Good Film, Bad People

HNR 340 - Good Film, Bad People

MySlice Info:

Term: Fall 2020
Class #: 12254
Section: M008
Credits: 3

Osborne III,William Galloway

Counts toward:
HNR Hum, Interdisciplinary

Course Time(s):
MW 02:15pm-03:35pm / M 06:45pm-08:45pm (movie screenings)


Course Description:

Overview: Good Film, Bad People uses selections from the history of film as a site for examining moral and aesthetic value judgments. A chief premise of this course is that film narratives draw their dramatic power from our ethical intuitions. Students will learn to parse films philosophically, using the aesthetic language of film theory and criticism to do so. In the process they will articulate the inherent moral arguments underlying the story, plot action, and dialogue. These critical skills are transferable beyond movies or the classroom: the student as “actor” or “director” in his or her moral and aesthetic world.

Ethics: Structured as an introductory ethics course, the class will foster an understanding of the ought and ought nots of human actions, and the praise and blame that accompanies these actions—all through the lens of film. Students will examine traditional and contemporary theories of ethics (consequentialism, deontology, autonomy theory, etc.) by engaging with select films and select readings from the cinematic and philosophic traditions.

Aesthetics: While exploring the deeds and misdeeds of villains and heroines, students will simultaneously enhance their visual literacy skills, as applied to multiple genres of film. Students will hone their ability to evaluate film as aesthetic object, gaining the necessary understanding of film’s formal elements in order to sufficiently analyze the ethical component.

Sociocultural: A significant ethical component of the course will be an investigation into the social responsibility of the film medium itself, in relation to authorship and intent, and how films speak to and shape audiences and ideologies.

Requirements: Good Film, Bad People will engage the student with hands-on, collaborative, project-based learning: students will write reviews and analyses; participate in classroom discussion; work independently and in groups; and complete a semester project (optionally a creative student film or script, accompanied by an ethical analysis of its contents).

Counts toward the Critical Reflections and Writing Intensive Requirements in the Arts & Sciences Liberal Arts core.