In fall 2013, I will be teaching Philosophy of Film, a 4-credit, 3000-level course that will meet Mondays & Wednesdays from 6 to 7:50PM. While it is not a required course, it does fulfill some requirements of the Philosophy, Politics, and Law concentration of the Liberal Arts major.
Our text will be Philosophy of Film and Motion Pictures, edited by N. Carroll and J. Choi (Wiley-Blackwell, 2006). This is an anthology of essays by contemporary philosophers on various issues in the philosophy of film, such as the nature of photographic representation, the ontology of film (e.g., what is film?), the paradox of emotional responses to film, ethical issues related to film production and criticism, and the potential of film as philosophy.
We will usually read and discuss one essay per class period, except on those days that we will be watching films. The films we’ll watch were not chosen because of their direct connection to any of these essays (though, of course, they will be relevant). In fact, as long as students have watched some films before (which can be safely assumed), there is really no need to watch films in this class. But I figured that students would be disappointed if they took a philosophy of film class and were not shown any films. I have chosen films that were made by people who studied and/or taught philosophy before becoming filmmakers. In addition, they are excellent films with rich philosophical content. The filmmakers are Wes Anderson, Eric Rohmer, Jill Sprecher, and Terrence Malick. Below are trailers to some of their films and the complete short film La boulangère de Monceau (The Bakery Girl of Monceau) by Eric Rohmer (in two parts).
We’ll probably watch at least eight films. Assignments will likely include homework, a film journal, two or three essay exams, and perhaps the option to substitute a paper for one exam.