ENG3940H: Topics in Film: The Cinema of Fear, Anxiety, and Paranoia
Spring 2010, Baruch College, the City University of New York

Professor: Mikhail Gershovich, Ph.D.
Email: Mikhail [dot] Gershovich [at] baruch [dot] cuny [dot] edu
Office: Rm. 317, Annex Building (137 E. 25th St.)
Office hours: TBA and by appointment
Course meeting times: TTh 4:10-5:25pm; optional screenings: Th, 6pm.
Location: Rm. 611, 17 Lexington Ave. (23rd St. building)

This course will explore representations and manifestations of fear, anxiety, and paranoia in American films between the end of WWII and the present. We will consider the ways in which films speak to broader cultural anxieties particular to specific historical moments. We will likewise explore the ways in which the stylistic and aesthetic means of representing fear and anxiety on screen have evolved over the medium’s history. Viewing will include a variety of films across periods and genres including Pickup on South Street, Rear Window, Dawn of the Dead (Romero and Snyder versions), The Conversation, and The Manchurian Candidate (Frankenheimer and Demme versions). Readings will include works of social history as well as theoretical texts on spectatorship, the psychology of fear and paranoia, film genres, and film aesthetics; they will facilitate a critical exploration of the complex ways popular films are informed by, play on, and reinforce prevailing fears and anxieties.

Course Learning Goals
In this course, students will:

1) become familiar with key principles of film studies

2) develop a critical vocabulary for film analysis

3) engage the complex interplay between commercial films and cultural norms, mores, and anxieties

4) explore the nature of spectatorship and the means through which films are able to evoke visceral experience and emotional responses, particularly fright, anxiety, and disgust