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SCAND 470 A: Scandinavian Auteurs

SCAND 470 Sp20 Flyer
Meeting Time: 
MW 2:30pm - 4:20pm
SAV 130
Joint Sections: 
C LIT 474 A
Photo of Amanda Doxtater
Amanda Doxtater

Syllabus Description:

Tears in Ice:  Scandinavian Art Melodrama (and Hollywood) [ONLINE]

When people hear the word “melodrama” it’s often in the disparaging sense of “Quit being so melodramatic!” The term conjures up simplistic emotions, lowbrow acting, and a general lack of sophistication. The tradition of Scandinavian cinema, which has largely been synonymous with dark, slow, estranging art cinema, would seem to embody the opposite of melodrama’s happy resolutions, easy comprehensibility, and overflowing expressivity.

      But the Nordic countries can claim rich (if underestimated) domestic traditions of film melodrama. And Scandinavian art cinema also makes use of melodrama’s heightened emotional registers, its suffering protagonists, its pressure on the domestic sphere, and its critique of the status quo. Melodrama’s deep roots in popular culture have allowed it to be cast in opposition to such “high art” traditions, whether tragedy, modernism, or the reserved aestheticism of Scandinavian art cinema. This course, Tears in Ice, embraces the idea that such distinctions should be questioned.

      Tears in Ice offers a survey of key scholarship on film melodrama which we’ll use to discuss canonical works of Scandinavian art cinema. We’ll also include key American films that are important to understanding this film melodrama scholarship. The course will consider ways that scholars have attempted to define melodrama (as genre, style, sensibility and mode), and discuss melodrama’s potential for societal critique, particularly in relation to gender, class, and race. Screenings will range from the silent era to contemporary cinema.





SCAND 470 A / COMP LIT 474 A

SLN: 19268 / 11676


Instructor: Amanda Doxtater

Raitt Hall 305-N


This course will be taught asynchronously 


ZOOM Office Hours: 

Th 3:30-5:30 or by appt.

You can join (optional) SLACK workspace here:



  • To read critical texts in the field of melodrama theory and gain a solid understanding of the central issues at stake. These include questions about emotion (affect), gender, form, and social critique
  • To practice close readings of film sequences and develop skills to write critically about film
  • To develop a familiarity with some canonical works of Scandinavian cinema
  • To develop creative, critical thinking skills, and curiosity about art cinema and melodrama as thriving sub-fields in cinema studies



  • The classroom is a community in which we learn from one another, so please be present, kind, and focused.
  • Care for one another. Please reach out to me if you’re having difficulty for any reason whatsoever with completing requirements for the course.




None (all readings and films will be in English or subtitled) though previous experience with film courses will be helpful. There are no prerequisites for this course.


The Yale Film Guide is a great resource if this happens to be your first film course.





Melodrama: Genre, Style, Sensibility [MGSS] by John Mercer and Martin Shingler

London: Wallflower, 2004. This text is available at the UW Bookstore. They will ship books to you for free.


All other texts for the course will be available as PDFs on the course CANVAS site. Please let me know if any of these PDFs is difficult in any way for you to read or access.



Required films for the course will be available to you to stream on-line under each weekly MODULE or they will temporarily be made available as m4v files on a shared google drive.


OBS!  (Attention! In Swedish, observera!)

The UW has resources for borrowing devices. Contact: UW Student Technology Loan Program





40% Participation, Discussion Posts, Questions and Responses

1 Guided discussion post per week (125 words minimum)

1 “Dig deeper”self-guided discussion post per week (125 words minimum)

2 Questions per week

2 Discussion responses to two peers per week (2 x 100 words)


30% Collective, Open-book Quizzes (10)

Some reading quizzes will consist of a few questions designed to gauge whether you have read each assigned text thoroughly and watched each film closely and recently. Other will be collective activities designed to facilitate discussion of the material in your small groups.


30% Three Short Analysis Papers (700 words each)

Essay #1 Due April 19

Essay #2 Due May 2

Essay #3 Due June 7


***All weekly assignments will be due each Sunday at midnight**


Suggested workflow


Text #1 (watch a film or read)

Watch videos from Amanda

Post one question



Text #2 (watch a film or read)

Watch videos from Amanda                     

Post one question



Text #3 (watch a film or read)

Write guided discussion post



Complete collective quiz in a zoom session with your small group

Respond to a classmate’s discussion post from this week



Write your “Dig deeper” post (i.e. read another article, explore an ok’d website, watch another film etc.) and write about it

Respond to a classmate’s discussion post from this week


Grade scale

99-100%=4.0 ; 98-96%=3.9 ; 95-94%=3.8 ; 93-90%=3.7 ; 89%=3.6 ; 88%=3.5 ; 87%=3.4 ; 86%=3.3 ; 85%=3.2 ; 84%=3.1 ; 83%=3.0 ; 82%=2.9 ; 81%=2.8 ; 80%=2.7 ; 79%=2.6 ; 78%=2.5 ; 77%=2.4 ; 76%=2.3 ; and so on and so forth (0-59%=0.0)



Analysis papers, essay questions, and exams for the course will be graded according to the following criteria: organization, argumentative structure (including adequate transitions and meaningful articulations), internal organization of paragraphs, level of historical, philosophical, and/or theoretical reflection and insight, interpretive creativity and precision, definition of terms, clarity of style, correctness and bibliographic references.


A --       Work that, in addition to being well executed and 

                 reasonably free of errors, distinguishes itself through its

                 originality and unusual accomplishment. 


B --        Work that satisfies main criteria of the assignment but

                 lacks the element of distinction that carries the work into the

                 realm of excellence.


C --       Work that demonstrates a rudimentary grasp of the material

                and satisfies at least some of the assigned criteria reasonably well.


D --       Work that demonstrates a poor grasp of the material and/or

                is executed with little regard for college standards, but which

                exhibits some engagement with the material.


F --        Work that is weak in every aspect; satisfies none of the

                assigned criteria.



The University of Washington is a community dedicated to learning. Ethical expectations of students belonging to the community are defined in the student conduct code ( Plagiarism, cheating, and disruptive behavior in class violate the code, and harm your own and others’ learning. Any violations of the code in connection with the course will result in referral to the university administration for appropriate action. If you want to learn more about how to avoid plagiarism, please consult the following resource page on academic honesty, (, or speak to me directly.  



Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy (


Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form (



The University of Washington reaffirms its policy of equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, disabled veteran or Vietnam era veteran in accordance with University policy and applicable federal and state statutes and regulations. The University of Washington is committed to providing access and reasonable accommodation in its services, programs, activities, education and employment for individuals with disabilities.  To request disability accommodation in the application process contact the department at (206) 543-0645 or the Disability Services Office at least ten days in advance at: 206.543.6450/V, 206.543.6452/TTY, 206.685.7264 (FAX), or e-mail at


Catalog Description: 
Studies the body of work of Scandinavia's auteur filmmakers. Introduces the theory and history of auteur cinema, with special attention to Scandinavian filmmakers' contribution. Offered: jointly with C LIT 474; AWSp.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
February 25, 2020 - 12:56pm