Theory List

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Introductory Material


  • Tropes are more easily understood by studying some examples, such as this list.
  • Look for sources discussing FILM tropes.
you've seen this same scene in many films; click the pic
Iron-man Explosion



New Historicism

  • "New Historicism assumes that every work is a product of the historic moment that created it. Specifically, New Historicism is '...a practice that has developed out of contemporary theory, particularly the structuralist realization that all human systems are symbolic and subject to the rules of language, and the deconstructive realization that there is no way of positioning oneself as an observer outside the closed circle of textuality'" ("Literary Theory and Schools of Criticism")
  • "New historicists do not believe that we can look at history objectively, but rather that we interpret events as products of our time and culture and that '...we don't have clear access to any but the most basic facts of history...our understanding of what such facts a matter of interpretation, not fact'" ( "New Historicism")

Metaphysics: Plato's Allegory of the Cave

Platos Cave
  • "As a metaphysical account, the allegory of the cave is a symbolic depiction of how man is trapped in his everyday illusionary material existence, and how he can free himself from this trap through the philosophical dispositions of deep personal and social awareness and constant self-examination. As an epistemological account, it tries to establish the importance of Ideas, which we apprehend only through reason, over mere opinions, which are derived from our fleeting experience of the physical world."(Tamayao)

Metaphysics: Jung's Archetypes

Multiple pictures of characters from film
  • "The collective unconscious, Jung believed, was where these archetypes exist. He suggested that these models are innate, universal and hereditary. Archetypes are unlearned and function to organize how we experience certain things" (Cherry)
  • "When an archetype is experienced, individuals unconsciously recognize it as what it represents and it appears as 'mental forms whose presence cannot be explained by anything in the individual's own life and which seem to be aboriginal, innate, and inherited shapes of the human mind'" (Jung qtd in Jowett).

Class Struggle: Althusser's Ideology (ISAs)

  • "Regimes or states are able to maintain control by reproducing subjects who believe that their position within the social structure is a natural one. Ideology, or the background ideas that we possess about the way in which the world must function and of how we function within it is, in this account, understood to be always present." (Louis Althusser)

Class Struggle: Butler's Gender Performance

  • "As a strategy of survival, gender is a performance with clearly punitive consequences. Discrete genders are part of what 'humanizes' individuals within contemporary culture; indeed, those who fail to do their gender right are regularly punished. Because there is neither an 'essence' that gender expresses or externalizes nor an objective ideal to which gender aspires; because gender is not a fact, the various acts of gender creates the idea of gender, and without those acts, there would be no gender at all. Gender is, thus, a construction that regularly conceals its genesis. The tacit collective agreement to perform, produce, and sustain discrete and polar genders as cultural fictions is obscured by the credibility of its own production. The authors of gender become entranced by their own fictions whereby the construction compels one's belief in its necessity and naturalness." ("Judith Butler")

Class Consciousness: Veblen's Conspicuous Consumption and Alienation

Used car lot cartoon
  • The deeper problem of materialism is that materialism confines the mind to think only to purchase specific items for specific uses, which is antithetical to creative thought.
  • "The term refers to consumers who buy expensive items to display wealth and income rather than to cover the real needs of the consumer. A flashy consumer uses such behavior to maintain or gain higher social status. Most classes have a flashy consumer affect and influence over other classes, seeking to emulate the behavior. The result, according to Veblen, is a society characterized by wasted time and money"("Conspicuous Consumption")

Class Consciousness: Marx & Engels' Alienation and Commodification

  • "Commodification refers to those processes through which social relations are reduced to an exchange relation" ("Commodification")
  • "Theory of Alienation--his analysis of how people are bound to become estranged from themselves and each other under the conditions of capitalist industrial production"("Marx: Capitalism and Alienation")

Existentialism: Sartre's Dread and Angst (Anguish)

Snoopy comic strip
  • "Kierkegaard wrote in his pseudonymously published The Concept of Anxiety, a man standing at the edge of a cliff. When he glances over the edge, he is overcome with dread, not just because he is filled with fear at the thought of falling, but also because he is seized by a terrifying impulse deliberately to leap. 'He whose eye happens to look down into the yawning abyss becomes dizzy', Kierkegaard gnomically observed. That dizziness 'is just as much in his own eye as in the abyss.' For if 'he had not looked down', he would not have felt that dread. What grips that man, Kierkegaard suggests, is dread of the possibilities open to him; what he experiences 'is the dizziness of freedom'.
  • Sartre, too, sees what he calls 'anguish' as the condition of human freedom. Since nothing can determine our choice of life for us, neither can anything explain or justify what we are. There is no inherent meaning in the universe. Only we can create meaning" ("Sartre and the Anguish of Freedom")

Existentialism: Bad Faith

Calvin and Hobs comic strip
  • "We could say that authenticity is fundamentally living this ontological truth of one's situation, namely, that one is never identical with one's current state but remains responsible for sustaining it. Thus, the claim "that's just the way I am" would constitute a form of self-deception or bad faith as would all forms of determinism, since both instances involve lying to oneself about the ontological fact of one's nonself-coincidence and the flight from concomitant responsibility for 'choosing' to remain that way." (Jean-Paul Sartre)


Ecocriticism list
  • "Ecocriticism as a movement was born out of a trembling desire to better a suffering environment, and to improve how the environment is treated by its human constituents; this idea, or movement, was not accomplished through science, but through writing and literary work. So, how might we formally define Ecocriticism itself? Marland refers to Ecocriticism as an umbrella term:
    • '…a range of critical approaches that explore the representation in literature (and other cultural forms) of the relationship between the human and the non-human, largely from the perspective of anxieties around humanity’s destructive impact of the biosphere (Ecocriticism, 1507).'"Nick DeMott

Literary Devices

  • Download the Literary Devices document
  • Do NOT use the following numbers on the Devices list: 2, 4, 8, 11, 13, 22, 23, 24, 27
  • Discuss three of these then show examples of each device from your film

Mechanics: Sound

  • Canon: How to Film Films with Filmmaking with Ryan Connolly - Ep4, Sound
  • Introduction to Foley and Sound Effects for Film
  • Diegetic and Non-Diegetic Sound
  • Discuss a diegetic sound that works, and one that doesn't work so well
  • Discuss a non-diegetic sound that works, and one that doesn't work so well

Mechanics: Camera Angles

  • Basic Camera Shots for Filmmaking
  • The 30 Camera Shots Every Film Fan Needs To Know
  • Camera Angles with Zach King
  • Discuss a camera angle that works well (name the angle), and discuss one that doesn't work so well (and then name a shot type that would work better)

Mechanics: Cuts

  • Cuts & Transitions 101
  • The History of Cutting - The Birth of Cinema and Continuity Editing
  • Types of Cut Used in Editing
  • Discuss a cut that works well (name the cut), and discuss one that doesn't work so well (and then name a cut type that would work better)