Summer 2021 Undergraduate Courses

All Summer 2021 courses will be held remotely.

Images representing the seven Summer 2021 courses offered by the Department of Cinema Studies at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts.

Summer in Cinema Studies

Session One

Film Criticism

Eric Kohn
May 24 - July 3, 2021
Tuesdays & Thursdays

Class # 5319

This course demystifies the professional and intellectual roles of film criticism in the contemporary media landscape through a historical foundation. Students will encounter criticism from a diverse range of sources and eras in addition to writing reviews of recent films, all of which should aid those interested in pursuing further opportunities in criticism and/or developing a deeper understanding of the craft. Through a combination of readings, discussions, and screenings, we will explore the expansive possibilities of criticism across multiple media, online ecosystems, and the impact of the practice on the film and television industries themselves. We will cover the influence of major figures in the profession with course readings and discussions based around work by major figures including Ebert, Kael, Sontag, and many others. Major critics, filmmakers, and other working professionals will visit the course to provide additional context. We will also explore the related field of entertainment journalism. Students will be expected to keep up with readings and assignments, including a final project, and participate in class discussions.

The Film Musical

Antonia Lant
May 24 - June 13, 2021
Mondays - Thursdays
12:30 - 4:30pm

CINE-GT 1325
Class # 5254

This is a graduate-level lecture open to advanced undergraduates.

This course surveys the film musical genre from the coming of sound to the present, engaging the rich critical literature about it. We examine the musical’s relation to technological changes (the use of optical sound, dubbing, widescreen, motion capture) and also to social, cultural, and economic transformations (the Depression, rise of teen audiences, changing priorities in casting, innovations in music). By paying close attention to editing, cinematography, lighting and other aesthetic elements as well as to the multiple aspects of performance that contribute to the musical’s milieu, we uncover both its utopian and its grittier sides. The course pays attention to: early all-Black cast musicals; history of classical Hollywood titles of the 1930s-1950s (Maurice Chevalier, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse, etc); a range of genre appropriations and deconstructions by non-Hollywood and often non-American filmmakers (Julie Dash, Chantal Akerman, Jacques Demy, Lars von Trier); and weighs more recent musical titles within this history (eg. La La Land). Coursework: short written responses; a presentation; a short final paper.

Film Directors: Mike Leigh

Anna McCarthy
June 14 - July 3, 2021
Mondays - Thursdays
6:00 - 10:00pm

CINE-GT 1202
Class # 5266

This is a graduate-level lecture open to advanced undergraduates.

Mike Leigh (b. 1943) is considered notable among British filmmakers. His working method is unique and highly collaborative. His directorial vision, remarkably consistent across genres and media, is grounded in a deep understanding of the dramatic potential of ordinary, everyday lives. His subjects range from famous historical figures to middle class individuals to people on the margins of society, each film inviting the viewer to speculate on the human condition. This course's deep dive into one director's oeuvre is an opportunity to explore the nuances of craft, collaboration, and authorship through close analysis and discussion.

Topics in TV: Showrunners

Claudia Calhoun
June 14 - July 3, 2021
Mondays - Thursdays
12:30 - 4:30pm

CINE-GT 1127
Class # 2444

This is a graduate-level lecture open to advanced undergraduates.

The term "showrunner" came into usage in the early 2000s to describe the individual who is most responsible for the style and content of a television show, such as The Sopranos' David Chase or Fleabag's Phoebe Waller-Bridge. This course will analyze and interrogate the relatively new title of "showrunner" on U.S. television, looking at the stories that showrunners tell on-screen and the ideas of authorship that they mobilize and challenge.  We will look at series from the 1950s to the present day, considering how individuals become authors in a collaborative medium and how conceptions of television authorship have changed over time. The writers and producers covered will include early television creators like Lucille Ball (I Love Lucy) and Jack Webb (Dragnet); network-era figures like Aaron Spelling (Charlie's Angels) and David Lynch (Twin Peaks); and contemporary writer-producers like  Damon Lindelof (Lost, Watchmen) and Issa Rae (Insecure).

Session Two

The Summer Blockbuster

Tanya Goldman
July 6 - July 25, 2021
Mondays - Thursdays
6:00 - 10:00pm

Class # 5320

Hollywood filmgoing, especially during the summer, has become synonymous with “the blockbuster,” a category of films defined by big expectations—big budgets, big buzz, big special effects, big stars, big marketing campaigns, and big controversies! This course will examine the evolving place of this ubiquitous mode of American film production by approaching it as a formal style, industrial strategy, mode of production, and cultural phenomenon. Through these lenses, we will consider cinema’s history of spectacle, high concept narratives, special effects, sequels and franchises, transmedia storytelling, fandom, and staples of blockbuster form such as action adventures and superhero films. We will read these films alongside media paratexts such as trailers, merchandising, viral marketing campaigns, and review journalism that position and surround these products in the marketplace. Finally, we will also focus on how the blockbuster has become an especially visible site for efforts to reform Hollywood’s production culture in response to demands for racial and gender equity, and reflect on how COVID-19 has disrupted theatrical exhibition and other aspects of Hollywood’s business model. In this multivalent approach, this summer course will unpack the conditions that inform the past, present, and potential futures of American commercial filmmaking on a global scale.

The Giallo Cinema: Italian Thriller / Horror Films of the 1970s

Gianni Barchiesi
July 6 - August 15, 2021
Tuesdays & Thursdays
12:30 - 4:30pm

Class # 5311

Since the 1930s, the word giallo (yellow) has been for Italians synonymous with all sorts of thrilling and mysterious detective stories, in literature and beyond. However, in the 1970s, giallo came to globally indicate a group of Italian movies that creatively blended mystery plots with strokes of horror, gory imagery, suggestive nudity, and hints of social critique.

While the local exceptionalism of Italian Giallo cinema is undeniable, a more careful look to both its roots and impact can suggest a more precise framing of it in the history of Italian cinema and culture, and in that of the evolution of genre films. This course will deal with all this. In fact, we will analyze examples of Italian Giallo cinema from directors such as Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci, Mario Bava, and Pupi Avati, dissecting their aesthetics and discussing their idiosyncratic and controversial features. But we will also explore Giallo cinema’s connections to its slightly distant cousin US film noir, and observe how Giallo spilled beyond genre boundaries in the context of Italian cinema since the 1980s.

Trends in 21st Century Animation

Justin Shanitkvich
July 6 - August 15, 2021
Mondays & Wednesdays
12:30 - 4:30pm

Class # 5296

Animation is an expansive category of film with its roots in the very origins of the medium—so expansive, in fact, that it’s difficult to discern whether animation is a necessary precondition for the cinema at large, a subcategory or genre, or something else entirely. This class, then, attempts in some way to understand or capture as many of the multivalent possibilities of animation in the present century, including popular productions by Disney Pixar and Studio Ghibli; small-scale and independent productions; special effects; ambitious projects that test the limits of the form by Richard Linklater and Ari Folman; and more. We will examine these films in regard to style and substance, analyzing the aesthetic capabilities of the form, as well as in economic and historical terms, understanding the ways in which animation continues to function as an adaptable component of the cinematic landscape.