Film Unit 1: The American Horror Film

Course Overview:

This elective course explores two major Hollywood genres. During the first quarter we will focus on the horror film, a genre which is generally dismissed (and often reviled) by critics. However, because the genre of horror is not strictly “realistic,” it can often provide an interesting commentary on society and human nature. We will begin by exploring the roots of the American horror film in gothic fiction as well as German Expressionism, and will trace the development of the genre through the 20th century. This class will count towards a student’s graduation requirements in English (ELA). [During quarter 2, we will study film noir.]

Viewing Journal:

You are responsible for taking notes during the screening of each film. These notes will be kept on lined paper and filed in a three-ring binder (your “viewing journal”). This journal will be collected and graded throughout each quarter.

Class Participation:

The participation grade is based on: attendance, active viewing (you are awake, alert, and taking notes), and in-class discussion. This class provides an opportunity for you to learn about and view films that you would not likely see on your own time. Some films are in black and white, have subtitles, or are otherwise more difficult than a mainstream Hollywood film. IF YOU SLEEP DURING THE SCREENING OF A FILM: you will be given one chance to refocus, after that you will receive a 0 for class participation for that day.

Response Papers:

You will write a short (1-2 page) response paper for each film that we watch in class. Papers are marked down if they are turned in late: 5% for the first day, 10% for the second day, 25% for any day after that.

Portfolio Project:

A full length paper will be assigned at the end of the second quarter. Students will choose, in consultation with the teacher, a topic that is of interest to them. Papers will involve independent research and outside viewing. Analyses of films will combine a historical and formalist approach to visual art.

Class Participation/Viewing Journal:40%
Response Papers:35%
Portfolio Project:25%