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Academic Year: Fall/Winter 2013/2014

Term: 1

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Beth Marquis



Phone: 905-525-9140 x

Office Hours: W 4:30-5:30pm or by appt

Course Objectives:

Course Description:

In this course, we will explore the kind of spaces, places, and geographies that are constructed and imagined in and through cinema. We will consider how filmic spaces – ranging from the local to the global, the nation-state to the cityscape, the living-room to the train compartment – impact upon our understandings of given locations and of the people and events attached to those spaces. Ways in which films engage issues such as citizenship, community, globalization, exile, and displacement will be discussed. We will also consider spaces of reception, and the extent to which situated viewing can participate in processes of identity construction and negotiation.


The course will have a seminar format. I will introduce and frame topics, but students will also be expected to contribute questions and comments, to work in small groups, to engage actively in discussion of the materials, and to help shape the flow and direction of our meetings.


Course Objectives:

Upon successful completion of this course, students should be able to:


  1. Describe ways in which filmic representations affect our understanding(s) of spaces, and of the people and events connected to those spaces.
  2. Consider and discuss the ways in which audiences might use cinematic texts connected to particular spaces in the processes of personal identity construction.
  3. Evaluate and engage with theoretical and analytical scholarship connected to cinematic spaces and cultural geographies.
  4. Construct persuasive, insightful & effective arguments relating to #1 and/or 2 above.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Required Texts:

There are no texts to purchase for this course; all course readings will be accessible through online channels such as public websites and McMaster’s eBook collections and journal databases. Links to these materials will be available on the course Avenue site. See the schedule below for initial reading assignments. Additional readings may be assigned as we move through the course.


Required Screenings:

Films will be screened each week during class time. These films are central to the course, and it is expected that all students will attend the in-class screenings. See the schedule below for the specific screening agenda. 

Method of Assessment:

Assignments and Evaluation:

4 critical responses                          Due Sept. 25, Oct. 16, Nov. 6 & Nov. 27       = 60% (15%/each)

Take home exam                            During exam period                                       = 30%

Participation                                                Throughout term                                             = 10%


Please note: You will receive feedback on (at least) your first two critical responses to meet the University regulations (10% of grades by Friday November 8, 2013).


Assignment Descriptions & Evaluation Criteria:

Critical Responses (4x15% each, 60% total):

This assignment allows you to demonstrate your ability to discuss critically both filmic representations of space, and scholarship pertaining to such representations. You will be required to complete four brief (2-3pp) analytical responses, in each of which you will examine and construct an argument about one of the films or readings we have discussed in class to date, or about an alternate film/reading of your choosing. Specific guiding questions will be provided for each response in advance of the due date. You might, for instance, be asked to perform a close reading of a certain film or scholarly text, or to imagine how using different filmic techniques might alter the implications of a given representation. Students are also welcome to develop their own areas of focus in collaboration with me. Whatever the focus, your responses will need to demonstrate your developing thinking about the ideas and issues discussed in the course, and to engage in detailed analysis of relevant films and/or readings. 


Grading Criteria: Analyses will be marked in terms of the following criteria: completeness; clarity and insight of analytical ideas; coherence and persuasiveness of supporting argumentation; organization, spelling, grammar and other elements of writing mechanics.


Take Home Exam (30%):

This assignment will provide you with an opportunity to demonstrate the extent to which you have met each of the course objectives outlined above. At the beginning of the exam period, you will be provided with a series of 5 essay-style questions that take up the key themes of the course. These questions might ask you to analyze and compare the representations of space in two different course films, for instance, or to apply or evaluate the ideas raised in a reading by considering them in relation to one or more filmic examples. You must choose TWO questions from the provided list, and prepare detailed, persuasive responses that respond to all parts of those questions. Your responses should not simply repeat class discussions or summarize ideas found in the readings or the films, but should rather build on these sources to raise new insights and demonstrate your own analytical abilities. You will have approximately one week to complete and submit responses online (a specific deadline will be provided in class).


Grading Criteria: Exam responses will be marked in terms of the following criteria: completeness; clarity and insight in identifying meanings at play in/around the texts; coherence and persuasiveness of argumentation; organization, spelling, grammar and other elements of writing mechanics.


Participation (10%):

Participation in the class process is one of the indicators of your academic performance and potential demonstration of understanding the course material. The expectations include: regular attendance, viewing and reading the assigned materials, contributing to class discussion, completing in-class and online activities, respectful listening, and engaging with others’ comments to further our understandings of the materials and thematics.


