CSCL 3212W: Documentary Cinema: History and Politics

4 CreditsArts/HumanitiesCivic Life and EthicsWriting Intensive

This course explores the ethics and aesthetics of documentary cinema, arguably the very first genre of film. We will track the way documentary has widened from largely instructional and experimental uses early in its history to become a distinct genre among today’s familiar feature films. We will screen early documentaries, which may include shocking ethnographies (Nanook of the North, The Mad Masters). Over the course of the term, the syllabus makes its way to recent exemplars of the genre (films may include: Amy, American Teen, I Am Not Your Negro, A Jihad for Love, Generation Wealth, Fetish, Blackfish and so on). One of our aims will be to explore students’ relations as viewers and documentarians themselves (via smartphones, Instagram, etc.) to this participatory, revelatory, and always controversial, politically fraught film practice. Documentary Cinema includes both full class lectures and discussions as well as small group discussion of films and readings, and may include the opportunity for students to create their own personal documentary. Intellectually, the course balances out a study of the grammar of documentary as an artistic practice with explorations of the ways the genre reflects broader currents of cinematic and cultural history. By the end of the semester, students should have a stronger understanding of the ways documentary cinema opens our senses to the world around us.

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A- Average (3.556)Most Common: A (47%)

This total also includes data from semesters with unknown instructors.

261 students
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