Courses

Courses that are approved for the CAMS certificate are offered across the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, including through the Departments of Modern Languages and Literatures, History of Art, Anthropology, Comparative Thought and Literature, and Political Science. Below is representative selection of recent and current courses.

Film Theory and Critical Methods (AS.212.215.791)

Professor Bernadette Wegenstein (MLL)

Surveys critical approaches to the study of film. Each week we examine a different theoretical approach to filmic representation, with emphasis variously placed on a style, genre, region of production, or period. We will be examining global film traditions from East Asia to Latin America, Western Africa, Europe, and North America. During the semester we will also host some filmmakers in the classroom or via Monday evening screenings either via zoom or in person (if possible). Seminar discussions will incorporate examples from films that students both view on their own, as well as during the Monday evening screenings, which are mandatory for all seminar participants.

Rumors, Conspiracy Theories and Disinformation (AS.070.472/672)

Professors Naveeda Khan (Anthropology), Rochelle Tobias (MLL), Bernadette Wegenstein (MLL)

Our present is said to be rife with more rumors, conspiracy theories and disinformation than ever before. Is this moment so different from previous, historical moments of crisis? Haven’t these modes of expression always been present, albeit at the margins of the political order? What does it say about knowledge to have multiple “regimes of truth” (Foucault)? How does a new media landscape based in algorithmic modularity, and particularly social media, change the set up from an old analogue media economy? This course, co-taught by a literary theorist, an anthropologist, and a media theorist, aims to provide a diversity of theoretical and methodological perspectives to help us examine the current state of reality.

German Media Theory (AS.213.407)

Professor Antje Pfannkuchen (MLL)

German Media Theory is an upper-level course for undergraduates and graduate students, introducing the specifically German version of Media Studies that first gained traction in the 1980s. The term media refers not just to mass media but more broadly to devices that process, transfer and store information, reaching from the alphabet that changed the culture of writing, or the printing press made famous as the foundation of the ‘Gutenberg galaxy’ to computers and smart phones dominating our current lives. In this course we will cut across disciplinary boundaries to explore the multifaceted roots and formations of German media theory which combine literary poststructuralism, histories of science and technology, psychoanalysis, cybernetics, art history, and philosophy among other fields. Readings include works by Friedrich Kittler, Bernhard Siegert, Cornelia Vismann, Wolfgang Ernst, Ute Holl, Walter Benjamin, Niklas Luhmann, Michel Foucault, Marshall McLuhan and many others. Readings will be in English and the course will be taught in English. German speakers may of course use original texts.

The Epistemology of Photography (AS.010.410/607)

Professor Rebecca Brown (History of Art)

This seminar will ask how photography produces ways of knowing: how does photography’s reality-effect shape its dissemination and absorption? Is photography’s emergence during the colonial era coincidental or catalytic? How is memory (re)constituted in a photography-saturated world? What kinds of histories does photography encourage and discourage? (How) is a photograph an object? We will read across disciplines (literature, anthropology, history, history of art, political science, theory) to investigate the epistemology of photography and the photograph. 

Radical Women: Brazilian Literature, Art, and Culture

Professor Marina Bedran (MLL)

The vast body of work produced women artists and writers in Brazil has been marginalized by canonical cultural narratives, which are now being contested by a spate of scholarly and artistic projects. This course spotlights the production of women from the early twentieth century to the present, including renowned and lesser-known works. We’ll discuss art, literature, and film alongside feminist theory, exploring radicality as it relates to aesthetics and politics. How do women’s art, literature, and thought engage with and transform Brazilian cultural production? What are their contributions to global discussions about gender and sexuality? How do these works respond to historical events? Among the topics addressed are the body, feminism, race, indigeneity, and politics. We’ll study Clarice Lispector’s acclaimed stories, the first Brazilian proletarian novel written by modernist icon Patricia Galvão, known as Pagu, the diaries of Carolina Maria de Jesus, the emblematic paintings of Tarsila do Amaral, and Lygia Clark’s artwork, as well as the booming scene of contemporary cinema and poetry.

The New Media Revolution and its Effects on Storytelling and Media Aesthetics (AS.211.251)

Professor Bernadette Wegenstein (MLL)

This course will highlight the change from a culture of mass media to social media in the recent media history. As examples of how story telling is affected throughout this paradigm shift, we will be taking into account such phenomena as AI storytelling, Video Vines, and News Feeds. In the age of Mass Media, spanning the rise of TV culture in the 1950s to the end of the 20th century, media had a unifying effect on American culture. With the rise of Cable TV in the 1990s to the ubiquity of internet entertainment sources to the invention of the iPhone and the rise of social media, this cultural unanimity had been shattered. In some ways this has caused a positive effect, as the forms of storytelling have proliferated and diversified, and there is more room for different voices and perspectives today than every before. In other ways the effects have been more insidious, with some critics pointing to social media as one of the main factors in the rise of our post-truth age. The age of social media has also certainly increased a sense of insecurity (FOMO) and attention deficit disorder in millennials.

