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Course Archive

Interdisciplinary Studies

  • Adapting Jane: Austen on Screen


    Emma (1996)

    Taught by Alice Bullitt, M.A., Programming, BMFI

    Dismissed in her day as but a trifling novelist—and a female one, at that—Jane Austen is presently regarded as a very important figure in English literature. Her seemingly provincial characters are so ingeniously rendered as to translate readily into a multitude of historical and cultural milieus. Austen’s quick-witted narrative tone belies her serious and often ambivalent attitudes towards money, social hierarchy, love, and marriage.

    Austen’s six major works (Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, and those below) have gained enormous popularity in part through multiple screen adaptations, particularly in the past two decades. While many of these efforts are traditional in their approach, such as Ang Lee's Sense and Sensibility and 2005’s Pride and Prejudice, others are more irreverent, such as Amy Heckerling's teen comedy, Clueless (based on Emma), and British director Gurinder Chadha's Bollywood-inspired Bride and Prejudice.

    Learn about Austen’s enduring legacy in the cinema through our exploration of Douglas McGrath's charming Emma, Roger Michell's elegant Persuasion (screened on 35mm in conjunction with the One Book One Lower Merion program), and many more.

  • Art/Cinema I at PMA


    Touch of Evil (1958)

    Taught by Jenevieve DeLosSantos, Ph.D., Coordinator of Academic Programs, PMA &
    Andrew J. Douglas, Ph.D., Director of Education, BMFI

    The cinema and fine art, such as the paintings in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, have in common many things, including aesthetic considerations of perspective, light, color, and composition. Beyond such matters of form, they are also concerned with theme, genre, and school or movement. Along these lines, there is one rather substantial way in which the two creative forms function similarly: They are both significantly influenced'aesthetically, as well as thematically'by major societal shifts.

    This course looks at movements and developments in art and film that were inspired by the same cultural impulses. Gallery visits and film clips will enhance the discussion of the impact of the American frontier, the immigrant experience at the dawn of the 20th century, World War II, and 1960s counterculture on works in the Museum's collection and from Hollywood cinema. Join us to explore some of the parallels between key moments in the histories of art and film, and to gain a greater appreciation of some of the ways in which world events determine the nature of the art we experience.

    The above image, from Touch of Evil (1958), has an aesthetic similar to that found in numerous drawings and paintings by American artists of the Ashcan school and their students, like Reginald Marsh, whose Tattoo-Shave-Haircut (1932) can be seen at the PMA, and on its website.

  • Art/Cinema II at PMA


    The Clinch (1928) by Mabel Dwight

    Taught by Andrew J. Douglas, Ph.D., Director of Education, BMFI & Jenni Drozdek, Ph.D., Manager of Adult Learning, PMA

    The cinema and the visual arts share numerous attributes, including aesthetic considerations of perspective, light, color, and composition. Beyond such matters of form, they are also concerned with genre, authorship, technique, and innovation. Along these lines, there is one rather substantial way in which the two creative forms function similarly: They are both significantly influenced'aesthetically, as well as thematically'by major developments in such areas as politics, cultural criticism, commerce, and technology.

    This course looks at comparable and significant changes in the creation and consideration of art and cinema. Gallery visits and film clips will enhance our discussion of the science fiction genre, auteur theory, image composition, and the impact of modernity as represented in the Museum's collection and world cinema. Join us to explore some of the parallels between the making and study of art and film, and to gain a greater understanding of some of the ways in which we approach creative works.

  • Art/Cinema III at PMA


    Movies, Five Cents (1907) by John Sloan

    Taught by Andrew J. Douglas, Ph.D., Director of Education, BMFI & Jenni Drozdek, Ph.D., Manager of Adult Learning, PMA

    The cinema and the visual arts share numerous attributes, including aesthetic considerations of perspective, light, color, and composition. Beyond such matters of form, they are also concerned with techniques, movements, and ideas. Along these lines, there is one rather substantial way in which the two creative forms function similarly: they are both significantly influenced—aesthetically, as well as thematically—by major developments in such areas as politics, cultural criticism, and technology.

    This course looks at comparable and significant moments in the creation and consideration of art and cinema. Gallery visits and film clips will enhance our discussion of photography, formalism, and documentary as represented in the Museum’s collection and world cinema. Join us to explore some of the parallels between the making and study of art and film, and to gain a greater understanding of some of the ways in which we approach creative works.


  • Brontë and Dickens on Screen: Then and Now—CANCELLED!


