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Sample courses

In the core courses, you’ll be introduced to audiovisual analysis and the language of cinematography, editing, sound, acting, and art direction. And you’ll study film history and theory from its beginnings to the present day, and investigate documentary, animated, and experimental cinema—as well as fiction film.

Classes at the intermediate and advanced level provide opportunities to study specific genres, directors, and national cinemas, as well as interdisciplinary topics: narration and narrative in fiction and film, feminist film practices, and music and film.

To satisfy the requirements of the Film Studies minor, you must take four half-year core courses, as well as a number of electives. Through the Film Studies program, you will also have the option to take courses at other universities in Halifax. NSCAD University (Nova Scotia College of Art & Design), in particular, offers a wide range of Film Studies courses. To take a class off the Dal campus, you must complete Dalhousie's Letter of Permission and submit it to the Registrar's Office. You will also need to apply to the other university as a visiting student.

THEA 2301
Film History I

This class covers the history of film from the 1890s to the 1950s. Usually, the class is divided into three general periods of film history: the first covers silent films from the 1890s to the 1920s and illustrates the various forms of cinema that emerged during its earliest years. The second covers the cinema of Classical Hollywood in the 1930s and 40s, with a selection of films illustrating how cinema of this period differs from that of today. The third section explores forms of cinema from America, Asia, and Europe that don't follow the standard Classical model.

Each week, you’ll watch a film chosen to provoke discussion of the subject taught. For the first section, films might include Broken Blossoms (D.W. Griffith, 1919), The Gold Rush (Charlie Chaplin, 1925), Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1926) and The Passion of Joan of Arc (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1928). For the second, films might include Gold Diggers of 1933 (Mervyn LeRoy, 1933), Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942), and Notorious (Alfred Hitchcock, 1946). For the third, films might include Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, 1941), The Bicycle Thief (Vittorio de Sica, 1948), Rashomon (Akira Kurosawa, 1950), Blackboard Jungle (Richard Brooks, 1955), and Written on the Wind (Douglas Sirk, 1956).

During lectures, you'll also watch multiple illustrative clips from relevant films. Normally, you’ll be required to write three long essays, which encourage you to develop your close analysis and research skills. You’ll also write several short responses to films, and write three short tests during the term to assess your understanding of factual questions about the lectures and films.

Instructor: Dr. David Nicol

Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites.
Exclusions: THEA 2300 and NSCAD University's AHIS 2800

THEA 3301
Film History II

This class covers the history of film from the 1950s to the present. As with its partner class, Film History II is taught in three sections: the first examines the state of Hollywood in the mid-1950s and then explores how European cinema of the late 1950s and early 1960s encouraged experimentation and the notion of the film director as artist. The second section explores the changes that took place in Hollywood in the 1960s and 1970s following the breakdown of the old studio system and the rise of youth cinema, independent film, and the blockbuster. The third looks at a variety of films made in the last 15 years from several different countries, each of which illustrates a significant movement in contemporary global cinema or enables discussion of the cinema of a particular country.

Each week, you’ll watch a film chosen to provoke discussion of the subject taught. For the first section, films might include Rebel without a Cause (Nicholas Ray, 1955), Breathless (Jean-Luc Godard, 1960), Last Year at Marienbad (Alain Resnais, 1961) and Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960). For the second, films might include Easy Rider (Dennis Hopper, 1969), Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1975), Annie Hall (Woody Allen, 1977), and Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989). For the third, films might include Run Lola Run (Tom Tykwer, 1998), Chungking Express (Wong Kar Wai, 1994), Monsoon Wedding (Mira Nair, 2001), The Circle (Jafar Panahi, 2000), Millennium Actress (Satoshi Kon, 2001), and Children of Men (Alfonso Cuaron, 2006).

Lectures and class discussions enhance film screenings. Lectures use visual media and feature multiple illustrative clips from relevant films. The assessment methods are similar to those used for Film History I.

Instructor: Dr. David Nicol

Prerequisites: Recommended: THEA 2301
Exclusions: THEA 2800 and NSCAD's AHIS 2810

THEA 2311
Film Analysis

This class introduces you to the close textual analysis of narrative films. To this end, a few films will be studied in depth, in both lectures and group discussions. The formal properties of these films, such as mise-en-scène, sound, cinematography, and editing, will be analyzed and situated in social and historical context. Through screenings, readings, lectures, discussions and exercises, you’ll develop your technical vocabulary and skills in film interpretation.

Instructor: Dr. Shannon Brownlee

Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites.

THEA 2314
Survey of Italian Cinema

This class provides a survey of Italian cinema from its origins onwards. The primary focus will be on the “golden age” of Italian silent movies; visual culture under fascism; Italian neo-realism; and the impact of television. Though the class is cross-listed with the Italian Studies program, the class is held in English; part of the course work is in Italian for students who are majoring in Italian Studies.

Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites. Cross-listing: ITAL 2600

THEA 2346
East European Cinema: War, Love, and Revolutions

This class brings post-Berlin Wall European film into the fray of current debates on cultural identity, transnational cinema, and post-colonialism. Despite state control, the filmmakers of communist Europe were often more bold, honest, and provocative than their profit-driven Hollywood counterparts. By drawing on political, cultural, and philosophical discourses, the class will offer pointed analyses of most significant East European films that touch upon issues of ethnicity, gender, and overcoming censorship.

Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites. Cross-listing: RUSN 2046

THEA 2360
Popular Cinema

This class helps you develop your critical understanding of popular cinema. It introduces different approaches to the analysis of popular film, and considers principles of production, distribution, exhibition, and reception in major industries such as Hollywood and popular Hindi and Hong Kong cinemas. Throughout, through lecture and discussion, you’ll explore the implications of the concept of “popular cinema."

Instructor: Dr. Shannon Brownlee

Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites.

CTMP 3304
Through Her Eyes: Women and the Documentary Tradition

This class explores the rarely examined historical and contemporary involvement of women in the field of documentary filmmaking. Women documentary makers have produced extensive bodies of engaging work that challenge many societal assumptions about gender, class, race, the function of political power, sexuality and peace-war. They have worked at every level within the process: as directors, cinematographers, editors, sound recordists, producers, writers, and fund-raisers.

A variety of documentaries made by women from diverse backgrounds will be screened and analyzed along with a close reading of selected critical texts. Students will identify the similarities and differences in subjects, themes, style, aesthetics, and approached to creation, production, and distribution.

Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites. Cross-listings: JOUR 3304 and GWST 3304