CIN109 American Cinema Fall 2016

Liberal Arts

Cinema 109, American Cinema, 3 Credits

Distance Education Course


William Patrick Wend, Instructor


Office, Laurel Hall 110

Monday/Wednesday 1230-1330

Tuesday/Thursday/Friday 1100-1200


On Wednesday I do "EOffice" hours (2100-2200) on Skype (professorwend). If you send an email after about 1600, there is a good chance I will not answer it until the next morning.

SECTION 1: Course Information

Course Description: This course examines how business savvy, creativity, and technical skills drive the film industry. Studio executives, directors, cinematographers, and others share their thought and experiences. Clips from over 300 movies demonstrate why movies continue to captivate audiences.

Required Texts and other Materials:

  • American Cinema by John Belton (ISBN: 978-0073535098)

  • Films For Assigned Papers

  • Additional Materials Supplied By Instructor


Course Learning Outcomes ~ By the end of Cinema 109, you should be able to:

  1. Recognize and explain essential elements of film language, such as mise en scene, basic camera, lighting, and editing techniques, and cinematic uses of sound. This knowledge will provide a solid foundation for any future film appreciation or film/video production courses, or for entry –level jobs as television studios and video production houses.

  2. Recognize typical narrative and visual styles of Hollywood movies from specific time periods, especially since the 1950’s.

  3. Recognize and analyze characteristics of familiar Hollywood film genres, such as romantic comedy, the Western, science fiction, and film noir.

  4. Recognize the interrelationship between the popularity of Hollywood genres and events in American society during specific time periods.

  5. Be able to see beneath the surface story and identify deeper layers of meaning in films screened for this course, particularly as they relate to cultural, historical, or cinematic themes the instructor chooses to emphasize.

  6. Write clearly, coherently and convincingly about films screened for this course. Be able to ask well-constructed questions and make intelligent comments.

General Education Outcomes:

Written and Oral Communication: Communication

* Students will logically and persuasively support their points of view or findings.

* Students will communicate meaningfully with a chosen audience while demonstrating critical thought.


Technological Competency or Information Literacy: Technology

* Students will demonstrate competency in office productivity tools appropriate to continuing their education.

* Students will use critical thinking skills for computer-based access, analysis, and presentation of information.

* Students will exhibit competency in library online database tools appropriate to accessing information in reference publications, periodicals and bibliographies.

* Students will demonstrate the skills required to find, evaluate, and apply information to solve a problem.


Ethical Reasoning and Action

* Students will analyze and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of different perspectives on an ethical issue or a situation.

* Students will take a position on an ethical issue or a situation and defend it.

Core Course Content:

  • Mise en Scene

  • Camera and Lighting

  • Editing Sound

  • Hollywood “studio system”

  • Hollywood narrative style

  • Hollywood visual style

  • Romantic Comedy

  • The Western

  • Science Fiction/Horror

  • Film Noir

  • The Coming-of-Age Experience in Hollywood Films

  • Quest and Conquest: The American Story

  • The Outsider: the Search for American Identity

  • Ethnic Diversity in Contemporary American Films

  • The Family Experience in American Film

  • America’s New Wave of the 70’s

  • Ideology, Feminism, and Auteur theories

  • Myths and Archetypes: Hero’s Journey


SECTION 2: Course Information –

Course and Classroom Policies:

ATTENDANCE: You do not "attend" a distance learning course in the traditional manner, but there are still some concerns we need to address in regards to this issue. Despite this not being a "face to face" course, all assignments, papers, etc, need to be complete by the due dates listed on the syllabus and assignment description pages. No work is optional. There is no extra credit. You can expect to spend anywhere between six to ten hours per week reading and writing for this course. If you spend less time on this course, it will be difficult to earn a passing grade.


You do not "attend" a distance learning course in the traditional manner, but there are still some concerns we need to address in regards to this issue. Despite this not being a "face to face" course, all assignments, papers, etc, need to be complete by the due dates listed on the syllabus and assignment description pages. No work is optional. There is no extra credit. You can expect to spend anywhere between six to ten hours per week reading and writing for this course. If you spend less time on this course, it will be difficult to earn a passing grade. (Updated by SB Fall 2012 With Administrative Addition Fall 2014)


COMMUNICATION: Students are responsible for communicating with instructors within 48 hours following a missed class to make arrangements for the completion of course requirements not completed due to absence. If a student does not communicate within 48 hours as stated above, the student forfeits his or her right to receive the missed work, and such assignment grades will be entered as zeroes.


