Review Comment

American Film History, Senior Seminar in Film Studies

December 26, 2010

Sterritt, David Silver_nugget
American Film History, Senior Seminar in Film Studies

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I was worried about David Streritt at first—He's not as old as Andrew Sarris but getting close to it, so one would think that he has the same moronic and ultimately terrible teaching style. Instead, Steritt is opinionated (in a good way), full of energy, and one of the best professors in the department. Instead of choosing a film to supplement his own research (cough,annetteinsdorf,cough), Sterritt had us focus on Psycho for the first eight weeks, and held a series of good discussions. After Psycho got basically deconstructed four ways from Friday, we just kind of all went on our own thesis projects. Sterritt didn't require any sort of outline, just a page long prospectus, and then a 30-60 minute presentation in whatever form you want. But he was also great to talk to about other stuff—if he saw anything good he would always inform us, and he was always available by email (he commuted from Baltimore for the class, so could only meet on Wednesdays). Anyways, I'm very glad to have had him for senior seminar, and he was a lot of fun.

Workload:

Very short readings (20 pgs max) at beginning of seminar, 10pg paper on Psycho, and then thesis due at end of winter break (25 pgs).

December 27, 2006

Insdorf, Annette
American Film History, Senior Seminar in Film Studies

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I'm surprised to see all the sniping reviews here about Insdorf. It seems everyone I talk to absolutely adores her. Anyway, I'm not alone in thinking she's quite wonderful and a highlight of my time at Columbia. Insdorf's lectures are quite sexy -- full of insight, infectious passion and charm. She knows many top figures in the film business and isn't shy about sharing those relationships if you need access to people for your thesis research. She's a top figure in film criticism and a major player on the festival circuit, so yes, she's insanely scattered and busy during her office hours. You can't go into her office needing emotional hand-holding or support - you probably won't get the coddling you're looking for. But I disagree with the other reviewers who think she doesn't care about her students. I've seen her give warm attention and respect to even the most insane rambling from students in senior seminar. I've seen her dance like a freak in the office when a student's song was playing over the Internet. She's great. Really cool, very human. And she built one of the most prestigious film departments in the world on a shoe-string budget. It's simply not true that she gives an overly academic or literary approach to film study. If you do the reading in, for example, American Film History, you'll find that there are long, difficult chapters on film technology, camera work, and film practice; and in fact, if you don't internalize all of that material, you cannot possibly do well in her class. Where her background as a PhD in English Lit does impact your life, is that she does not tolerate bad writing. She'll literally fail you if you commit any of a series of standard grammar sins on your papers. But she's very clear about them upfront, so you just need to actually show up, listen, and perform like a student at an Ivy League institution.

Workload:

In her American Film History class, the exams can be demanding - you will have to do the reading to do well in the class. I found that the difference between people who were satisfied and dissatisfied by her class was clear: doing the reading makes all the difference. But in the end, your grade is dependent on your TA. TA's in the film department are rarely top-notch. They're in film production, and we're in film studies, and they are simply different disciplines.

Directory Data

Dept/Subj Directory Course Professor Year Semester Time Section