Human Rights on Film
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|Course Dates||Weeks||Meeting Times||Status||Instructor(s)||CRN|
|July 14, 2014 - August 01, 2014||3||M-F 9A-11:50A||Open||Swetha Regunathan||10669|
This course will expose students to the intersection between human rights and film. Students will encounter films that represent various forms of social injustice, while considering if and how this medium is an effective vehicle for social engagement. Along the way, we will ask how one of the most important political formations of the modern era -- "human rights" -- has been taken up and reworked by filmmakers.
From the civil war in Syria to drone strikes in Pakistan to state-sponsored censorship, our attention to human rights has never seemed so crucial. This course will consider how film -- arguably one of the most important and widely consumed cultural forms today -- grapples with the task of representing injustice. We will linger on three main areas of analysis: a) the concept of human rights itself, b) the formal possibilities of film as a medium, and c) how the two work together. Ultimately the course will aim to highlight the role of cultural representation in what may initially seem like a strictly political arena. As such, it will serve as a foundation to further college-level study in the humanities.
Some questions/topics that will anchor the course include:
1. What are some major themes in human rights film, and what cinematic conventions are used to portray them?
2. How do filmmakers negotiate the representation of injustice or suffering with the need to stylize for the silver screen?
3. How does the cultural work of film differ from that of journalists, photographers, aid workers, economists, and others who are broadly concerned with the same issues?
4. Is film still a relevant vehicle for conveying injustice in the wake of other social media forms?
Students will have a basic toolkit in hand with which to critically view and analyze films (of any genre). Moreover, they will be able to write critically about a film -- its form, content, production, or reception -- in an organized and persuasive manner. Students will also be aware of some major concerns and problems in human rights debates and how they relate to some of the key issues raised by news media today. Above all this course will focus on critical thinking, reading, and writing, allowing students to use new vocabularies (in the worlds of both film and human rights) in order to take a strong position.
Students should have some basic knowledge of current affairs and geography. They should have taken an advanced high school English course and be familiar with basic concepts of metaphor, symbolism, interpretation, and close reading.