English 198 - Spring, 2023

Film as Narrative

Class Information

Instructor: Jordan, Jessica Hope
CRN: 51255
Time: MW 2:10-4:40, 5:10-7:40
Location: 204 Art


ENL 160: Film As Narrative
CRN: 51255
Film into Fiction (4 Units)

Jessica Hope Jordan

Lecture/Discussion MW 2:10-4:40
Film Viewings MW 5:10-7:40
Art 204

While much has been written about screen adaptations of the novel, or novel-to-film, very little has been expressed about its converse, the phenomenon of film critics transforming film into equally entertaining modes of literary art. In particular, this course will examine closely the intersections between film and critical writings about it that, through a unique persistence of vision, manage to capture and sustain its ephemeral essence. In our exploration of these filmic-to-fictional transformations, we’ll first take an in-depth look at the various methods of writing about film: the popular movie review, the scholarly print article, electronic journal articles, fanzines, and popular blogs, the screenplay-as-novel, and the novel that desires to be a film. Alongside, we’ll screen a number of the films referenced in these critical writings. Afterward, in our discussion, we’ll consider such theoretical and historical questions as how film criticism came into being and how it has developed over a century of film; how film mediates our everyday lives; how film critics play a role in these mediations; how film defines us as a nation (our emphasis will be on American film, but this does not exclude the inclusion of other national or global cinemas) through issues of sex, gender, race, and class; how audiences are often swayed by a critic’s assessments of a film; how film critics can affect the marketing of a film; and how film enters into most of our experience as critical readers, literary or otherwise. While not a course on film criticism per se, we will be reading many of the best critical works on film. Most importantly, we’ll ask the question: where does film end and (more contemporary) literary fiction begin? One of our defining goals in this course will be to discover how “non-fiction” “fictional” narrative worlds of film criticism come into being through vivid visual descriptions, wherein film critics wield witty compressions of textured prose. Finally, where the celluloid hits the page, we’ll take up the critic’s pen firsthand to experience for ourselves the rewarding challenge of creating our own fictional worlds of film criticism.
This course is essential for all Film Studies and English majors and anyone interested in writing about film. (GE Credit Art/Hum/Writ)

Prerequisite: English 3 or UWP 1


Course work will be graded as follows. 1) short review, 15% 2) response essay, 25% 3) final critical essay, 30% 4) final exam, 20%. Attendance at screenings and participation in discussions is part of final grade.


American Movie Critics, Phillip Lopate
The Art of the Moving Picture, Vachel Lindsay
Pulp Fiction: A Paperback, Quentin Tarantino
Ten Days in the Hills, Jane Smiley
A Short Guide to Writing About Film, Timothy Corrigan
Film Art, Bordwell and Thompson