CIN109 American Cinema Spring 2017

Rowan College at Burlington County (RCBC)
Liberal Arts

Code: Cinema 109-170             Title: American Cinema                 Credits: 3

Instructor: William Patrick Wend

Meeting Days: Distance Education

Email:                      Phone: 856-222-9311 #1401         Texting: 609-488-4483* 

Office Hours: Parker 413B T/TH Laurel Hall 110 W/F 1000-1100

Response Time: I am primarily in my email during office hours except for Wednesday when I do "EOffice" hours (2100-2200) on Skype. If you send an email after about 1600, there is a good chance I will not answer it until the next morning. I am rarely in my email during the weekend.

*Please let me know who you are and what class you are in somewhere in your first text.

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:

  • 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.

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

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

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

  • 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.

  • 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 Policies, Assessments, Grading


Students are required to attend all class sessions for the full duration of each such instructional session. Grade penalties for absences will be imposed when a student exceeds a ten-percent absence rate (in the case of 15-week English 101 courses, starting with the third absence). The policy can be accessed at

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 2014/6)



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.


Academic Dishonesty/Plagiarism:

RCBC is committed to maintaining a culture of academic integrity where members are expected to adhere to fundamental values in both academic and nonacademic endeavors.  For the purpose of this code, academic integrity is defined as a commitment, even in the face of adversity, to these fundamental values: honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility.  It is the belief of RCBC that these values form principles of behavior that enables academic communities to translate ideas to action. The Academic Integrity policy can be accessed at  Specifically, the term “plagiarism” includes, but is not limited to, the use by  paraphrase  or direct quotation, of the published or unpublished work or sections of a work of another person without full and clear acknowledgement, whether intentional or not.  This includes any material copied directly or paraphrased from the internet.  Plagiarism also constitutes the unacknowledged use of materials prepared by another person or agency engaged in the selling of a term papers or other academic materials, including material taken from or ordered through the Internet. For more information on academic dishonesty/plagiarism see Board Policy #903-C.


Assessment Methods:

Citation Practice 5%

Course Contribution 10%

Discussion Forums 15%

Film Journal 20%

Professional Email Assignment 5%

Term Paper 25%

Topical Threads 15% (5% each)


There Is No Extra Credit


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


Student Code of Conduct:

The purpose of this Code of Conduct is to protect Rowan College at Burlington County, its academic and social community, and its property from harm resulting from acts of its students causing injury thereto, or threat of injury.  To this end, this Code defines prohibited conduct and provides for imposition of appropriate discipline upon those students whose acts are in violation of its standards of conduct, by means of hearing procedures affording both prompt disciplinary determinations and appropriate due process to the alleged violator. Students at Rowan College at Burlington County may be accountable to the civil authorities, as well as to the college, for acts which constitute violations of law as well as violations of this Code. In such event, college disciplinary actions will proceed notwithstanding the pendency of any criminal, drug or disorderly persons proceedings. Similarly, dismissal or acquittal of such concurrent legal proceedings will not necessarily result in dismissal of college disciplinary actions.  The college recognizes that its inherent powers and responsibilities to act so as to protect the safety and well-being of the campus community are broad, and that the potential range of student misconduct which could harm persons and property on campus is also broad. Accordingly, these regulations are to be interpreted broadly so as to effectuate to the fullest extent the protection of the Rowan College at Burlington County community. These written regulations are intended to define prohibited offenses with precision so as to give students notice of the behavioral standards expected of them and of the consequences should violations to the Code occur. They are not meant to define misconduct in exhaustive terms. For additional information on this policy refer to


Educational Technology Statement:

Rowan College at Burlington County advocates a technology-enhanced teaching

and learning environment. Advanced technological tools may be used in any course section to facilitate instruction. Many of our sections are web-enhanced, which means that some of your work will be submitted or completed online. Web enhancements may include on-line materials, grade books, testing and quizzes and assignment submission.  For additional information on this policy refer to


Office of Student Support and Disability Services:
In accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the ADA Amendments Act, the Student Support Services Office’s mission is to ensure all students with disabilities are provided access to educational and extracurricular activities while on college premises through support in the form of reasonable accommodations such as adaptive technology, counseling, note-taking assistance, and American Sign Language interpreters. Students who have disabilities must self-identify, provide documentation of disability(ies), attend an intake appointment, and sign a Disability Release Form ( prior to the start of the semester to ensure reasonable accommodations. For more information please contact the Office of Student Support at ext. 1208. For additional information on this policy refer to


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 the following URLs.



