English 173

The Language and Literature of Films: Meta-Cinema and the Hollywood Novel

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Fall 2009 Clowes, Erika
Clowes, Erika
TTh 3:30-5 166 Barrows

Other Readings and Media

Didion, J.: Play It as It Lays; Fitzgerald, F.S.: The Love of the Last Tycoon; Mamet, D.: Speed-the-Plow; Waugh, E.: The Loved One; West, N.: The Day of the Locust; and a course reader

Films: Altman, R.: The Player; Coen, E. & J.: Barton Fink; Fellini, F.: 8 ½; Jonze, S.: Adaptation; Powell, M.: Peeping Tom; Richardson, T.: The Loved One; Sedgwick, E.: The Cameraman; Truffaut, F.: Day for Night; Wilder, B.: Sunset Boulevard


Hollywood is traditionally conceived as a “dream factory,” the place where common cultural fantasies are articulated. Books and films about filmmaking, however, tend to associate it with superficiality, immorality, and even violence and death. In this course, we will examine film production as a literary and cinematic subject, in an attempt to define its values and to understand how texts themselves “produce” fantasy and identity. When cinematic illusions are exposed and we see actors’ rehearsals, the construction of sets, and the negotiations between writers and producers – still within the context of fiction – is fantasy destroyed or in some way perpetuated? As part of our study of the relationship between literary and filmic representation, we will consider how the word competes with the image as a narrative medium. How are writers, directors, and cameramen, as “artists,” portrayed? How do verbal symbols signify differently from visual ones? We will also learn about some techniques of film production and film analysis, to better understand how they complement and differ from corresponding literary techniques.

There will be several evening film screenings, so please save Tuesdays 6-9 P.M. in your schedule for them; the location of the screenings is still to be arranged.

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