29 09 2009

Welcome to the course blog for Film Theory: Comedy, a seminar in the Department of Theater, Dance and Film at Franklin & Marshall College. You can view and download the syllabus for the course at http://tdf.fandm.edu/. Please visit the blog for our introductory video production class, as well, at http://tdf173.wordpress.com.

Blogs posted to this site are for the purpose of fostering classroom discussion about theories of film comedy. Frame grabs and film clips posted here are “fair use” according to the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video published by the Center for Social Media at American University.

Useful (and free!) imaging resources for bloggers include Jing (for grabbing and labeling images and stills), Handbrake (for grabbing DVD clips), and MPEG Streamclip (for editing clips).



What is Comedy?

29 09 2009

The fundamental function of comedy as a genre is to foster or promote social integration, according to the theories we read this week. Does this  explain how your movie functions as comedy or not? (Note that the question I want you to address this week is what is comedy, not what is funny. It is important to keep in mind, not just this week but for the rest of the term, that a film comedy is a whole movie, not just the funny stuff.)

PowerPoint Assignment

15 09 2009

Every week, one of you will be assigned to develop and present some positive theoretical argument about film comedy, supported with examples from your selected film and outlined with a PowerPoint presentation. Obviously, an all-purpose theory of film comedy is impossible, especially in a brief presentation, so you need to single out some aspect of your selected film to explain: a short scene, for example, or a specific technique. The purpose of this assignment is to begin to tool up for the thesis paper each of you will be required to write, at the end of the term.

Remember, when preparing this presentation, that the goal of film theory is explanation, not just analysis or description. Remember, too, to try to prove your theory, since we are going to bring the same critical or skeptical eye to your theory that we do to every other. Feel free to draw on relevant ideas we have encountered previously in the class, in readings or discussions.

As with your blog posts, I will grade these presentations √, +, or −,  taking into account the quality of your insights and the care of your argument. √ will be the norm.


15 09 2009

In general, Tuesday’s discussions will be devoted to simply trying to comprehend and digest the reading assignments for the week. Thursday’s discussions will be devoted to assessing the theories presented in the readings and exploring possible alternatives. In between Tuesday and Thursday, each of you needs to come up with your own personal assessment of the week’s readings. That is the purpose of this blog.

So, every week, you will write a short and pithy post responding to the week’s readings. In this post, you must offer your own personal assessment of strengths and weaknesses of theories presented in the week’s readings based either upon logical argument or upon analysis of empirical evidence drawn from the film you have selected to focus on for the semester. Although your prose may be informal, you need to take pains to make your argument both careful and compelling. If you are making a case with reference to examples to your film, please use frame grabs or short clips so that we can check out your evidence for ourselves.

Give your post a brief descriptive title. “Sign” your post with your first name and last initial. Also, you might wish to add descriptive tags to your post, e.g. “Carroll” or “incongruity theory,” so that other students working on the same topic can find and refer to your ideas later in the term.

Finished posts must be on line by 11:30 am on Thursdays, to give me time to read them before class. I will grade your post √, +, or −, taking into account the quality of your insights and the care of your argument. √ will be the norm.