PLAGIARISM (see Academic Integrity Policy, below) will not be tolerated under any circumstances. Be aware that plagiarism includes (but is not limited to) copying someone else’s words without crediting the source; paraphrasing someone else’s words without crediting the source; using someone else’s ideas without crediting the source (even if rephrased in your own words); using facts not universally known which are obtained from a source without crediting the source; asking someone else to write your paper, either in whole or in part; or obtaining a paper or portion thereof by any means and submitting it as an original document. The penalty for plagiarism is failure of the assignment and potentially failure of the course (at the instructor’s discretion), and it may result in suspension or expulsion from the College (at the discretion of the Student Affairs Committee)..


Assessment Methods

Discussion Forums 10%

Course Contribution 10%

Film Journal 20%

Citation Practice 5%

Professional Email 5%

Midterm Paper 15%

Topical Discussions 15%

Term Paper 20%



Criteria for meeting grade determination are as follows:

A: Meeting course goals by demonstrating perceptive understanding of readings and course concepts; excellence and originality in compositions; superior scores on exams and other assigned work; active participation in class discussion and small groups; and compliance with attendance and assignment requirements.


B+/B: Meeting course goals by demonstrating mastery of subject and concepts; above average quality in compositions and exams; good participation in class and small groups; and compliance with attendance and assignment requirements.


C+/C: Meeting course goals by demonstrating a satisfactory level of understanding of subject material and concepts; acceptable quality in compositions and exams; adequate participation in class and small groups; and compliance with attendance and assignment requirements.


D: Not meeting all of the course goals; minimal knowledge of subject material and concepts; marginal quality in compositions (poor quality of development, support, or grammar); poor performance on exams; passivity in class and small groups; non-compliance with attendance and assignment requirements.


F: Not meeting course goals; unsatisfactory progress in understanding and applying subject material and concepts; incomplete or unacceptable work in compositions (gross grammatical, developmental, and structural errors); failure of exams; non-compliance of attendance and assignment requirements.


SECTION 3: College Information

College Policies:
In order for students to know their rights and responsibilities, all students are expected to review and adhere to all regulations and policies as listed in the College Catalog and Handbook. These documents can be accessed at Important policies and regulations include, but are not limited, to the following:

  • College Attendance Policy

  • Grading Standards

  • Withdraw (W) and Incomplete Grades (I & X)

  • Withdrawal date for this semester

  • Student Code of Conduct

  • Academic Dishonesty/Plagiarism and Civility

  • Use of Communication and Information Technology

Office of Student Support and Disability Services: RCBC welcomes students with disabilities into the college’s educational programs. Access to accommodations and support services for students with learning and other disabilities is facilitated by staff in the Office of Student Support (OSS). To receive accommodations, a student must contact the OSS, self-identify as having a disability, provide appropriate documentation, and participate in an intake appointment. If the documentation supports the request for reasonable accommodations, the OSS will provide the student with an Accommodation Plan to give to instructors. For additional information, please contact the Office of Student Support at 609-894-9311, ext. 1208,, or

Academic Integrity Policy: The following Board-approved Academic Integrity Policy will be enforced. Board definitions of cheating, fabrication or other misconduct in research, plagiarism, and facilitating academic dishonesty will be de determined according to the discretion of the instructor. Students found guilty of more than two offenses should expect to receive sanctions of disciplinary probation, suspension, or dismissal, depending upon severity of said offenses. Students have within five working days to appeal any sanction to the Chief Academic Officer of the College, or his/her appointed designee. The policy can be accessed at

Educational Technology Statement: Rowan College at Burlington County (RCBC) advocates the use of technology to enhance instruction. Students should assume that classroom and online technology will be used throughout their coursework at RCBC, as it will most certainly be used in their future education and careers. The College provides on-campus facilities for the convenience of the RCBC community. Various college departments, including the Office of Information Technology and the Office of Distance Education, provide technology training and assistance to faculty and students.

