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CMS 320 B: Cinema And Nation

Meeting Time: 
TTh 1:30pm - 3:20pm
DEN 213
Joint Sections: 
JSIS 480 B
Photo of Cynthia Steele
Cynthia Steele

Syllabus Description:


MF-2.jpegmujer del puerto.jpeg


C LIT 315A / JSIS 480G            

Autumn 2015, 5 credits

SLN 11868

Prof. Cynthia Steele

Classroom: Dempsey 002

TTh 1:30-3:20

Office: Orin’s Place, Paccar Hall

Office hours TTh 3:30-4:30 and by appointment



From its beginning in silent cinema and newsreels about the Mexican Revolution, Mexican Cinema has drawn most heavily on the genre of the melodrama throughout its history. The figures of the fallen woman, the revolutionary working-class male revolutionary, and the aristocratic shrew were central to the national mythology created by filmmakers of the Golden Age of the 1930s and 1940s. In the newest ‘boom’ in Mexican Cinema, beginning around 2000, with the emergence of directors like María Novaro, Alejandro Gónzález Iñárritu, and Alfonso Cuarón, these myths have been reinterpreted in novel ways, allowing for critiques of the failures of the Revolution, the ongoing problems of inequality, corruption and patriarchy, and the burgeoning problems presented by neoliberalism and the drug wars. At their best these films promote the ideals of democratization, independent economic development, respect for human rights and the rule of law, ethnic and gender equality, and national dignity.

You will watch two films a week on instant streaming, read the textbook and twelve essays, and keep a viewing and reading journal. Also, you will write one 4-6-page essay and participate in a group presentation.


Elena Lahr-Vivaz, Mexican Melodrama: Film and Nation from the Golden Age to the New Wave. Tucson: U of Arizona P, 2016.

You will also be required to pay a $15 course materials fee for instant streaming.

Canvas Site:


(to be viewed on instant streaming; the dvds are also on two-hour reserve in the Suzzallo Media Center):

  1. María Candelaria. 1944. Emilio Fernández. Televisa, 2008. DVD ALTER 009
  2. Enamorada. 1946. Dir. Emilio Fernández. Televisa, 2008. DVD SOUTHH 037
  3. Vámonos con Pancho Villa. Dir. Fernando de Fuentes. DVD FAC 039 (IS)

  1. Like Water for Chocolate / Como agua para chocolate. 1992. Dir. Alfonso Arau. Buena Vista Home Entertainment, 2000. DVD BVHE 003 (IS)

  1. La mujer del Puerto / The Woman from the Port. 1934. Dir. Arcady Boytler. Facets, 2005. DVD FAC 034 (IS)

  1. Salón México. Dir. Emilio Fernández. Mexico City: Televisa, 2008, 91 min. SOUTHH 039
  1. Aventurera. 1949. Dir. Alberto Gout. Facets, 2004. DVD FAC 017 (IS)

  2. Modelo antiguo / Antique Model. Dir. Raúl Araiza. Vanguard, 2003. DVD VANF 018
  3. Nosotros los pobres / We the Poor. 1948. Dir. Ismael Rodríguez. Warner Home Video, 2007.
  4. Los Olvidados. 1950. Dir. Luis Buñuel. Televisa, 2004. DVD ALTER (Youtube)

  1. Amores perros. 2000. Dir. Alejandro González Iñárritu. Lion’s Gate, 2001. DVD STU 003 (IS)

  1. El crimen del Padre Amaro. 2002. Dir. Carlos Carrera. Columbia TriStar, 2003. DVD CTHV 150 (IS)

  1. Japón. Dir. Carlos Reygadas. Tartan Video, 2002. DVD TART 002
  2. Post Tenebras Lux. 2012. Dir. Carlos Reygadas. Culver City: Strand Releasing, 2013.


  1. Y tu mamá también. 2001. Dir. Alfonso Cuarón. MGM Home Entertainment, 2002.

DVD MGM 084 (IS)287-305.