Grading criteria: thoroughness of preparation; completion of in-class exercises and assignments, quality of contributions to class discussion and activities (thoughtfulness, responsiveness, openness, respectfulness). Students will be given an opportunity to engage in reasoned self-assessment of their participation over the duration of the term; this self-assessment (which will need to be explicitly justified) will count toward 2% of the final participation grade.

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

This is a self-reporting tool for undergraduate students to report absences DUE TO MINOR MEDICAL SITUATIONS that last up to 5 days and provides the ability to request accommodation for any missed academic work. Please note, this tool cannot be used during any final examination period. You may submit a maximum of 1 Academic Work Missed request per term. It is YOUR responsibility to follow up with your Instructor immediately (NORMALLY WITHIN TWO WORKING DAYS) regarding the nature of the accommodation. If you are absent for reasons other than medical reasons, for more than 5 days, or exceed 1 request per term, you MUST visit your Associate Dean's Office/Faculty Office). You may be required to provide supporting documentation. This form should be filled out immediately when you are about to return to class after your absence.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

Course Schedule         

Note: all readings should be completed PRIOR to the class for which they are assigned



Week 1 (September 11): Introduction – Space, Place & Cinema

  • No required readings
  • Required screening (in class):
    • Blair, W. (2012). The Sapphires. Australia. 103 min.


Week 2 (September 18): Cinema & Nation

  • Required Readings:
    • Hayward, S. (2000). Framing national cinemas. In M. Hjort & S. McKenzie (Eds.), Cinema and Nation (pp. 88-102). London: Routledge.
    • Willemen, P. (2006). The national revisited. In V. Vitali & P. Willemen (Eds.), Theorizing National Cinema (pp. 29-43). London: British Film Institute.
  • Required screening (in class):
    • Salles, W. (1998). Central Station. Brazil/France. 115 min.


Week 3 (September 25): Landscapes, Landmarks & National Identities

  • Required Readings:
    • Leach, J. (2010). The landscapes of Canada’s features: Articulating nation and nature. In G. Harper & J. Rayner (Eds.), Cinema and Landscape (pp. 269-280). Bristol/Chicago: Intellect.
  • Required screening (in class):
    • McGowan, M. (2008). One Week. Canada, 94 min.

                              **Critical Response #1 due at the beginning of class


Week 4 (October 2): Local Borders & Racialized Bodies

  • Required Readings:
    • Hall, S. (2013). The spectacle of the ‘Other’. In S. Hall, J. Evans & S. Nixon (Eds.), Representations, 2nd ed. (pp. 237-253; 259-271). London: SAGE.
    • Massood, P.J. (2003). Welcome to Crooklyn: Spike Lee and the rearticulation of the Black urbanscape. In P.J. Massood, Black City Cinema (pp. 117-144). Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
  • Required screening:
    • Lee, S. (1989). Do the Right Thing. USA. 120 min.


Week 5 (October 9): Sexualities, Borders, & Citizenships

  • Required Readings:
    • Sandell, J. (2010). Transnational ways of seeing: Sexual and national belonging in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Gender, Place and Culture 17(2): 231‐247.
  • Required screening (in class):
    • Mitchell, J.C. (2001). Hedwig and the Angry Inch. USA. 95 min.


Week 6 (October 16): Home & Homeland, Nostalgia & Nation

  • Required Readings:
    • Boym, S. (2007). Nostalgia and its discontents. The Hedgehog Review 9(2): 7-18.
  • Required screening (in class):
    • Becker, W. (2003). Good Bye, Lenin! Germany. 121 min.

                              **Critical Response #2 due at the beginning of class


Week 7 (October 23): Internal & External Landscapes: Memory, Trauma & Place

  • Required Readings:
    • Guerin, F. & Hallas, R. (2007). Introduction. In F. Guerin & R. Hallas (Eds.), The image and the Witness. Trauma, Memory and Visual Culture (pp. 1-13). London/New York: Wallflower.
    • Yosef, Raz. (2010). War fantasies: Memory, trauma and ethics in Ari Folman’s Waltz with Bashir. Journal of Modern Jewish Studies 9(3): 311-26.
  • Required screening (in class):
    • Resnais, A. (1955). Night and Fog. France. 32 min.
    • Folman, A. (2008). Waltz with Bashir. Israel. 90 min.


