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From languages and literatures to film and media

GSLL has an unprecedented number of teachers and scholars of film and media studies. Faculty who teach courses in Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian, Czech, German, Hungarian, Polish, and Russian regularly offer classes that either include film or concentrate exclusively on cinema. Two GSLL scholars whose research focuses on film include Dr. Layne and Dr. Pollmann.

layneDr. Priscilla Layne is interested in how directors and audiences invest film with an ability to reveal aspects of human life otherwise deemed hidden or mysterious, whether for voyeuristic, educational, sensational or regulating purposes. In her teaching and research, she primarily focuses on how race and gender are rendered in film and the ideological stakes tied to the legibility of such categories. She often combines a formalist approach with consideration of a film’s sociolcultural context. She also stresses a transnational understanding of German film that contemplates a film’s relevance both within German (film) history and within an international trajectory of film. Her current work addresses the influence of African American culture in postwar German film, however she is also interested in broader topics like Weimar cinema, New German Cinema, DEFA Film and Turkish German Film. In her spare time she enjoys writing subtitles so that she can give non-German speakers access to thought-provoking films like Quax in Afrika and Das Fest des Huhnes.

pollmannDr. Inga Pollmann concentrates on the history of film theory, that is the development of ways of thinking about the aesthetics, reception, and politics of film as a medium. As a popular mass medium that is able to cast powerful imaginative spells on its audience, the cinema is embedded in the texture of everyday life, but also of critical thought, and Dr. Pollmann is interested in the ways in which ideas conceived of by other means (such as scientific proof or logical deduction) can be reformulated, developed, and even refuted in the cinema.  While most of her recent work focuses on silent cinema of the 1920s, her interests range far beyond this period and include a wide variety of periods, styles and genres, including contemporary cinema, melodrama, and nonfiction films. Because of the international nature of film history, production, and reception, her work combines an interest in German and Austrian cinema with other important global film cultures, such as French, American, Russian, and Asian cinemas.

Majoring in GSLL, Minoring in Film

Film and media courses offered in the Department of German & Slavic Languages & Literatures regularly contribute to UNC-Chapel Hill’s Global Cinema Minor, based in the Department of English and Comparative Literature. This interdisciplinary, five-course minor enables students to explore the changing, global face of cinema in its aesthetic, economic, historical, linguistic, literary, and social contexts. Students select a flexible, rigorous, and exciting course of study of the place of film within and across human cultures. The minor aims to provide undergraduates with grounding in the history of cinema’s development across the world as well as current trends and developments in global film production. The minor places a particular emphasis on the development of students’ critical judgment and written expression. Undergraduate students majoring in any academic unit are eligible. For more information about events like the Global Cinema Minor’s film series or how GSLL courses can count to the film minor, contact Dr. Pollmann.

GSLL Undergraduate Film Courses

Undergraduate Central European Film Courses

GSLL 69 First-Year Seminar: Laughing and Crying at the Movies: Film and Experience (3 Credits). Why is it that we cry at the movies? We will focus on the melodrama but also look at comedy and horror to think about emotional responses to films. Students will learn the basics of film analysis, gain an overview of genre cinema, and study approaches to emotion, affect, and the body.

GSLL 260 From Berlin to Budapest: Literature, Film, and Culture of Central Europe (3 Credits). Central Europe, at the center of dramatic historical changes—WWI, emergence of independent nation states, WWII and Holocaust, Communism and its end, incorporation into the European Union—produced unprecedented cultural results. The creative voices of writers and filmmakers have relevance far beyond this region.

GSLL 475 Magical Realism: Central European Literature in a Global Context (3 Credits). This course studies magical realism in Central European literature and film by placing it in a global literary/cinema context. Readings and discussions in English.

Undergraduate German Film Courses

GERM 60 First-Year Seminar: Avant-Garde Cinema: History, Themes, Textures (3 Credits). Students explore the international history, filmic techniques, and cultural meanings of non-narrative cinema of the 20th century. Students also transform in-class discussions and individual essays into video projects.

GERM 68 First-Year Seminar: Intensity, Vitality, Ecstasy: Overwhelming Affects in Literature, Film, and Philosophy (3 Credits). This course focuses on three powerful affective states that challenge the conception of humans as autonomous, independent beings: intensity, vitality, and ecstasy. We will examine both philosophical and artistic representations of these particular states, focusing on the way in which they both endanger and enrich our experience of the world.

GERM 210 Getting Medieval: Knights, Violence, and Romance (3 Credits). Offers a historical perspective on the portrayal of medieval culture in film from the 1920s to today. Specific topics include the ideal hero, the quest, etiquette, chivalry, rituals, and love. Readings and discussions in English.

GERM 250 Women in German Cinema (WMST 250) (3 Credits). Introduction to feminist aesthetics and film theory by the examination of the representation of women in German cinema from expressionism to the present. All materials and discussions in English.

GERM 265 Hitler in Hollywood: Cinematic Representations of Nazi Germany (3 Credits). An examination of selected cinematic representations (both American and German) of Nazi Germany in terms of their aesthetic properties and propagandistic value. Films with English subtitles; readings and discussions in English.

GERM 266 Weimar Cinema (3 Credits). Explores important German films of 1919 to 1933, locating them in their artistic, cultural, and historical context. Treats the contested course of Weimar film history and culture and provides a theoretically informed introduction to the study of film and visual materials. Films with English subtitles; readings and discussions in English.

