Thursday, September 22, 2016

Assignment for Thursday, 09-29-16

Dear Mythologists,

On Thursday, September 29, our unit on Heracles/Hercules begins, as before, with a look at some ancient sources on the hero.

(1) Read the articles on Heracles and his labors in the Oxford Guide to Classical Mythology in the Arts. Given the hero's vast popularity in antiquity and beyond, you'll quickly discover that these article are long, with sections devoted to each of Heracles' canonical labors, along with an annotated lists of relevant visual and literary works. Remember, don't sweat the details of these lists, but do peruse them and see if you can identify any trends.

(2) Watch the podcast on the tragic poet Euripides and the podcast on Greek tragedy for context on item (3).

(3) Read Euripides' tragedy, Heracles, one of the major primary sources about the hero. As you read, consider the various ways in which Euripides has adapted the story to suit his genre. You might also ask yourself: If you were going to see a tragedy about Heracles, what would your expectations be?

(4) Read Looking at Movies Chapter 6 ("Cinematography"), pp. 259–86 (on camera angles, camera movement, shots, and special effects). Optional: If you're enjoying yourself, begin with the first part of the chapter, pp. 225–59.

DC

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Assignment for Tuesday, 09-27-16

Dear Mythologists,

For Tuesday, September 27, please do the following:

(1) Watch Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (Chris Columbus, 2010), taking notes as you see fit. In addition to the DVD being reserved at the library, the film is also streaming on Amazon.

(2) Read Drew McWeeny's 2010 interview with the film's director and screenwriter, Chris Columbus and Craig Titley (originally posted on hitfix.com). In lieu of serious scholarship on the film, this interview might give you insight into the intentions of the film's creative team.

(3) Read Chapter 3, "Medusa and the Gorgons," of Daniel Ogden's book on Perseus (Routledge, 2008). We've had a chance to discuss Perseus in some detail; this chapter will help us discuss his nemesis.

NOTE: For today's class I'll suspend my usual call for clips. Not only will we have our first analysis presentation, but we'll also be wrapping up Unit 1 with our first quiz. In other words, we'll have plenty on our collective plate today.

DC

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Assignment for Thursday, 09-22-16

Dear Mythologists,

For Thursday, September 22, please do the following:

(1) Watch Wrath of the Titans (Jonathan Liebesman, 2012), taking notes as you see fit. The film is available on reserve at Scribner Library and also streaming on Amazon. Here we have an opportunity, perhaps, to think about franchise development and continuity, both of which have parallels in ancient myth-making (think, for example, of tragic trilogies).

(2) Read the first half of Looking at Movies Chapter 6 ("Cinematography"), pp. 225–59. Our Analysis assignments are drawing near, so it's essential that you cultivate your cinematic literacy and be able to put it to work.

(3) As Barsam and Monaghan remind us in Chapter 1 of Looking at Movies, there are kinds of analysis beyond the formal. So read Stacie Raucci's essay on the marketing of cinematic heroes in early twenty-first century films, a study of how movies speak to and reaffirm common culture.

(4) Remember by noon on Thursday to comment on this post with your choice of a sequence from Wrath to view in class.

DC

Assignment for Tuesday, 09-20-16

Dear Mythologists,

For Tuesday, September 20, please do the following:

(1) Watch the remake of Clash of the Titans (Louis Leterrier, 2010), taking notes as you see fit. In addition to the DVD being reserved at the library, the film is also streaming on Amazon. You might wish to consider the ways in which the film improves upon — or attempts to improve upon — the original.

(2) Read Chapter 2, "Principles of Film Form" in Looking at Movies, pp. 35–63. Here you'll explore issues such as form and content, realism and antirealism, and cinematic language writ large.

(3) Read my 2015 essay on the motif of figurines in Clash '81, which, in addition introducing you to how I think about movies, and hopefully saying something interesting about the original film, might also provide you with a point of contrast between the original and the remake.

(4) Read thoroughly the Analysis page of our website and note any questions. I've tried, on this page, to detail the assignment and its objectives with clarity.

