(Offered as ENGL 484 and FAMS 484.) This seminar will explore theories of animation and new media in moving image culture. While animation is many times considered children’s entertainment, this course situates it as the technical coincidence of life and movement while examining its relation to the nature of cinema and other media. Cinema is a privileged type of animation in the class, but one that exists in a long history of moving images that we will interrogate along with the roles different techniques and technologies play in that history’s formation. We will begin with an examination of nineteenth-century optical devices like zoetropes and phenakistoscopes and then study handmade and industrial animation practices, finally working our way to digital special effects technology, machinima, and algorithmic cinema. Particular attention will be paid to the role of motion in the aesthetics of cinema and the sense of vitality objects and figures take on in film. How is life attributed to this illusion of movement? How is the threshold between the animate and inanimate used to define our understandings of media and mediation? To answer these questions we will read theoretical and historical texts by Donald Crafton, Sergei Eisenstein, Tom Gunning, Esther Leslie, and Lev Manovich and view films by artists such as Emile Cohl, Lotte Reiniger, Mary Ellen Bute, Chuck Jones, the Quay Brothers, Lewis Klahr, Cory Arcangel, Marjane Satrapi, and Takeshi Murata. One three-hour class meeting and one required screening per week.
Requisite: Prior coursework in Film and Media Studies. Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Johnston.