E220 | FALL 2004 | SDSU

sinematic bodies
An Introduction to Literature, Film, Photography
Mike High | Leon LanzbomW. Nericcio | Farhang Pernoon | Tawnya Richards | Leah Sneider 

Sin n. [OE. sinne, L. sons, sontis, guilty] 1. Transgression of the law of God; disobedience of the divine command; "I think 't no sin. To cozen him that would unjustly win." W. Shakespeare. "Enthralled By sin to foul, exorbitant desires." J. Milton. 2. An offense, in general; a violation of propriety; a misdemeanor; as, a sin against good manners. "I grant that poetry's a crying sin."A. Pope. 3. A sin offering; a sacrifice for sin." "He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin. 2 Cor. v. 21. 4. An embodiment of sin; a very wicked person. "Thy ambition, Thou scarlet sin, robbed this bewailing land." W. Shakespeare

Cinema n. 1a. A film or movie. b. A movie theater. 2a. Films or movies considered as a group. b. The film or movie industry. 3. The art or technique of making films or movies; filmmaking. ETYMOLOGY: French cinema; cinematograph.


There will be something to arouse, delight, and offend all the brave souls who sign up for our outrageous voyage--a bizarre pilgrimage of sorts in search of quirky, funny, shocking, and controversial books, films, and art. The particular emphasis of this general education introduction to literature class will be something called the "Sinematic Body," a shorthand way of reminding ourselves of the major themes of the class: Sin, Cinema, Film as Bodies of Light, Books as Bodies of Ink, etc.; so you can expect us to spend NO LITTLE time reading books, watching films, studying poetry, devouring graphic narratives, and inhaling pieces of art that feature curious, damaged, individuals (shattered bodies, twisted psyches) finding solace or further madness in Hollywood. Think of movies as an influenza, cinema as a seductive plague, and you get an idea of the kinds of works and ideas we will collectively pursue. Have no fear of the big class size (230+, yikes!) with our of brilliant team of Graduate Assistants (aka TAs), this promises to be one hell of a class--we're not calling it 'SIN'ema for nothing! 

Here is a  list of required texts and films: Loving Pedro Infante by Denise Chavez; Ways of Seeing by John Berger; Day of the Locust by Nathanael West; Hollywood Babylon by Kenneth Anger; Brave New World by Aldous Huxley; Scene from the Movie GIANT by Tino Villanueva; In Real Life: Six Women Photographers by Leslie Sills; Peeping Tom by Michael Powell; Blow-Up by Michaelangelo Antonioni; Sunset Boulevard by Billy Wilder; In the Shadow of No Towers by Art Spiegelman; a scene and one-act play by Oliver Mayer (who will visit the class and hang out with us--this text will be made available in-class [$6]); and a spoken word/music CD ($5; purchased IN CLASS as well) featuring the poetry of Bennie Horan (opposite) and Kev Short.

Requirements: 33% of your grade will be based on one 5 to 8 page essay; 33% of your grade will be based on your final exam score; 1% of your grade will be based on your drive, ganas, chutzpah etc.; and 33% of your grade will be based on quizzes, in-class writing, attendance, and class discussion/participation. DISCLAIMER: This humble GENERAL EDUCATION class will deal with adult issues and activities--it usually isn't "great literature" unless it tests the boundaries of human experience. As such, if you get faint about insanity, human sexuality, erotic taboos or if graphic art, literature and film leave you weak, angry, disgusted etc., PLEASE look at our other tasty sections of E220.

[note 1: This class meets on Mondays and Wednesdays from 12noon to 12:50pm in Hardy Tower 140 AND ONE OTHER DAY DURING THE WEEK IN A SEPARATE BREAK-OUT SESSION--pick your course section CAREFULLY.] 

[note 2: there will be a limited number of places in this class for Comparative Literature students in search of 3 units of Comparative Literature 499 Special Study credit--see Professor Nericcio or email him, memo@sdsu.edu, before the semester begins.]


You will be asked to write ONE Analytical Imagination Challenge--aka 5 to 8 page essay. Please note that you will never be compelled to write about something you absolutely loathe. Please see me during office hours and we can always brainstorm a substitute essay assignment. There will be an Examination Festival (aka, the FINAL) on the last regularly scheduled day of class: Wednesday, December 8, 2004.  Your final is comprehensive; it assumes you have read all the books and screened all the movies that are part of our required work. If you do the work, the final is a breeze--even "fun" if you can believe it. If you slack off, you will find the final as enjoyable as a surprise appearance on FEAR FACTOR.


There will also be a couple of in-class Panic-Inducing Challenges otherwise known as "check that you did the reading carefully and on time quizzes." You can expect these miserable quizzes from time to time, the number of quizzes depending on how many of you are nostalgic for high school. In other words, if everyone acts like a talented university undergraduate, we will enjoy FEW if any quizzes during our lights, ink body-drenched semester. The whole point of this class is to work together, the idea being that we convert our boring, somewhat high-tech classroom into a chaotic, unpredictable and exciting intellectual laboratory. Missing class, you miss as well the whole point of the adventure. So please bypass no more than three classes. Miss MORE than three classes during the term and your grade will decay in an ugly way: examples: your hard-earned A- will morph into a B-; your "gentleman's C" will appear on gradeline as a "D." Ditching this class too often will be as fun as a case of the flesh-eating virus.


33% Quizzes, In-class "Panic-Inducing Challenges", Section Assignments by your TAs and class participation/attendance
33% "Analytical Imagination Challenge" aka The BIG Essay
33% Final Examination Festival
1% Chutzpah, ganas, will, and drive.


Why 'office hours'? I expect you to visit me in office hours at least once during the semester. At SDSU, it's easy to fall through the cracks, to feel that you are nothing but a number or some warm pile of sentient flesh filling a seat. In order to underscore that the person teaching you is somewhat human, please make a point to take the time to introduce yourself in person. My office hours will be on Mondays and Wednesdays after class till 2:15 in Adams Humanities 4117. If these hours are inconvenient, do not hesitate to call me at 594.1524 either to schedule an appointment or discuss your questions via telephone. My E-mail address is: memo@sdsu.edu. Your Teaching Assistants this semester include Mike High, Dr. Leon Lanzbom, Tawnya Richards, Leah Sneider.  Office hourse and Email TBA.


When you walk into class each day on time you will do so having completed your reading assignment for that day. Please think twice about joining us if you have not finished the readings--the quality of our class depends upon your dedicated work and your relentless and independent curiosity. Without your periodic intellectual donations, the class is likely to evolve into a boring, even painful waste of time. With your help, we can avoid this.