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Course, academic year 2023/2024
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Circulating within the Modern Cinematic Image: graded paper - AAALE005B
Title: Moderní filmový obraz: písemná práce
Guaranteed by: Department of Anglophone Literatures and Cultures (21-UALK)
Faculty: Faculty of Arts
Actual: from 2014
Semester: winter
Points: 0
E-Credits: 3
Examination process: winter s.:written
Hours per week, examination: winter s.:0/0, Ex [HT]
Capacity: unknown / unknown (unknown)
Min. number of students: unlimited
4EU+: no
Virtual mobility / capacity: no
Key competences:  
State of the course: taught
Language: English
Teaching methods: full-time
Teaching methods: full-time
Note: course can be enrolled in outside the study plan
enabled for web enrollment
Guarantor: doc. Erik Sherman Roraback, D.Phil.
Class: Exchange - 03.4 Photography, Cinematography
Exchange - 09.2 General and Comparative Literature
Co-requisite : AAALE005A
Class time and place:
Tues. 08.30–11.25, F.A.M.U. in the projection hall on the first floor, Lažanský palác, Smetanovo nábřeží 2, Praha 1

doc. Erik S. Roraback, D.Phil. (Oxon.)
Docent, Habilitation: Charles University, Faculty of Arts & Philosophy; Dir., American Literature & Cultural-Studies, Charles University; FAMU-International, 2003–present; Affiliate Associate Professor, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA, 2019–present; University Visiting Research Fellowship, University of Winchester, Winchester, UK, 2014–23; Visiting Scholar, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA, 2015–19; Visiting Researcher, Universität Konstanz, Konstanz, Germany 2004–14; Visiting Professor, Université de Provence, Aix-en-Provence, France 2005; Doctor of Philosophy (viva voce examiners, Terry Eagleton, St. Catherine’s College, Oxford & Maud Ellmann, King’s College, University of Cambridge) & College Tutor (Magdalen College & Mansfield College), University of Oxford, Oxford, UK; Oxford/École Normal Supérieure Exchange, Paris, France; Rotary Foundation Graduate Ambassadorial Scholar, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia; Bachelor of Arts, Pomona College, Claremont, CA, USA; Pomona College Program (dir., All Souls College) at University College, Oxford, UK

e-mail: or

Individual web site:

Office hours:
After seminar and by e-mail appointment; TBA, Room 219c, Faculty of Arts, Charles University, Jana Palacha 1/2, Prague 1

The aim of this course is to awaken for the active spectator, in terms of aesthetic, cultural capital and politics, new utopian ways of being, dreaming, interpreting, looking, and thinking as so many forms of “labor” and of “movement”. Combining these will promote an ecology of dialectical questioning and thinking about new, utopian post-capitalist forms of beauty, equality, and freedom for the twenty-first century. These movement and labor forms are dialectically subject within the space of the cinematic frame and institution to both regressive-capitalist and progressive-emancipatory-post-capitalist forms of “circulation”. The seminar thus draws on, and explores egalitarian and novel non-hegemonic ways of engaging gestures, ideas, images, and scenes in films from a range of modernist global films and world-auteurs: Maya Deren (Ukraine/USA), Sergei Eisenstein (USSR), Carl Theodor Dreyer (Denmark), D.W. Griffith (USA), Buster Keaton (USA), Fritz Lang (Austria), Friedrich Murnau (Germany), Dziga Vertov (USSR), and Orson Welles (USA). Cinema as the art of forms of movement thus will be evaluated anew. Attention will be given to those cinematic moments and scenes that teach and that train us in new non-dominatory and emancipated viewing strategies of movement and circulation as so many forms of utopian thinking and looking. In so doing, we consider arts and forms of movement and circulation as not only subject to capitalist commodification, but also as modes of active and transformative engagement, interpretation, and thinking that take place precisely in a shared space for post-capitalist common content, creation, and thought for post-capitalist and emancipated utopian forms of circulation and circulationism. The role of cinematic silence and of the unconscious in film culture will also be assessed.

