titles is on reserve in the library. See bibliographic supplement below. As for the films we will be viewing, my recommendation is that each student in the class purchase a subscription to Netflix. The cost of this may be shared among several students. This approach is, in my opinion, the most efficient and cheapest way to make sure that everyone has copies of the films when they are needed. The Fellini titles are not generally available at local video rental stores; Mercer is in the process of acquiring these titles, but the current budget crisis has made this very difficult.

 
 

General Goals

In this course we’ll study the work of Federico Fellini, the leading director of Italian cinema. We’ll place his early work in the context of the post-WWII film movement know as Neorealism and then follow his development of a style of cinema that explores the inner lives of his characters and expands the narrative possibilities of film. Fellini is the greatest and most important of the mid-century directors who sought an alternative to the commercial Hollywood style. We’ll learn to read his films just as we would a traditional literary text, following Fellini’s spiritual journey as a creative artist in the modern world. We’ll explore the richness and subtlety of the art that has produced these films as we develop a cinema-literate vocabulary for discussing them.

Among the films to be viewed are: La Strada (1954), Il Bidone (1955), La Dolce Vita (1961), Juliet of the Spirits (1965), Roma (1972), Amarcord (1974), And the Ship Sails On (1984), and Ginger and Fred (1986). We’ll also view Bicycle Thief (De Sica; 1948) and Open City (Rossellini; 1945). This list is not complete, and will be subject to change as the course proceeds.

Course Expectations

Participation and attendance (15%). Students are expected to attend every class and actively contribute to discussion. There are no unexcused absences, and I should be notified in advance if an absence is unavoidable. Call my office and leave a message or let me know by e-mail or in person if you cannot attend a class.

Class contribution takes several forms. Students may ask questions at any point during class; students and teacher may engage in question-and-answer sessions; the class as a whole may engage in open discussion, sharing ideas and attempting as a group to deepen our understanding of the material. Students should work at participating effectively in all these formats. The two most important factors in class participation are (1) evidence of preparation and (2) contribution through discussion to the learning of others. Student contributions to class will be considered an important part of the final grade.

Quizzes (15%). As needed, on film vocabulary and related matters. These will be announced in advance.

Written work (70%). Two critical papers involving at least two off-line sources will be assigned on themes and topics to be discussed. The length of the first paper will be approximately five pages; the length of the second paper (the final project) will be between eight and ten pages. The due date of the final paper will be May 7, 2009, at 5 p.m. This paper may be submitted earlier, at the student’s option.

In addition, there will be opportunities to submit optional extra-credit papers as interests develop during the semester.

In these papers the format of the first sample student paper in The Little, Brown Handbook in the chapter entitled “Two Research Papers in the MLA Style,” is to be followed; bibliographic and “Works Cited” formats are to be found in the chapter entitled “Using MLA Documentation and Format.” Any paper that has not been spell-checked or does not follow the assigned formats will receive an automatic “F.” All corrections and editorial changes indicated by the instructor must be made before the next paper is submitted, otherwise no further work will be accepted and the grade in the course will be "F." As above, no exceptions

When the second paper is submitted, it must be accompanied in a plain tab folder by the first paper. A third, optional paper may also be done. When the optional paper is submitted, it, too, must be accompanied in the folder by previous work. All papers are due at the start of class from the author on the specified due date; papers not handed in on time will be penalized no less than one letter grade per day.

The grading system. Grades on the papers (and in the course) will not necessarily be averaged; much weight will be given to improvement. Each student's written and class work will be assessed on an individual basis, with emphasis on consistency and the ability to achieve higher standards as the course proceeds. I call this the “outcome basis.” It gives each student a chance to have his or her learning over the course of the term count for more at the end. In my opinion, it is a more accurate measure of learning in a literature class than the averaging basis.

On the other hand, if you wish to have your grades averaged, you may select that option. This must be done at the start of the semester (within the first two weeks) and cannot subsequently be requested. The averaging basis weighs all work numerically. It tells you where you are, but does not, in my opinion, reflect your true learning curve, as the “outcome basis’ does.

Note: it is course policy that all assigned work be completed in order for a student to pass this course.

Further note: An optional final exam is available for those who select it. In my opinion, only those students who feel they are between grades should select this option. The grade on this exam will be used to determine which of two grades (higher or lower) the student will receive.

Conferences. These will be arranged as needed. I am available to see you on a flexible basis and not necessarily during fixed office hours. Let me know in advance, and we can arrange appointments.

Special circumstances. Students with learning disabilities that might affect grading in this course are advised to notify the instructor at the start of the semester.

Preliminary Bibliography for English 382

 *Note: The reason why I’m calling this a “preliminary bibliography” is that it contains a number of new books (and revisions of older ones) that have been ordered for our library. When these volumes arrive, they will be added to the English 382 Reserve List, and you will be notified of this in class. Two of the titles (#1 and #3) are available in the bookstore.

1. The Cinema of Federico Fellini by Peter Bondanella (1992)
2. Federico Fellini: His Life and Work by Tullio Kezich and Minna Proctor (2006)
3. Fellini on Fellini by Federico Fellini and Isabel Quigley (1996)
4. Federico Fellini by Christopher Wiegand and Paul Duncan (2003)
5. I, Fellini by Charlotte Chandler (2001)
6. Fellini: Costumes and Fashion by Ida Panicelli, Giulia Mafai, Laura Delli Colli, and Samuele Mazza (1996)
7. Fellini! by Vincenzo Mollica (2004)
8. Federico Fellini As Auteur: Seven Aspects of His Films by John Caldwell Stubbs (2006)
9. Federico Fellini by Martin Scorsese and Lietta Tornabuoni (1995)
10. I'm a Born Liar: A Fellini Lexicon by Damian Pettigrew (2003)

 
   

It goes without saying that the Mercer Honor Code is in effect at all times in this course.