Film Concentration


Holloway Hall

What are the courses?

Before you read any further, you should print out the English Major Checklist for the Film Concentration, a pdf that can be accessed by clicking hereIt is crucial for your timely progress through our program that you complete the general education requirements as well as the other course requirements for earning an English Major with a film concentration.  Check with your advisor if you have any questions, or contact one of the film concentration faculty if you do not yet have an advisor or are considering switching majors.

These descriptions are for the required film courses for the film concentration but may also be of use to students from other majors who wish to take a film course while they are at Salisbury University. (These notations go beyond the relatively brief descriptions in the course handbook; they do not serve as replacements for those descriptions, but, rather, elaborations on them.)  For students taking these courses as electives, bear in mind that the upper-level courses in the English Department are challenging and require serious dedication to the course material, and the film courses are no exception.  That having been said, we welcome students of any major who have a genuine interest in learning more about the cinema.  Please note that ENGL 221 (Literature and Film) is the only film-related course that fulfills the General Education IB requirement.

The Core Classes:

ENGL 220:  Introduction to Film.  4 hours credit.  In this course, you will learn the basic language of film, including terms like mise-en-scene and tracking shot; gain some basic knowledge about various histories and genres of film; and learn how to analyze a film in both the essay format as well as more informal in-class discussions.  Although not required, students new to film would benefit from taking this course first (particularly those in the concentration).  Prerequisite:  C or better in ENGL 102 or 103.  NOTE:  Cannot receive credit for both ENGL 121 and ENGL 220.

ENGL 323:  Major Film Directors.  4 hours credit.  What do directors do, and why, when speaking of a film, do we so often discuss its director as its main creative author (or to use the term more specific to film, auteur)?  What are the potential values--and the potential problems--of the idea of a film auteur?  This course explores some of the major ideas about film through many of the medium's most famous directors, including Alfred Hitchcock, François Truffaut, Agnes Varda, and Spike Lee. Prerequisite:  C or better in ENGL 102 or 103Four hours per week. 

ENGL 324:  Film Genre.  4 hours credit.  Students in this course will study the concept of genre and explore several varieties, including comedy, musicals, westerns, and science fiction.  While this course is not historical per se, students will be encouraged to consider how films are constantly reshaping themselves as they respond to--and challenge--the demands of their particular genre.  Prerequisite:  C or better in ENGL 102 or 103Four hours per week. 

ENGL 402:  Film History.  4 hours credit.  What are the origins of the medium of film, and how has it developed into the contemporary cinema?  Students in this course will begin with the earliest examples of the medium and survey several of the major periods, including German Expressionism, Soviet Montage, Classical Hollywood, Italian Neorealism, and the French New Wave.  Although one course cannot hope to cover every development in cinema in the past century, students should leave this course with a larger sense of some of the major film periods and movements.  Prerequisite:  C or better in ENGL 102 or 103Four hours per week.  NOTE:  Cannot receive credit for both ENGL 321 and ENGL 402.

ENGL 404:  International Cinema.  4 hours credit.  To what extent does a narrative film represent its own culture, and how does it engage in representations perhaps different (perhaps not) than ones we are more familiar with?  Students in this course will study cinemas from Italy, Japan, New Zealand, and many other nations and cultures.  They should leave this course with a better appreciation of cinemas outside their native context.  Prerequisite:  C or better in ENGL 102 or 103Four hours per week. 

ENGL 408:  Film Theory.  4 hours credit.  To borrow the title of André Bazin's famous study, What is the cinema?  How does it create meaning, and how have different bodies of theory been used to answer that question?  Students in this course will study a variety of different theoretical perspectives, including psychoanalysis, realism, auteurism, feminism, gender studies, queer theory, investigations of race, and postcolonial theories.  Prerequisite:  C or better in ENGL 102 or 103Four hours per week. 


Special Topics Courses

The English Department also offers special-topics courses in film.  These courses change from semester to semester and are not offered in the regular cycle.  Consult the most recent course catalog or the English Department to verify whether or not a course is being offered.

Special Topics Courses, Fall 2013

ENGL 401 Cine Love and Cine Writing4 hours credit.  This course will explore cinema through the lens of cinephilia, which has often been defined generally as the love of cinema but which also has in recent years implied a certain way of writing about cinema (or even several, sometimes conflicting ways of writing about cinema). One unusual aspect of this course is that it will foreground a form of writing that sometimes uses the first-person and that often relies on multiple rhetorical strategies; it thus taps into a different kind of "essay" than you may be accustomed to writing. Toward that end, we will study the tradition of the essay most famously associated with Montaigne. We will also be examining new forms of cinephilia emerging in digital contexts. Films will range in style, subject matter, historical moment, and other aspects; they will become the contexts for us to practice these forms of writing that are much older and that also are emerging in the current century.  Prerequisite:  C or better in ENGL 102 or 103Four hours per week. 


Past Special Topics Courses

ENGL 494/CMAT 490:  Film Noir.  4 hours credit.  The class is cross-listed as having English and Communications discussion sections. As well as exploring stylistic and thematic patterns associated with film noir, we will analyze how the genre has historically depicted issues of gender, race, and class. We will discuss the resonance of these representations in terms of American society and media industries. Much of the course will be devoted to examples of noir from the Classic Hollywood period (such as the Big Heat (1953)) before moving on to examples of neo-noir and revisionist noir (such as The Man Who Wasn't There (2001)). Students are required to develop a research paper and a brief class presentation. Students who enroll in a discussion section (of either CMAT 490 or ENGL 494) will automatically be enrolled in the film lecture/screening on Monday 7:00 - 9:45pm in Henson 243.

ENGL 401:  Studies in Documentary.  4 hours credit.  What does it mean for a film to be a documentary?   To what extent do documentaries objectively report, and to what extent do they passionately persuade?  While students in this course will learn some of the basic history, the approach will be primarily speculative and theoretical, as we learn how both filmmakers and viewers negotiate the difficult territory of representing reality.  (This course is not a production course, and though we welcome students with production background, you need not have it.)  Prerequisite:  C or better in ENGL 102 or 103Four hours per week. 


Other Courses:  General Education

The following course is not part of the Film Concentration but may be of interest to our film students.  Generally, it is a non-majors course, as it is the only film-related course currently that fulfills the General Education 1-A requirement for the third Literature course.  (As an English Major in the Film Concentration, you need not worry about the Gen-Ed 1-A requirement, as the major fulfills it.)


ENGL 221:  Literature and Film.  4 hours credit.   What are the processes by which a play, novel, or short story becomes a film?  How might we think about those processes in terms of how they reflect their mediums, their cultures, and their historical moments?  Students in this course will study film adaptations of Shakespeare, Victorian novels such as Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, and more recent work such as The Virgin Suicides and The Silence of the Lambs.  Prerequisite:  C or better in ENGL 102 or 103Two hours lecture, two hours screening per week.  Meets General Education IB.


Courses Outside the English Department

Students should also be aware that other departments offer courses related to film (or dealing directly with film) on a regular basis.  The Communication Arts Department has a program in audio-visual production, for those of you who would like practical experience, and CMAT also offers courses in media studies more broadly considered.  We have had students in the past do double-majors, in fact, or some combination of majors and minors.  The History Department regularly offers History and Film, and Modern Languages also offers regular courses involving cinema.  Consult the course catalog for more information (as well as the course offerings for an upcoming semester), and email individual professors if you have further questions regarding a specific course.