Introductory Post

Hello hello hello,

My name is Sam, and I’m very pleased to be done with my major and have only electives left to take in my last semester at Penn. I am (was? Have been?) an Urban Studies major, which I like to tell serious people is related to city planning, but really it was more like a study of social injustice.  I’m not sure what I would like to do, career-wise, with this knowledge of the world’s unfairness, but it has been invaluable to shaping my perspective on the world. 

So, I’m taking this class in part because I think it will be fun, and a good contribution to what I hope will be my best semester so far.  I love film and cinema.  I grew up watching movies on the weekend with my family, and I dreamed of being a film director when I was in high school, before I pragmatically decided to pursue a major no one had heard of.  This class, therefore, is an opportunity to immerse myself in a subject matter that is near to my heart and looms large in my fantasies, and I am also excited to be introduced to an area of film that I haven’t sought out previously.

Cinema is at its best, I think, when it provides the audience with something new, something unexpected.  Films stick with me the longest when they offer a new perspective and tell a story I’d never seen told before.  Unfortunately, much of mainstream cinema, certainly the blockbusters churned out by Hollywood, rely more on special effects and tricky plots to provide the exhilaration of the new.  (I’m hardly complaining about this; I love big, action-y movies.)  This is hardly unique to film.  The same stories told over and over again, and from the same perspectives, in real life as well as in fiction.  I was attracted to my major, Urban Studies, because it helps uncover stories that might be happening just one block away but no one ever cares to find out about them.  When you dig deep enough, you find that a city (and the world) is full to brimming with outsiders, who have needs and voices but have trouble making them heard in a society that doesn’t want to hear.  To me, art, including film, is one method of making outsider stories more accessible to the rest of the world, and this is another reason why I am interested in this course.   

Film might be fantastic and escapist and unrealistic but it is always in some ways a reflection of the world and the people around us, but I think many people, including myself, are often frustrated by the fact that their realities are not often included in that reflection.  I consider myself a feminist, and I have often struggled with the portrayal of women in the big, brawny action movies that I enjoy.  From this course I hope not just to see examples of films reflecting queer and feminist perspectives, but to also be able to critically analyze the relationship of mainstream film to these perspectives.  

So in summation, what I am looking and hoping for in this class is the following: a good bit of fun, a chance to immerse myself more deeply in one of my favorite things, some new perspectives, and a few new tools with which to analyze film.  I’m very much looking forward. 

 Best, Sam

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