    Wuthering Heights (1939)

    Taught by Alice Bullitt, M.A., Board Member, BMFI

    Turning novels into motion pictures is nothing new, and Victorian literature has always been a wellspring for Hollywood. Charles Dickens, who produced over a dozen novels (and many more stories) during his career, remains the most adapted author of all time with his works spawning about 100 films during the silent era alone. His contemporary, Emily Brontë, wrote but one novel, Wuthering Heights, yet its influence in popular culture has been strikingly significant, inspiring one silent film in 1920, and 51 film and television productions thereafter.

    Every great novel is at once emblematic of its particular historical moment, yet relatable to a diverse array of cultural periods that follow, remaining infinite in its mutability. Dickens’s Great Expectations and Brontë’s Wuthering Heights are inarguably two such texts, and we will analyze two distinct adaptations of each. William Wyler’s Wuthering Heights (1939), a faithfully atmospheric rendition of the dark and brooding novel, stands in contrast to Andrea Arnold’s unconventional 2011 adaptation, which approaches the canonical text with a controversially subjective technique. David Lean, who directed the 1946 Great Expectations, is very much Dickens’s kindred spirit in narrative tone and style, while Alfonso Cuarón’s 1998 update is visually lush and emotionally fevered. Join us to learn about the powerful cinema inspired by two literary classics.




  • The Cinematic Bard: Shakespeare from Page to Screen


    Richard III (1995)

    Taught by Paul Wright, Ph.D., Department of English, Cabrini College

    In Shakespeare's Hamlet, the infamously cliche-addled Polonius suggests that in order to get at the truth of a matter, we must "by indirections find directions out." This famous expression—for all of Polonius's bluster—captures the essence of Shakespeare's sense of irony and dramatic method. It also nicely sums up the approach taken by countless adaptations of Shakespeare that, over the centuries, have reinvented the Bard for new eras, diverse audiences, and changing media. Shakespeare on film has always been a particularly thorny example of this process of reinterpretation, often resulting in glaring and inventive departures from our traditional expectations of what a Shakespeare play should be.

    In this course, we will closely examine four of the bolder adaptations of Shakespearean originals. In Richard Loncraine's Richard III (1995), Ian McKellen (who co-wrote the screenplay with Loncraine) creates a Richard immersed in the styles and iconography of an imagined 20th century England that has gone down the road of fascism, while retaining much of the language and power of the Bard's original. Actor Ralph Fiennes made his debut as a director with screenwriter John Logan's (Skyfall) very contemporary and politically relevant treatment of Coriolanus (2011), which, while set in Rome, was filmed with kevlar vests and assault rifles in Serbia and Montenegro. In Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (1990), writer Tom Stoppard brings to the screen his own play, itself a skewed, existentialist take on two minor characters from Hamlet. Finally, writer/director Joss Whedon offers up his impromptu and modest production of Much Ado About Nothing (2012), clandestinely filmed at his own home over twelve days during a pause in his work on The Avengers.

  • From Page to Screen: The Art of Adaptation - The Age of Innocence


    The Age of Innocence (1993)

    Taught by Alice Bullitt, M.A., Board Member, BMFI

    Since its inception, cinema has always shared an affinity with literature. To wit, many of the first narrative films produced were adapted from classic or popular literature—a trend that continues to this day. And while these two narrative media have many similarities, there are also stark differences between the two forms. Join us for a new course in which we will read well-known novels, watch their film adaptations, and then discuss and analyze the two.

    The Age of Innocence 

    Edith Wharton’s 1920 novel chronicles—and questions—the moral proclivities of New York’s Gilded Age, upper-class society. At first blush, Martin Scorsese might seem ill-suited to the material, but a story about brutality, deceit, desire, and obligation is rather perfect for the director of Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and Goodfellas.

    Please note: students are expected to have read the novel before the session. To find a copy of the book at your local library, please visit the Montgomery County Library System Catalog. If you have already read the novel, and are interested in learning more about the author and her work, please click here to access an in-depth reading list provided by our friends at the Ludington Library. 

  • From Page to Screen: The Art of Adaptation - Election—CANCELLED!


    Election (1999)

    Taught by Alice Bullitt, M.A., Board Member, BMFI

    Since its inception, cinema has always shared an affinity with literature. To wit, many of the first narrative films produced were adapted from classic or popular literature—a trend that continues to this day. And while these two narrative media have many similarities, there are also stark differences between the two forms. Join us for a new course in which we will read well-known novels, watch their film adaptations, and then discuss and analyze the two.

