Bennet Schaber

Professor, Director of Cinema and Screen Studies


Contact

304F Marano Campus Center
315.312.2621
bennet.schaber@oswego.edu

Office hours

FALL 2019
Tuesday 2:30-3:30
Wednesday 1:00-2:00
or by appointment

Classes taught

SPRING 2020 COURSES

CSS 123/800

TR
R

2:20-3:40
6:00-8:00

211 Marano CC
315 Park Hall

CSS 496/800 TR 3:55-5:15 211 Marano CC
ENG 386/800

TR
T

11:10-12:30
6:00-8:00

211 Marano CC
315 Park Hall

CSS 123 PLANETARY CINEMA: From the moment of its birth, cinema has been an international phenomenon.  In part because of its inaugural condition as a kind of, in the words of one of its pioneers, visual Esperanto, but perhaps more so because it put into circulation a set of powerful and compelling figures through which modern life—as real material condition and simultaneously as collective dream—could be registered by both the senses and by thought.  Chaplin’s Little Tramp, the Frankenstein Monster, even Mickey Mouse played on nearly every continent.  As international modernism gave way to global postmodernism, a new but equally compelling set of figures emerged.  The samurai, the addict, the zombie, the alien, etc. spoke less to modernist forms of drift, alienation, anxiety or even utopianism than to a new set of micro-political and economic forces subtending restructured forms of consumption, production and even biological integrity.  However, the planetary forces unleashed during these two periods have given rise to what Timothy Morton has called ‘hyper-objects’, phenomena whose scope and formlessness pose challenges for representation and hence for human thought, with global warming first and foremost of these.  Indeed, the novelist Amitav Ghosh has bemoaned the failure of the arts to, at least in his view, adequately respond to the new planetary condition we now refer to as the Anthropocene.  This course is intended to introduce students to this periodization—the modern, international cinema (very roughly 1895-1965), the post-modern global cinema (very roughly 1965-2005), the meta-modern, planetary cinema of our own time—in order to discern and think along with the new, cinematic figures of life on a warming planet.

The course introduces students to ways of periodizing and hence of contextualizing and making sense of the history of cinema.  Rather than considering cinema by way of genre, technique, nationality or authorship, cinema is here regarded as a cultural barometer of and contributor to an epochal division of the 20th and 21st centuries.  The course  does this through critical reading and viewing, as well as practical experiences.  Divided into three unequal sections—modern, post-modern, meta-modern--students will be introduced to some of the key moments and examples of the ongoing interactions between cinema and its own age.  The course mixes lecture, discussion and screenings.  Students will have weekly reading and viewing assignments and be responsible for four major projects:  1.  A ‘essay film’ integrating archival images with an original text; 2. A short paper evaluating the fate of a particular cinematic figure—the hard-boiled detective, for example—across three historical periods; 3.  A written analysis of a particular theory of planetary or Anthropocene cinema (Morton on hyper-objects, Jennifer Fay on nuclear noir, Eugenie Brinkema on ‘shimmering’ objects, for instance);  4.  A screen treatment for a film proposing one or more ‘figures’ as crucial to cinema in the Anthropocene.

CSS 496 SENIOR THESIS: The Senior Thesis Seminar provides advanced CSS students with an opportunity to collectively reexamine the practical, theoretical, and historical bases of their screen education while at work on their particular, culminating projects.  Participants explore recent scholarship on the state of the discipline and directions for research and creative work. Each member of the seminar will develop a ‘poster presentation’ to be included in a group show at semester’s end. Most importantly, the seminar will serve as a workshop and as a site of critique for the thesis projects.

ENG 386 THE CINEMA: A direct engagement with some fragments of the major theories of film from the 1930’s to the present.  These primary documents will mediate an extended discussion of what cinema has been (or perhaps might have been), what it is (or perhaps might be), and what it is becoming (or perhaps might be becoming).   But we don’t only have to think about the cinema; sometimes the cinema encourages us to think about other things, many other things, as well.  Three take-home exams.  Required texts:  Timothy Corrigan and Patricia White, Critical Visions in Film Theory (2011); Thomas Elsaesser and Malte Hagener, Film Theory (2010).

FALL 2019 COURSES

CSS 360/800
ENG 360/800

W 3:00-6:45 211 Marano CC
ENG 286/800

TR
T

12:45-2:05
6:00-8:00

211 Marano CC
315 Park Hall

ENG 387/800

TR
R

9:35-10:55
6:00-8:00

211 Marano CC
315 Park Hall

CSS 360/ENG 360 STU NATION CIN: N. AFRICA GLOBAL-Contemporary film and literature from Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, with special attention to three young Tunisian filmmakers—Kaouther Ben Hania, Leila Bouzid, Mohammed Ben Attia--creating the new, post-revolutionary cinema.  Each student is responsible for one short essay (5-7 pages) and a final, creative project.

ENG 286 INTRODUCTION TO CINEMA AND SCREEN STUDIES-The purpose of this course is to provide a critical introduction to the study of cinema and screen studies. The course is comprised of two sections: 1) film and formal analysis; 2) film and historical analysis. This course satisfies the Knowledge Foundations in the Humanities requirement of General Education, the Contexts category in the English Major and is the introductory course for the major in Cinema and Screen Studies.

ENG 387 VISION AND TEXTUALITY-O’Neill Adapts O’Neill: The screenplays of American playwright and Nobel laureate, Eugene O’Neill (1888-1953), had, according to film scholars, been either lost or destroyed.  However, their recent rediscovery and impending publication calls for a re-evaluation of O’Neill, one that might include him in a larger  group of modernist writers like Steinbeck, Faulkner and Hemingway who wrote simultaneously in literature and the cinema.  This course will be devoted to those screenplays, a comparison with the plays that were their sources, and with the film adaptations that were finally made without O’Neill’s participation.  The course then will allow students to explore:  1)  the relationship between a writer’s life and his work; 2)  the process of textual production from archival artifact through mechanical transcription, textual editing and final published form; 3)  the complex relations between writing and the visual as these unfold within and across media (novel, play, scenario, film).

Students will give one, short oral presentation (on a play, film, scenario, etc.) and lead a class discussion.  Each student will be responsible for a final project, which can take the form of a research paper, a short film, a screen treatment or screenplay, or some hybrid piece of intermedia.  Plays include The Long Voyage Home, The Emperor Jones, The Hairy Ape, Desire Under the Elms, and Dynamo.  All film versions of O’Neill’s plays, dating back to 1923, will be available for student viewing.  Also available for viewing will be films we know O’Neill especially admired as well as films made by or with people with whom O’Neill collaborated, like Paul Robeson, Irving Pichel and Claudette Colbert.