TEACHING

Approaches to the Urban Screen
Spring 2019, Yale University
with Craig Buckley

What distinguishes the urban screen—in terms of spatiality, economics, phenomenology, and technology—from other screens proliferating today? The course aims to think genealogically about the emergence and descent of large-scale urban screens as forms of public display and as new metropolitan interfaces. Today we are witnessing long-standing conceptions of the screen as a surface for the play of representations ceding ground to ecological understandings of the screen as an environmentally embedded node and as a point of dynamic mediation between actors and the world. Considering materials from film history, architectural history, art history, and urban history, the seminar considers the urban screen as a crucial part of the broader redefinition of the screen. Urban screens can be understood in terms of a rupture and recovery of screen history, wherein the fracturing of the screen (as movie screen) is coextensive with the recovery of older and alternate understandings of the screen (as facade, as protection, as shelter, as furniture, as filter, as masquerade, as control mechanism). A key aspect of the seminar is to work through the existing frameworks for thinking about urban screens and to propose new approaches that might shape this nascent area of study. In revisiting alternate histories of the screen, the course explores emerging screen cultures and their implications for the future of screen studies. Field trips to the Yale Art Gallery, Yale Center for British Art, Peabody Museum, and Beinecke Library.


Introduction to media
Spring 2019, Yale University

Introduction to the long history of media as understood in classical and foundational (and even more recent experimental) theories. Topics involve the technologies of modernity, reproduction, and commodity, as well as questions regarding knowledge, representation, public spheres, and spectatorship. Special attention given to philosophies of language, visuality, and the environment, including how digital culture continues to shape these realms.


Semiotics
Fall 2018, Yale University

The seminar discusses the most relevant concepts and categories elaborated by semiotics in order to provide analytical tools for “close readings” of verbal or visual texts, narrative forms, cultural objects, artifacts, and social situations. Semiotics’s foundational goal consisted in retracing how meaning emerges and circulates in connection with a variety of objects, from literary works to social rituals, from natural phenomena to artificial languages. In an attempt to revamp semiotics’s main task, we begin from the opposed conceptualization of “sign” in the Saussurean and Peircean traditions and from the opposed ideas of “semiosis” that they elicit. Then, moving from “sign” to “text,” we analyze the structures and the dynamics of discourses—whether verbal, visual, musical, etc. A particular stress is put on the semantic and syntactic structures of narrative texts in an attempt to draw from them a model of human and nonhuman action. The third section retraces the way enunciation produces subjectivity and deixis, in order to gain a better understanding of the context-bound nature of discourses and some tools for the analysis of context itself as a semiotic entity. We end by discussing the complex strategies that allow a discourse to tackle “reality” and “truth”—in the hope of dismantling the current use of naive epistemologies. Analytical tools are tested in class through close readings of a great variety of texts and situations, from Melania Trump’s depictions to Genesis, from short novels to social encounters.


Media in Nineteenth-Century Paris
Spring 2018, Yale University
with Marie-Hélène Girard

Exploration of Paris as the world capital of the 19th-century when traditional means of communication and expression were replaced by modern media. Painting met forms of technical reproduction, press became a more popular means of communication, art found new forms of exhibition, and new media like photography found immediate success. This revolution was supported by an acute self-consciousness by artists, writers, journalists, and intellectuals, who not only celebrated or derided the rise of a new era—Modernity—but also provided exceptional insight in it.


Truth and Media, Information, Disinformation, and Misinformation
Spring 2018, Yale University
with Anna Shechtman

Exploration of how “truth” is disseminated in a global media economy, how news can be “fake,” and the role of media in constructing truth and falsehood, beginning with Plato’s Phaedrus, a classic philosophical text in which writing itself is placed under scrutiny. Further consideration of epistemological certainty and doubt in the history of science, philosophy, literature, and art—each of which presents a theory of knowledge complicating or reifying the distinctions between fact and fiction; and ideological and technological distortions of the truth. A collaboration with the Poynter Fellowship at Yale.


