2018-2019 Catalog

PHIL 317 The Philosophy of Classical Hollywood Cinema

This course will attempt a survey of current philosophical approaches to classical Hollywood film, beginning with Stanley Cavell’s The World Viewed: Reflections on the Ontology of Cinema (1971). This work initiated a new and flourishing sub-discipline within contemporary academic philosophy called film-philosophy. The central assumption within this body of inquiry is that film  is (or can be) “philosophy in action.” In this course we will be returning to the source of this idea to read Cavell’s original work, as well as selections from his two subsequent books: Pursuits of Happiness: the Hollywood Comedy of Remarriage (1981) and Contesting Tears: The Hollywood Melodrama of the Unknown Woman (1996). We will then extend our inquiry to other writers inspired by Cavell (and reflections on later developments within Hollywood), such as Robert Pippin (writing on Film Noir),  Stephen Mulhall (writing on the Alien series and other sci-fi), and William Rothman (writing on Hitchcock). Weekly screenings and discussions will be part of the course, as well as one or two field trips to Los Angeles archives.


4 units

Core Requirements Met

  • Fine Arts