GERM 275 History of German Cinema (3 Credits). This course explores the major developments of German cinema. All films with English subtitles. Readings and discussions in English.

GERM 294 Topics in German Cinema (3 Credits).

GERM 381 Berlin: Mapping a (Post) Modern Metropolis (3 Credits). Prerequisite, GERM 303. Permission of the instructor for students lacking the prerequisite. Exploration of the rich cultural and turbulent political history of 20th-century Germany by focusing on the literature, film, art, and architecture produced in and about the city of Berlin. All materials and discussions in German.

GERM 382 Representations of Violence and Terrorism in Contemporary German Literature and Film (3 Credits). Investigates literary and cinematic response to rise in terrorism in Germany since 1970. Focus on cultural and political significance of the gangster, the freedom fighter, and the terrorist.

GERM 394 Contemporary German and Austrian Cinema (3 Credits).

GERM 683 Moving-Image Avante-Gardes and Experimentalism (3 Credits). Prerequisite, ARTH 159, COMM 140, or ENGL 142. Permission of the instructor for students lacking the prerequisite. History and theory of international avant-garde and experimentalist movements in film, video, intermedia, multimedia, and digital formats. Content and focus may vary from semester to semester.

Undergraduate Czech Film Courses

CZCH 280 Closely Watched Trains: Czech Film and Literature (3 Credits). This course examines Czech film and literature against the backdrop of key historical, political, and cultural events of the 20th century. Taught in English; films subtitled in English.

Hungarian Film Courses

HUNG 271 Vampires and Empires: An Introduction to Transylvania (3 Credits). The thousand-year history of a multiethnic corner of Eastern Europe, focusing on why (and how) it has come to be identified in the West with the vampire. Course materials include films, slides, and music. All lectures and readings in English.

HUNG 280 Hungarian Cinema since World War II (3 Credits). An introduction to Hungarian society and culture since the end of World War II through a selection of film classics with English subtitles, with supporting background materials. Taught in English.

Undergraduate Polish Film Courses

PLSH 280 The Modern Cinema of Poland (3 Credits). An overview of postwar Polish cinema from the Polish school of the 1950s to the so-called Generation 2000. Includes films of Wajda, Munk, Kieslowski, Polanski, and others.

Undergraduate Russian Film Courses

RUSS 450 The Russian Absurd: Text, Stage, Screen (3 Credits). Examines “The Absurd” in Russian literature and culture as it developed from the 19th century to the present. Through works by important Russian writers and representative films students encounter facets of “The Russian Absurd” viewed as literary, cultural, and social phenomena. Readings in Russian for majors, in English for non majors.

Undergraduate Slavic Film Courses

SLAV 82 First-Year Seminar: Doctor Stories (3 Credits). Explores and reflects on the experience and significance of being a doctor in Russia and the United States, analyzing “doctors’ stories” presented in fiction, nonfiction, film, and other media.

SLAV 83 First-Year Seminar: The Actress: Celebrity and the Woman (3 Credits). Reflects on the experience, significance, and influence of the stage and motion picture actress in the modern era, analyzing her representation and reception in memoirs, biographies, fiction, and film.

SLAV 84 First-Year Seminar: Terror for the People: Terrorism in Russian Literature and History (3 Credits). Terror was used as a political weapon in 19th-century Russia. This seminar introduces the terrorists through their own writings and fictional representations in novels by Fyodor Dostoevsky and Joseph Conrad.

SLAV 281 Holocaust Cinema in Eastern Europe (3 Credits). A critical look at varieties of cinematic representation and memorialization of the Holocaust, from those countries of Europe where it mostly took place. Taught in English. All films in (or subtitled in) English.

Recent GSLL Graduate Film & Media Courses

GERM 860 German Aesthetics after Adorno: The Case of Alexander Kluge (3 Credits). The posthumous publication of Adorno’s Ästhetische Theorie in 1970 was the last great deliberation on aesthetics to emerge from the founding generation of the Frankfurt School. This seminar shall consider the multimedia work of Alexander Kluge, who has been studying, testing, revising, and extending Critical Theory through the media of literature, film, television, and philosophy. Offered in the Spring 2011 semester. Instructor: Langston

GERM 880 German Cinema: Frankfurt School, Film, and Film Theory (3 Credits). This course aims to provide students with a thorough introduction to the work of Frankfurt School theorists, especially Siegfried Kracauer, Walter Benjamin, and Theodor W. Adorno. We will consider their critical engagement with modernity, and the role of cinema and other mass media in and for modernity. Offered in the Fall 2011 semester. Instructor: Pollmann

GERM 880 Gender & Sexuality in German Film: From Weimar to the Present (3 Credits). The seminar engages seminal films by German directors from every era of German film history in conjunction with influential readings in German critical theory, feminist film theory, psychoanalysis, and queer and transgender studies. Of particular concern will be how film renders visible gender and sexuality, how it constructs sexual difference and participates in political struggles, and how gender and sexuality intersect with class and race. Offered in the Fall 2012 semester. Instructor: Layne

GERM 880 Man, Animal, Cinema (3 Credits). This course proposes a cinematic investigation into – and intervention into – the historical and current debates about the ontological, political, biological, and emotional relationships between human beings and animals. In addition to key texts in contemporary and past debates, we shall also consider historical thinking on the man-animal problem and screen a broad range of films spanning covering various genres, styles, and periods. Offered in the Spring 2014 semester. Instructor: Pollmann