Media Archaeologies: The Visual and the Environmental
Fall 2017, Yale University
with Rüdiger Campe

The seminar aims at retracing two divergent cultural processes: how and why, starting from the discovery of artificial perspective, an increasing number of cultural practices were devoted to making the world visible; and correlatively how and why, starting from the first half of the nineteenth century, visuality increasingly met with the resistance of other modes of accessing the world through the human body and the role of the environment? These two trajectories are retraced through a special attention to the media that were on the forefront of these cultural processes: from Brunelleschi’s mirror to Alberti’s window and grid, from camera obscura to Galileo’s telescope, from Panorama to Phantasmagoria, from the optical toys of the nineteenth century to the increasing implication of art into social and political questions. The seminar privileges the cultural practices that underpin both the trust in visuality and the discovery of environmentality, and it gives due attention to the political questions that the changing fortunes of the optical media imply. The seminar is the first part of a two-year project and will be followed next year by an analysis of the prevalence of the environmental dimension in contemporary media.


Fear
Fall 2016, Yale University
with Paul North

Examination of fear, as the pivotal passion in late modernity, through literature, philosophy, and film. Special emphasis on the twentieth century and the way cinema represents, causes, and reflects on fear.


The World of Screens
Fall 2016, Yale University
with Bernard Geoghegan

There is an astonishing explosion of screens around us: they proliferate in number, expand in size, find new locations in public or domestic spaces, abandon their usual quadrangular shape, lie horizontally instead of standing vertically, need to be touched instead of simply watched, connect devices instead of being isolated. There is something “excessive” in such an explosion. Yet screens are not an absolute novelty. This excessiveness is rooted in the past: in the imagination of new optical machines, developed by nineteenth-century literature and science; in the work of painters on surface and frame; in cinema’s evolution toward bigger and more inclusive screens; in the evolution of early television sets; etc. To retrace the roots of the current explosion allows us to understand better what a screen is, and why it is becoming the most typical object of our time.


Mediascapes. Toward a Media Ecology
Spring 2016, Yale University

The possibility to access the media everywhere and every time gives us the illusion to be emancipated from any temporal or spatial constraint. And yet, if it is true that images, sounds and words (apparently) circulate without any restriction, it is also true that they always “land” somewhere. We experience them at home, in a public square, on a train, in a classroom, even in the ‘personal bubble’ in which we try shelter. The seminar will start exploring the kind of media space we cope with in our global and networked society. In doing that, we will avoid the idea of keeping the environment and the media separate. When media “land”—and there is no place where they cannot do that—a new, fusional, space is created: the environment becomes mediatic, and the media become environmental. To find “natural,” “untamed” spaces today is as illusory as the idea of a “spaceless” world. The second goal of the seminar is to explore the overlapping of media and environments. The concept of Mediascape will provide a way to understand such an overlapping, and the dynamics and processes that it prompts.


Technical images: transformations of visuality in digital era
Fall 2015, Yale University

The seminar will explore the new forms of vision elicited by the so-called technical images, as firstly defined by Vilém Flusser at the dawn of digital revolution. The first part of the seminar will be devoted to a close reading of the authors that have been more sensitive in capturing the ongoing transformation of images. The second part will discuss the main character of new visuality, like fragmentation, tactility, performativity. Seminar will end with a mention to a possible “archeology” of new forms of visions.


Visual and Environmental Studies. Film, Media, Space
Spring 2015, Harvard University

This seminar will explore the subtle relations between media to their surroundings, the way in which they develop a reciprocal influence, the capacity of the media to become environments in themselves, the transitions from a space to another, and the effects of these dynamics on the symbolic economy and on the exercise of power.


Cinephobia: Fear and Hate for Cinema
Fall 2014, Yale University

From its inception, cinema has raised mixed feelings: curiosity, admiration, love, but also suspicion, fear, and even hate. The course explores the “cinephobic” tendencies in film theories and criticism from the last decade of the nineteenth century to the 1940s, retracing their roots in the iconoclast movements, their lasting influences on more recent debate, and their echoes in some films. Attention is put on American, French, Italian, German, and Japanese early film theories and criticism, in a comparative vein. All texts are in English translation, some made purposely for this course.


