Summer 2006

ARTS 643
The Cinema of Pedro Almodóvar

Ballesteros,Isolina

06/19/2006 - 06/23/2006
Monday-Friday 09:00 AM - 05:00 PM

Fisk Hall 404

Pedro Almodovar is the enfant terrible of Spanish cinema and one of the most original and daring European film-makers working today. Almodovar's cinema mixes the traditional and the transgressive, depicting gender and sexuality as fluid, and giving protagonism to those characters (women, homosexuals, transvestites, transsexuals, drug users) usually placed at the margins of society and sexuality. Using irony and parody, he recontextualizes cinematographic classical genres (comedy, melodrama, film noir) as well as popular culture. His films express a hybrid and eclectic visual style, and break down orthodox frontiers between mass and high culture, in a way that embodies the spirit of postmodern Spain.

Since his directorial debut in 1980, Almodovar has made 15 films, including his American breakthrough films: Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown; Tie Me up! Tie Me down!; and the Academy Award winning films All about My Mother and Talk to Her. A self-taught film-maker, he declares to have learned his craft by watching the films of Luis Bunuel, Italian neorealists such as De Sica and Visconti, Jean Luc Godard, and Douglas Sirk, among others. Almodovar can lay claim to auteur status because, besides directing, he controls the production and distribution of his work. He runs, with his brother Agustin, the production company, El Deseo. He began his cinematic career in a Spain that had recently been liberated from decades of dictatorship. As a chronicler of the free Spain, he captured with his films the excitement of the transition to democracy and reconstructed Spanish national identity.

This course studies Pedro Almodovar's development from his directorial debut to the present, from the precarious conditions of production of the early films to the award-winning mastery of the later ones. It explores the cultural context and the content and social structures of the films, and pays special attention to Almodovar's technical and visual artistry.

We will study most of his films and will read cultural, theoretical and critical texts. All films will have English subtitles and all texts will be read in English. Students will view all assigned films and read all required texts prior to the first meeting of class. Films may be viewed online (access restricted to registered students) and are also available in VHS or DVD format at the Wesleyan Library or from video stores.

Class sessions will be entirely devoted to discussing texts and analyzing film segments. Students will be responsible for class participation, two short written reports (3-4 pages) due prior to the beginning of the course, an oral presentation with formal analysis of a film, and a final paper (8-10 pages).

A syllabus for this course is available at:
Course Syllabus

Click here to watch films online


Isolina Ballesteros (B.A. University of Zaragoza, Spain, Ph.D. Boston University) teaches at Vassar College. She is author of Escritura femenina y discurso autobiografico en la nueva novela espanola [Feminine Writing and Autobiographical Discourse in the New Spanish Novel] (1994), and Cine (ins)urgente: Textos filmicos y contextos culturales de la Espana posfranquista [(Ins)urgent Cinema: Filmic Texts and Cultural Contexts of Post-Franco Spain] (2001). [She was visiting associate professor of romance languages and literatures at Wesleyan, 2003-2005.]


ENROLLMENT INFORMATION

Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
Mark Allinson, A SPANISH LABYRINTH: THE FILMS OF PEDRO ALMODOVAR (I.B. Tuaris), Paperback

Paul Julian Smith, DESIRE UNLIMITED: THE CINEMA OF PEDRO ALMODOVAR (Verso), Paperback

READING MATERIALS AVAILABLE AT BROAD STREET BOOKS, 45 BROAD STREET, MIDDLETOWN, 860-685-7323

PLEASE NOTE: A course packet is available at PIP Printing, 179 Main Street, Middletown, (860) 344-9001.

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