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Poetic Film: Word, Image and the Avant-Garde cancelled

ENGL 292.403
fulfills requirements:
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major
Elective Seminar of the Standard Major


As an introduction to the brief history of avant-garde and experimental cinema, this course will consider the influence of late 19th century and 20th century poetic experiments on filmmakers of the 1920s through today.  The movements of primary interest will be Dada, Surrealism, French Impressionism, German Expressionism, the Japanese avant-garde, American “lyricist” and “structuralist” filmmakers as well as contemporary filmmakers like Abigail Child and Su Friedrich. We will begin by looking at the representation of time, space and movement that arise in poetics of the late 19th century and early 20th century as poets like Mallarmé, Apollinaire and Blaise Cendrars experiment with the visibility of the word on the page. This will set the stage for a consideration of the influence of Symbolist, Surrealist, Dadaist and Futurist poetics on the experiments of filmmakers from the 1920s and 30s. Central poetic influences on filmmakers (many of whom were also poets) like Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, Jean Epstein, Germaine Dulac, Fernand Leger and Sergei Eisenstein include Charles Baudelaire, Guillaume Apollinaire,  Stéphane Mallarmé, André Breton, El Lissitzsky, F.T. Marinetti, and Tristan Tzara. We will examine the poetry, manifestoes, paintings and essays of these thinkers as a framework for thinking of the creation of filmic language as well as experimental film’s representation of movement, speed and subjective perception. The second part of the class will look particularly at the influence of American poets like Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, Charles Olson and the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets on American Avant-Garde film from the 1940s through the present. Instead of dividing materials generically or historically, this syllabus considers works according to the major ontological, aesthetic and linguistic questions they raise (although a number of works point to more than one area). Students will be required to prepare a presentation of a film, submit two short film analyses and one final paper.