HUMS 454, Interpreting Film Masterpieces

Meeting Time: 
W 1:30-3:20; M: 6:30 (screenings)

Course Description:

A close examination of key works by three of the art’s greatest directors: Fritz Lang, Jean Renoir, Ingmar Bergman. Questions of cinema’s relation to social history and to the other arts will grow out of intense analyses of the films themselves. We will also examine some of the voluminous criticism these directors have attracted, debating the pertinence and value of various approaches and indeed the import of cinema when taken at its highest level.


Led by:

Professor David Bromwich is a Sterling Professor of English. He has published widely on Romantic criticism and poetry, and on eighteenth-century politics and moral philosophy. His book Politics by Other Means concerns the role of critical thinking and tradition in higher education, and defends the practice of liberal education against political encroachments from both Left and Right. His essays and reviews have appeared in The New Republic, The New York Review of Books, the London Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement, and many other U.S. and British journals.

He is a frequent contributor of political blog posts on the Huffington Post. Since 2017, he has served as a trustee of the National Humanities Center in Research Triangle Park, NC. 

Professor Dudley Andrew studied English and Philosophy, then learned filmmaking before getting in on the ground floor just as Film Studies was taking off in the USA.

His dissertation on film theorist André Bazin has funded several of his books, and has taken him frequently to France where he wrote two large histories of 1930s culture during the Popular Front era.   Andrew taught Comparative Literature and Cinema Studies at Iowa for years, directing the dissertations of many of today’s leaders in Film.  Coming to Yale in 2000, he chaired Comp Lit from 2009-2013.  In the department he works with graduate students primarily on the French literary and philosophical milieu, or on issues that cross between Cinema and Literature (aesthetics, translation, hermeneutics, critical theory). 

He has consistently taught undergraduate courses in World Cinema and in adaptation, as well as seminars related to the work of Bazin, whose complete works he curates in a dedicated archive at Yale. Andrew provides a link to French film history from having had personal encounters with Truffaut, Renoir, Resnais, Rohmer and other key figures. He is an “officier de l’ordre des arts et des lettres” and received the Lifetime Achievement award from the Society for Cinema and Media Studies.


This class was previously offered in the Fall of 2015. Testimonals are taken from student course evaluations.

  • “A wonderful gem of a seminar where you watch a great film every week and get to do a lot of reading and discussion on the director in depth. Both professors are extremely knowledgeable and bring great insight to the films. You walk away with a completely new level of appreciation and understanding of films.”
  • “Take it!! The selected films were a lot of fun to watch and challenged my way of thinking. The professors were a really great duo, balancing each other out on the film and literary analysis.
  • “Every two weeks we had to write a journal entry about the director and analyzing the films we saw. The journals provided a really nice medium to explore your ideas without the pressure of writing a formal essay, which encouraged a deeper and sometimes more daring analysis.”