As one semester winds down, I'm getting ready my syllabus for a summer course, in this instance, a history of narrative film. It's tough of course to condense the history of all narrative film to 6 weeks. While every course requires some consideration of a disciplinary field, something about the history survey brings up the nature of the discipline most acutely. After all, the survey is predicated on selection and narrativization. I see at least a few principles at odds: canonical selection vs. counter-canons vs. the "typical"; cinema as a global enterprise vs. cinema as hegemonic enterprise; narrative as schematic vs. narrative as dispute; the emphasis on formal developments and movements vs. industrial and social factors explaining cinema's development; nationally-specific contextualization vs. wide sampling of national contexts. My answer, certainly one among many, has been to seek an 9imperfect) balance by giving some contour of an aesthetically defined canon while interrogating how the typical might be understood. In general, I tend to side wiith clear conceptual narratives that might be worth questioning on some levels of scholarly practice.
In that spirit, I've uploaded the draft of my syllabus for History of Narrative. Any suggestions or comments are welcome, especially now that I'm in the middle of nailing down a final syllabus for the course. The textbook I've chosen - and has been taught in the course here at Temple before - is Thompson and Bordwell's Film History. I hope to write more on film history textbooks soon.
4 days ago