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I piloted the Barsam text for a summer class just before its initial release and the student reaction seemed pretty favorable at the time.  This year, I used it as my main text instead of FILM ART, in both fall and spring semesters.  It does have particular strengths, and its ancillaries (CD-ROM, website) both have some very good features, if your students can access them.  However, in the longer 15-week space of a full semester, I found it increasingly difficult for own way of dealing with film concepts, mainly in its discussion of "mise-en-scene," which has a more inclusive definition than Bordwell & Thompson.  While there are good precedents for that definition, it dilutes and confuses the topic (for me, and I think for my students as well).  For example, acting has a separate chapter and the main discussion of lighting is reserved for the chapter on cinematography.  Some of the discussions and definitions tend to be more abstract than I care for.  I expect that it's largely a matter of personal preference and training in the use of these terms, but I was planning to switch back to B&T this year while continuing to look at other options.  I haven't done a close comparison of the new second edition of Barsam, however.
 
Don Larsson
 
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"Nothing is ever the same as they said it was.  It's what I've never seen before that I recognize."  --Diane Arbus

 
Donald F. Larsson
Department of English, AH 230
Minnesota State University
Mankato, MN  56001
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Office Phone: 507-389-2368
 

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From: Film and TV Studies Discussion List on behalf of Frank, Michael
Sent: Thu 6/7/2007 6:52 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [SCREEN-L] textbook query



after an extended hiatus, i will be teaching "into to cinema studies"
again in the fall, and hope to enlist screen-L's help in reconsidering
textbook options . . . i assume that bordwell & thompson' SCREEN ART is
still the gold standard, but i suspect it's a bit much for
non-specialist beginning students who will be taking the course simply
to fulfill distribution requirements

i've been examining  richard barsam's LOOKING AT MOVIES;  at first
glance it seems to have a number of things going for it . . .
unfortunately i don't have time to give it a careful reading before i
need to place my book orders . . . so i'm wondering if anyone has had
any experience with this book that they can share -- or, for that
matter, other strong recommendations

thanks in advance

mike

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