Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Final Writing Assignment! Where No Sci-Fi Film Had Gone Before!

Final Writing Assignment: Where no Science Fiction Film has gone before...

Due: Monday, December 9th!  Please post to blog and bring a print version to turn in.

Your task:
Create an original "treatment" for a science fiction film.  Avoid using any of the cliches, tropes and stereotypes of sci-fi filmmaking that we identified as a group in class this past week.  

You are to create a completely original concept for a science fiction film.  Consider all the films and readings we have experienced over the course of the semester and your understanding of the sci-fi genre as examples.  Consider the representations of characters, gender, sexuality, location and the general narrative structures that are so prevalent in the history of the genre.

Create a 3-4 page "treatment" or "screenplay proposal" that briefly outlines the story, characters, sets/location, motifs, etc.  Look up "treatment" and "screenplay" online as there are hundreds of links with advice on how to write such - what you are making of course is much shorter than what one would typically be submitted for consideration.  Just be absolutely sure you have clearly stated your idea to the reader.  You may as well be creative with this, some might prefer to write an imagined "review" of the film (of course it has not yet been made, but imagine a critic writing about your film).  
Feel free to include any illustrations of characters, locations, etc.  (this is not required). Send me questions or ideas, glad to provide feedback!  

Women in Science Fiction Films

View in Theaters for December 2nd:
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, 2013, USA, Francis Lawrence
Please view the film at a local theater prior to Monday's class.  Those students who have not previously viewed the first film of the "The Hunger Games" series, please do so.

In Class Viewing:


We will be watching a number of trailers for science fiction films featuring prominent stories surrounding women and one feature length film (this will be a surprise!).

Reading Assignments: 

Fans, Romans, Countrymen...

View in Class November 30th:
Trekkies, 1997, 86 minutes, USA, Roger Nygard

On Reserve in the KC:

Fanboys, 2009, 90 minutes, USA, Kyle Newman

Reading Assignment: 
Liquid Metal: The Science Fiction Film Reader

Star Trek Rerun, Reread, Rewritten: Fan Writing as Textual Poaching by Henry Jenkins III pg 264-280

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Militarism in Science Fiction Films

View in Theaters:
Ender's Game, 2013, 114 minutes, USA, Gavin Hood
The International Military seek out a leader who can save the human race from an alien attack. Ender Wiggin, a brilliant young mind, is recruited and trained to lead his fellow soldiers into a battle that will determine the future of Earth.  This film is being released in Theaters November 1st.  As we have no class meeting on November 11th, Veteran's Day, this film will take the place of the film we would have watched in class (please remember you are required to be involved with homework for 6 hours per week per 3 credit class).  Read reviews of the film in various media sources and come prepared to share such in class.

On Reserve in the KC:

Starship Troopers, 119 minutes, USA, Paul Verhoeven
Humans in a fascistic, militaristic future do battle with giant alien bugs in a fight for survival.

Reading Assignment: 
Of Starship Troopers and Refuseniks: War and Militarism in U.S. Science Fiction, 2007, Darko Suvin
(I will provide a pdf copy via email)

Prosthetic Memories - Total Recall and Blade Runner

In Class Viewing November 4th, 2013:

Bladerunner – The Final Cut, 2007, 1982, 117 minutes, USA, Ridley Scott

On Reserve in the KC watch prior to class:

Total Recall - 1990, 113 minutes, USA, Paul Verhoeven

Reading Assignment: 
Liquid Metal: The Science Fiction Film Reader
Prostethetic Memory: Total Recall and Blade Runner, by Alison Landsberg, pg 239-248

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Technophobic and Dystopic Visions of the 1970's

In Class Viewing:
THX 1138, 1971, 88 minutes, USA, Director George Lucas
Set in the 25th century, the story centers around a man and a woman who rebel against their rigidly controlled society.

Liquid Metal: The Science Fiction Film Reader
Technophobia/Dystopia by Michael Ryan and Douglas Kellner pg 48-56

On reserve in the KC:

Silent Running, 1972, American, Director Douglas Trumbull - 89 minutes


Review of Silent Running:
Analysis of La Jetee:
Analysis of Dark Star:

Monday, October 14, 2013

Outer Space is the Place - Into the 1970's

Module C Continued...hippies, counterculture and ecology...with a wink towards French experimentation.

In class we will be watching two films (both on the shortish side).

