Featured Fall 2019 Courses
Hispanic Screen Studies: Digital Cinema of Spanish America
In the U.S., the term “digital cinema” may suggest first and foremost CGI-based fantasy or superhero blockbuster movies with production budgets running into the hundreds of millions of dollars. In Spanish America since the turn of the twenty-first century, however, the cost efficiencies and technological advantages of digital film production have enabled an enormous diversification of the kinds of feature films that are produced. Communities and even entire countries that were never able to represent themselves in the expensive format of the 35mm feature film are now able to produce fictional narratives that represent their own unique cultural experiences by avoiding the financial pressure that historically accompanied celluloid-based film production – namely, the obligation to recoup million-dollar investments by conforming to established genres and the preconceptions of foreign audiences.
In this course, taught by Professor Glen Close, we will study twenty-first century digital feature “films” (no longer technically films) from a range of Spanish American countries. We will examine the distinctive aesthetic and technical capabilities of digital cinema, as well as the specific cultural and industrial contexts in which the films were produced and distributed. We will examine a wide variety of digital filmmaking styles that include: the first feature ever produced by indigenous directors in Spanish America’s most indigenous country; an illegally produced “hidden-camera” documentary-fiction hybrid; a co-produced comedy-melodrama that is the highest-grossing Spanish-language film in U.S. history; relatively big-budget films in Spanish and Yucatec Maya by renowned foreign directors (Barbet Schroeder, Mel Gibson, Steven Soderbergh); and arthouse films by some of the region’s most critically acclaimed directors, including Arturo Ripstein, Claudia Llosa, Pablo Larraín, Matías Piñeiro, and Lucrecia Martel.
requisites: Spanish 223, 224, and 311
Race, Religion, and Ethnicity in the Age of Empire
This course, taught by Professor Steven Hutchinson, will explore encounters and relations with different forms of “otherness”. We will move from America to Spain and across the Mediterranean world to Istanbul, from the late 15th century to the 17th. Issues of race, ethnicity, and religious affiliation will take on diverse forms throughout the course. Spain’s long history of relations between Muslims, Jews, and Christians will form a backdrop to interactions with native Americans, sub-Saharan Africans, Jews, Moriscos, Gypsies, North African Muslims, and Turks. One of the millions of slaves in the Mediterranean world during this period was Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote. He and many other writers would reflect profoundly on questions of “otherness” in works that would have universal implications and that continue to reverberate with our concerns in the 21st century. Such works will guide us through this course, as will a wide array of visual resources from that era and our own.
requisites: Spanish 223 and 224