Michigan State University
Michigan State University
Film Studies Program
2018-2019


Fall 2018

FLM 200 | Film Collective | Professor Kaveh Askari
FLM 211 | Documentary History and Theory | Professor John Valadez
FLM 230 | Introduction to Film | Professor Joshua Yumibe
FLM 255 | Stars and Directors | Professor TBA
FLM 260 | 001 | Introduction to Digital Film and Media | Peter Johnston 
FLM 300 | History of Film to Midcentury | Professor Justus Nieland
FLM 334.001 | Introduction to Screenwriting | Professor Bill Vincent
FLM 334.002 | Introduction to Screenwriting | Professor Rick Blackwood
FLM 335 | Film Directing | Professor Jeff Wray
FLM 337 | Topics in Film Form: Cinematography | TBA 
FLM 350 | National and Transnational Cinemas | TBA
FLM 355 | Studies in Film Genres | Professor Bill Vincent
FLM 380 | Classical Film & Media Theory | Professor Kaveh Askari
FLM 400 | Seminar in Film History | Professor Kaveh Askari
FLM 434 | Advanced Screenwriting | Professor Swarnavel Pillai
FLM 435A | Creating the Fiction Film I | Professor Jeff Wray
FLM 452 | Studies in Film, Gender, and Sexuality | TBA

Spring 2019

FLM 200 | Film Collective | Professor Justus Nieland
FLM 230 | Introduction to Film | TBA
RUS 250 | Russian Cinema | Professor Jason Merrill 
FLM 255 | Stars and Directors | Professor Bill Vincent
FLM 260.001 | Introduction to Digital Film and Media | Professor Lyn Goeringer
FLM 260.002 | Introduction to Digital Film and Media | TBA 
FLM 301 | History of Film after Mid-Century | Professor Justus Nieland
FLM 311 | Introduction to Documentary Production | Professor Swarnavel Pillai
FLM 334.001 | Intro to Screenwriting | Professor Rick Blackwood
FLM 334.002 | Intro to Screenwriting | Professor Swarnavel Pillai 
FLM 350 | Asian Cinema | Professor Sheng-Mei Ma
FLM 381 | Contemporary Film and Media Theory | Professor Ellen McCallum
FLM 411 | Documentary Design and Production | Professor John Valadez
FLM 434 | Advanced Screenwriting | Professor Bill Vincent
FLM 435B | Creating the Fiction Film II | Peter Johnston
FLM 451 | Italian-American Cinema & Comparative Race Studies | Professor Juliet Guzzetta
FLM 460 | Seminar in Digital Film & Media | TBA
FLM 480 | Seminar in Film Theory: Color Cinema | Professor Joshua Yumibe

FALL 2018

FLM 200 | MSU Film Collective | Professor Ellen McCallum 
Thursday, 7:00pm, B122 Wells

This one-credit screening course is available to Film Studies students. Regular attendance and participation is required throughout the semester.

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FLM 211 | Documentary History and Theory | Professor John Valadez
Monday 9:10–12:00; Wednesday 9:10–11:00

From early cinema actualities to contemporary television and film, documentary film structure has had a deep influence on both cinema and on culture. This class explores documentary as a formal structure of societal critique and question, one that allows the viewer a glimpse into the lives and situations that we live in. We will look at the the historical trajectory of the genre, considering along the way the methods of distribution and reception of the films studied. Along the way, we will consider the relationship between the directors and the subject, as this is an often troubled and complex relationship that is often set aside when reviewed for public distribution. Coursework will include written analysis of films, weekly screenings, and in class discussion.

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FLM 230 | Introduction to Film | Professor Joshua Yumibe 
Tuesday 9:10-12:00, Thursday 9:10-11:00, Friday 50 min. (varies by section)

This course introduces core concepts of film analysis, which are discussed through examples from different national cinemas, genres, and directorial œuvres. The coursework covers a wide range of styles and historical periods in order to assess the multitude of possible film techniques (camera techniques, editing, shot selection, etc.) and principles of narrative structuring. Along with questions of film technique and style, we consider the notion of the cinema as an institution that comprises an industrial system of production, social and aesthetic norms and codes, and particular modes of reception. Success in the course demands rigorous attention to both the films and the readings and requires students to watch, analyze, and write about film in new ways. Throughout the semester, students will learn different methods of viewing, analysis, exposition, and criticism and will have the opportunity to write extensively about the films seen in class. Films discussed include works by Brakhage, Burnett, Deren, Griffith, Eisenstein, Hitchcock, Sembene, Sternberg, and Welles.

