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The Politics of Truth in the Global Documentary

ENGL 2943.401
also offered as: ARTH 3959 / CIMS 2943 / COML 2943
Tuesday 12-2:59pm

This course is a study of documentary film practices internationally, beginning from the invention of cinema and ending in the contemporary landscape. It analyzes how documentary worldwide serves a paradoxical function: both a testament to the power of the "real," and a critique of its representation. The class thus challenges preconceived notions of a medium often connection to "cinema-truth." This class will also pay special attention to the intersection of documentary and politics to think through how the art of documentary has been historically instrumental for revolutionary politics, while also deeply complicit in fascist regimes. Films in the course include ethnographic films, experimental nonfiction films, essay films, activist documentaries, and animated documentaries. Lectures, screenings, and discussions will be oriented around the history and theory of documentary filmmaking as well as an in-depth analysis of the films themselves. Requirements will include readings in film history and film analysis, short response papers, active participation, a research paper, and a final creative assignment.


English Major Requirements
  • Sector 1 Theory and Poetics (AETP)
  • Sector 2 Difference and Diaspora (AEDD)
  • Sector 6 20th & 21st Centuries (AE20)
English Concentration Attributes
  • 20th-21st Century Concentration (AE21)
  • Theory & Cultural Studies Concentration (AETC)
College Attributes
  • Foundational Approach: Cross Cultural Analysis (AUCC)