Course Description

This course analyzes the various cultural, historical, ethnic, class and artistic dimensions of New York in feature films, such as Musketeers of Pig Alley, Hester Street and Do the Right Thing, as well as in selected documentary and experimental films. The course also situates New York City within the corporate production and exhibition histories of American film. Particular attention is given to films produced in New York over the last two decades and the images of the city they project.

Instructor

Juan Monroy

Remote Online Course

This course will be conducted remotely.

Most learning activities will be asynchronous, meaning that you will complete these on your own time during the assigned week. These include:

  • reading assignments
  • short and feature films
  • module responses
  • visiting film sites in New York City
  • writing assignments

In addition, there is a weekly synchronous, live discussion session on Zoom.

We will not be using Blackboard. Instead, all of the information about this course is available on this course website. You will submit assignments on Microsoft Teams.

Learning Objectives

In this class, we will aim to master the following skills through our study of film and New York City.

  • analyze a wide variety of cultural, historical, ethnic, class and artistic images of New York in American film.
  • understand New York’s position in the corporate, production and distribution histories of American film.
  • interpret selected film themes, such as immigration and class relations, in the context of New York City history.
  • survey some major film directors who have made films in, and about, New York.
  • develop a typology whereby films about New York can be effectively categorized.
  • discover the relationships among film and other forms of popular entertainment (e.g., the amusement park, minstrelsy, vaudeville, the Broadway stage) that have arisen in New York
  • reinforce your understanding and use of basic cinematic terminology as a means of critical interpretation.

Writing Intensive Class

Philosophy for Writing Intensive Classes:

  • writing is a critical thinking process
  • writing is a tool for learning across disciplines
  • learning is collaborative among students and between students and teachers

The Writing Center at LaGuardia CC offers appointments for in-person and virtual tutoring. In-person tutoring takes place at B 200, and virtual tutoring is available through Zoom. I highly recommend connecting with them at least once this semester.

CUNY Microsoft Office 365

Accessing Microsoft Teams, CUNY OneDrive, Microsoft Office applications requires access to CUNY Microsoft Office 365. Here’s how to access it:

  1. Go to the following website on your browser: https://login.microsoftonline.com/?whr=login.cuny.edu
  2. Sign in to CUNY Web Applications using your firstname.lastname##@LOGIN.cuny.edu credentials. Do not use your laguardia account information.

If you’re having trouble accessing the resources hosted on CUNY Office 365, including OneDrive and Microsoft Teams, take these steps:

  1. In your web browser, go to https://myaccount.microsoft.com and click on your initials in the top right corner of the screen.
  2. Do you see an option to “Sign in with a different account?” Click that and then “Use another account.”
  3. Under “Pick an Account,” select “+ Use Another Account"
  4. Type in your username (firstname.lastname##@LOGIN.cuny.edu) and click “Next”
  5. Wait for the page “Taking you to your Organization Page” to finish loading
  6. Sign in to CUNY Web Applications using your firstname.lastname##@LOGIN.cuny.edu credentials

Microsoft Teams

We will be using Microsoft Teams for all graded assignments.

To join the Microsoft Team for our course:

  1. Go to https://teams.microsoft.com
  2. Sign in using your CUNY credentials
  3. Click to Join or Create Team
  4. Select Join Team with a Code
  5. Enter the code that I emailed you

After this initial set up, you can find our Team through this direct link for our class, or finding it at https://teams.microsoft.com.

Modules

This course consists of twelve (12) modules. Each module includes assignments that you will complete on your own time before our weekly live discussion session on Zoom.

Readings

Each module will have at least one assigned reading. Complete the readings before our live discussions session.

Most readings will be available in digital form from LaGuardia Library or one CUNY OneDrive.

