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American Film Criticism

ENGL 292.402
TR 3-4:30

In our age of bloggers, fansites, and media conglomeration, the art of film criticism and the status of the film critic is often assumed to be in crisis.  This class will look back at the history of American film criticism--from pioneers like James Agee to giants like Pauline Kael, Andrew Sarris, Stanley Kaufmann and Molly Haskell to contemporary voices like J. Hoberman, Armond White, Roger Ebert, AO Scott, Jonathan Rosenbaum and Manohla Dargis.  We will do so through analysis of the films that sparked the inspiration and sometimes ire of these writers, and led them to both define and increasingly defend their role as arbiters of quality and importance; possible objects of study will include classics like "The Gold Rush," "The Passion of Joan of Arc," "Citizen Kane," "Jules and Jim," "Double Indemnity," "L'Avventura," "Bonnie and Clyde," "2001: A Space Odyssey," and "The Wild Bunch," plus contemporary sources of debate including  "A History of Violence," "Sideways," "Crash" and "Pirates of the Caribbean."  Writings will include short responses to the films and readings and two longer papers.

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