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FLM 255 | Stars and Directors | TBA 
Tuesday 4:10–7:00, Thursday 4:10–6:00

TBA

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FLM 260 | Introduction to Digital Film and Media | Peter Johnston 
Tuesday, Thursday 12:40–2:30

What's changed in filmmaking technology in the past 20 years, and what impact does that have on the stories we tell? Have digital image-making tools, editing software, and distribution channels fundamentally changed the types of stories being told and the types of artists telling them? In this hybrid course we introduce students to a variety of emerging filmmaking technologies and give them a grounding in technical skills necessary to then move on to higher order concerns of storytelling. We screen, analyze and discuss new works and look over the evolution of filmmaking technology and how it relates to this historical moment. And students produce a variety of work in documentary, fiction, and experimental forms, focusing on iteration and repetition to hone filmmaking skills. 

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FLM 300 | History of Film to Midcentury | Professor Justus Nieland
Monday 9:10–12:00, Wednesday 9:10–11:00

This course surveys the history of cinema from the end of the nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth century. Moving chronologically, we will track a variety of national schools and international trends of filmmaking in order to analyze the global development of film exhibition practices, the emergence of film audiences, and more broadly cinema’s role within the public sphere. We will examine the formal, industrial, and cultural changes of the medium from cinema’s emergence through the conversion to sound in the late 1920s. We will also explore the variety of national and international movements form the 1930s to the 1940s—including German and French cinemas, classical Hollywood cinema, and Japanese studio productions pre- and postwar. Through taking a broad and comparative approach to the history of cinema, we will gain critical perspective on the forces that shape the medium’s profoundly transnational character. To assist in this process, we will engage with a variety of primary and secondary textual sources in order to assess and cultivate theoretical methods for researching and writing film history.

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FLM 334.001 | Screenwriting | Professor Bill Vincent
Monday, Wednesday 7:00–8:50

Screenwriting. Sounds romantic, doesn’t it? Well, it can be, but mostly it’s learning proper formatting, plot structure, characterization, good dialogue. Weekly workshops, ten to fifteen pages per week. Yes, hard work. But by December you will have a full-length script and you will know that you can do it.

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FLM 334.002 | Screenwriting | Professor Rick Blackwood
Tuesday, Thursday 4:10–6:00

Screenwriting. Sounds romantic, doesn’t it? Well, it can be, but mostly it’s learning proper formatting, plot structure, characterization, good dialogue. Weekly workshops, ten to fifteen pages per week. Yes, hard work. But by December you will have a full-length script and you will know that you can do it.

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FLM 335 | Film Directing | Professor Jeff Wray
Tuesday 12:40–3:30, Thursday 12:40–2:30

Part of the Fiction Film Specialization, Film Directing immerses students in the job of the director through a combination of film screenings and production projects. By studying the works of great directors, and working through a series of filmmaking projects which culminates in the creation of a 3-minute short, students learn first hand the challenges and triumphs of Film Directing. See examples of previous student work.

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FLM 337 | Cinematography | TBA 
Monday 12:40–3:30, Wednesday 12:40–2:30

Topics and practice in cinematography.

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FLM 355 | Studies in Film Genres | Professor Bill Vincent
Monday, 4:10-7:00, Wednesday 4:10-6:00

TBA

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FLM 380 | Classical Film and Media Theory | Professor Kaveh Askari 
Tuesday, 12:40-3:30, Thursday 12:40-2:30

Film theory examines how cinema uses all the means at its disposal—including images, sound, words, and narrative—to engage us emotionally and phenomenologically. Film theory takes up fundamental questions about representation in cinema, including what film is, how it represents, how it innovates aesthetically and evolves different styles. Film theory is concerned with individual films as well as how the cinema works as a system that has social, political, and cultural significance. Film theory also considers how movies fit into a broader context of media, art, and storytelling. As a mode of intellectual inquiry, this course in film theory builds upon the skills for analyzing film that you learned in English 230, but pushes you to refine and complicate how you watch films, even as some of the texts we will consider push the limits of filmmaking or of thinking about film. This course draws on the work of key film theorists from the first part of the twentieth century; our primary focus will be on film, although the role of other media—particularly theatre and photography—will come into play. 