    Election 

    Tom Perrotta’s darkly comic novel uses a story about a heated race for high school president in suburban New Jersey as a sharp critique of American politics and education. The film was deftly adapted in 1999 by Alexander Payne (About Schmidt, Nebraska), and features an incisive, Oscar-nominated screenplay that takes aim at teachers and students alike.

    Please note: students are expected to have read the novel before the session. To find a copy of the book at your local library, please visit the Montgomery County Library System Catalog. If you have already read the novel, and are interested in learning more about the author and his work, please click here to access an in-depth reading list provided by our friends at the Ludington Library. 




  • From Page to Screen: The Art of Adaptation - Mildred Pierce


    Mildred Pierce (1945)

    Taught by Alice Bullitt, M.A., Board Member, BMFI

    Since its inception, cinema has always shared an affinity with literature. To wit, many of the first narrative films produced were adapted from classic or popular literature—a trend that continues to this day. And while these two narrative media have many similarities, there are also stark differences between the two forms. Join us for a new course in which we will read well-known novels, watch their film adaptations, and then discuss and analyze the two.

    Mildred Pierce 

    James M. Cain’s 1941 hard-boiled novel relates the travails of the eponymous character as she tries to build a better life for her and her daughter during the Great Depression. In 1945, Michael Curtiz (Casablanca) directed a feature film version that uniquely blended narrative and aesthetic elements from both film noir and melodrama.

    Please note: students are expected to have read the novel before the session. To find a copy of the book at your local library, please visit the Montgomery County Library System Catalog. If you have already read the novel, and are interested in learning more about the author and his work, please click here to access an in-depth reading list provided by our friends at the Ludington Library. 

  • From Page to Screen: The Art of Adaptation - One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest


    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)

    Since its inception, cinema has always shared an affinity with literature. To wit, many of the first narrative films produced were adapted from classic or popular literature—a trend that continues to this day. And while these two narrative media have many similarities, there are also stark differences between the two forms. Join us for a new course in which we will read well-known novels, watch their film adaptations, and then discuss and analyze the two.

    One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest 

    Psychedelic counterculture darling Ken Kesey’s 1965 novel about the patients at a psychiatric hospital is a critique of institutional repression, and an unapologetically raucous celebration of humanity. The late Milos Forman directed the highly acclaimed film adaption in 1975, beginning his cinematic focus on true iconoclasts that would come to include Amadeus, The People vs. Larry Flynt, and Man on the Moon (about radical comedian Andy Kaufman).

    Please note: students are expected to have read the novel before the session. To find a copy of the book at your local library, please visit the Montgomery County Library System Catalog. If you have already read the novel, and are interested in learning more about the author and his work, please click here to access an in-depth reading list provided by our friends at the Ludington Library. 





  • From Page to Screen: The Literary Adaptation


    Lolita (1962)

    Taught by Alice Bullitt, M.A., Programmer, BMFI

    Since its inception, cinema has always shared an affinity with literature. To wit, many of the first narrative films produced were adapted from classic or popular literature—a trend that continues today.

    This course introduces students to the significance of the literary adaptation and explores how different cinematic versions of one novel can reflect the particular cultural climate—and anxieties—of their respective moments in history. Beginning with a precursory evaluation of the origins of early cinematic technique and its relationship with popular literature, we then consider two specific texts, both of which have been adapted more than once for the screen.

    During the first two class meetings, we will cover The Talented Mr. Ripley, and consider two different screen manifestations: Purple Noon (1960) and The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999). Our third and fourth class meetings will cover Vladimir Nabokov's controversial, yet beloved, classic, Lolita, alongside Stanley Kubrick's 1962 adaptation and Adrian Lyne's 1997 remake.

    (It is recommended, but not necessary, for students to have already read The Talented Mr. Ripley before the first class meeting.)

  • Hollywood Film Music


    American Graffiti (1973)

    Taught by Jennifer Fleeger, Ph.D., Film Studies Program, Ursinus College

    Film music expresses the desires of characters, influences the emotions of audiences, and guides the direction of stories in ways that often go unrecognized. Although most listeners can identify a melody by composers such as Bernard Herrmann or John Williams, the American cinema has not always been devoted to producing symphonic scores that associate musical themes with particular characters. The diversity of musical forms that could be heard in nickelodeons across the country in the early 1900s returned as the film industry developed. What began as musical experiments with synchronization in the late 1920s became more sophisticated romantic scores in the 1930s and 1940s, eventually making way for theme scores in the 1950s and leading to the extensive use of popular songs in the 1960s and 1970s.

