Monday, April 20, 2009

Week 4: Realism, Epistemes and Movie Posters

Reading for Week 4: POL Chapter 4, Realism and Perspective in the Course Reader. (Due dates for assignment at the end of this post -- note change!)

In his book, The Order of Things, Michel Foucault used the term episteme to describe the way that an inquiry into truth is organized in a given era. An episteme is an accepted dominant mode of acquiring and organizing knowledge in a given period of history. Understanding the work of signs is an important means to identifying the episteme or dominant worldview of an era. Each period of history has a different episteme--that is, a different predominant way of ordering things or of organizing and representing knowledge about things. (POL 149)

Our text discusses films such as Dziga Vertov's Man with a Movie Camera (1929), which "captured life on the streets of Russia as viewed through the eyes of this 'spinning top' [translation of the name Vertov] cinematographer," as well as examples of French Poetic Realism and Italian neorealism. These styles relied on different formal and aesthetic conventions to evoke the real. Each style of realism expressed a particular worldview that vies with other realisms and other worldviews in particular social contexts. (POL 14-149)

After viewing film clips of Vertov, Michel Carne and Vittorio de Sica in class, find at least three movies that you think carry an essence of the time in which they were made, then work in groups to write a brief movie synopsis that embodies the epistemes of our time. Once you have a synopsis to work from, each one of you will design your own movie poster (11"x17") that visually represents your group's proposed film. You may use collage, drawing, painting, photo, digital means or any combination. Think about how each element in your poster conveys something about your "film truth" and, by extension, the "truth" of our era.

Work in class on 4/23, 4/28 and 4/30. Synopses due 4/30; posters due 5/5.

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