1) La Jetée, 1962, French, Director Chris Marker - 28 minutes

2) Dark Star, 1974, American, Director(s) John Carpenter and Dan O'Bannon - 83 minutes

Both these films have in common highly independent production values - both are very low budget productions yet considered classics that have stood the test of time.

On reserve in the KC:

Watch Silent Running, 1972, American, Director Douglas Trumbull - 89 minutes

There is no reading from Liquid Metal this week, rather I want you to read and be prepared to discuss these various reviews and analysis of the films we will be viewing this week:

Review of Silent Running:


Analysis of La Jetee:


Analysis of Dark Star:

Print out these reviews and bring to class or on your laptop, ipad - be sure and have copies of each available for our discussion.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Module C: Outer Space is the Place - Midterm Comparative Critique and Analysis

Module C:  Outer Space is the Place - Midterm Comparative Critique and Analysis.

1) Monday, October 7th (this class will run past our 9:45pm end time)

Screening:  2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968, British, Directed by Stanley Kubrick
(I am working on securing a wide screen HD projected venue for this, more info soon as to the location)

and...View in Theaters! Opening October 4th 

Gravity, American, 2013, Directed by Alfonso Cuaron
(you don't need to view this by Monday but will need to in order to complete the writing assignment described below)

No assigned Reading for this week - midterm...
Due: Monday, October 21st!
Midterm Paper: You are to write a critical review and comparative analysis regarding the 1968 film 2001: A Space Oddyssey and the 2013 release of Gravity.  Conduct basic research regarding both films, screen the films then write a 5 page, minimum 1500 words, double spaced midterm essay.  Follow the writing guidelines link I sent you earlier in the terms in developing your critical, comparative analysis.  Please write your essay from the third person perspective.  Please turn in one copy printed and also post to your blogs please!  

2) Monday, October 14th
Screening:  The Planet of the Apes, 112 minutes, USA, Director Franklin J. Schaffner

Read for discussion: 
Signifying Monkeys: Politics and Story-Telling in the Planet of the Apes Series by Richard von Busack xeroxed essay. 

There is no film on reserve for this particular week, work on your midterm papers please!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Module B: The Atomic Age - Disaster Imagination

Module B: The Atomic Age – Disaster Imagination

Week 3 -  September 16, 2013

Gojira (Godzilla) , 1954, 98 minutes, Japan, Director Ishiro Honda

Reading Assignment:
Liquid Metal: The Science Fiction Film Reader
Two – Science Fiction’s Disaster Imagination – pg 37-39
The Imagination of Disaster by Susan Sontag – pg 40-47

On Reserve KC:
Atomic Café, 1982, 86 minutes, USA, Directors Jayne Loader and Kevin Rafferty

Week 4 – September 23, 2013
The Day the Earth Stood Still, 1951, 92 minutes, USA, Director Robert Wise
(class will meet at the Fleischmann Planetarium and Science Center!)

On Reserve KC:
Invasion of the Body Snatchers, 1956, 80 minutes, USA, Director Don Seigel

Reading Assignment:
Liquid Metal: The Science Fiction Film ReaderRe-examining the 1950’s Invasion Narratives, Mark Jancovich pgs 325-336

Week 5 – September 30, 2013
The Thing, 1951, 87 minutes, USA, Director Christian Nyby

On Reserve KC:
Them, 1954, 94 minutes, USA, Director Gordon Douglas (on VHS)

Reading Assignment:
Liquid Metal: The Science Fiction Film Reader
Eight: Look to the Skies! 1950’s Science Fiction Invasion Narratives 316-317
The Russians are Coming, Aren’t They? Them! And The Thing by Peter Biskind pgs 318-324

Art 441 Module A: Foundations of Science Fiction Film

Module A: Foundations of Science Fiction Film

Week 1 -  August 26, 2013
Star Wars, 1977, 121 minutes, USA, Director George Lucas
The Power of Myth – Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers

August 29, 2013 Memorial Day Holiday

On reserve in the KC – watch and write brief analysis on your blog:
Metropolis1927, 117 minutes, German, Director Fritz Lang  view on reserve

Frankenstein, 70 minutes, USA, Director James Whale view on reserve

Week 2 – September 9, 2013
Le voyage dans la lune, A Trip to the Moon, 1902, 14 minutes, Director Georges Méliès
Things to Come, 1936, 97 minutes, Great Brittain, Director William Cameron Menzies

Reading Assignment due for discussion September 9, 2013:
Liquid Metal: The Science Fiction Film Reader