Prohibited Conduct:

The following acts when committed by students of Rowan College at Burlington County shall be deemed misconduct subject to imposition of discipline under this Code. In addition to this Code, students will be held accountable to the policies on Civility on Campus, Racial/Ethnic Harassment, Sexual Harassment, Smoking on Campus, and Substance Abuse/Use on Campus. Harassment, Anti-Discrimination, Equal Opportunity, Non-Retaliation, Whistleblower and Complaint and Reporting. 1. In compliance with the State of New Jersey’s “Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act”, the college will maintain zero tolerance towards behavior involving harassment, intimidation, and/or bullying of any kind that is directed to students, members of the college community, and/or visitors. Harassment, intimidation and/or bullying includes but is not limited to any gesture, written, verbal or physical act, or any electronic communication that targets another individual and/or that is reasonably perceived as being motivated either by any actual or perceived characteristic, such as race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or a mental, physical or sensory disability, or by any other Campus Information/Regulations 46 | Rowan College at Burlington County distinguishing characteristic, that takes place on or with college property or at any college sponsored function.


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 2359 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:

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 Drive (, 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. (Revised Fall 2015 by HC, DH, TC)


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. (Revised Fall 2011 by LD, AF, EF)


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.



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

***For Purposes Of This Course We Will Begin Each Week On Monday***


Week One (January 20th-22nd)

  • Complete Professional Email Assignment

  • Introduce Course

  • Introduce Yourself On The Forum

  • Introduce Citation Practice Assignment

  • Introduce Discussion Forums

  • Introduce Film Journal

  • Introduce Term Paper

  • Introduce Topical Threads

Week Two (January 23rd-29th)

  • Read/discuss chapters one and two in American Cinema

  • Complete Citation Practice Paper

Week Three (January 30th-February 5th)

  • Read/discuss chapters three and four

Week Four (February 6th-12th)

  • First two Topical Threads

  • Read/discuss chapter five


Week Five (February 13th-19th)

  • Read/discuss chapter six

Week Six (February 20th-February 26th)

  • Read/discuss chapter seven

  • Second batch of Topical Threads

Week Seven (February 27th-March 5th)

  • Read/discuss chapter eight

Week Eight (March 20th-26th)

  • Read/Discuss Chapter Nine

  • Final Batch of Topical Threads


We are on spring break from March 13th to March 19th. By 2359 on the 19th your first five (5) film journal entries and forum posts for chapters one (1)-nine (9) are due. The forums will be closing and no late work will be accepted. Once These Are Graded, As A Courtesy, Up To The Moment Grade Reports Will Be Sent To Your RCBC Email.


Week Nine (March 27th-April 2nd)

  • Read/Discuss Chapter Ten and Chapter Eleven


Week Ten (April 3rd-April 9th)

  • Read/Discuss Chapter Twelve


Week Eleven (April 10th-April 16th)

  • Read/Discuss Chapter Thirteen


Week Twelve (April 17th-April 23rd)

  • Read/Discuss Chapter Fourteen


Week Thirteen (April 24th-April 30th)

  • Read/Discuss Chapter Fifteen


Week Fourteen (May 1st-May 7th)

  • Read/Discuss Chapter Sixteen and Seventeen


Remember: Your term paper is due to my school account via Google Drive ( by 2359 on Sunday May 7th. Your forum posts for chapters ten (10) to seventeen (17) are also due. The forum will be closing and no late work will be accepted.



CIN109-170 Spring 2017 Syllabus by William Patrick Wend is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.