    This course traces the history of Hollywood film music through four films that represent dominant musical trends. Coming at the end of the conversion to sound, Rouben Mamoulian’s Love Me Tonight (1932) stars Jeanette MacDonald and Maurice Chevalier singing Rodgers and Hart songs while the broomsticks, bells, and babies that surround them are also capable of making “music.” Now, Voyager (1942) demonstrates Max Steiner’s foundational role in the development of symphonic film music with an Oscar-winning score that illustrates the romance between a lonely spinster (Bette Davis) and a married man (Paul Henreid). In High Noon (1952), Dimitri Tiomkin transforms a cowboy song into a theme score that dramatically anticipates the impending duel between outlaw Frank Miller and a sheriff played by Gary Cooper. Finally, in American Graffiti (1973), George Lucas collaborated with sound designer Walter Murch on a film about a group of high school friends who drive the small-town California streets on the last night of summer to the popular tunes of a radio show hosted by Wolfman Jack. Together, we will listen and learn about one of the more unsung aspects of the movie-going experience.


  • Special Topic: Philosophy on Film


    Nostalghia (1983)

    Three philosophers from area colleges present three films from different cinematic traditions. The GPPC brings philosophy into the “public square” and will widen your eyes to philosophical perspectives that can enrich your appreciation of these movies.

    Films scheduled to be discussed are:

    March 31 Nostalghia (Andrei Tarkovsky, USSR, 1983)
    Craig Bach, Ph.D., Associate Vice Provost, Drexel University

    April 7 It Happened One Night (Frank Capra, US, 1934)
    Richard Eldridge, Ph.D., Charles & Harriet Cox McDowell Professor of Philosophy, Swarthmore College

    April 14 The Cow (Dariush Mehrjui, Iran, 1969)
    Cornelia Tsakiridou, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Philosophy, La Salle University

  • Special Topic: Philosophy on Film — Contemporary Chinese Films: Identity, History, and Change


    A Touch of Sin (2013)

    Three philosophers from area colleges present three contemporary examples of Chinese cinema. The GPPC brings philosophy into the "public square" and will widen your eyes to philosophical perspectives that can enrich your appreciation of these movies. The films scheduled to be discussed are:

    April 2: Fallen Angels (Kar Wai Wong, Hong Kong, 1995)
    Presented by Haili Kong (Swarthmore College)

    April 9: A Touch of Sin (Jia Zhangke, China, 2013)
    Presented by Kathleen Wright (Haverford College)

    April 20: The Fourth Portrait (Mong-Hong Chung, Taiwan, 2010)
    Presented by Xiaojue Wang (University of Pennsylvania)

  • Special Topic: Philosophy on Film — The Early Godard: Existentialist Anti-Hero


    Breathless (1960)

    Dr. Marc Moreau, Chair of LaSalle University's Philosophy Program, presents three films by one of the fathers of the French New Wave, Jean-Luc Godard. The GPPC brings philosophy into the "public square" and will widen your eyes to philosophical perspectives that can enrich your appreciation of this auteur.

    Films scheduled to be discussed are:

    Thursday, March 20, 7:00pm to 10:00pm
    Breathless (1960)

    Thursday, March 27, 7:00pm to 10:00pm
    Vivre sa Vie (1962)

    Thursday, April 3, 7:00pm to 10:00pm
    Contempt (1963)

  • Special Topic: Philosophy on Film – Alain Resnais: The Weight of Time


    Last Year in Marienbad (1961)

    Taught by Marc Moreau, Ph.D., Philosophy Department, La Salle University

    The moral weight of human memory will be explored through three films spanning the long career of the distinguished French filmmaker, Alain Resnais (1922-2014). The GPPC brings philosophy into the 'public square' in the hope of presenting philosophical perspectives that can enrich your appreciation of these movies. Marc Moreau, Ph.D., (Philosophy Department, La Salle University) will present the series. The films scheduled for discussion are:

    March 23: Last Year at Marienbad (1961)
    March 30: My American Uncle (1980)
    April 6: Wild Grass (2009)

  • Special Topic: Philosophy on Film—Fantasy: From Page to Screen


    The Return of the King (2003)

    Three philosophers from La Salle University present three films based on notable works of literary fantasy. The GPPC brings philosophy into the "public square" and will widen your eyes to philosophical perspectives that can enrich your appreciation of these movies. The films scheduled to be discussed are:

    Thursday, March 31:
    The Return of the King (Peter Jackson, 2003), Pt. 1
    Based on a novel by J. R. R. Tolkien
    Presented by Robert Dobie, Ph.D.

