THE DIVISION OF CINEMA & MEDIA STUDIES
CTCS 190 "Introduction to Cinema"
This perennial favorite is the gateway to majors and minors in cinema-television. Lectures accompanied by screenings explore the thematic and formal properties of film. Rated one of the top six “USC classes you cannot afford to miss” (Saturday Night Magazine, 2004) and one of the top ten classes at USC (Saturday Night Magazine, 2012), this course dissects literary design, performance, visual design, composition, editing, sound design, genre, and style. Films include Singin’ in the Rain, The Talented Mr. Ripley, All About Eve, Babette’s Feast, A Place in the Sun, Two for the Road, Some Like It Hot, Sunset Blvd., My Darling Clementine, The Lady Vanishes, Out of the Past, Chinatown, The Bank Job, and The Shop Around the Corner. Films shown in 35mm film and DCP.
Open to all. This course satisfies the university’s General Education requirement.
Professor: Drew Casper
CTCS 191 "Introduction to TV and Video"
Will streaming replace cable TV? How is social media promoting and profiting from television publicity? Has the quality of premium cable outpaced feature films? Are women auteurs in television the next big thing? What are the business models and potentialities of Broadcast, Cable, Premium Cable, SVOD and AVOD?
To discuss these questions, this course introduces students to the study of television as a unique dramatic form with a history of business and creative practices that both overlap and diverge from that of feature film. Emphasis on the genres of crime, comedy and coming-of-age. Screenings will include: Broad City, Will and Grace, I Love Lucy, The Night Of, Law and Order SVU, Happy Valley, Freak and Geeks, My So-Called Life, OJ Made in America, High Maintenance and East Los High.
Open to all majors. You must also register for a discussion section.
Professor: Aniko Imre
CTCS 464 "The Gangster and American Culture"
With the release of Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather in 1972 the gangster genre in Hollywood took on a new cultural significance. Though the gangster film has a long history in Hollywood, the remaking of the genre as a venue for post 1960s commentary on history, cultural identity, and the American Dream elevated this genre in ways both popular and political. Over time the gangster would displace the cowboy as one of America’s favorite fictional characters, becoming an especially important and symbolic figure across the cultural landscape in the process. This course is interested in analyzing what we might refer to as the “modern American gangster,” from the 1970s through the present. In addition to focusing on several cinematic classics, the course will also assess the image of the gangster in what some have called the “new golden age of television,” in addition to surveying other forms of popular culture, particularly the role of the gangsta within hip hop culture. Screenings to include; The Godfather (1972), Super Fly (1972), The Godfather Part II (1974), Scarface (1983), Goodfellas (1990), Donnie Brasco (1997), The Sopranos (1999-2007), The Wire (2002-2008), Breaking Bad (2008-2013), American Gangster (2007), and Straight Outta Compton (2015) among other titles.
Professor: Todd Boyd
CTCS 464 "Anthology TV: Theory, History, and Practice"
The classics of anthology television in their historical and industrial context; the problems of financing and marketing anthologies; the renewed viability of anthology tv in the streaming era. Screenings include: The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Amazing Stories, Fargo, Black Mirror, American Horror Story, Skins, and more.
Professor: Thomas Kemper
CTCS-466: "Theatrical Film Symposium"
Theatrical Film Symposium, taught by world-renowned film critic Leonard Maltin, brings you face-to-face with leading film directors, writers, producers, and actors working today. Each week, students watch sneak previews of upcoming movies, followed by exclusive Q&As with the creative teams behind the films. Past semester screenings included Coco, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Colossal, Life, Land of Mine, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, The Shape of Water, American Made, and Thor: Ragnarok. Recent guests include Damien Chazelle, Adam Scott, Scott Derrickson, Taika Waititi, Lee Unkrich, JJ Abrams, James Franco, Jeff Nichols, Sylvester Stallone, Ryan Coogler, Bryan Cranston, Patricia Riggen, Charlie Kaufman, Atom Egoyan, Kevin Feige, and Judd Apatow.
