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Cinema and Politics

ENGL 392.401
instructor(s):
TR 3:00-4:30pm
fulfills requirements:
Sector 1: Theory and Poetics of the Standard Major
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major

This seminar has a bold aim: it seeks to understand better what has happened in our world since the era of decolonization, by considering the term “politics” in its very broadest and most dramatic connotations: as the dream of social change and its failures.  Another way of describing its subject matter is to say that it is about revolution and counterrevolution since the Bandung Conference.  Together we will investigate the way in which major historical events, including the struggle for Algerian independence, the military coup in Indonesia, the Cuban Revolution, the assassination of Patrice Lumumba in Congo, the Vietnam War, Latin American dictatorships, the Israeli Palestinian conflict, the fall of the Soviet Union, the end of apartheid in South Africa, and 9/11, the Iraq War, and its aftermath, have been represented in some of the most innovative and moving films of our time. Attention will therefore be paid to a variety of genres: including cinema verité, documentary, the thriller, the biopic, animation, the global conspiracy film, hyperlink cinema, science fiction and dystopia.  The ongoing and fraught question of race in America, as well as the American fixation on elections (which sometimes seems the be all and end all of politics here) may also come under scrutiny; but the idea is to have a more global reach. Films will include: The Battle of AlgiersThe Year of Living DangerouslyMemories of UnderdevelopmentLumumba and Lumumba: La Mort d’un ProphèteThe Fog of WarThe Lives of OthersY Tu Mama Tambien,Even the RainThe Constant GardenerSyrianaThe Reluctant FundamentalistWaltz with BashirCachéChildren of Men, and, if we have time, The Possibility of Hope andHow To Start a Revolution. An archive of secondary readings will be provided. Writing requirements: a mid-term and a final paper of around 8-10 pages each.