We somehow missed this in our Courses of Interest Spring 2014 post, but NY Times co-chief film critic A.O. Scott is teaching a course called “The Art of Film Criticism” next semester. This was verified by President Michael Roth’s Facebook status:
The course requires a POI (granted by the Film Studies Dept Chair Jeanine Basinger) and is open only to film majors, so you probably won’t be taking it. The description of the course:
This course will consider film criticism as a literary genre and an intellectual discipline, with the goal of helping students develop strong writerly voices and aesthetic points of view. Readings will include important critics of the past–including James Agee, Andrew Sarris, Pauline Kael and Susan Sontag–and examples of criticism as it is currently practiced, with special attention to digital media. Writing assignments will focus on the techniques and challenges of analyzing complex works of art concisely and on deadline.
Film Studies major Serena Berry ’15, who will take the course, looks forward to learning the art of critique, oh and also working with A.O. Scott:
Most classes in the film department require you to not act as a film critic when you write about film, which can be frustrating. Sometimes you have to analyze a film that you might dislike and you are not allowed critique it at all. Also, A.O. Scott is probably the leading film critic right now. He will be able to provide an unparalleled level of insight.
Scott visited Wesleyan in the past, when he spoke in the Chapel in 2010 for a lecture organized by The NY Times, the Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA), and the Film Studies Department. He gave some insight into his job as a film critic, the importance of film criticism, and his fascinating inspiration for the field:
A lot of what I read when I was a kid and a teenager was criticism; The New Yorker, The Times, Rolling Stone. Rock critics of the ’70s were a big influence. They seemed to not only share [my] interest and enthusiasm but expand it. It was a way of explaining to me what I heard and thought and give me another’s opinion to bounce my own against and sharpen my own against.
Any other well-known visiting faculty teaching next semester? Dar Williams, A.O. Scott, we’re on a roll with the musician movie people!