One - Preface by Sean Redmond
The Wonder of Science Fiction pg 2-3
Images of Wonder: The Look of Science Fiction by Vivian Sobchack pgs 4-10

Other foundational films from the early years of science fiction film:
Frau im Mond, Woman in the Moon, 1929, 169 minutes, German, Director Fritz Lang
King Kong, 1933, 104 minutes, USA, Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack
Bride of Frankenstein, 1935, 75 minutes, USA, James Whale
Modern Times, 1936, 83 minutes, USA, Director Charlie Chaplin
Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe, 1940, 12 episones, Directors Ford Beebe
and Ray Taylor

Monday, September 9, 2013

Art 441 Seminar on Art and Technology Syllabus 2013

Art 441 Seminar on Art and Technology
Professor Joseph DeLappe
Mondays: 7:00pm-9:45pm CFA 153
office: CFA 158

Encourages an analytical and critical approach to historical and contemporary issues related to the human/machine creative interface. 
Maximum of 6 credits. Prerequisite: ART 350

“Science fiction films are not about science. They are about disaster, which is one of the oldest subjects of art.”
-Susan Sontag

“Science fiction is any idea that occurs in the head and doesn't exist yet, but soon will, and will change everything for everybody, and nothing will ever be the same again.”
-Ray Bradbury 

“If science fiction is the mythology of modern technology, then its myth is tragic.”
-Ursula K. Le Guin 

“You will be assimilated, resistance is futile!”
-The Borg

Course Objectives:
The science fiction film genre has become, since the invention of film, a mainstay of popular entertainment.  Our objective in this course is to consider science fiction film from a critical and creative perspective.  We will be exploring the myriad of themes available through watching, reading about and discussing science fiction films.  Our primary goal is to achieve a level of historical and critical understanding and discourse that delves into the theoretical and sociological underpinnings of such popular forms of entertainment.  Science fiction writing largely emerged in the 19th century, coinciding and given rise to by the incredible changes to western societies through the evolution of scientific thought and the mechanization of modern live as caused by the industrial revolution.  Science fiction film and writing have boomed in the 20th century, as the deep integration of science and inventions into daily life encouraged a greater interest cultural experiences that explores the relationship between technology, society, and the individual. We will explore the larger ramifications and underlying context of the sci-fi film genre as a relevant form of cultural expression in order to gain a more in depth understanding and the ability to view such content with a critical and informed eye. 

Course Structure and Content:
This offering of Art 441 Seminar on Art and Technology is unique in that it will function as an historical and critical survey of the science fiction film genre.  This course will involve a careful series of activities from screenings, careful observation, required readings, open dialogue, and research into the history and context of contemporary and historical science fiction films. 

1) We will be viewing numerous science fiction films – on average one full-length film per class period and considering brief segments from others in thematic groupings – considering films from throughout the history of the genre.  Each class will involve assigned reading(s) either from the required text or from provided Xeroxed articles as well as additional films to be viewed on reserve in the KC or through free online contexts.  All students are required to complete all reading and screening assignments, take notes and be prepared to discuss in class. 

2) We will be going on at least one field trip to a local theater – most likely to see “Ender’s Game” on release.  

3) There will be several writing assignments.  These assignments will have specific due dates – no late assignments will be accepted. 

Required Texts:
-Liquid Metal: the Science Fiction Film Reader, Sean Redmond.  Available online used through  Purchase this immediately.  

-Other assigned readings will be provided as electronic pdf’s or through online links.

Course Requirements: 
•Attendance is mandatory at all scheduled class meetings. If you are to be absent for any reason please contact me via email the day of the class that you are missing.
•Participation in all class screenings, post-screening and reading discussions are  expected and mandatory. As a seminar class this is the central activity of this course. 
•Students must have a current e-mail account.
•Each student will keep a class blog – this will be where all writing assignments will be posted as well as weekly written analysis of films.

•Students will be assessed as to how well they participate in the class and by the successful completion of writing assignments.


Class Participation 1000 pts
Writing Assignments 250 pts
Blog 250 pts
Attendance      300 pts
         15 classes -  20 pts ea wk
Reviews on Two Sci Fi Films    200 pts
         2 reviews – 100 pts ea
Total Possible Points:                 2000 pts

GRADING SCALE: 2000 – 1800 = A; 1799 – 1600 = B; 1599 – 1400 = C; 1399 – 1200 = D; 1199 – 0 = F