Critical and theoretical literature engaged will include film aesthetics, criticism, and philosophy from Theodor W. Adorno (Germany), Nico Baumbach (Italy), André Bazin (France), Walter Benjamin (Germany), Leo Bersani-Ulysse Dutoit (USA), David A. Cook (USA), Gilles Deleuze (France), Maya Deren (Ukraine), Sergei Eisenstein (USSR), Mark Fisher (UK), Janet Harbord (UK), Owen Hulatt (USA), Sarah Keller (USA), Fredric Jameson (USA), Siegfried Kracauer (Germany), Niklas Luhmann (Germany), Todd McGowan (USA), Christian Metz (France), Edgar Morin (France), Jacques Rancière (France), Josh Robinson (USA), Erik S. Roraback (USA/Czechia), Steven Shaviro (USA), Bernard Stiegler (France), Robert T. Tally Jr. (USA), François Truffaut (France), and Slavoj Žižek (Slovenia/UK). Cultural Mobility: A Manifesto by Stephen Greenblatt (USA), inter alia, will also be engaged. The course is conducted in English and all films are either in English or have English inter-titles or sub-titles. Clips and special features will also be shown. To allow sufficient time for lecture/discussion, presentations, and screenings, the course will consist of three clock hours (i.e., four academic hours). We shall engage our target pictures in a counterintuitive counter chronological way in order to undercut overly facile teleological ways of thinking and of reasoning; this will also provide us with a different perspective on the development of the cultural system of film.

Course Requirements:
To receive credit for the seminar students must
1) have no more than two absences out of the twelve total weekly sessions (three absences are strictly unallowed); arriving more than ten minutes late at the beginning of the seminar or leaving early will be considered an absence for that full session.
2) give one oral presentation on a film and on the required text(s) for that week
3) submit a mid-term essay and
4) produce a final essay

Final essay (3000 words; due 22 December): 30%,
Mid-term essay (1500 words; due 14 November): 20%,
Oral presentation: 20%,
Attendance and participation: 30%

Essay topics will be distributed at least two weeks before they are due.<br>
Arriving more than ten minutes late at the beginning of the seminar, or leaving early, will be considered an absence for that session. During class time, mobile phones are to be off and computers may be on for note-taking only and not for doing work online.
Last update: Roraback Erik Sherman, doc., D.Phil. (14.09.2023)
Literature - Czech


Blu-ray/DVD tapes: see schedule

Selections from the following critical and theoretical texts will be available in a course-reader or will be adduced in the lectures or readings authored by the teacher-scholar:

Abbott, Mathew: Abbas Kiarostami and film-philosophy (Edinburgh, 2017).

Adorno, Theodor W.: Aesthetics, 1958/59, ed. Eberhard Ortland, trans. Wieland Hoban (Polity, 2019).

Barber, Stephen: The Screaming Body (Creation, 1999).

Baumbach, Nico: Cinema/Politics/Philosophy (Columbia, 2019).

Bazin, André: What is Cinema? Volume 1, essays selected and trans. Hugh Gray, foreword Jean Renoir, new

            foreword Dudley Andrew (California, 2005).

_____ . What is Cinema? Volume 2, essays selected and trans. Hugh Gray, foreword François Truffaut, new

foreword Dudley Andrew (California, 2005).

Benjamin, Walter. Selected Writings, Volume 3, 1935–1938, trans. Edmund Jephcott, Howard Eiland, and Others,

            eds. Howard Eiland and Michael W. Jennings (Harvard, 2002).

Bersani, Leo and Ulysse Dutoit: Arts of Impoverishment: Beckett, Rothko, Resnais (Harvard, 1993).

Bílek, Petr A. and Tomáš Dimter, eds. Krajina bez vlastností: Literatura a Střední Evropa / Landschaft ohen,

            Eigenschaften: Literatur und Mitteleuropa, Peteru Demetzovi k 85. Narozeninám/ Festschrift für Peter Demetz zum 85. Geburtstag, eds. Petr A. Bílek, Tomáš Dimter (Praha: Aktion, 2007/2010).

Burnham, Clint. Fredric Jameson and the Wolf of Wall-Street (Bloomsbury Academic, 2016).

Conrad, Peter: The Mysteries of Cinema: Movies and Imagination (Thames & Hudson, 2021).

_____  . The Stories of His Life: Orson Welles (Faber & Faber, 2003).

Cook, David A.: A History of Narrative Film (Norton, 2004).

Deleuze, Gilles: Cinema 1: The Movement-Image, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam (Minnesota, 1986).

_____  . Cinema 2: The Time-Image, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Robert Galeta (Minnesota, 1989).

Deren, Maya: Essential Deren: Collected Writings on Film (Documentext, 2005).

Drew, William M. D.W. Griffith’s ‘Intolerance’: Its Genesis and its Vision. (McFarland, 2001).

Durham, Scott and Dilip Gaonkar, eds.: Distributions of the Sensible: Rancière, between Aesthetics and Politics, With

            an afterword by Jacques Rancière (Northwestern, 2019).