Women Filmmakers from the Margins (AS.211.641)

Professor Bernadette Wegenstein (MLL)

Filmmaking remains an overwhelmingly male-dominated profession, but women are making significant inroads, and in so doing are leaving their distinctive mark on the medium. In this seminar we will examine the films of a group of women auteurs (those who write and direct their own films) who have endeavored to speak from the margins—be they social, geographical, or sexual—and whose work has challenged mainstream cinematic norms. We will further examine how some of them such as Jane Campion have embraced the mainstream over the years and how their authorship has entered the realm of TV series such as Top of the Lake. In the second half of the semester, we will have a close look at the question of film genre and how that informs the marginal or feminist content. The filmmakers whose work we will analyze includes Jane Campion, New Zealand and Australia; Chantal Akerman, France; Aurora Guerrero, Mexico-USA; Claudia Llosa, Peru, Mira Nair, India-USA; Marialy Rivas, Chile; So Yong Kim, Korea; Jill Soloway, USA. a.o. Students are encouraged to bring films of their own expertise and research areas into class and to the attention of the group.

Nomadic Narratives: Italian Women’s Literature and Cinema (AS.211.658)

Professor Laura di Bianco (MLL)

This interdisciplinary graduate seminar examines the work of women writers, directors, and photographers in modern and contemporary Italy. We shall explore the question of female authorship and themes such as female subjectivity and mobility, women’s participation in, or exclusion from, history. We shall read foundational texts such as Elsa Morante’s La storia (1974), Anna Maria Ortese’s collection of short stories Il mare non bagna Napoli (1953), and more contemporary novels such as Goliarda Sapienza’s L’arte della gioia, and Elena Ferrante’s L’amore molesto (1995). In the second part of the semester, we will study the work of female directors from different generations, from pioneer Elvira Notari, to mid-century Cecilia Mangini, and contemporary Alice Rohrwacher, as well as the work of photographers such as Carla Cerati and Letizia Battaglia.

Curating Media Artists in Residence at JHU (AS.211.330/724)

Professor Bernadette Wegenstein (MLL)

Curating Media Artists in Residence at JHU: students will be closely involved with JHU’s Center for Advanced Media Studies (CAMS), and the Baltimore Museum of Art (curator Kristen Hileman) in preparing technical aspects of the BMA Black Box exhibit of the 16mm film, Captain Gervásio’s Family, by the internationally acclaimed artist duo Tamar Guimarães and Kasper Akhøj. This black and white silent film is a portrait of a Spiritist community in Palmela, a small town in Brazil, where half of the inhabitants are believed to be psychic mediums. In addition, students will be involved in helping curate an artist talk and panel on the topic of “Documenting the Spiritual,” with the Stanford anthropologist Tanya Luhrman, and other experts on religious practices from Brazilian shamanism to various religious and spiritual practices from our own Baltimore communities.

Further, students will have the unique opportunity to see some raw footage from the artists’ latest documentary film project, part fieldwork and part staging, that engages with the Palmelian psychic mediums’ cosmological perspectives. Says Tamar Guimarães: “If Captain Gervasio’s Family tied the medium’s journey into the after-life’s boundless and phantasmal modernity to cinematic spectrality–– where cinema, the ultimate modern medium is also the ashen-grey world of the haunted and the ghostly, the new film will insist on the mediums’ technological inventions.”

French Documentary Filmmaking (AS.212.707)

Professor Derek Shilling (MLL)

Overview of the history of French documentary filmmaking featuring works by Cavalier, Depardon, Epstein, Malle, Marker, Painlevé, Philibert, Resnais, Rouch, Simon, Varda, and Vautier. Emphasis will be placed on the rhetorical functions of editing and on the relation forged among filmmakers, their subjects, and the public. Extensive weekly viewing is required.

Flânerie and Female Authorship in Contemporary Italian Cinema (AS.214.689)

Professor Laura di Bianco (MLL)

This course examines the prolific production of Italian women filmmakers inscribing their work into a national cinematic tradition. The most prominent visual leitmotif in films by directors such as Marina Spada, Francesca Comencini, Alice Rohrwacher and others, is that of the wandering woman contemplating the cityscape. What does the act of walking signify in these works? How do these filmmakers embrace and transform Italy’s cinematic tradition? After highlighting the figure of the city-walker in post-war classics by Roberto Rossellini and Vittorio De Sica, we shall discuss from a gender perspective films such as Fellini’s Nights of Cabiria, Pasolini’s Mamma Roma, and Antonioni’s La Notte, which feature female city-walkers who stroll throughout urban peripheries created during the country’s rush toward modernity. Then, we shall analyze the work of women directors who recurrently employ the narrative strategy of flânerie to construct female narratives of displacement and liminality. We shall question how and to what extent this contemporary cinematic production is indebted to the masters of neorealism and the auteurs from the sixties. Critical and theoretical readings will include essays by Michel de Certeau, Siegfried Kracauer, Janet Wolff, Elizabeth Wilson, Anne Friedberg, Giuliana Bruno, and others.

Adapting Myths for the Screen (AS.211.711)

Professor Bernadette Wegenstein (MLL)

In this course we will look at examples of adaptations of sacred narratives for the screen from Pasolini’s adaptations of the gospels to Disney’s adaptations of Grimm, and the recent boom of 21st century fairy-tale films; we will be reading Jack Zipes’ The Enchanted Screen, and Fairy-tale Films Beyond Disney, ed. Jack Zipes, and Sacred Narratives: Readings in the Theory of Myth, ed. Alan Dundes, among others.