  1. Sin dejar huella. 2000. Dir. María Novaro. Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment,
  2. DVD TCFHE 096
  3. Revolución. 2010. Various directors. Mexico City: Venevisión, 2011. DVD VENEV 016

Articles (Posted on Canvas):

  1. Tierney, Dolores. “Gender Relations and Mexican Cultural Nationalism in Emilio Fernández’s Enamorada/In Love.” Quarterly Review of Film and Video3 (2003): 225-236.
  2. Mraz, John. “Revolution and Culture (1910-1940).” In his Looking for Mexico: Modern Visual Culture and National Identity. Durham: Duke UP, 2009, pp. 59-105.

  1. Martínez, Victoria. “’Como agua para chocolate’: A Recipe for Neoliberalism.” Chasqui 1 (May 2004): 28-41.
  2. Tierney, Dolores. “Silver Sling-backs and Mexican Melodrama: Salón México and Danzón.” Screen 38.4 (Winter 1997): 360-371.
  1. Pérez, Gilberto. “Melodrama of the Spirited Woman.” In Latin American Melodrama, ed. Darlene Sadlier (U of Illinois Press, 2009), pp. 19-32.
  2. Gutiérrez-Albilla, Julián Daniel. “Fictions of Reality: Documents of the Real Encounter: Mise-en-abîme and the Irruption of the Real in Luis Buñuel’s Los olvidados (1950).” Hispanic Research Journal 8.4 (September 2007): 347-357.
  3. Sánchez Prado, Ignacio M. “Amores perros: Exotic Violence and Neoliberal Fear.” Journal of Latin American Studies: Travesía.” 15.1: 39-57.
  4. Marshall, April D. “Naming Clues to the Layers of Transgression in El crimen del Padre Amaro.” Names2 (2014): 100-106.
  5. Epplin, Craig. “Sacrifice and Recognition in Carlos Reygadas’ Japón.” Mexican Studies/ Estudios Mexicanos2 (Summer 2012): 287-305.
  6. Baer, Hester and Ryan Long. “Transnational Cinema and the Mexican State in Alfonso Cuarón’s Y tu mamá también.” South Central Review3 (Fall 2004): 150-68.
  7. Lindsay, Claire. “Mobility and Modernity in María Novaro’s Sin dejar huella.” Framework2 (Fall 2008): 86-105.
  8. Quiroz, Claudia Arroyo. “Echoes of the Mexican Revolution: Cinematic and Museo-graphic Approaches to History in the 2010 Bicentennary.” Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies: Travesía 20.4 (2011): 377-395.

Distribution of Grades:

Reading and Viewing Journal, Part 1             20

Reading and Viewing Journal, Part 2             20

Group Presentation                                        20

Essay                                                               20

Class Participation                                         20

Reading and Viewing Journal:

Please write at least one page, typed, double-spaced, on each of the assigned films and readings; see the complete list under “Assignments: Journal Part One” and “Assignments: Journal Part Two.” For each half of the journal, write a single Word document and begin each entry on a new page. Please number your entries and follow the order given on the list. You should submit each half of your journal as a single Word document, through Canvas; submit the first half by 11 pm on Thursday, February 8, and the second half by 11 pm on Sunday, March 11.

Analytical Essay:

Please write a 4-6-page analytical essay comparing the treatment of a theme in two or three of the films that we have studied in class this quarter. For more specific guidelines, see the instructions posted to our Canvas site. The essay should be uploaded to the Canvas drop box by 11 pm on Tuesday, March 13. Please title your file YourlastnameEssay.docx (for instance, Jones.Essay.docx).

Please utilize the services of the writing tutors at the Odegaard Writing and Research Center and the resources that they provide. You can make appointments with them online:

On Sundays through Thursdays from 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm, you can also use the CLUE drop-in writing center in MGH 141.

Group Presentation:

In collaboration with three other students, you will prepare a presentation on an additional critical essay about one of the films we are studying, or on an interview with one of the directors. Your presentation should last about twenty-five minutes, followed by five to ten minutes of class discussion. I will circulate a sign-up sheet in class.

