Summer 2004 Undergraduate Courses

Session I

COML 232.910 Horror Movies
Cross listed with FILM 231
TR 5:30-8:40 Kawana

Why do we watch movies of fear, horror, and the supernatural? Most of us are moral, law-abiding citizens; yet why do some of us occasionally have a thirst for terror, blood and gore? This course examines the classic works of the genre such as Psycho and Texas Chainsaw Massacre, as well as contemporary Hollywood hits such as Ring. A significant part of the course will also be devoted to a series of horror movies from Asia, such as Dark Water, The Eye, and Cure. We will also ask fundamental questions of leisure (when and where do we watch films, and out of all genres horror?), entertainment (what do we watch it for?), marketability (do horror movies generate much profit?), and audience reception (are horror movies a bad influence? What do we as audience want to get out of it?). What are the elements of a good horror movie, and how is horror defined against other adjacent genres such as thriller and science fiction? Two papers, viewing logs, and attendance, are required.


COML 290.910 Women on the Edge
TR 2-5 Rosenfeld
Cross listed with WSTD 290, ENGL290

This course will explore the role of women on the boundaries of literature--from medieval women persecuted for their religious beliefs to the women scribblers of the nineteenth century to contemporary writers and filmmakers who continue to challenge artistic conventions and the canon. We will not only take a long view by asking how the exclusion of women from the scene of writing has changed over the centuries, but will take a broad view by asking how exclusion on account of gender differs from or interacts with exclusion on the basis of race or religion. We will also consider questions of whether writing by women is necessarily different than writing by men and why this concern about sameness or difference is such a troubling and difficult issue to resolve. Authors/Directors may include: Marguerite Porete, Aphra Behn, Eliza Haywood, Emily Bronte, Virginia Woolf, Toni Morrison, Sandra Cisneros, Jane Campion, Kimberly Peirce.


Session II

COML 233.920 Reel Cities: The Cinema of Urban Spaces
Cross listed with FILM 233
MW 4:30-7:40 Iurascu

How have movies shaped the way we represent and inhabit cities? Is there a cinematic urban imaginary? From Billy Wilder's noir Los Angeles to Woody Allen's neurotic New York, from Fellini's decadent Rome to Wenders' angelic Berlin, from Fritz Lang's futuristic Metropolis to Terry Gilliam's dystopian Brazil, cityscapes have constituted more than mere backdrops for film narratives and have come to take on a life of their own, both on and beyond the silver screen. Our course will attempt to map out some of these urban geographies and illustrate them with examples from international film classics. Our objectives will be twofold. First, we will follow the motif of the 'reel city', distinguishing among its various configurations: the city of war, the city of romance, the city of consumption, the political city, the transgressive city, the cyber-city. Secondly, we will develop a method and strategies for working with and learning how to 'read' and interpret films. Titles may include Double Indemnity, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, La Dolce Vita, Manhattan, Wings of Desire, Paris Is Burning, Blade Runner and Brazil, among others.


COML 250.920 The Whodunit
Fulfills Gen Req. III: Arts and Letters
TR 4:30-7:40 Gaffney

From The Telltale Heart to hardboiled fiction, film noir to Blade Runner, crime is a recurring topic of literature and cinema. How can we explain the popularity of crime fiction, better known as "The Whodunit"? What has given this genre such a prominent place in cultural production, enduring well over a century of social and technological change? This course will begin by investigating the origins of The Whodunit, focusing on the political, scientific and aesthetic principles that helped shape it. From there, we will move on to film noir and movie adaptations of detective fiction in the first half of the 20th century. Finally, we will take a look at contemporary crime fiction and the revival of film noir in modern cinema. Throughout the course, we will be examining the techniques of detective work in relation to those of the writer, comparing forensics, interrogation, and psychological profiling to suspense, narration, and signification. Other topics may include: reason and the irrational, concealment and disclosure, obsession, mechanicity, and violence. Both Western and non-Western writers and filmmakers will be considered. Authors may include E. T. A. Hoffmann, Edgar Allan Poe, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Jorge Luis Borges, James Ellroy, Paul Auster, and William Burroughs. Films may include The Big Sleep, Kiss Me Deadly, The Long Goodbye, and Blade Runner. All texts and discussions will be in English. A presentation and two 5-8 page papers are required.

Last modified March 31, 2004
Maintained by Stephen Hock and Mark Sample
Program in Comparative Literature
School of Arts & Sciences
University of Pennsylvania