Spring 2007

ARTS 643
Japanese Cinema from the Silent Era to the Present Day

De Seife,Ethan R.

01/22/2007 - 05/05/2007
Wednesday 06:00 PM - 10:00 PM

Public Affairs Center 421

In terms of influence and creativity, Japanese cinema is generally regarded as second only to American, though it may in fact be the other way around. The Japanese film industry emerged from a rich set of aesthetic traditions; as well, it responded more creatively than any other to the influx of films from Hollywood.

This course will take a (roughly) chronological approach to a study of the history and aesthetics of Japanese film. We will study the films and unusual exhibition practices of the silent era; discuss the ways in which Japanese cinema responded to and developed independently of American cinema; pay special attention to the three greatest Japanese directors—Yasujiro Ozu, Kenji Mizoguchi, and Akira Kurosawa; focus on the recurring narratives, themes, and styles across the history of Japanese film; address the complex ways in which Japanese cinema has been received in the West; cover to some extent the anime explosion; and conclude with a look at the exploitation/horror films that have become so popular in recent years in Japan. And, of course, no class on Japanese film is complete without a discussion of Godzilla.

Reading includes: David Bordwell, Ozu and the Poetics of Cinema and Figures Traced in Light: On Cinematic Staging; Donald Richie, A Hundred Years of Japanese Film; Joseph L. Anderson and Donald Richie, The Japanese Film; David Desser, Eros Plus Massacre: An Introduction to the Japanese New Wave Cinema; Noel Burch, To the Distant Observer: Form and Meaning in the Japanese Cinema; as well as shorter essays by Donald Kirihara, Robin Wood, Noel Burch, and others.

Requirements include: class participation, one in-class presentation and/or short written assignment, and one longer final research paper.

Schedule of course is different than previously listed in course catalog. This course will now run from 6-10 p.m.

A syllabus for this course is available at:

Ethan DeSeife (BA Wesleyan University; MA, PHD University of Wisconsin-Madison) has taught film studies at Wesleyan University, and is author of a book forthcoming fro Wallflower Press on "This is Spinal Tap."


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
Donald Richie, A HUNDRED YEARS OF JAPANESE FILM, 2nd Edition (Kodansha International), Paperback


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