Film, Literature and Composition Syllabus

    SHS English Language Arts Department

    Teacher: Susie Volmer, MA Ed.

    Email Address: students: susan.volmer@sausdlearns.net parents: susan.volmer@sausd.us

    Room: 204

    Important Websites:

    • The Internet Movie Database – www.imdb.com
    • Metacritic – www.metacritic.com

    Course Description and Prerequisite(s):

    This course is intended to familiarize students film history, to help them understand the technical aspects of film, and to give them the breath to analyze film as a visual art form. This course should appeal to students who have an interest in film or those who like the idea of learning writing and analysis from a different platform. Students who intend to major in film should be encouraged to take this course. Formal essay writing as well as projects and cooperative work will be emphasized in each unit. This course is an A-G English course for grade 12 students. 

    During the course, students will explore the history of film from its earliest days to its most recent. Students will view, examine, appreciate and analyze important domestic and foreign films from the various film genres. Instruction will also include the use of film unit readers, as well as film articles and novels that connect to the selected film genres. Students will study best film techniques and will begin to understand what makes a quality film. Students will study feature films and film scenes from celebrated filmmakers such as Stanley Kubric, Igmar Bergman, the Coen brothers, John Ford, Buster Keaton, Akira Kurosawa, John Huston, Guillermo Del Toro, Spike Lee, and Mel Brooks, among others. Students will learn film concepts and techniques such as: mise-en-scene, the elements of sound, cinematography, narrative elements, character coherence, diegetic and nondiegetic elements, framing, camera and lens movement, lighting, editing, use of color, and more. There will also be enrichment assignments for students in the form of independent viewing/film review projects where students will be given the option to further explore a filmmaker outside of class.


    Film, Literature and Composition Units


    Unit I: Introduction to Film


    Unit II: Film Noir


    Unit III: The Western


    Unit IV: Horror


    Unit V: World Cinema


    Unit VI: Comedy


    Unit VII: Documentaries



            Course Collections, curated by April Baxter

            The Film Experience by Patricia White and Timothy Corrigan

            The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

            Crime Stories and Other Writings by Dashiell Hammett

            True Grit by Charles Portis

            Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley

            A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift

            The Sorrow of War by Bao Ninh


    Films/film excerpts we will watch in class will include but will not be limited to:


    • Star Wars: A New Hope
    • Malcom X
    • Citizen Kane
    • Metropolis
    • Maltese Falcon
    • Double Indemnity
    • The Great Train Robbery
    • High Noon
    • The Searchers
    • True Grit
    • Nosferatu
    • The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
    • The Sixth Sense
    • Hellboy
    • Rashomon
    • Two
    • The Seventh Seal
    • Pan’s Labyrinth
    • The Sea Inside
    • Ken Burns’ Jackie Robinson
    • Sicko
    • Dr. Strangelove or:How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
    • Young Frankenstein
    • Juno

    Course Expectations: Students are expected to maintain an excellent work ethic and to meet the challenge of higher level thinking. Students will be expected to work in different groups throughout the year. Students will be expected to analyze films in depth. Projects for the units include group and individual and group digital projects, formal essays, research assignments, scene analysis essays and presentations.  All assignments are expected to be completed/submitted on time and with maximum effort. Student are expected to act in a mature and professional manner regarding the films we view. Students will be expected to respond in writing to Big Ideas and concepts such as: A) How did the early motion pictures reflect social and cultural history? B) How is film an essential art form? C) What makes a quality translation of prose into film?



    Assessments (Including: exams/quizzes, major essays and projects) count for approximately thirty percent of the grade. Classwork and homework account for approximately fifty percent of the grade. The final exam counts for approximately twenty percent of the grade. Late work will be scored one grade down per day past due. Students are expected to work independently, outside of class time in order to complete the many requirements of the course.

Last Modified on August 22, 2018