  1. LaGuardia Library requires you to sign in using your Live@LaGuardia username and password.
  2. CUNY OneDrive requires you to sign in using your CUNY Office 365 login. To sign in, do the following:
    1. Go to https://login.microsoftonline.com/?whr=login.cuny.edu
    2. Sign in using your CUNY Login username and password. Your username ends in @login.cuny.edu and is how you access CUNYFirst.

We will be using a print textbook throughout the semester.

Films

Each module will require you to watch a number of short and feature films of the following modes:

  • narrative fiction
  • documentary
  • experimental/avant-garde films

The films are linked below under each module in the course schedule.

You will need to authenticate using either your LaGuardia or CUNY Login credentials to access most of these films.

Live Discussion Session

All students must participate in the live discussion session.

We will meet each week on Zoom to discuss the course material you covered in that week’s module. The meeting will take place at the following time:

We will be developing our writing skills through a series of ungraded, breakout-room group assignments in these live discussion sessions:

  1. Summarize and Evaluate an assigned film
  2. Shot Analysis Chart of a film sequence
  3. Formal Analysis of a film sequence
  4. Understanding Primary and Secondary Sources
  5. Cultural Analysis of a film sequence
  6. Outlining and Organization
  7. Composing a Thesis

Attendance to the weekly discussion session is mandatory and is worth 10% of your course grade.

These sessions will have live transcription and will be recorded for students in our class.

Film Responses

Each week, I will post a few questions on Microsoft Teams about the readings and films we studied. The questions are open-ended and are meant to regularly practice writing. There are no correct answers, but your response should be thoughtful, relevant to our studies, and demonstrate a proficiency in spelling and grammar.

Your responses are due 5:00 PM on the Wednesday after they are assigned, as noted on the course schedule below.

Ten of twelve responses are required: I will drop your two lowest response grades.

Field Trips

On your own time during the semester, you are required to visit two film sites in New York City, and write two 500-word reports for each field trip that describe your experience at each site.

Read the guidelines for this assignment.

  1. First report due on Thursday, April 14, on Microsoft Teams
  2. Second report due on Friday, May 30, on Microsoft Teams

If you are not in the New York City metropolitan area, contact me for alternate arrangements.

Midterm Report

A 1000-word report about two films we’ve studied in two of the first six modules.

Film Research and Analysis

A 1500-word film research and analysis essay that analyzes the formal and cultural elements of a “New York” film that we either studied in our class or is listed in my “Film and NYC” list on Letterboxd. Your research should include the film itself and primary and secondary historical sources.

There are two parts to this assignment:

  1. Proposal. This is an optional assignment. If you choose to submit a proposal, you will receive feedback in time for you to incorporate my suggestions for submitting your Essay.
  2. Essay. This is a required assignment for everyone.

If you do the Proposal and Essay parts of this assignment, you will receive separate grades for each. But if you only do an essay, you will an overall grade that is weighed for both parts of the assignment.

  • Read the assignment guidelines
  • Proposal Due Monday, May 30, 11:59 PM on Microsoft Teams
  • Essay Due Friday, June 10, 11:59 PM on Microsoft Teams

Grading

All assignments are scored on a scale of 100 points and weighted as follows:

Assignment Weight Due Date
Attendance, Live Discussion Session 10% Wednesdays
Film Responses 25% Wednesdays before class
Field Trip 1 10% April 14
Field Trip 2 10% May 30
Midterm Report 20% April 27
Film Research and Analysis, Proposal 15% May 30
Film Research and Analysis, Essay 10% with proposal
25% without proposal
June 10

All assignments must be turned in on time in order to receive full credit. In addition, assignments will not be accepted forty-eight (48) hours after the deadline. Please plan accordingly.

Course Schedule

Complete all the readings and screenings before each week’s Live Discussion Session. All other assignments should be completed by the date noted below.

