Introduction to French Cinema
French Film: Texts and Contexts, eds. Susan Hayward and Ginette Vincendeau, TBC; see Description for films to be studied.
This class, taught in English, with movies in English subtitles, introduces students to the history of French (and francophone) cinema. Cinema is often said to begin in the Grand Café in Paris in 1895, with the Lumière brothers’ projection of Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory. Since then, French cinema has played a key role in defining the artistic possibilities of the medium. In this course, we will watch some of the most important and influential works from each decade, spanning narrative, experimental, and documentary forms, as well as films that challenge these distinctions. Each screening will be accompanied by critical and theoretical readings that place the films in their social, political, artistic, and intellectual contexts.
Movies screened will be English subtitled, and topics may include poetic realism, Occupation-era and postwar cinema, the French New Wave, the rise of feminist film-making, French queer cinema, postcolonial cinema, and cinema in the age of digital media. While emphasizing formal analysis, we will approach cinema as one of the key cultural technologies that has shaped our contemporary ways of imagining race, class, gender, sexuality, love, the family, the nation, friendship, and life under capitalism.
There will be occasional mandatory on-site film screenings Mondays 4-7 in some weeks, with streaming options available in other weeks.
This course satisfies the College of Letters and Science breadth requirement in Historical Studies or in Social and Behavioral Sciences. Course taught in English; knowledge of French not required. There will be occasional mandatory on-site film screenings Mondays 4-7 in some weeks, with streaming options available in other weeks.