Media Archeology
with Mallory Ahern
Fall 2014, Yale University

An archaeological approach to the history of media, with a focus on the prehistory of now-ubiquitous technologies. Contrasting elements at play in the making of new media, including economics, science, and social needs; what inventors and innovators deemed possible at various points in history; social factors that cause new media technology to succeed or fail, and ways in which media in turn shape society.


Technologies of Knowledge
with Emily Greenwood
Spring 2014, Yale University

At the heart of this topic lie fundamental questions about how we think, how we know, and how we order thought and knowledge. Recalling the ancient Greek noun techne (a noun with a large semantic range encompassing art, craft, skill, method or system of doing or making, knowledge base), which nests in the word “technology,” the course offers graduate students and participating faculty the opportunity to undertake an archaeology of technologies of knowledge from the earliest attempts to theorize technologies of knowledge through to the meta-technologies of knowledge that constitute the digital humanities. This is foundational for a wide range of arts, humanities, and humanistic social sciences disciplines and raises a series of intellectual questions that underpin both the history and the future of the humanities.


Theory of Media
Fall 2013, Yale University

Introduction to key issues in media studies. Relationships between commodity, artwork, and networks of exchange; media and public sphere; the analysis of radio and television; alternative or counter-hegemonic conceptions of media; and the viability of the concept “media” itself.


Technologies of Knowledge
with Emily Greenwood and Tamar Gendler
Fall 2013, Yale University

At the heart of this topic lie fundamental questions about how we think, how we know, and how we order thought and knowledge. Recalling the ancient Greek noun techne (a noun with a large semantic range encompassing art, craft, skill, method or system of doing or making, knowledge base), which nests in the word “technology,” the course offers graduate students and participating faculty the opportunity to undertake an archaeology of technologies of knowledge from the earliest attempts to theorize technologies of knowledge through to the meta-technologies of knowledge that constitute the digital humanities. This is foundational for a wide range of arts, humanities, and humanistic social sciences disciplines and raises a series of intellectual questions that underpin both the history and the future of the humanities.


Early Film Theory and Modernity
Spring 2013, Yale University

Introduction to film theory from its beginnings to c. 1930, including its emphasis on the spectator’s experience. Ways in which early theory highlighted characteristics of modern life such as speed, economy, contingency, and excitation. The role of national identity in defining topics of theoretical research explored through comparison of American and European debates.


Film Canon
Spring 2013, Yale University

This seminar course for first- and second-year students is intended as preparation for the canon exam. Students examine the texts and films that are at the core of film studies, helping them retrace critically the basic knowledge of the discipline. Areas of interest include early film theories, cinema between art and media, classical film theory, auteur theory and alternative cinema, semiotics, ideology, apparatus theory, history, world cinema, film/philosophy, avant-garde film, European film, Hollywood, independent film, African American cinema, and documentary as an aesthetic, cultural, and ideological practice. Each student links a film specialty with material and methods from the relevant combined-program discipline.


Technologies of Knowledge
with Emily Greenwood and Tamar Gendler
Spring 2013, Yale University

At the heart of this topic lie fundamental questions about how we think, how we know, and how we order thought and knowledge. Recalling the ancient Greek noun techne (a noun with a large semantic range encompassing art, craft, skill, method or system of doing or making, knowledge base), which nests in the word “technology,” the course offers graduate students and participating faculty the opportunity to undertake an archaeology of technologies of knowledge from the earliest attempts to theorize technologies of knowledge through to the meta-technologies of knowledge that constitute the digital humanities. This is foundational for a wide range of arts, humanities, and humanistic social sciences disciplines and raises a series of intellectual questions that underpin both the history and the future of the humanities.


Theory of Media
Fall 2012, Yale University

Introduction to key issues in media studies. Relationships between commodity, artwork, and networks of exchange; media and public sphere; the analysis of radio and television; alternative or counter-hegemonic conceptions of media; and the viability of the concept “media” itself.