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FLM 400 | Seminar in Film History | Professor Kaveh Askari 
Tuesday 9:10–12:00, Thursday 9:10–11:00

TBA

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FLM 435A | Creating the Fiction Film I | Professor Jeff Wray
Monday, Wednesday 12:40-2:30

The capstone class of the Fiction Film Specialization tasks students with writing, producing, finishing and distributing a short film over two semesters. In the first semester, students must form a production team, create and polish a short script, and move through the processes of pre-production and principle photography--no small feat. The professors are there to act as guidance and councel, but make no mistake: students are truly thrust into the independent filmmaking world. Past productions have gone on to screen and win awards at film festivals in Michigan and beyond.

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FLM 452 | Film, Gender and Sexuality | TBA 
Monday 4:10-7:00, Wednesday 4:10-6:00

TBA

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SPRING 2019

FLM 200 | Film Collective | Professor Justus Nieland 
Thursday, 7:00pm 

This one-credit screening course is available to Film Studies students. Regular attendance and participation is required throughout the semester.

Back to top.


FLM 230 | Introduction to Film | TBA 
Monday 9:10–12:00, Wednesday 9:10–11:00, Friday 50 min. (varies by section)

This course introduces core concepts of film analysis, which are discussed through examples from different national cinemas, genres, and directorial œuvres. The coursework covers a wide range of styles and historical periods in order to assess the multitude of possible film techniques (camera techniques, editing, shot selection, etc.) and principles of narrative structuring. Along with questions of film technique and style, we consider the notion of the cinema as an institution that comprises an industrial system of production, social and aesthetic norms and codes, and particular modes of reception. Success in the course demands rigorous attention to both the films and the readings and requires students to watch, analyze, and write about film in new ways. Throughout the semester, students will learn different methods of viewing, analysis, exposition, and criticism and will have the opportunity to write extensively about the films seen in class. Films discussed include works by Brakhage, Burnett, Deren, Griffith, Eisenstein, Hitchcock, Sembene, Sternberg, and Welles. 

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RUS 250 | Russian Cinema | Professor Jason Merrill 
Monday, Wednesday 12:40-2:30, Friday 12:40-1:30

This course is a survey of Russian cinema from the silent era to the present day. Students are introduced to the main names and themes of Russian film. Emphasis is placed on the important place film has occupied in Russian culture as a vehicle of both state ideology and opposition, and also on the role of film in popular culture, i.e. those films that Russians watch and cite repeatedly. No knowledge of Russian required, all films are shown with English subtitles. Counts towards the Film Studies BA and Minor.

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FLM 260.001 | Introduction to Digital Film and Media | Professor Lyn Goeringer
Tuesday 12:40-3:30, Thursday 12:40-2:30

What's changed in filmmaking technology in the past 20 years, and what impact does that have on the stories we tell? Have digital image-making tools, editing software, and distribution channels fundamentally changed the types of stories being told and the types of artists telling them? In this hybrid course we introduce students to a variety of emerging filmmaking technologies and give them a grounding in technical skills necessary to then move on to higher order concerns of storytelling. We screen, analyze and discuss new works and look over the evolution of filmmaking technology and how it relates to this historical moment. And students produce a variety of work in documentary, fiction, and experimental forms, focusing on iteration and repetition to hone filmmaking skills. 

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FLM 260.002 | Introduction to Digital Film and Media | TBA
Tuesday, Thursday 10:20–12:10

What's changed in filmmaking technology in the past 20 years, and what impact does that have on the stories we tell? Have digital image-making tools, editing software, and distribution channels fundamentally changed the types of stories being told and the types of artists telling them? In this hybrid course we introduce students to a variety of emerging filmmaking technologies and give them a grounding in technical skills necessary to then move on to higher order concerns of storytelling. We screen, analyze and discuss new works and look over the evolution of filmmaking technology and how it relates to this historical moment. And students produce a variety of work in documentary, fiction, and experimental forms, focusing on iteration and repetition to hone filmmaking skills. 

Back to top


FLM 301 | History of Film after Mid-Century | Professor Justus Nieland 
Tuesday 9:10–12:00, Thursday 9:10–11:00

This course surveys the history of cinema from the middle of the twentieth century to the present. Moving chronologically, we will track a variety of national schools and international trends of filmmaking in order to analyze the global development of film exhibition practices, production cycles and trends, and the changing landscape of distribution. We will examine the formal, industrial, and cultural changes of the medium from neorealism and film noir to the blockbuster franchise cinema of Michael Bay. Putting Hollywood in dialogue with its various “others,” we will engage a variety of national and international film movements:  global new waves, auteur and art cinemas, Third Cinema, experimental film, exploitation cinema, contemporary “slow cinema,” and more. We will also discuss key moments in the transformations of Hollywood since 1948: its postwar boom, the blacklist, the decline of the studio system, the rise of independent production, the demise of the production code, the New Hollywood of the 1970s, and the film industry’s gradual conglomeration. The course’s final weeks will be devoted to exploring the so-called “death” of film in the digital domain, from the rise of computer animation and digital 3-D to revolutionary changes in the distribution and consumption of cinema. This broad and comparative approach to the history of cinema will engage with a variety of primary and secondary textual sources in order to assess and cultivate theoretical methods for researching and writing film history. 

