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ENGLISH 3CC3 ReadingFilm

Academic Year: Winter 2017

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Iris Bruce

Email: ibruce@mcmaster.ca

Office: Togo Salmon Hall 502

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 24697


Office Hours: Wed 10:30-11:30; Thursday 11:30-12:30; or by appointment

Course Objectives:

Students will learn to employ critical vocabulary to assess the strategies used by filmmakers to represent, undermine, reinforce, and/or challenge the ideological contradictions of the societies within which their films are set.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Required Texts:

Hayward, Susan. Cinema Studies. The Key Concepts. London/New York: Routledge, 2013.

Further historical and critical background information, as well as additional texts on film theory are available on Avenue.


Films will include:

1. A Dangerous Method (Canada, Cronenberg, 2011)

2. The Einstein of Sex - The Life and Work of Dr Magnus Hirschfeld (Germany, Rosa von Praunheim, 1999)

3. Boys Don’t Cry (USA, Peirce,1999)  DVD 151

4. Life is Beautiful (Italy, Benigni,1997) eVideo 

5. Fateless (Hungary, Koltai, 2006) DVD 1140

6. Walk on Water (Israel, Fox, 2004)

7. Midnight Children (Canada, Mehta, 2012) eVideo

8. Bunty and Babli (India, Shaad Ali, 2005)

9.  Frida (USA, Taymor, 2002) eVideo

10. Persepolis (France, Satrapi/Paronnaud, 2007) DVD 791

11. The Edge of Heaven (Germany, Akin, 2007)

Method of Assessment:

Research Essay (2000-2500 words) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   35%  (due:  March 15)

Film Critique (3-4 pages double spaced). . . . . . . . . . . . .  20%   (due: Feb. 15)

Final Exam . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   35%

Participation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10%


Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Written Work and Late Submissions:

Late work will be penalized: there will be a reduction of 3% per day on essays handed in late without permission, and they will receive no extensive commentary.  


Late Assignment Policy:

All essays are due either in class or electronically by the end of the day on the assigned date. 

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at www.mcmaster.ca/academicintegrity

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at mcmaster.ca/msaf/. If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail sas@mcmaster.ca. For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:



The discussion of certain films may flow over to the following class.   

January 4:  Introduction

January 11:  A Dangerous Method (Canada, David Cronenberg, 2011). Readings:       Hayward, “Gaze/Look & Gender” (173-76, 176-82) & “Modernism” (240-47)

January 18:  The Einstein of Sex - The Life and Work of Dr Magnus Hirschfeld (Germany, Rosa von Praunheim, 1999). Readings by Hirschfeld and George Mosse on sexuality and nationalism on Avenue

January 25:  Boys Don’t Cry (USA, Kimberly Peirce, 1999). Readings: Judith Butler on Avenue; Hayward on “Ideology” (212-15), “Queer Cinema” (306-10), “Feminist Film Theory” (137-48)

February 1: Life is Beautiful (Italy, Roberto Benigni, 1997). Read: Hayward, “War Films” (399-415)

February 8: Fateless (Hungary, Lajos Koltai, 2006). Read: Hayward, “Ideology” (212-15); Stam, “The Question of Realism” on Avenue

February 15:  Walk on Water (Israel, Eytan Fox, 2004). Readings: Joyrich, “Critical and Textual Hypermasculinity,” Nordau on “Jewry of Muscle,” & Sander Gilman on Avenue;             Film Critique Due

February 22: NO Class; MIDTERM RECESS (Feb. 20-24)

March  1:  Midnight Children (Canada, Deepa Mehta, 2012). Read Hayward, “Postcolonial Theory” (276-83), “Intertextuality” (218-19)

March  8:  Bunty and Babli (India, Shaad Ali, 2005). Read: Hayward, “Bollywood” (61-65), “Indian Cinemas” (464-73), “Stars/Star System/Star as Capital Value” (353-63); Dyer, “Heavenly Bodies: Film Stars and Society”; Miller, “Stars & Performance”; Pribram, “Spectatorship and Subjectivity” on Avenue

March 15:  Frida (USA, Julie Taymor, 2002). Material on Frida Kahlo on Avenue; ESSAY DUE

March 22: Persepolis (France, Marjane Satrapi/Vincent Paronnaud, 2007). Readings: Hayward, “Animation” (16-21), “Iranian Cinema” (496-500), Nasrin Rahimieh, Missing Persians on Avenue

March 29: The Edge of Heaven (Germany, Fatih Akin, 2007)  

April  5: LAST DAY OF CLASSES: Review


Other Course Information:

This course offers a critical examination of selected films and film genres as cultural texts, using methods drawn from film theory, cultural studies, and postcolonial studies. The films were produced in the USA, Canada, Hungary, Italy, Germany, France, Israel, and India. Beginning with the Sexual Revolution at the beginning of the twentieth century, we will move on to representations of the Holocaust, India’s Independence, Bollywood, the Iranian Revolution, Mexico’s famous artist Frida Kahlo, contemporary multiculturalism in Europe and raise questions about the commercial, ideological, aesthetic and formal concerns that inform global filmmaking practices in the film industry. Though all films will be situated in their ideological, cultural, socio-historical and political contexts, we will also search for connections between these different film industries and consider their meaning in the context of globalization.