Post-Cinema: Textuality, Spectatorship, Apparatus
Fall 2012, Yale University

This seminar analyzes the transformation of cinema after the media convergence. Attention is placed on the new formats and new languages that characterize films—and that challenge the very notion of film as text. The seminar also explores the new scopic regimes that move the spectator away from his/her traditional role, making him/her “perform” his/her vision. The notion of apparatus is reexamined in the light of the new technical devices and the new spatial environments in which the filmic vision is caught.


Early Film Theory and Modernity
Spring 2012, Yale University

While this course satisfies the “Film Theory” requirement for Film Studies Majors, it is meant for all humanities students as a way of looking at the development of the 20th century in light of its major media.

For a long time, early film theories have been overlooked and underestimated. Their recent rediscovery has, however, highlighted their crucial role in framing film as a “modern” invention. The main point of interest in early film theories is based on their capacity of highlight and focus some of the characteristic of modern life: speed, economy, contingency, excitation, etc. Prioritizing the filmic experience, they focalized attention on the spectator. But the idea of a “modern” art, as well as the research for a “modern” language, were also an important issue. On the background of this interest for modernity, early film theory was not uniform. Ideological differences and national identities played a major role in defining the perspective of theoretical research. In this respect, it is useful to compare the debate in the USA and in Europe and to acknowledge the very different traditions which they represented. The course will accordingly take into account theories in France (Delluc, Epstein), Germany (Arnhein, Kracauer), Middle-Europe (Bálazs, Lukács, Tille), Italy (Papini, Thovez), Soviet Union (Eisenstein, Vertov, Pudovkin) and USA (Lindsay, Freeburg, Münsterberg).


SYLLABUS


Beyond Repetition: Saturation, Location, and Trajectory in Art and Media
with David Joselit
Spring 2012, Yale University

Repetition is one of the most common, and yet misunderstood strategies of modernist art and cinema.  As Gilles Deleuze insists in his important book of 1968, Difference and Repetition, the goal of repetition is usually not the multiplication of the same but the marking of difference.  This class will be devoted to tracking those image strategies—saturation, location, and trajectory—by which the “same” visual content accomplishes different effects, through its circulation. The term saturation suggests quantity within circulation; location suggests the question of circulatory spaces and trajectory indicates the movement, or performance of individual images.  We seek to establish an aesthetic theory of circulation through the careful development of these terms.  Each week philosophical and aesthetic readings will be assigned as well as study of works of art and cinema.


SYLLABUS


Film in the Post-Medium Condition
Fall 2011, Yale University

Is there still room for film in the new media landscape sketched out by the digital revolution? What kind of place should film occupy, if room exists? This seminar will retrace the path through which cinema has been assigned a specificity among arts and media, while the boundaries it and its neighbours have been blurred. From this starting point, the seminar will take into account the effects of media convergence on the current ideas of cinema. We’ll analyse the migration of cinema to new devices, such as home theatre, iPhone, computer – but also to new environments, whether urban or domestic spaces.  In the same vein, we’ll retrace the new formats of film and the new forms of the spectatorship moulded by this ‘relocation’ of cinema. What emerges is a different concept of specificity, which pertains not solely to the apparatus, but rather to the spectator’s experience – and whose definition is based on social habits, forms of textuality, collective narratives (among them, theories) and technological environments.


SYLLABUS


Theory of Media
Fall 2011, Yale University

In this course we read some of the “classical” and “foundational” contribution to media studies. Topics involve modernity, reproduction, knowledge as commodity, spectatorship, public sphere, representation and simulacra. The viability of the concept “communication” itself will be questioned – with an emphasis on the necessity to take in account the idea of “circulation” more than the concept of “exchange.”  A special attention is put on discourses on film, as the first “mass media” to be conceived as such – but the analysis also include the passage from the “mass” media to the “personal” ones. The course also hosts some scholars from different disciplines, who discuss the relevance of media in their field, and present some of the most recent topics in media studies.


SYLLABUS

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