Module 1: City of Hurried and Sparkling Waters! City of Spires And Masts!, March 9

  • Read Murray Pomerance, “Prelude: To Wake Up in the City That Never Sleeps,” in City That Never Sleeps New York and the Filmic Imagination, edited by Murray Pomerance (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2007)
  • Watch Manhatta (Paul Strand and Charles Sheeler, USA, 1921, 12 min.)
  • Watch Twenty-Four Dollar Island (Robert Flaherty, USA, 1927, 13 min.)
  • Watch Skyscraper Symphony (Robert Florey, USA, 1929, 12 min.)
  • Watch Manhattan Medley (Bonney Powell, USA, 1931, 10 min.)
  • Watch Bridges Go Round (Shirley Clarke, USA, 1957, 4 min.)
  • Watch Go, Go, Go (Marie Menken, USA, 1964, 12 mins.)
  • Watch Stations of the Elevated (Manfred Kirchheimer, USA, 1980, 44 min.)
  • Join the Live Discussion Session on Zoom
    • Wednesday, March 9, 5:45 PM
  • Complete the Module 1 Film Response on Microsoft Teams, due Sunday, March 13, 11:59 PM

Module 2: If I Can Make it There, March 16

  • Read Bosley Crowther, “Down and Outers: ‘On The Bowery’ Looks Candidly At Drunks Observers,” The New York Times, March 31, 1957, 121
  • Read Miriam Hansen, “Ambivalences of the ‘Mass Ornament’: King Vidor’s The Crowd.” Qui Parle 5, no. 2 (1992): 102–19.
  • Watch The Crowd (King Vidor, USA, 1928, 98 min.)
  • Watch On the Bowery (Lionel Rogosin, USA, 1956, 65 min.)
  • Read Writing About Movies, Chapter 1, “The Challenges About Movies”
  • Read Writing About Movies, Chapter 2, “Looking at Movies”
  • Join the Live Discussion Session on Zoom
    • Wednesday, March 16, 5:45 PM
  • Complete the Module 2 Film Response on Microsoft Teams, due Sunday, March 20, 11:59 PM

Module 3: The Bronx is Up, The Battery is Down, March 23

  • Read Bosley Crowther, “‘On the Town,’ Yuletide Picture at Radio City, Is Musical to Please the Family,” The New York Times, December 9, 1949, 37.
  • Read Scott Bukatman, “A Day in New York: On the Town and The Clock,” in City That Never Sleeps New York and the Filmic Imagination, edited by Murray Pomerance (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2007)
  • Watch On the Town (Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, USA 1949, 98 min.)
  • Watch The Clock (Vicente Minneli, USA, 1945, 90 min.)
  • Join the Live Discussion Session on Zoom
    • Wednesday, March 23, 5:45 PM
  • Complete the Module 3 Film Response on Microsoft Teams, due Wednesday, March 30, 5:45 PM

Module 4: Crossroads of the World, March 30

  • Read James Sanders, “Nighttown: The Dark Side of the City,” in Celluloid Skyline: New York and the Movies (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2001)
  • Read Jason Bailey, “Fun City, John Linsday, and Midnight Cowboy” in Fun City Cinema: New York City and the Movies that Made It (New York: Abrams, 2021)
  • Watch excerpt from American Experience: New York, “The City and the World, 1945–2000” (Ric Burns and James Sanders, USA, 2003, 78 min.)
  • Watch Square Times (Rudy Burkhardt, USA, 1967, 6 min.)
  • Watch Midnight Cowboy (John Schlesinger, USA, 1969, 113 min.)
  • Join the Live Discussion Session on Zoom
  • Complete the Module 4 Film Response on Microsoft Teams, due Wednesday, April 6, 5:45 PM

Module 5: Drop Dead, April 6

  • Read Writing About Movies, Chapter 3, “Formal Analysis”
  • Read Jason Bailey, “Fear City, Blackouts, and Taxi Driver” in Fun City Cinema: New York City and the Movies that Made It (New York: Abrams, 2021)
  • Watch The Taking of Pelham One, Two Three (Joseph Sargent, USA, 1974, 104 min.)
  • Watch Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, USA, 1976, 114 min.)
  • Join the Live Discussion Session on Zoom
  • Complete the Module 5 Film Response on Microsoft Teams, due Wednesday, April 13, 5:45 PM

