This course introduces students to the study of media with particular emphasis on film studies and gender representations within media. After an overview on various aspects of media history, media theory, and media analysis, we will focus on the film genre of road movies and analyze changing gender representations within these films. Road movies can be seen as one ”typically American” film genre: travelling highways in search of independence, freedom, wealth and happiness constitutes an American ideal. At the same time, however, road movies also incorporate criticism on American society and the American dream. The course will provide students with a tool kit to critically analyze different media productions and investigate how media productions are shaped by current discourses in society while they at the same time add to these discourses. Students will be introduced to foundations of film studies, for example film narrative, cinematique techniques, approaches to contextual interpretation, genre analysis as well as a selection of Gender theories to enhance critical discussion of our examples. We will discuss a selection of films like Bonnie and Clyde (1967), Thelma & Louise (1991) and Little Miss Sunshine (2006) to explore how media productions are shaped by historical and social contexts on the one hand, while they contribute to and influence discourses in society at the same time.
Readings/materials: A selection of relevant essays and excerpts from books will be made available via moodle. We will discuss access to visual material in the first session.
Course requirements: Completion of reading assignments, a short (oral) presentation, and a short written assignment at the end of the course. Students are required to watch (excerpts) from movies in advance of the sessions in which we discuss them. Regular attendance and active participation in seminar discussions is expected.