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American Independents

ENGL 292.401
also offered as: CINE 202, COML 292, ARTH 289
TR 1:30-3:00 pm

This course is a study of the independent sector of American cinema, which has produced many of the most distinctive films to have appeared in the US in recent decades, from the lowest-budget, most formally innovative or politically radical to the offbeat, the cultish and the more conventional. While the course will trace a long and broad history of the independent sector from the early history of cinema, our principal focus will be on particular versions of independent cinema that came to prominence since the mid 1980s, a period when an establishment of an industrial infrastructure (especially in distribution) was a key factor in the development of the indie scene. From milestone films such as Stranger Than Paradise (Jim Jarmusch) and Sex, Lies and Videotape (Steven Soderbergh) in the 1980s, to Clerks (Kevin Smith), The Blair Witch Project and New Queer Cinema in the 1990s, and the latest ultra-low budget digital video features of the 2000s, we will examine a significant body of work that both stands out from and presents a challenge to Hollywood, but also one that has been co-opted and embraced by the commercial mainstream.  A study of important auteurs of independent cinema--John Sayles, Jim Jarmusch, Hal Hartley, Todd Haynes and Quentin Tarantino among others--the course is also an exploration of the various manifestations and dynamic meaning of the term “independent,” which will be examined not only in terms of industrial factors but also according to formal/aesthetic strategies and distinctive relationship to broader social and ideological landscape.

fulfills requirements
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major