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ENGLISH 3CC3 Reading Film (C01)

Academic Year: Fall 2018

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. James King


Office: Chester New Hall 316

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 24493

Office Hours: Tuesdays 10:30-11:20 am or By Appointment

Course Objectives:

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Using methods drawn from studies in narratology, film studies and post-colonial studies, this course will examine films as cultural texts whose meaning is generated by its own language, one distinct from those associated with print culture.

            In particular, this course is devoted to what is often referred to as “art house” cinema, i.e., fictional films made in Europe and the Middle and Far East for a specialized, usually elite audience. Such films are often seen, correctly, as antidotes to Hollywood films in that they deliberately encapsulate a world view that evades the kinds of solutions/closures seen in American films.

            We will begin with a film made in Hollywood by an émigré director—Alfred Hitchcock—in which typical Hollywood “solutions” are playfully modified. Then, Bresson’s minimalist cinema will be examined in Au hasard Bathalzar before looking at two Japanese films, the first about family life, the second in the “thriller” tradition. The multi-valenced treatment of terrorism is the subject of The Battle of Algiers. Studying two films by each of Fellini and Almodóvar will allow an examination of auteur theory. The films of Almodóvar are about sexuality, gender identity, and queerness whereas Fellini explores gender roles. The course ends with two films from Iran: Kiarostami’s quasi-documentary Close-Up and Ashgar Farhardi’s gruelling The Salesman.

ANTICIPATED OUTCOMES: 1. The course will begin with discussing how films differ from printed texts in their aesthetics and construction. I will discuss the grammar of filmmaking and explain important technical concerns in talking about Rear Window and Bicycle Thieves. These lectures should give participants a basic understanding of how films are constructed. 2. The films chosen have been selected because they are in themselves outstanding aesthetically and deal with important global issues (war, female identity, racism, religious intolerance, terrorism, queerness, gender fluidity, sexuality) in ways markedly different from mainstream North American views about these subjects. I hope this approach will be, to a degree, consciousness raising. 3. I expect students will gain a great deal of information about auteur theory. Do film directors have distinct styles or is this a non-issue.? 4. In general, I expect the ability of students taking the course to appreciate film will be enhanced significantly by participating in this course.


Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

There is not a required text for this course.

Method of Assessment:


Attendance: 10%

1st assignment:  20% (1000 words, due in class on 27 September; topic TBA)

2nd assignment: 40% (2000 words, due in class on 8 November; topic TBA)

Final Exam:  30% (to be scheduled by the Registrar’s Office)


Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Written Work and Late Submissions:

Late Assignment Policy:

All essays are due at the beginning of class on the assigned date. Late essays will be docked one grade-point per day for up to seven days (including Saturdays and Sundays). Essays more than seven days late will not be accepted.


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

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 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 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:


September 6: REAR WINDOW (Hitchcock, 1954)

September 13: BICYCLE THIEVES (De Sica, 1948)

September 20: AU HASARD BALTHALZAR (Bresson, 1966)

September 27: TOKYO STORY (Ozu, 1953)

October 4: HIGH AND LOW (Kurosawa, 1963)

October 18: THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS (Pontecorvo, 1966)

October 25: 8 ½ (Fellini, 1963)

November 1: GIULETTA DEGLI SPIRITI (Fellini, 1965)

November 8: ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER (Almodóvar, 1998)

November 15: BAD EDUCATION ((Almodóvar, 2004)

November 22: CLOSE-UP (Kiarostami, 1990)

November 29:  THE SALESMAN (Farhardi, 2016)