    Thursday, April 7:
    The Return of the King (Peter Jackson, 2003), Pt. 2
    Based on a novel by J. R. R. Tolkien
    Presented by Robert Dobie, Ph.D.

    Thursday, April 14:
    Coraline (Henry Selick, 2009)
    Based on a novel by Neil Gaiman
    Presented by Joel Garver, Ph.D.

    Thursday, April 21:
    Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (David Yates, 2007)
    Based on a novel by J.K. Rowling
    Presented by Craig Franson, Ph.D.

  • Special Topic: Philosophy on Film-- Terrence Malick’s World


    The Thin Red Line (1998)

    Three philosophers from area colleges present three films by one of America’s most contemplative and enigmatic filmmakers. The GPPC brings philosophy into the “public square” and will widen your eyes to philosophical perspectives that can enrich your appreciation of these movies.

    Films scheduled to be discussed are:

    Thursday, March 21, 7:00pm to 10:00pm
    Badlands (1973)
    Jeremy Millington, Philosophy Department, Temple University

    Thursday, March 28, 7:00pm to 10:00pm
    The Thin Red Line (1998)
    Joe Volpe, Ph.D., Philosophy Department, La Salle University

    Thursday, April 4, 7:00pm to 10:00pm
    The Tree of Life (2011), Pt. 1
    John Hymers, Ph.D., Philosophy Department, La Salle University

    Thursday, April 11, 7:00pm to 10:00pm
    The Tree of Life (2011), Pt. 2
    John Hymers, Ph.D., Philosophy Department, La Salle University

  • Special Topic: Philosophy on Film--Estrangements


    Night of the Living Dead (1968)

    Three philosophers from area colleges present three films from different cinematic traditions. The Greater Philadelphia Philosophy Consortium brings philosophy into the "public square" and will widen your eyes to philosophical perspectives that can enrich your appreciation of these movies.

    Films scheduled to be discussed are:

    Thursday, March 29, 7:00pm to 10:00pm
    The Rapture (Michael Tolkin, US, 1991)
    John Carvalho, Chair, Philosophy Department, Villanova University

    Thursday, April 5, 7:00pm to 10:00pm
    Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Stanley Kubrick, UK, 1964)
    Richard Kamber, Department of Philosophy, Religion & Classical Studies, College of New Jersey

    Thursday, April 12, 7:00pm to 10:00pm
    Night of the Living Dead (George A. Romero, US, 1968)
    S. Joel Garver, Philosophy Department, La Salle University

  • Special Topic: Philosophy on Film—Werner Herzog Documentaries: Exploring —SOLD OUT!!


    Encounters at the End of the World (2007)

    Taught by Sponsored and Presented by the Greater Philadelphia Philosophy Consortium

    The GPPC brings philosophy into the public square in the belief that philosophical perspectives can enrich the appreciation of good movies. Richard Eldridge, Ph.D., (Swarthmore College Philosophy Department) will present the series. The films scheduled for discussion are:

    Thursday, March 21: Land of Silence and Darkness (1971)

    Thursday, March 28: The White Diamond (2004)

    Thursday, April 4: Encounters at the End of the World (2007)

  • Symphony of Horrors: Dracula in Literature and Film


    Dracula (1931)

    Taught by Alice Bullitt, M.A., Programmer, BMFI

    The vampire is a creature that has haunted the artistic imagination for centuries—it both literally and figuratively refuses to die. Like other creatures in Gothic literature, such as Frankenstein's Monster or Mr. Hyde, the vampire is a locus of cultural ideology, reflecting the social, economic, and psychological anxieties of its historical moment.

    Bram Stoker's late-Victorian novel, Dracula, acted as a catalyst for the twentieth century's cinematic obsession with vampires, spawning over 200 feature films about this most beloved bloodsucker. This course will introduce students to the literary tradition of the vampire that culminated with Stoker's novel, and focus on the myriad film adaptations that followed.

    The films we will study include (but are not limited to) F.W. Murnau's German Expressionist masterpiece, Nosferatu, Francis Ford Coppola's audaciously imaginative Bram Stoker's Dracula, and several others.

    In addition, students may sign up for an optional field trip to the Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia where we will receive a private lecture on Stoker and get to view his original notes and outlines for the novel, which are in the permanent collections of their library.