This site collects exemplary critical work written by students for Jason Mittell‘s course Key Concepts in Film & Media Criticism. The course explores theories of genre, narrative, authorship, and intertextuality, applying them to a broad selection of screenings that reflect on their own form: movies & TV about movies & TV! Students spend the semester developing long-form critical analyses written for public (not academic) audiences about one film or television series, chosen from this long list of examples.

This site publishes a selection of critical writing from the course, curated each semester to highlight a range of topics. The project took inspiration from Professor Scott Saul’s The Godfather: Anatomy of a Film project, which demonstrated the power of students doing critical writing for public audiences, and the importance of publishing such work online. Unlike that site, these projects were the centerpiece of the course, leading to longer works of sustained critical analysis. Currently works from Spring 2020 and Fall 2021 offerings are featured, and work from future semesters will be added to the project.

Recasting Porn-Chic: Parallel Transformations in BOOGIE NIGHTS

Emma Johnson explores how Boogie Nights chronicles the dual transformations of the adult film industry and the film’s main character. … Continue reading Recasting Porn-Chic: Parallel Transformations in BOOGIE NIGHTS

Bob Fosse directs Roy Schieder as his alter-ego in ALL THAT JAZZ

The Darkness of ALL THAT JAZZ

Masha Makutonina dives into Bob Fosse’s autobiographical fiction All That Jazz, playfully exploring its contrasting tones and genre mixing.… Continue reading The Darkness of ALL THAT JAZZ

30 ROCK as Sketch: Embracing the Genre It Mocks

Gibson Grimm analyzes 30 Rock through the lens of sketch comedy, showing how it both uses and mocks the genre. … Continue reading 30 ROCK as Sketch: Embracing the Genre It Mocks

Leonardo DiCaprio on set for ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD

How ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD Alienates Its Audience

Andriiana Ilkiv reflects on how the film assumes certain cultural knowledge to appreciate its alternative history and references.… Continue reading How ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD Alienates Its Audience

ONE CUT OF THE DEAD: Under the Hood of Horror

Michael Frank considers how a low-budget Japanese horror movie surprisingly upends film form.… Continue reading ONE CUT OF THE DEAD: Under the Hood of Horror

Narrative Theory and ADAPTATION.

Jason Mittell examines the highly reflexive film Adaptation., focused on the film’s opening minutes.… Continue reading Narrative Theory and ADAPTATION.