Module 6: Sometime in the Future, April 13

  • Read Writing About Movies, Chapter 3, “Formal Analysis” (if you haven’t already done so)
  • Read Eric Ducker, “New York Mythology: An Oral History of The WarriorsFader October 3, 2005
  • Read David Desser, “When We See the Ocean, We Figure We’re Home: From Ritual to Romance in The Warriors,” in City That Never Sleeps New York and the Filmic Imagination, edited by Murray Pomerance (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2007)
  • Read Lizzie Borden, “Born in Flames,” Heresies: A Feminist Publication on Arts & Politics no. 16 (1983): 10–16
  • Read Karen Jahne, “Review: Born in Flames,” Film Quarterly 37, no. 4 (Summer 1984): 22–24
    • Available from LaGuardia Library on JSTOR
  • Read Sophie Mayer, “Downtown Renegade,” Sight & Sound 26, no. 10 (October 2016): 50–51
  • Watch The Warriors (Walter Hill, USA, 1979, 92 min.)
  • Watch Born in Flames (Lizzie Borden, USA, 1983, 90 min.)
  • Join the Live Discussion Session on Zoom
    • Wednesday, April 13, 5:45 PM
  • Complete the Module 6 Film Response on Microsoft Teams, due Wednesday, April 27, 5:45 PM

Module 7: New York! The Urban Musical, April 27

  • Read Alfred L. Martin, “Blackbusting Hollywood: Racialized Media Reception, Failure, and The Wiz as Black Blockbuster,” JCMS: Journal of Cinema and Media Studies, 2021, Vol.60 (2), p.56–79
  • Read John Skow, “Cinema: Nowhere Over the Rainbow,” Time October 30, 1978.
  • Watch “The Wiz (1978) movie review”, Sneak Previews with Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel
  • Read Kimberley Monteyne, “The Sound of the South Bronx Wild Style Reinvents the Urban Musical,” Hip Hop on Film: Performance Culture, Urban Space, and Genre Transformation in the 1980s (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2013), 85–123.
  • Read Vincent Canby, “Film: ‘Wild Style,’ Rapping and Painting Graffiti.” New York Times Mar 18, 1983.
  • Read Palmer, Robert, “Rap and Hip-Hop Music in ‘Wild Style’.” New York Times Feb 22, 1984.
  • Watch The Wiz (Sidney Lumet, USA, 1978, 134 min.)
  • Watch Wild Style (Charlie Ahearn, USA, 1982, 82 min.)
  • Join the Live Discussion Session on Zoom
    • Wednesday, March 16, 5:45 PM
  • Complete the Module 7 Film Response on Microsoft Teams, due Wednesday, May 4, 5:45 PM

Module 8: Nuyoricans, May 4

  • Read Writing About Movies, “Researching Movies”
  • Read Megan Woller, “‘This Is Our Turf!’: Puerto Rican Youths in the 1961 Film Adaptation of West Side Story,” Studies in Musical Theatre 8, no. 1 (March 2014): 27–41.
  • Read Lillian Jimenez, “Moving from the Margin to the Center,” in The Ethnic Eye: Latino Media Arts, ed. Chon A. Noriega and Ana M. Lopez (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996)
  • Read Joan Turner, “Review: Hell’s Kitchen Chronicle by Maren Erskine, Reed Erskine; Los Sures by Diego Echeverria; The Heart of Loisaida by Marci Reaven and Bienvenidas Matias” American Anthropologist 87, no. 4 (1985): 985–87.
  • Watch West Side Story (Robert Wise, USA, 1961, )
  • Watch Los Sures (Diego Echevarria, USA, 1984, 57 min.)
    • Available from LaGuardia Library on Kanopy
    • Note: Watch only Episode 1, “Los Sures”
  • Join the Live Discussion Session on Zoom
    • Wednesday, May 4, 5:45 PM
  • Complete the Module 8 Film Response on Microsoft Teams, due Wednesday, May 11, 5:45 PM

