2 Weeks / Credit Bearing

Interpretation of Film (3 credit): ETS 154

Sat. July 28 & Sun. July 29 mandatory move-in & orientation 

Class runs July 30 – August 10, 2018 

This is a regularized undergraduate course delivered through classroom-based instruction and homework.  The class may consist of both Summer College and undergraduate students.

Course description:

This Interpretation of Film course introduces students to the fundamentals of film analysis by giving students the skills and vocabulary necessary to make meaning of films through formal, historical, and cultural analysis. We will spend time as a class learning how to analyze film closely by discussing how films make meaning through the interplay of four formal elements: mise-en-scène, cinematography, editing, and sound. In analyzing these compositional elements of film, we will be looking at techniques such as arranging props and actors on-screen, cutting between scenes, using camera angles to impart specific meanings, and using the soundtrack to control perspective and convey mood. Learning how to pay attention to these small details of what we see and hear in a film are the foundation for formal film analysis.

Along with formally analyzing films, students in this course will learn how films operate within historical and cultural contexts. Readings from the textbook and lectures will guide students through the history of film and prepare students with the vocabulary to analyze and discuss the medium of film in an academic setting. We will spend time learning about film from the pre-1920s silent era of filmmaking up to film from the contemporary period of digital filmmaking and editing. This course will also introduce students to the classical Hollywood studio system, genre films, documentary films, and avant-garde and experimental films. In addition to learning about films from different time periods and production contexts, students will also become familiar with film cultures outside of the U.S. and films made by groups whose voices have been historically marginalized, such as women and people of color.

Students in this course will be expected to read daily from the course textbook, come to class prepared, and participate in in-class activities. In addition to interpreting and analyzing films during class, there will also be the opportunity for students to add their own insights into the course films through writing a series of papers outside of class. The papers will include a formal analysis of a scene from one film we’ve watched in the course, a longer formal analysis where students will offer an interpretive argument about one of the course films, and a paper that allows students to become more familiar with film marketing and promotion. Not only will students receive guidance in writing these papers, but each student will also receive individualized feedback that is geared toward improving his or her ability to write about film.

You may also be interested in Filmmaking and Sound Engineering & Audio Production

By the end of this course students will:

  • Be able to analyze how films make meaning through mise-en-scene, cinematography, editing, and sound
  • Be able to analyze and interpret a diverse range of films
  • Know the basics of film history up to the present
  • Have a sense of how to study film by questioning key concepts and theories of cinema as both an aesthetic form and a social practice

Program Costs

Please visit our program costs page for more detailed information.

*Program rates are subject to change and will be approved by the board of trustees in March.
*Students must be 15 years of age by the orientation and move-in date.

Typical day:

On a typical day, this class will include a mix of lecture, clip analysis, activities, and open discussion. Each day will be clustered around a specific topic or theme and geared toward increasing the student’s knowledge about film. Often, the day will start by introducing a concept, theme, or historical period in a short lecture. After a short lecture, we will work as a class to analyze the day’s topic in short clips shown in-class and films watched outside of class. In order to analyze the day’s topic, students will be asked to engage in short informal writing responses in class and take part in small group and partner discussion. At each point of the process, students will work towards meaningful interpretations of the films and short clips so that they will leave the class not only with a deeper understanding of the day’s concept, theme, or period but also how they can bring their own insights into analyzing films.

Instructor Bio:

Elizabeth Gleesing is a PhD student and teaching associate in the English Department. Her current research is focused on post-9/11 documentary film, photography, and art projects. She received her B.A. in English from the University of Washington in 2010 and her M.A. in English Studies from Western Washington University in 2014. Both programs were interdisciplinary, offering the chance to study literature, teaching, and film. Prior to coming to Syracuse, she taught two years of introductory writing courses at Western Washington University. At Syracuse, she teaches courses on film, popular culture, and literature.