Class Participation:

Your class participation grade will be based on the frequency and quality of your participation in class discussions. Obviously, a major part of this will involve regular class attendance and being prepared by having read the assigned texts and viewed the assigned films.


Please be aware that, through Canvas, your written work will be submitted to Vericite.You are responsible for understanding and observing the UW guidelines regarding plagiarism:

It is not acceptable under any circumstances to use a for-pay paper web site as a source of information. Incidents of plagiarism may be reported to the Provost’s Committee on Academic Conduct. A second incident could result in your suspension from the University. Please let me know if you have any questions about these guidelines or about the UW policy on plagiarism.

Students with Disabilities:

To request accommodations due to a disability, please contact Disabled Student Services, 448 Schmitz, (206) 543-8924 ((V/TTY). If you have a letter from Disabled Student Services indicating that you have a disability that requires academic accommodations, please present the letter to me so we can discuss such accommodations.

Internet Resources:


Más de Cien Años del Cine Mexicano:

The Mexican Film Resource Page:

Instituto Mexicano de Cinematografía:

Metacritic Film Reviews and Trailers:

Internet Movie Data Base:

UW Libraries Guide to Cinema Studies:




Thurs, Jan. 4  

Lahr-Vivaz Ch 1



Tues,   Jan. 9                                                 

Film 1: María Candelaria

Thurs, Jan. 11                                                                     

Film 2: Enamorada

A1 (Article 1). Tierney essay

Lahr-Vivaz Ch. 2                   


Tues, Jan. 16                                                                          

Film 3: Vámonos con Pancho Villa

A2. Mraz essay


Thurs, Jan. 18                                                                     

Film 4: Como agua para chocolate

A3. Martínez essay



Tues, Jan. 23

Film 5: La mujer del puerto

Lahr-Vivaz Ch. 3                                           


Thurs, Jan. 25                                                                        

Film 6: Salón México

A4. Tierney essay

P1. (Presentation 1). Pacheco essay (SPANISH)



Tues, Jan. 29                                                                          

Film 7: Aventurera

A5. Pérez essay


Thurs, Jan. 31

Film 8: Modelo antiguo



Tues, Feb. 6   

Film 9: Nosotros los pobres

Lahr-Vivaz Ch. 4                                           


Thurs, Feb. 8

Film 10: Los Olvidados

A6. Gutiérrez-Albilla essay

11 pm JOURNAL ONE DUE                      



Tues, Feb. 13                                                                                     

Film 11: Amores perros

A7. Sánchez-Prado essay

P2. Deleyto and Azcona essay on

The Films of Alejandro González Iñárritu, pp. 1-65

P3. Deleyto and Azcona essay on

The Films of Alejandro González Iñárritu, pp. 65-119


Thurs, Feb. 15                                                                                  

Film 12: El crimen del Padre Amaro

A8. Marshall essay

P4. Broullón Acuña essay on

Padre Amaro (SPANISH)




Tues,   Feb. 20

Film 13: Japón

Lahr-Vivaz Ch. 5

A9. Epplin essay

P5. Efird essay on Japón                               


Thurs, Feb. 22                                                                                  

Film 14: Post Tenebras Lux



Tues,Feb. 27

Film 15: Y tu mamá también

A10. Baer & Long essay                                            

Lahr-Vivaz Ch. 6

P6. Basoli interview with Cuarón

P7. Shaw essay on Japón and

Y tu mama también


Thurs, March 1

Film 16: Sin dejar huella

A11. Lindsay essay

P8. Roberts-Camps essay

P9. Menne essay on New Waves

Under Globalization                                      



Tues,March 6

Film 17: Revolución

A12. Quiroz essay


Thurs, March 8

Finish discussion of Revolución; Conclusions


Sun, March 11



Tues, March 13         

11 pm  ESSAY DUE


Catalog Description: 
Examines the cinema of a particular national, ethnic or cultural group, with films typically shown in the original language with subtitles. Topics reflect themes and trends in the national cinema being studied.
Department Requirements Met: 
Cinema & Media Studies Core
GE Requirements Met: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
January 10, 2018 - 9:15pm