Student Success Services: RCBC offers a variety of free services for its students including those listed below. Descriptions of these services, as well as many others, can be found in the College Catalog and Handbook and on the RCBC website at


  • Academic Advisement (

  • Career Services (

  • Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) (

  • Financial Aid (

  • International Students Office (

  • Library/Integrated Learning Resource Center (ILRC) (

  • Office of Veteran Services (

  • Student Support Counseling (

  • Tutoring Center (

  • Test Center (

  • Transfer Services (


SECTION 4: Instructor Policy

Electronic Literacy & Issues of Online Etiquette: Due to this being a distance learning course, the following skill set is required: Starting and ending programs on a Windows/Macintosh/Linux computer; opening, editing, saving, storing, and backing up files; creating, sending, receiving, and reading email, including attachments; uploading and editing files onto Blackboard. You must have a Rowan College At Burlington County email account to participate in this class.


In my classes, I have an expectation students will have access to email and computers in general. All of your work will be submitted to me digitally. Given there are public and school libraries, the ILC, coffee shops, etc, students need to budget their time better; I do not see any excuse for having “no access” to email outside of the classroom.


Students are expected to check their RCBC email on a regular basis. I do not accept the excuse, “I didn't check my email for two weeks” as a valid problem. Digital correspondence should be written using proper grammar and form. I will not reply to emails filled with texting speak (2, u, 4, lol, j/k) or poor grammar and/or misspellings. Please include a subject and "sign" your email with your name and course section.


Finally, a matter of general respect: I do not tolerate homophobic, misogynistic, ableist, or racist language in the classroom. Please be respectful to your classmates, and me, on the forums.


Forum Journal Discussions: Each week, there will be a series of forum discussions, instead of the journal I normally do in face to face classes, on our topics for the week. You are required to add a post with your thoughts/ideas/etc about the topic with at least 50 words and, also, reply to at least one (1) of your classmates. These discussions are worth 10% of your grade. Please do not repeat observations previously made or reply with "I agree" style sentiments. Significant points will be taken off your grade for doing this. If someone has already stated what you wished to say, find a way to expand on their statement or reply to someone else.


If I find something problematic about your discussions, I will be in touch as soon as possible.


Writing Policy: I expect your work to be error free. You are expected to proofread for spelling, mechanics, and grammar. I will mark down for these errors; please revise and proofread often. All papers are to be typed, titled, double spaced, and given page numbers with your last name. All papers will be submitted digitally via Google Drive by 11:59pm on the due date. I will not be accepting print copies of your papers.


If you use Microsoft Works, I would like you to convert your files (.wps) to something more accessible like .doc or .odt before submitting. Also, students writing in the .pages format will need to do the same. Please see me if you need help.


It is the student’s responsibility to get in touch with me about their work. I am not responsible for making sure you hand in your assignments; it is yours. Please make sure you are backing up your work to an external hard drive, flash drive, cloud based source or other backup method. I will not accept excuses involving crashed computers or broken files.


Finally, please follow the “24 hour rule” for paper returns. I do not discuss returned student papers until 24 hours have elapsed since I returned them. There will be no discussion in person or via email about them until that time window.


Paper Revision Policy: (Revised Fall 2015 by HC, DH, TC): I strongly believe one of the most important lessons I learned about writing was that quality work almost always entails rewriting, but also reflection on what lessons can be learned and implemented in future writing. In this class, in place of a straight paper revision, you will analyze the mistakes I noted in comments on your paper and write a response discussing the comments and how you would correct them in future writing. This means if you are not satisfied with your grade, you may submit a response (directions are below), shared to my school Google account (, within 3-5 days after I comment on your paper.


My expectation that for every mistake you are fixing, there is a brief paragraph discussing how to correct your work. I would consider directly citing our book readings (and the writing manual from ENG101) or your notes from class discussions in this response. Please do not cite random writing from the world wide web. There should be a second paragraph discussing specifically how you would fix it in your own essay as well.


If you are unsure what to write about, you can always schedule an appointment during office hours whether in person or electronic. Regardless, I would strongly suggest meeting with me to make sure you understand your grade and how to improve it.


