PHIL 449 A: Philosophy of Film

Winter 2024
MW 9:30am - 11:20am / MEB 248
Section Type:
Syllabus Description (from Canvas):

Phil 449 Philosophy of film.png“To my way of thinking the creation of film was as if meant for philosophy—meant to reorient everything philosophy has said about reality and representation, about art and imitation, about greatness and conventionality, about judgment and pleasure, about skepticism and transcendence, about language and expression.”   —Stanley Cavell 


This course examines films and film theory from a philosophical perspective. Students will learn concepts of film analysis, including objective vs. subjective camera shots, realism vs. formalism, montage, point-of-view editing, and genre conventions, and they will employ these concepts to address philosophical questions about film and film production. Are films art? Is film a distinct artistic medium? Can morally offensive propaganda film be aesthetically beautiful or great film?  Do films have an author or authors? Do the intentions of the individuals making the film determine its meaning? Are documentaries more “realistic” than fictional film? Do films inherently objectify characters’ or actors’ bodies? How do different narrative techniques affect viewership? Do spectators identify with characters? Do spectators perceive the film-world as its own reality? Are films inherently ideological? Are video games a form of “interactive” cinema? Can films do philosophy?

Catalog Description:
Examines films and film theory from a philosophical perspective. Topics may include the nature of film, whether films have "authors", how films engage our emotions, whether films are vehicles of ideology, whether video games are "interactive" cinema, and whether films and video games themselves can do philosophy.
GE Requirements Met:
Social Sciences (SSc)
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Writing (W)
Last updated:
July 20, 2024 - 1:01 pm