Eisenstein, Sergei: Film Form: Essays in Film Theory, trans. and intro. Jay Leda (Harvest, 1977).

Eisner, Lotte H.: The Haunted Screen: Expressionism in the German Cinema and the Influence of Max Reinhardt

            (California-Berkeley, 1969).

Fisher, Mark: The Weird And The Eerie (Repeater, 2016).

Greenblatt, Stephen with Ines Županov, Reinhard Meyer-Kalkus, Heike Paul, Pál Nyíri, Friederike Pannewick, Cultural Mobility: A Manifesto (Cambridge, 2010).

Harbord, Janet. Ex-Centric Cinema: Giorgio Agamben and Film Archaeology (Bloomsbury, 2016).

Hulatt, Owen: Adorno’s Theory of Philosophical and Aesthetic Truth (Columbia, 2016).

Jameson, Fredric: Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions (Verso, 2005).

_____  . Raymond Chandler: Detections of Totality (Verso, 2016).

_____ . The Geopolitical Aesthetic: Cinema and Space in the World System (Indiana, 1995).

Keller, Sarah: Maya Deren: Incomplete Control (Columbia, 2015).

Kracauer, Siegfried: From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological History of the German Film (Princeton, 1947).

Lambert, Gregg: “The Brain is the Screen: An Interview with Gilles Deleuze” in Flaxman, Gregory, ed., The Brain is

            the Screen: Deleuze and the Philosophy of Cinema (Minnesota, 2000).

Luhmann, Niklas: The Reality of the Mass Media, trans. Kathleen Cross (Stanford, 2000).

Mast, Gerald, Marshall Cohen and Leo Braudy, eds.: Film Theory & Criticism: Introductory Readings, Volume 4

            (Oxford, 1992).

McGowan, Todd: The Real Gaze: Film Theory after Lacan (SUNY, 2007).

Metz, Christian: Film Language: A Semiotics of the Cinema (Chicago, 1990).

Morin, Edgar: The Cinema, or The Imaginary Man, trans. Lorraine Morimer (Minnesota, 2005).

_____  . The Stars, trans. Richard Howard, foreword Lorraine Mortimer (Minnesota, 2005).

Nancy, Jean-Luc: The Creation of the World; or, Globalization, trans. with an intro. François Raffoul and David

            Pettigew (SUNY, 2007).

Nichols, Bill, ed. Maya Deren and the American Avant-Garde. (California, 2001).

Rancière, Jacques: Film Fables, trans. Emiliano Battista (Berg, 2006).

_____ .  The Emancipated Spectator, trans. Gregory Elliott (Verso, 2011).

_____  . The Future of the Image, trans. Gregory Elliott (Verso, 2007).

_____ . The Intervals of Cinema, trans. John Howe (Verso, 2014).

Robinson, Josh. Adorno’s Poetics of Form. (SUNY, 2018).

Roraback, Erik S.: a select band of essays adduced below (some published and some unpublished) from a two-volume book project that is being prepared for publication. Working title: Forms of Cinematic

            Cultural Capital: Circulation, Movement, and Thought.

Shaviro, Steven: The Cinematic Body, Theory Out of Bounds, Volume 2 (Minnesota, 1993).

Stiegler, Bernard: Automatic Society, Volume 1: The Future of Work, trans. Daniel Ross (Polity, 2016).

_____ . Technics and Time, 3: Cinematic Time and the Question of Malaise , trans. Stephen Barker (Stanford, 2011).

_____ . The Age of Disruption: Technology and Madness in Computational Capitalism, followed by A

            Conversation about Christianity with Alain Jugnon, Jean-Luc Nancy and Bernard Stiegler, trans. Daniel Ross (Polity, 2019).

Tally, Robert T. Jr.: Spatiality (Routledge, 2016).

_____  . Utopia in the Age of Globalization: Space, Representation, and the World-System (Palgrave

            Macmillan, 2013).

Truffaut, François: “Foreword” to  André Bazin’s Orson Welles: A Critical View (Acrobat, 1978), pp. 1-27.                        

Tsivian, Yuri: Ivan the Terrible (BFI Film Classics, 2002).

Žižek, Slavoj: In Defense of Lost Causes (Verso, 2008).

Last update: Roraback Erik Sherman, doc., D.Phil. (14.09.2023)
Teaching methods - Czech


Last update: Znojemská Helena, Mgr., Ph.D. (23.06.2013)
Syllabus - Czech

Weekly Schedule:

Week 1, Tuesday 3 October:

Experimental Film from Maya Deren

Pre-film lecture and screening:

Meshes of the Afternoon (1943, 14 minutes) with Alexander Hammid; At Land (1944, 15 minutes);

A Study in Choreography for Camera (1945, 3 minutes); Ritual in Transfigured Time (1946, 14 minutes).