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FLM/MI 311 | Intro to Documentary Production | TBA 
Tuesday, Thursday, 4:10-6:00

This course offers an exploration of the documentary film as a category on its own, with an implicit opposition between nonfiction and fiction films. Starting with the early silent films (actualities) we will study the opposition between “fiction” and “document.” Through the different theories of the documentary form, and by studying various forms of the documentary film, we will explore how a filmmaker mediates between the viewer and the subject as he tries to represent or reconstruct reality. We will analyze the different styles of the documentary films and their content to discuss the fundamental issues concerning the documentary form: What is the “voice” of documentary? Is it possible to film an event objectively? How does persuasion inflect a documentary? How does a documentary persuade its viewers? What is the role of narration in documentaries?

This course has an equally significant production component to it, and it will introduce the students to the basics of production like shooting with a camcorder or a DSLR still/video camera. The semester will be divided equally between learning history, theory, and production, and the students are encouraged to shoot with easily accessible technology like the cell phone or the DSLR cameras and edit their footage with the basic editing software installed in their computer or in our editing lab. The focus will be on informed narration and creativity.

This is an interdepartmental course that is required for the Minor in Documentary Production. Students should register for MI 311.

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FLM 334.001 | Intro to Screenwriting | Professor Rick Blackwood
Tuesday, Thursday 4:10-6:00 

This course introduces students to significant discourses surrounding ‘acts’ in a screenplay. Starting with the foundational “three-act” screenplay, it interrogates the strengths and weaknesses of formulating rigid structures. Students in this class will learn conventional as well as alternative ways of thinking about the structure of screenplay through analysis of mainstream, art as well as independent categories of films. The aim is to enable students to look critically at the screenplay of seminal and significant films so that they can work out a structure for the story they want to tell. The students in this course are expected to engage with the creative process of writing a screenplay by watching, analyzing, and discussing films, while at the same time pitch their ideas, and observe the transformation these ideas undergo as they work toward the final goal of writing 1/3rd of their story in a chosen screenplay format—in the conventional sense it could be the act-1 and the beginning of act-2, or the end of act-2, and the act-3, but one could opt for an episodic, or a short film, or other unconventional format as well.

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FLM 334.002 | Intro to Screenwriting | Professor Swarnavel Pillai
Monday, Wednesday 12:40-2:30 

This course introduces students to significant discourses surrounding ‘acts’ in a screenplay. Starting with the foundational “three-act” screenplay, it interrogates the strengths and weaknesses of formulating rigid structures. Students in this class will learn conventional as well as alternative ways of thinking about the structure of screenplay through analysis of mainstream, art as well as independent categories of films. The aim is to enable students to look critically at the screenplay of seminal and significant films so that they can work out a structure for the story they want to tell. The students in this course are expected to engage with the creative process of writing a screenplay by watching, analyzing, and discussing films, while at the same time pitch their ideas, and observe the transformation these ideas undergo as they work toward the final goal of writing 1/3rd of their story in a chosen screenplay format—in the conventional sense it could be the act-1 and the beginning of act-2, or the end of act-2, and the act-3, but one could opt for an episodic, or a short film, or other unconventional format as well.

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FLM 350 | National/Transnational Cinemas: Asian Cinema | Professor Sheng-Mei Ma 
Monday, 4:10-7:00, Wednesday 4:10-6:00

This course on Asian cinema covers Japanese auteur and anime, Chinese Fifth- and Sixth-Generation, New Taiwan Cinema, the Korean Wave, Asian Horror, action and kung fu thrillers, indigenous filmmaking, and Hollywood remakes. Some weeks are structured along national lines, others along generic distinctions or thematic interest.  In addition to analyzing films as art and cultural products, we also draw from film theory and cultural studies readings.  Filmmakers to be discussed include Kurosawa, Ozu, Oshii, Zhang Yimou, Jia Zhangke, Edward Yang, Ang Lee, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Tsai Mingliang, and Park Chan-wook.

