As we discussed on the first day, this course centers around the very large ques

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As we discussed on the first day, this course centers around the very large question: “What Is Cinema?” I’d like you to write me a short essay (4-5 pages) that answers the question in a sincere, provocative way. Try filling in the blanks here: “Cinema is _______.” Think of the possibilities: “Cinema is a lie, unleashed upon the masses.” “Cinema is the intersection of technology and business.” “Cinema is transphobic.” “Cinema is no better than television in the 21st century.” “Cinema is lowbrow and the so-called art film betrays its original goals.” Try adapting the formula: “Cinema must be personal; otherwise, the notion of moviegoing becomes too cynical.” “Cinema should be blacker and browner in the 21st century.” “Cinema has to go further in denouncing fascism.” “Cinema can no longer survive in mainstream movie theaters.” Try adapting it even further: “American moviegoers have been irreparably harmed by advertisements and algorithms; they can no longer distinguish cinema from content.” “Marxist cinema is a contradiction, using capitalist product to espouse anti-capitalist points of view.” “What elevates a movie to the level of cinema is the following…” I’d like you to quote from at least three sources that we’ve used in the course. Look to heavy-hitters like Kael and Mulvey and Nichols and Sontag. That’s the juicy stuff. Use their words to support your claims — or challenge them. Explain what they’ve neglected to consider and fill in what they’ve missed. Creativity, originality, and passion win the day here. I’d like to see you construct an original thesis that speaks to your interests and identity as a moviegoer, then support it for the length of the essay. If you’re interested in analyzing visuals, construct a thesis that allows you to do that. Apply a lens (political, gendered, cultural, psychosexual, ideological) that will help you see the question in a way that’s interesting to you. My hope is that this essay will evolve naturally from the notes you take this semester.

 

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