Post-film lecture/discussion

Erik Roraback will lead a discussion of selected texts in Essential Deren: Collected Writings on Film by Maya Deren, in Maya Deren: Incomplete Control by Sarah Keller and in Maya Deren and the American Avant-

Garde ed. by Bill Nichols.

Week 2, Tuesday 10 October:                 

The Early Sound Soviet Cinema and the Late-Style Quiet Eisenstein

Pre-film lecture and screening:

Portions of Ivan the Terrible, Part One (1945 Russian with English subtitles, 99 minutes); Ivan the Terrible, Part Two (1946, Russian with English subtitles, 85 minutes), dir. Sergei Eisenstein.

Post-film lecture/discussion

Readings:             D. Cook: A History, pp. 302–03.

                           G. Lambert: “Cinema and the Outside” in The Brain is the Screen, pp. 253–92.

                           E. Roraback: “Dialectical Linkages and Circulations; or, the Moves and Capitals of Silence of

                           Eisenstein’s Ivan the Terrible, Parts I II”.

                           Part of a book being prepared for publication.

Week 3, Date To Be Announced and Week 4, Tuesday 24 October:

Orson Welles, American Film and the Advent of the Time-Image

Pre-film lecture and screening:

                        Citizen Kane (1941, 119 min., dir. Orson Welles).

Post-film lecture/discussion

Rdgs:                  D. Cook: A History, pp. 327–46.

                         G. Deleuze: Cinema 2, pp. 98–155.

                         E. Roraback: “A Spheric and Moving Cosmic Form: Cultural Capital and Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane (1941)”. Revised version of a lecture given at the University of Szeged (Hungary, 2003) and of                         

                         an article subsequently published in Boston, USA in Parallax: A Journal of International Perspectives (2008), ed. David L. Robbins. As are all the pieces by E.R., it is now a subunit of a volume in       


The Lost Nirvana and Orson Welles’s Lost Magnum Opus

Pre-film lecture and screening:

The Magnificent Ambersons (1942, 82 min., dir. Orson Welles).                   

Post-film lecture/discussion

Rdgs:                 D. Cook: A History, pp. 327–46.

                         G. Deleuze: Cinema 2, pp. 98–155.

                         E. Roraback: “Multisensorial Evocations & Provocations of Capital Lost: Orson Welles’s The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)”. Revised version of a guest lecture given at the Research                      

                         Colloquium of prof. Aleida Assmann, English Department, Universität Konstanz, Germany, 2/2006; invited by prof. Assmann and dr. Michael Frank.

                         F. Truffaut: “Foreword” to André Bazin’s Orson Welles: A Critical View, pp. 1–27.

Week 5, Tuesday 31 October: Silent Soviet Film, Dialectical Montage and the Camera-Eye

Pre-film lecture and screening:                                          

                        Man with a Movie Camera (1929, 68 min., Russian intertitles with English subtitles, dir. Dziga


Post-film lecture/discussion

Rdgs:                D. Cook: A History, pp. 116–18.

                        G. Deleuze: Cinema 1: The Movement-Image, pp. 39–43.

                        E. Roraback, “The Autopoietic Cinema of Big Movement Capitals of Vertov’s Man with a Movie Camera, 1929”. Part of a book that is being prepared for publication.

Week 6, Tuesday 7 November: Silent Film and the Close-Up

Pre-film lecture and screening:

                        The Passion of Joan of Arc (La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc, 1928, 82 min., French intertitles with

                        English subtitles, dir. Carl Th. Dreyer).

Post-film lecture/discussion

Rdgs:               S. Barber: The Screaming Body, pp. 5–32.

                        D. Cook: A History, pp. 311–12.

                        E. Roraback: “The Circulating Movement of the Cultural Capitals of Cinema and of the Spiritual Life: Dreyer’s Early-Style La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc (The Passion of Joan of Arc, 1928)”. Revised  

                        version of a guest lecture given at The Evergreen State College (USA, 1/2007) on the invitation of prof. Setsuko Tsutsumi. Part of a book that is being prepared for publication.

*Mid-term essay due at the beginning of class during week 7

Week 7, Tuesday 14 November and Week 8, Tuesday 21 November:

Buster Keaton and the Aesthetic of Dizziness

Pre-film talk and screening:

                        Sherlock, Jr. (1924, silent with English intertitles, 44 min. dir. Buster Keaton).