(5) Remember by noon on Tuesday to comment on this post with your choice of a sequence from Clash '10 to view in class. The guidelines for your comment (in essence, 3-4 sentences) are found under the "Class participation" section of our Syllabus page.

DC

Friday, September 9, 2016

Assignment for Thursday, 09-15-16

Dear Mythologists,

For Thursday, September 15, please do the following:

(1) Watch Clash of the Titans (Desmond Davis & Ray Harryhausen, 1981), taking notes as you see fit. In addition to the DVD being reserved at the library, the film is also streaming on Amazon. As you'll see, the film is a showcase for the trademark animation of Ray Harryhausen, a longtime fan of myths and legends of every stripe.

(2) Read "What about Animation?" in Looking at Movies Chapter 3 ("Types of Movies"), pp. 111–15. This section will both gather up our thread about animation from our viewing of Mythopolis last Thursday and provide further context for Harryhausen's special effects in Clash '81. It's up to you whether you want to read these pages before you watch the movie, or afterward.

(3) After you watch the movie (not before), read "In the Lap of the Gods," which is Chapter 11 of Harryhausen's memoir, An Animated Life (Billboard Books, 2004). Clash '81 was his last film, so the chapter not only details the behind-the-scenes work on that project, but also caps his career. As you read, reflect on how you feel about the movie after you read Harryhausen's memoir as opposed to how you felt while watching it. I'll be interested to hear what you have to say about that.

(4) Remember by noon on Thursday to comment on this post with your choice of a sequence from Clash '81 to view in class. The guidelines for your comment (in essence, 3-4 sentences) are found under the "Class participation" section of our Syllabus page.

DC

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Assignment for Tuesday, 09-13-16

Dear Mythologists,

On Tuesday, September 13, our unit on Perseus & Medusa begins with a look at some ancient sources on Perseus, as well as some readings about engaged viewing. Please do the following — which looks like a lot in list form, but ought to be manageable:

(1) Read the article on Perseus in the Oxford Guide to Classical Mythology in the Arts. Note that the article has three parts: a general section on Perseus; a section on Perseus and Medusa; and a section on Perseus and Andromeda. Each of these is followed by an annotated list of relevant visual and literary works. Don't sweat the details of these lists, but do peruse them and see if you can identify any trends.

(2) Watch the podcast on the Roman poet Ovid for context on item (3).

(3) Read Ovid's account of the Perseus story from books 4 and 5 of his epic poem, Metamorphoses. As is typical of his poem, Ovid begins in the middle of things, starting with the god Bacchus, but soon making his way to Perseus' grandfather, Acrisius. If the Oxford Guide offers a straightforward account of Perseus' story, what do you make of Ovid's less-than-straightforward version?

(4) Read Looking at Movies Chapter 1 ("Looking at Movies"), pp. 1–22. Optional: If you're enjoying yourself, keep going with the analyses of the Harry Potter films, pp. 22–31. Here's your chance to think about principles of engaged viewing in advance of our first film.

(5) Read the excerpts from Jon Solomon's 2007 essay, "Viewing Troy: Authenticity, Criticism, Interpretation." We'll revisit this piece in full later in the semester, but for now, try to take to heart what Solomon says about ways NOT to watch movies, and the banal critiques that less-than-engaged viewers often level at films.

NOTE: If you choose not to print the PDFs of our readings, but rather to bring them on your laptop or another device, then you'll need to sign an agreement form. I'll bring a stack of them to next class.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

DC

Welcome!

Dear Mythologists,

Welcome to the Classical Myth on Screen blog, which I'll use to shape the ongoing narrative of our course. Here you'll find details on our assignments, announcements and notifications, and general musings on classics, the cinema, and related topics.

With each post, you'll get an email alerting you to the new content. The message will contain the entire post, so you'll have the option of reading it on email or navigating over to the blog. If you'd like to reply to a post, please use the "Comments" feature on the blog. Everyone in the class will be able to read your response.

None of this is meant to substitute for in-class interaction. However, since our sessions together will go by quickly, I hope the blog will save us time here and there.

Again, welcome!

DC