EGMT 1510: Are Movies True?

Audrey Hepburn is reputed to have said, “Everything I learned I learned from the movies.” Is this true of you? How much of what you know about relationships, death, politics, and science did you learn from watching movies? What have they taught you about other languages, cultures, or historical periods? To what extent have they shaped your knowledge and beliefs about the world? Many of these questions depend on the truth value we attribute to the various audiovisual artifacts that engage, inform, and entertain us in our social, political, and personal lives. In this course, we will explore the aesthetic possibilities, experiences, and constraints offered by movies and other audiovisual media. Considering films, TV shows, and videos as artistic, cultural, and economic forces, we will explore questions such as: how do movies use the tools of audiovisual expression to create meaning and aesthetic experience? How do people draw on their own experiences to interpret them and judge their truth value? Can a movie document facts? How do movies help us think through the historical moment in which they were created as well as our own? Can movies move people to action? Students in this class will watch films (both fiction and documentary) that make various claims on truth, evidence, and facts while seeking to entertain and move their viewers. They will read texts that shed light on the questions posed in (and by) these films. In a self-designed creative project, they will have a chance to explore their own engagement with the questions raised in the course and experiment with the possibilities of audiovisual truthtelling.