Introduction to Film Studies

Thinking about Film

Study Question Teams

Hello Cinéphiles!

As part of our remote learning, I’m going to require you to turn in answers to the study questions for the readings. You will answer these questions in teams. Here’s what I recommend:

  1. Each team should create a google doc on which to record your answers. That way, everyone can participate in answering the study questions.
  2. The study question responses will be due before class the day that reading is listed in the syllabus. For example, the study questions for the Delollio article will be due before class on Thursday, Apr. 2nd. Email me links to the google docs for your team.
  3. Team leaders will be in charge of coordinating communication within the teams. I don’t care what communication means you use: Zoom sessions, texting, email, telephone, etc. You needn’t use the same method of communication for every reading; some members might prefer one or the other, so switching up is probably a good idea.
  4. EVERY TEAM MEMBER SHOULD PARTICIPATE IN ANSWERING QUESTIONS FOR EVERY READING. You may not just assign each team member one of the readings and leave it at that. At the end of the semester, each team member will grade his or her fellow members on participation, so that you will all be accountable to one another.

The teams and team leaders are listed below:

The Cuarons

Alex Finley (team leader)

Liam Lassiter

Claire Silverman

Sean Zollner


The Farhadis

Kai Aweau

Whitney Clark

Mariah Charlton (team leader)

Marty Durkin


The DuVernays

Kyle Gardner (team leader)

Matt Laforteza

Ruofan Jiang

Wendy Yu


The Peeles

Luke Crawford (team leader)

Aidan Doyle

Jackson Engstrom

Daniel Kunath


The Bongs (and no laughing about the fact that this team is the bongs)

Ben DeLemos

Eamonn McDonald

Will Shapiro

John Wisdom

David Kelly, “Narrative and Narration in John Ford’s *The Searchers*”

Two quotes for class today:

“In a similar way, the framing devices of The Searchers announce Ford’s intention in this film to inquire into the mythic character and idealizations of the West, here not in a spirit of nostalgic celebration but rather one of literally searching examination. It is an inquiry that begins with Ethan Edwards and our acceptance of the image as it appears on the screen; we don’t begin to look again, to search that image, until Marty lets us know that this is precisely what he has begun to do at the beginning of the second act, which opens once again with the classic interior-exterior shot.” (182)


“The story of the American West has always had two contradictory aspects: pathfinding and settlement, and the virtues of westward expansion (which include rebellion, outlawry, non-conformity, self-reliance, and rugged individualism) are not necessarily the virtues of settlement, union, and nationhood (which require the values of tolerance, community, the rule of law, the acceptance of human equality, and, by extension, the acceptance of racial hybridity). At a discursive level, Ethan and Marty separately put into play these two generic understandings of the national story. Against the austerity of Ethan’s epic vision of heroic white individualism, manifest destiny, and the singular bloodline the film juxtaposes Marty’s skeptical chronicle of democratic civility, with its rituals of social cohesion and familial growth, its comic breadth and suspicion of the heroic, and its celebration of inter-racial relations. One is the story of taming the savagery without, the other of taming the savagery within, but one cannot cherry-pick the past, and the film recognizes that the latter cannot come to pass without the former.” (199)

–David Kelly, “Narrative and Narration in John Ford’s The Searchers,” Sydney Studies in English 36 (2010): 170-201.

Quote from Will Wright, “Six Guns and Society”

We’ll be talking about the following quote in class when we discuss Stagecoach and The Searchers

“In order of appearance, the vengeance variation more or less follows the classical plot, since the films with the latter structure occur mostly between 1931 and 1955. The structure of the vengeance story further suggests that it develops out of and is a variation upon the structure of the classical plot, in which the conceptual distance between the hero and the society is no longer as simple and straightforward as it was in the classical version. Unlike the classical hero who joins the society because of his strength and their weakness, the vengeance hero leaves the society because of his strength and their weakness. Moreover, the classical hero enters his fight because of the values of society, whereas the vengeance hero abandons his fight because of those same values.”

— Will Wright, Six Guns and Society: A Structural Study of the Western, (University of California Press, 1975), 59.

Sustainable Solutions Challenge!


Reilly Geritz informs me about the Sustainable Solutions Challenge taking place at UR:

The 1st annual Sustainable Solutions Challenge is an opportunity for students to brainstorm ideas of how to address single-use plastic bottle (SPB) consumption on campus. If you are interested in participating, please make a 2-4 person team and sign up at by Wednesday, February 12th. The full-length “case” of information related to SPB consumption on campus, including stakeholder interviews, can also be found at the link above. If your team’s idea is selected, each participant will win $500 and a chance to be part of the implementation next fall. Reach out to Reilly Geritz ( if you have any questions!
This seems like a great opportunity to earn some money thinking about a great cause. Contact Reilly if you want to learn more!
Dr. Cheever

Production Teaching Demonstrations

Hello Intro!

The Film Studies program is hiring a new faculty member to teach film production and global cinema. We have invited three candidates to come to campus for interviews. As part of the visits, the candidates will be teaching a mock class to demonstrate their skills in the classroom. We need students to attend the classes and serve as “students” in the demonstrations.

Each class will be an “Introduction to Lighting”: 35 minutes will be spent discussing the principles of cinematic lighting and 35 minutes will be instruction in how to white balance in Adobe Premiere software. You do not need to know anything about film production or Adobe Premiere to attend the demonstrations.

If students are willing, I will happily waive one of the required seven labs for Introduction to Film Studies in exchange for attendance at one of the demonstrations. The times of the demonstrations are below:

Thurs, January 30th     4:00-5:15pm   Weinstein Hall 418 (Journalism Lab)

Mon, February 3rd       1:30-2:45pm   Weinstein Hall 418 (Journalism Lab)

Wed, February 5th       1:30-2:45pm   Weinstein Hall 418 (Journalism Lab)

Anyone willing will earn my endless gratitude! Please email me if you can attend and to which session. Thank you!


Dr. Cheever

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