from my lit & motion picture course (last time I'm teaching it is this term)

History of the Motion Picture

Movies begin as applications of technology
Magic Lanterns, Slides, Zoetropes, etc.

The American movie industry began in New York.

Because a more temperate climate allowed filming year 'round, the movie industry quickly shifted to Florida. However,

Los Angeles had good weather AND it was a haven from film camera patent enforcement -- the camera technology was under patent, but early directors did not pay the required patent licensing fees -- the patent laws were not enforced in LA.

More History

Many actors in early films were from Vaudeville, not “Legitimate” Theatre

Vaudeville skits used slapstick, sentimental songs, striptease, and melodrama rather than dramatic story, character development, and structure.

Vaudeville actors relied on visual comedy and violence rather than demonstrating emotion (as traditional stage actors did).

Vaudeville matierals and films of vaudeville skits are available at the Library of Congress:

The use of sound in the motion picture changes acting in motion pictures.

Silent films rarely used “scenarios” more than one page long.

The invention of sync-ed sound in film led to the development of screenplays.

Modern screenplays consist primarily of dialogue, whereas silent films had no dialogue.

“Legitimate” theatre and literature became common sources for scenarios and screenplays in the U.S.

History of Literature

The History of Literature can also be understood in the context of the History of Technology: the development of the book, the printing press, and electronic publication have enabled wider distribution of literary works.

Literary texts, films, and other materials published before 1922 are in the PUBLIC DOMAIN. They make be copied, screened, distrubuted and viewed free of charge.

Many classic texts are available free online.

Early films are available free online.

Early Films

Thomas Edison, who created one type of early film process, made many early films.

Early American films are available online at the Library of Congress:

Literature Online

There are many resources for works of literature online.

Project Gutenberg (note: named after the inventor of the printing press):

University of Pennsylvania:

More at the University of Michigan, University of Virginia, etc.


This course, like most, begins with defining terms you'll need to begin to think about as you bein your reading for the course and for your research papers.

The three act structure goes all of the way back to Aristotle, the famed Greek Philosopher, student of Plato, teacher of Alexander the Great.

Artistotle was a great classifier.

Anyway, he wrote about the structure of plays -- nota bene -- plays! although we associate three act structure with film and tv, and five act structure with Shakespearean drama -- in his work THE POETICS, which, like all classic works of literature, is available FREE online:

In the poetics, Aristotle defines most of the terms here in this assigment for HIMSELF. You will be defining the terms in the course for YOURSELF (and giving examples, which help!)


Have you read THE POETICS or parts of it in class? Like the MLA Handbook and Shakespeare's plays, it is something that most students of literature have several copies of around the house.

In the Poetics, Aristotle of focused on how theatre -- and these issues are heightened by film -- is the iimitation of life.

{is an adaptation like LORD OF THE RINGS an imitation of a book?}

Poetics: Tragedy and Comedy

"Comedy is, as we have said, an imitation of characters of a lower type- not, however, in the full sense of the word bad, the ludicrous being merely a subdivision of the ugly. It consists in some defect or ugliness which is not painful or destructive. To take an obvious example, the comic mask is ugly and distorted, but does not imply pain.

The successive changes through which Tragedy passed, and the authors of these changes, are well known, whereas Comedy has had no history, because it was not at first treated seriously. It was late before the Archon granted a comic chorus to a poet; the performers were till then voluntary. Comedy had already taken definite shape when comic poets, distinctively so called, are heard of. Who furnished it with masks, or prologues, or increased the number of actors- these and other similar details remain unknown. As for the plot, it came originally from Sicily; but of Athenian writers Crates was the first who abandoning the 'iambic' or lampooning form, generalized his themes and plots. "

Note that any sort of art -- poems included -- can be tragedy or comedies -- not just stories or plays or movies -- using this definition.

What's wrong about this definition? What's right? How can someone be writing about comedy having no history thousands of years ago and people still thinking that comedy has no history???

This Course

In this course, some of the materials are available free online, and some of the matierals are available in books you must purchase from the WLAC bookstore or another bookstore. Films must be rented from the Los Angeles Public Library, Rocket Video, Blockbuster, Hollywood Video, etc.

- If you do not already have a Los Angeles Public Library card, you MUST apply for one. In addition to offering free video rental, the Los Angeles Public Library has extensive online archives if critical matierals you will need to access in order to write the papers for this course.

- It will be very obvious to all of us if you have not read and viewed the assigned texts.

- You are required to post at least one paragraph or page in the weekly discussion group EACH WEEK of the course: answer questions raised in these lectures, contine researching topics or issues raised in the lectures, etc. etc.


jon said…
We are trying to find good computer animation movie to take the kids this weekend. Good computer animation movie reviews are hard to find

I just stumbled onto your blog while looking. Seems to happen to me a lot since I am a knowledge mooch LOL

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kalisekj said…
Hey, I have enjoyed...your blog is informative - even entertaining.

I have a halloween sites. They pretty much covers costumes and masks related stuff.

Thanks again and I'll be sure to bookmark you.

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