Anywhere between one (1) to three (3) points can be added to your paper proportionally depending on the overall point total of the paper.


Of course, there are no revisions on term papers. Also, you may not use your revision to correct a plagiarized paper (see academic honesty policy below). Finally, revisions on your citation practice assignment do not count towards your revision.


Extension Policy: Extensions are gifts, not a right. College work involves responsibility and ownership over your individual situation. With that in mind, here are a few caveats about extensions. First, I need to know 48 hours before an assignment is due if you need an extension. This will be clearly addressed on the class schedule. To apply for an extension, we must speak in person or over email immediately. A rough draft of your paper in progress will be required to be handed in at this time. I will then determine whether to grant or deny the extension and how much time would be allotted for it.

To apply for an extension beyond the 48 hour mark for reasons of hospitalization, bereavement, military service, observance of religious holidays, legal reasons (jury duty, etc), or work related issues (ie: getting called into work at the last minute), written documentation not given before the due date must be in by Saturday night after the due date.

For the following reasons, extensions will not be permitted: short term illnesses and family vacations.

Only one extension will be granted per semester, although an "emergency" extension can be granted under certain circumstances.


Course Contribution: I have found in past semesters that "participation" isn't a sufficient means of assessing students. How do you grade shy, or otherwise quiet, students who do very well in your class? At the same time, does a student who does very poorly on papers/quizzes/etc, but "participates" in class deserve a high grade? Instead, I have switched this to an assessment of a student's contribution to the course. How do you do in group work? Are you always on task, or do you take others off task with your actions? Do you bring useful ideas and thoughts into class? Do you go beyond commentary that is intended to please me or make you look smart? Do you experiment, take chances, and offer untested commentary? Do you attend our peer review sessions to not only accentuate your own work, but also help your classmates? Are you punctual and always prepared? Do you do more than just listen to me? What about your presence in the class adds to it? These are some of the factors I will consider when assessing your class contribution grade.


A lot of these ideas were inspired by Lisa M. Lane's writing about this issue.


Finally: Students in my classes are responsible for reading and understanding these course policies. Do you have questions?

  • Send me an email:

  • Come to my office during office hours (Laurel 110)

  • If you are a student who has progress reports for a sport, EOF, or anything else, I will only fill these out during office hours.

  • The syllabus is a living document. Sometimes, things might not work and we will need to make a change. This syllabus is subject to change at all times. Any changes will be announced on Blackboard.


Just a reminder that all readings should be completed before the due date.

Section 5: Course Schedule

Week One (August 31st)

  • Introduce Course

  • Introduce Citation Practice Assignment

  • Introduce Professional Email Assignment

  • Introduce Midterm Paper

  • Introduce Film Journal

  • Introduce Topical Threads


Remember: Your citation practice and professional email are due to my school account ( by 2359 on Sunday.


Week Two (September 5th)

  • Read/discuss chapters one and two in American Cinema


Week Three (September 12th)

  • Read/discuss chapters three and four


Week Four (September 19th)

  • First two Topical Threads

  • Read/discuss chapter five


Week Five (September 26th)

  • Read/discuss chapter six


Week Six (October 3rd)

  • Read/discuss chapter seven


Week Seven (October 10th)

  • Second batch of Topical Threads

  • Read/discuss chapter eight


Remember: Your midterm paper is due to my school account ( by 2359 on Sunday.


Week Eight (October 17th)

  • Read/Discuss Chapter Nine

  • Introduce Term Paper


Week Nine (October 24th)

  • Read/Discuss Chapter Ten and Eleven


Week Ten (October 31st)

  • Read/Discuss Chapter Twelve


Week Eleven (November 7th)

  • Read/Discuss Chapter Thirteen

  • Final Batch of Topical Threads


Week Twelve (November 14th)

  • Read/Discuss Chapter Fourteen


Week Thirteen (November 21st)

  • Read/Discuss Chapter Fifteen


Week Fourteen (November 28th)

  • Read/Discuss Chapter Sixteen


Week Fifteen (December 5th)

  • Read/Discuss Chapter Seventeen

Remember: Your term paper is due to my school account ( by 2359 on Wednesday December 14th.