Week 8 (October 30): Dystopic Spaces & the Negotiation of History

  • Required Readings:
    • Nel, A. (2012). The repugnant appeal of the abject: Cityscape and cinematic corporality in District 9. Critical Arts: South-North Cultural and Media Studies 26(4): 547-569.
  • Required screening (in class):
    • Blomkamp, N. (2009). District 9. USA/New Zealand/Canada/South Africa. 112 min.


Week 9 (November 6): Globalized Cities, Transnational Cinemas

  • Required Readings:
    • Marchetti, G. (2000). Buying American, consuming Hong Kong: Cultural commerce, fantasies of identity, and the cinema. In P. Fu & D. Desser (Eds.), The Cinema of Hong Kong: History, Arts, Identity (pp. 289-313). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Required screening (in class):
    •  Wong, K. (1994). Chungking Express. Hong Kong, 98 min.

                              **Critical Response #3 due at the beginning of class


Week 10 (November 13): Tourists & Travelers

  • Required Readings:
    • Negra ,D. (2006/2001). Romance and/as tourism: Heritage Whiteness and the (inter)national imaginary in the New Woman’s Film. In E. Ezra & T. Rowden (Eds.), Transnational Cinema: The Film Reader (pp. 169-180). London/New York: Routledge.
    • Baschiera, S. (2012). Nostalgically man dwells on this earth: Objects and domestic space in The Royal Tenenbaums and The Darjeeling Ltd. New Review of Film and Television Studies 10(1): 118-131.
  • Required screening (in class):
    • Anderson, W. (2007). The Darjeeling Limited. USA. 91 min.


Week 11 (November 20): Diaspora & ‘Accented Cinema’

  • Required Readings:
    • Naficy, H. (2001). Situating accented cinema. In H. Naficy, An Accented Cinema: Exilic and Diasporic Filmmaking (pp. 10-39). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Required screening (in class):
    • Egoyan, A. (1993). Calendar. Armenia/Canada/Germany. 74 min.


Week 12 (November 27): Diasporic Filmmakers & the Transnational Blockbuster

  • Required Readings:
    • Lim, S.H. (2012). Speaking in tongues: Ang Lee, accented cinema, Hollywood. In L. Nagib, C. Perriam & R. Dudrah (Eds.), Theorizing World Cinema (pp. 129-144). London: I.B. Tauris.
  • Required screening (in class):
    • Lee, A. (2000). Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Taiwan/Hong Kong/USA/China. 120 min.

                              **Critical Response #4 due at the beginning of class


Week 13 (December 4): Reception & Spatialized Identities

  • Required Readings:
    • Ray, M. (2012). Diasporic Bollywood. In A.G. Roy & C. B. Huat (Eds.), Travels of Bollywood Cinema: From Bombay to LA (20pp). New Delhi: Oxford University Press.
    • Hedetoft, U. (2000). Contemporary cinema: Between cultural globalization and national interpretation. In M. Hjort & S. McKenzie (Eds.), Cinema and Nation (pp. 262-279). London: Routledge.
  • No required/recommended screenings.

Other Course Information:

Policy Statements

The School of the Arts and your instructor are committed to ensuring an environment that is free of all adverse discrimination and open to multiple perspectives and points of view. Students with diverse learning styles and needs are welcome in this course. If you have a disability/health consideration that may require accommodations, please feel free to approach me and/or Student Accessibility Services as soon as possible.


Assignment Deadlines & Missed/Late Work:

Students are expected to hand in all assignments on the specified due dates. For critical responses, late submissions will be subject to a penalty of 3% per day. Late submissions may also receive less thorough feedback from me. No critical response papers will be accepted after the last day of classes (December 4, 2013.) Please note that, due to time constraints, late take home exams cannot be accepted. Exams not submitted by the assigned date will receive a grade of zero.


Given that most course assignments require electronic submission, you should be sure to familiarize yourself with the Avenue to Learn dropbox in advance of the deadlines, and to ask for assistance as necessary. Problems with electronic submission WILL NOT be accepted as an excuse for lateness.


A Note About the use of Avenue to Learn:

In this course we will be using Avenue to Learn. Students should be aware that, when they access the electronic components of this course in Avenue, private information such as first and last names, user names for the McMaster email accounts, and program affiliation may become apparent to all other students in the same course. Continuation in this course will be deemed consent to these terms. If you have any questions or concerns, please discuss them with the instructor.