Module 9: I Ain’t Afraid of No Glass Ceiling, May 11

  • Read Writing about Movies, “Cultural Analysis,” 55–100
  • Read Zoila Clark, “Immigrants as Aliens in the Ghostbusters Films,” Australasian Journal of Popular Culture 4, no. 1 (March 2015): 29–42
  • Read Jerry White, “Ghostbusters: A City Symphony,” The Dalhousie Review 96, no. 2 (2016): 287
  • Read Janet Maslin, “Film: ‘Ghostbusters,’ with Murray and Aykroyd,” New York Times , Jun 08, 1984
  • Read Rosie White, “Working Girl and Second-Wave Feminism,” Film International 14, no. 3–4 (December 2016): 32–42
  • Read Richard Corliss and Richard Schickel, “Two Out of Five Ain’t Bad: A Pair of Romantic Comedies Works Nicely, While a Trio of Ambitious Dramas Misfires” Time 132, no. 25 (December 19, 1988): 78
  • Read Janet Maslin, “The Dress-for-Success Story of a Secretary from Staten Island,” New York Times, Dec 21, 1988
  • Watch Ghostbusters II (Ivan Reitman, USA, 1989, 108 min.)
  • Watch Working Girl (Mike Nichols, USA, 1988, 113 min.)
  • Join the Live Discussion Session on Zoom
    • Wednesday, May 11, 5:45 PM
  • Complete the Module 9 Film Response on Microsoft Teams, due Wednesday, May 11, 5:45 PM

Module 10: Crime Pays Until It Doesn’t, May 18

  • Watch The King of New York (Abel Ferrara, USA, 1990, 103 min.)
  • Watch Laws of Gravity (Nick Gomez, USA, 1992, 100 min.)
  • Read Vincent Canby, “Shabby Lives in Brooklyn, with Camera Looking on.” New York Times, Mar 21, 1992
  • Read Gavin Smith, “Teenage: KICKS,” Film Comment 31, no. 1 (1995): 74–77
  • Read Leonard Quart and William Kornblum, “Film and the Inner City,” Dissent 47 no. 2, (2000): 97–104
  • Read Soren G. Palmer, “Transitional violence in King of New York,” Journal of Religion and Film, vol. 18, no. 1 (2014)
  • Read Janet Maslin, “Film Festival/Two Portraits: One of Romance in France, One of Crime in New York; Drug Lord Reigns Supreme Amid Urban Decadence,” New York Times
  • Join the Live Discussion Session on Zoom
    • Wednesday, May 18, 5:45 PM
  • Complete the Module 10 Film Response on Microsoft Teams, due Wednesday, May 25, 5:45 PM

Module 11: We Live in Brooklyn Baby, May 25

  • Read Vincent Canby, “Spike Lee Stirs Things Up at Cannes,” New York Times, May 20, 1989
  • Read Casarae L. Gibson, “‘Fight the Power’: Hip Hop and Civil Unrest in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing.” Black Camera 8, no. 2 (2017): 183–207
  • Read Seth A. Williams, “Review: My Brooklyn,” in Teaching Sociology, vol. 43, no. 4, 2015, pp. 321–24
  • Read Jeannette Catsoulis, “Branding in Brooklyn: A World of Change,” New York Times, January 3, 2013
  • Watch Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, USA, 1989, 120 min.)
  • Watch My Brooklyn (Kelly Anderson, USA, 2013, 76 min.)
  • Join the Live Discussion Session on Zoom
    • Wednesday, May 25, 5:45 PM
  • Complete the Module 11 Film Response on Microsoft Teams, due Wednesday, June 1, 5:45 PM