                        The General (1926, silent with English intertitles, 75 min., dir. Buster Keaton and Clyde Bruckman).

Post-film lecture/discussion

Rdgs:                L. Bersani and U. Dutoit: Arts of Impoverishment, pp. 1–9.

                        D. Cook: A History, pp. 176–82.

                        E. Roraback: “Traversing Utopian Layers of Danger, Dizziness and Silence in the Cinema of Buster Keaton (1920–25)”; revised version of a paper given at the 31st annual conference of the                                        

                        International Association for Philosophy and Literature Nicosia, Cyprus, Europe, 4-9 June 2007; conference theme: Layering: Textual, Visual, Spatial, Temporal. A second revised edition of this                                 

                        paper was also given as a guest lecture in 1/2010 at the Research Colloquium of prof. Aleida Assmann, English Department, Universität Konstanz, Germany; invited by prof. Assmann and dr.                                   

                        Michael Frank.

Part of a book that is being prepared for publication.

                        S. Shaviro: The Cinematic Body, pp. 255–69.

Week 9, Tuesday 28 November:

German Expressionism and the Socio-Economic

Pre-film talk and screening:

                          The Last Laugh (Der letzte Mann, 1924, silent with English intertitles, 91 minutes, dir. F.W.


Post-film lecture/discussion

Rdgs:                L. Bersani and U. Dutoit: Arts of Impoverishment, pp. 1–9.

                        D. Cook: A History of Narrative Film, pp. 100–05.

                        S. Kracauer: From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological History of German Film, pp. 99–106.

                        E. Roraback: “Who Laughs Last?: Or: Brutal Capitalist Structures, Murnau’s Der letzte Mann (The Last Laugh/The Last Man, 1924), and Walter Benjamin’s Utopian ’Angelus Novus’”; revised version                           

                        of a talk given at a conference in honor of Prof. Peter Demetz’s (Yale Univ.) 85th Birthday held in Prague, October, 2007 that was later published in Krajina bez vlastností: Literatura a Střední                                   

                        Evropa/Landschaft ohenEigenschaften: Literatur und Mitteleuropa, Peteru Demetzovi k 85. Narozeninám/Festschrift für Peter Demetz zum 85. Geburtstag, eds. Petr A. Bílek, Tomáš Dimter (Praha:                         

                        Aktion, 2007/2010). 247–73.

                        S. Shaviro: The Cinematic Body, pp. 255–69.

Week 10, Tuesday 5 December and Week 11, Tuesday 12 December:

German Expressionism, the Political and the Heroizing Epic II

Pre-film talk and screening:

                          Portions of The Ring: Kriemhild’s Revenge (Die Nibelungen: Kriemhild’s Revenge, 1924, 148 min.,

                          German intertitles with English subtitles, dir. Fritz Lang); The Ring: Siegfried (Die Nibelungen:

                          Siegfried, 1924, 143 min., German intertitles with English subtitles, dir. Fritz Lang).

Post-film lecture/discussion

Rdgs:                 D. Cook: A History, pp. 97–100.

                         S. Kracauer: The German Film, pp. 91–97.

                         E. Roraback: “Cultural Politics and Spheres of the Capitals of Filmic Circulation, Movement, and Transposition: Lang’s Two-Part Die Nibelungen (The Ring, 1924)”. Revised version of a lecture given

                         at the 30th Annual conference of the International Association of Philosophy and Literature, Freiburg, Germany, 4–9 June 2006. Part of a book that is being prepared for publication.

Week 12, Tuesday 19 December

D.W. Griffith and the Pioneering of a Medium

Pre-film talk and screening:

                        Intolerance (1916, 178 minutes, dir. D.W. Griffith).

Post-film lecture/discussion

Rdgs:                L. Bersani and U. Dutoit: Arts of Impoverishment, pp. 1–9.

                        D. Cook, A History: pp. 51–79.

                        E. Roraback: “The Ornate Movements and Circulations of Griffith’s Intolerance (1916)”. First given

                        as a guest lecture at Palacký University Olomouc, Czech Republic. Invited by prof. Marcel Arbeit

                        and organized by prof. Michal Peprník. Part of a book that is being prepared for publication.

                        S. Shaviro: The Cinematic Body, pp. 255–69.

Final essay due date 22 December; this paper also serves as the final exam.





Last update: Roraback Erik Sherman, doc., D.Phil. (14.09.2023)
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