Professor: Leonard Maltin
CTCS-467: Television Symposium
Modeled after the popular Leonard Maltin course, Theatrical Film Symposium, the Critical Studies department offers an exciting counterpart focusing on the television industry, taught by Pulitzer Prize-winning television critic Mary McNamara Each week, students are shown selected television programming, followed by a moderated Q&A with guests from the show, often including the series creator. Previous guests include Kelsey Grammer, Bryan Cranston, Lisa Kudrow, Laura Dern, Helen Mirren, Lily Tomlin, Tracey Ullman, Annie Potts, Donald Sutherland, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Garry Shandling, Ray Romano, Ken Burns, Damon Lindelof (Lost), Matt Weiner (Mad Men), Marc Cherry (Desperate Housewives), Josh Schwartz (Gossip Girl), Doug Ellin (Entourage), director Michael Apted, and Steve Levitan (Modern Family). Other featured shows have included Game of Thrones, Vampire Diaries, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Dexter, CSI, Big Love, The L Word, Weeds, The Simpsons, Grey's Anatomy, Damages, Breaking Bad, The Wire, Justified, True Blood, Homeland, How to Get Away with Murder, and The Walking Dead.
Professor: Mary McNamara
CTCS-469: "Women Directors and Showrunners"
This course analyzes the creative work and the careers of women directors in film and television. Alice Guy Blache, Lois Weber, Dorothy Arzner, and Ida Lupino will be our examples of Classical Hollywood style, examined through the lens of feminist film criticism. Non-traditional career pathways as well as resources for overcoming resistance and obstacles will be studied in the US and international contexts, as we screen films by directors Andrea Arnold, Jane Campion, Claire Denis, Ava Duvernay, Lena Dunham, Debra Granik, Jannicke Systad Jacobsen, Mira Nair, and Lynne Ramsey and Margarethe von Trotta. In addition to feature film and mainstream television, we will also look at avant garde and documentary filmmakers Carolee Schneeman, Michele Citron, Sadie Benning, and Sarah Barton (Defiant Lives).
Professor: Ellen Seiter
CTCS-469: "The Cinema of Stanley Kubrick and David Lean"
A portrait of Stanley Kubrick and David Lean: Kubrick’s blackly comedic take on life, Lean’s vision deep with pathos…their startling, breakthrough techniques…their obsessively painstaking production methods…their widely public and intensely private personas, as seen in such masterpieces as Kubrick’s Lolita, Dr. Strangelove or How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, and The Shining, and Lean’s Great Expectations, Brief Encounter, Summertime, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, and Passage to India.
Professor: Drew Casper
CTCS-482: "Transmedia Entertainment"
We now live in a moment where every story, image, brand, relationship plays itself out across the maximum number of media platforms, shaped top down by decisions made in corporate boardrooms and bottom up by decisions made in teenager’s bedrooms. The concentrated ownership of media conglomerates increases the desirability of properties that can exploit “synergies” between different parts of the medium system and “maximize touch-points” with different niches of consumers. The result has been the push towards franchise-building in general and transmedia entertainment in particular. A transmedia story represents the integration of entertainment experiences across a range of different media platforms. A story like The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones might spread from television into comics, the web, computer or alternate reality games, toys and other commodities, and so forth, picking up new consumers as it goes and allowing the most dedicated fans to drill deeper. The fans, in turn, may translate their interests in the franchise into concordances and Wikipedia entries, fan fiction, vids, fan films, cosplay, game mods, and a range of other participatory practices that further extend the story world in new directions. Both the commercial and grassroots expansion of narrative universes contribute to a new mode of storytelling, one which is based on an encyclopedic expanse of information which gets put together differently by each individual consumer as well as processed collectively by social networks and online knowledge communities. Each class session will introduce a concept central to our understanding of transmedia entertainment that we will explore through a combination of lectures, screenings, and conversations with industry insiders who are applying these concepts through their own creative practices.
Professor: Henry Jenkins