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CMS 320 A: Cinema and Nation

Meeting Time: 
MW 12:30pm - 2:20pm
JHN 022
Joint Sections: 
JSIS 480 B
Photo of Cynthia Steele
Cynthia Steele

Syllabus Description:

CMS 320A / JSIS 480A


Winter 2020, 5 credits

Prof. Cynthia Steele

MW 12:30-2:20

Johnson 022


“In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Latin American films like Amores perros, Diarios de motocicleta, Y tu mamá también and Cidade de Deus enjoyed an unprecedented level of critical and commercial success in global markets. Benefiting from external financial and/or creative input, these films were considered examples of transnational cinema. Through a textual analysis of six filmmakers, we will examine these and other transnational films, including the subsequent wave or commercially successful ‘deterritorialized’ films by the same directors.” (Tierney)

You will watch two films a week on instant streaming, read the textbook and several critical essays, and keep a viewing and reading journal. In addition, there will be several pop quizes on the assigned films and readings throughout the quarter; you can miss one quiz without penalty. Also, you will write one 4-6-page comparative analytical essay. You will be required to subscribe to Netflix for the duration of the quarter, in order to watch several of the films. Other films will be available on Canvas, on Kanopy, or for rental on Amazon Video. All films have English subtitles. PLEASE NOTE: There is a great deal of nudity and violence in several of these films. If you are sensitive to these issues, you may want to consider taking a different class.


Tierney, Dolores. New Transnationalisms in Contemporary Latin American Cinema. Edinburgh UP, paperback, 2019. · ISBN-10: 1474431135 · ISBN-13: 978-1474431132

Canvas Site:


F1. Llosa, Claudia. Madeinusa. 2006.

F2. González Iñárritu, Alejandro. Amores perros (Love’s a Bitch, 2000), Modalis

F3. ____________, 21 Grams (2003), Amazon Video, $4

F4. ____________, Babel (2006), Netflix

F5. ____________, The Revenant (2015), Amazon $4

F6. Cuarón, Alfonso. Sólo con tu pareja (Love in a Time of Hysteria, 1991), Netflix

F7. ____________, Y tu mamá también (And Your Mother Too, 2001), Netflix

F8. ____________, Roma (2018), Netflix

F9. del Toro, Guillermo. Cronos (1993), Kanopy

F10. -----------, El laberinto del fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth, 2006), Swank

F11. _______, Crimson Peak (2015), Amazon $4

F12. Mireilles, Fernando and Kátia Lund, Cidade de Deus (City of God, 2002), Swank

F13. Salles, Walter. Diarios de motocicleta (Motorcycle Diaries (2004), Swank

F14. Campanella, Juan José. El secreto de sus ojos (The Secret in Their Eyes (2009), Canvas

F15. Ray, Billy. The Secret in their Eyes (2015), Netflix

Articles (Posted on Canvas):

A1. Pagán-Teitelbaum, Ileana. “Glamour in the Andes: Indigenous Women in Peruvian Cinema.” Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies, Vol. 7, No. 1, March 2012, pp. 71-93.

A2. McGowan, Todd. “The Contingency of Connection: The Path to Politicization in ‘Babel.’” Discourse, Vol. 30, No. 3, Fall 2008, pp. 401-418.

A3. de la Mora, Sergio. “Roma: Reparation Versus Exploitation.” Film Quarterly Vol. 72 No. 4 (Summer 2019): 46-53.

A4. Hartney, Christopher. “With Spain in Our Hearts: The Political Fantastic of Guillermo del Toro’s Laberinto del Fauno (2006) and El espinazo del diablo (2001).” Literature and Aesthetics Vol. 19, No. 2, December 2009, pp. 187-201.

A5. Nagib, Lúcia. “Taking Bullets: The Language of Violence in City of God.” Third Text Vol. 18, Issue 3, 2004, pp. 239-250.

A6. Rocha, Carolina. “El secreto de sus ojos: An Argentine Male Melodrama.” New Cinemas: Journal of Contemporary Film, Vol. 12, Nos. 1 & 2, pp. 3-15.

Distribution of Grades:

 Reading and Viewing Journal, Part 1             20

Reading and Viewing Journal, Part 2             20

Quizes                                                                           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 Friday, January 26, 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. 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.

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.


There will be five pop quizes on the assigned films and readings during the quarter. You can miss one quiz without penalty.


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.


 UW Libraries Catalog:

 Internet Movie Data Base:

 Metacritic Film Reviews and Trailers:


Purdue OWL Writing Lab:

Writing about Film:

MLA Formatting and Style Guide:



Mon, Jan. 6    


Wed, Jan. 8

R1. Tierney Introduction, pp. 1-32

Film 1: Madeinusa, Amazon, $4

R2. Article 1: Pagán-Teitelbaum


Mon,    Jan. 13           

R3. Tierney, Mexico: Introduction & Ch. 1, Alejandro González Iñárritu, pp. 33-60

Film 2: Amores perros (2001) Modalis

 Wed, Jan. 15

Film 3: 21 Grams (2003) Amazon $4


Mon, Jan. 20

Holiday: Martin Luther King Day

Wed, Jan. 22

Film 4: Babel Netflix (or Amazon $3)

R4. Article 2: McGowan; and Tierney, Babel, pp. 60-66


Mon, Jan. 27

Film 5: The Revenant Amazon $4

R5. Tierney, The Revenant, pp. 233-235

Wed, Jan. 29

R6. Tierney, Ch. 2, Alfonso Cuarón, pp. 76-101

Film 6: Sólo con tu pareja, Netflix (or Amazon $4)


Mon, Feb 3

Film 7: Y tu mamá también, Modalis

Wed, Feb 5

Film 8: Roma (2018), Netflix

R7. Article 3: de la Mora


Mon, Feb. 10

R8. Tierney, Ch. 3: Guillermo del Toro, pp. 102-122

Film 9: Cronos, Kanopy

Wed, Feb. 12

Film 10: El laberinto del fauno

R9. Article 4: Hartney

7 pm JOURNAL ONE DUE            


Mon, Feb. 17

Holiday: Presidents Day

Wed,    Feb. 19

Film 11: Crimson Peak, Amazon $4

R11. Tierney pp. 235-238


Mon,    Feb. 24

R12. Tierney, Brazil: Introduction, pp. 123-136

and Ch. 7, Fernando Mireilles, pp. 123-160

R13. Article 5: Nagib

Film 12: City of God

 Wed,    Feb. 26

R14. Tierney, Ch. 5, Walter Salles, pp. 161-186

Film 13: Motorcycle Diaries


Mon,March 2

R15. Tierney, Argentina: Introduction, pp. 187-200

and Ch. 6, Juan José Campanella, pp. 187-226

R16. Article 6: Rocha

Film 14: El secreto de sus ojos, Modalis

Wed, March 4

Film 15: The Secret in their Eyes Netflix (or Amazon, $4)

R17. Tierney, Epilogue, pp. 227-239


Mon,March 9

Writing tutorials

Wed,    March 11

Writing tutorials

 Sun, March 15


 Wed, March 18         

7 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: 
December 31, 2019 - 9:20pm