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FLM 381 | Contemporary Film and Media Theory | Professor Ellen McCallum 
Monday 4:10-7:00, Wednesday 4:10-6:00

Film theory addresses fundamental questions about the possibilities and limitations of the medium of film, and about the nature of representation, technology, aesthetics, subjectivity, politics, and culture that have gone into film as a cultural phenomena as well as the way that film itself has made contributions to these aspects of our lives. Starting from the late 1960s, contemporary film and media theory explores the development of thinking in and around the cinema and its related arts into the present-day. We will be following the development of film theory chronologically, looking at technological, aesthetic, and political changes in film as it moves from an analog medium into the digital age. We will also move thematically, looking at major trends of thinking in and around film including (but not limited to) psychoanalysis, Marxism, feminism, postmodernism, postcolonialism, and other relevant schools of thought. The purpose of this course is to give you a working understanding of how film theory has developed over the course of the twentieth century, leading to questions of film and its status as a technology, medium, and cultural form today. The central approach of this class is that both films and readings illustrate important conceptual and theoretical problems of the medium of cinema and, thus, both films and readings will be treated with equal importance. This course relies upon your active participation in readings, screenings, and class discussion and so it is vital that you come to class prepared with questions and concerns from the theoretical texts as well as specific formal details from the films.

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FLM 411 | Documentary Design and Production | Professor John Valadez 
TBA

Design and development of documentaries in a team setting using video and audio, still photography, web design, and print media. Participation in a production cycle including idea generation, research, design, production, and distribution. Capstone course for the Documentary Production Minor.

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FLM 434 | Advanced Screenwriting | Professor Bill Vincent
Monday, Wednesday 7:00-8:50

Okay, you’ve written a script, now what? Revision, tightening, polishing. Workshopping. Another full- length script, better than the first one. Pitching. Treatments. Log lines. Tag lines. After all, you want to know how to sell it. 

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FLM 435B | Creating the Fiction Film II | Peter Johnston
Tuesday, Thursday 12:40-2:30 

The capstone class of the Fiction Film Specialization tasks students with writing, producing, finishing and distributing a short film over two semesters. In the second semester, students pick up right where they left off by moving the film into post-production and distribution. Over the course of 16 weeks they must form a post-production team and complete picture editing, sound sweetening, visual FX and color grading, then take the film into distribution and organize and execute premiere and additional screenings. Past productions have gone on to sell-out screenings at Celebration Cinemas's Studio C and win awards at film festivals in Michigan and beyond.

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FLM 450 | Italian-American Cinema & Comparative Race Studies | Professor Juliet Guzzetta 
Monday 9:10–12:00, Wednesday 9:10–11:00

This course focuses on Italian and Italian-American cinema to comparatively explore issues of race, ethnicity, and immigration, in the United States, Italy, and the Italian diaspora. We will also examines parallels and differences with other ethnic cinemas, including African-American and Latinx cinemas.

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FLM 460 | Seminar Digital Film/Media | TBA 
Monday 12:40-3:30, Wednesday 12:40-2:30

TBA

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FLM 480 | Seminar in Film Theory: Color Cinema | Professor Joshua Yumibe 
Tuesday 9:10–12:00, Thursday 9:10–11:00

This course surveys the aesthetic and technological history and theory of color in cinema. Particular attention will be paid to cinema’s relation to other color media (photography, mass advertising, painting, stage design) and to theoretical debates in philosophy, art history, and literature over the physiological effects and ideologies of color. The course will also examine the ways in which color technologies circulate transnationally yet are received and interpreted in locally specific ways. Works to be covered may include films from early cinema (Annabelle Dances, The Red Spectre), narrative cinema of the 1920s (The Toll of the Sea, Redskin), Technicolor of the 1930s (Becky Sharp), melodrama and musicals (All that Heaven Allows, The Bandwagon), global art cinemas (Black Narcissus, Daisies, Touki Bouki, The Scent of Green Papaya), experimental film (Harry Smith, Oskar Fischinger, Stan Brakhage), and contemporary works (Days of Heaven, Blue Velvet, Hero, Marie Antoinette).

Potential Readings

Regina Lee Blaszczyk, The Color Revolution (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2012).

David Batchelor, Chromophobia (London: Reaktion, 2000).

Jonathan Crary, Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the 19th Century, (Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 1992).

Rosalind Galt, Pretty: Film and the Decorative Image (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 2011).

Carolyn L. Kane, Chromatic Algorithms: Synthetic Color, Computer Art, and Aesthetics after Code (Chicago: University Of Chicago Press, 2014).

Esther Leslie, Synthetic Worlds: Nature, Art and the Chemical Industry (Reaktion Books, 2005).

Michael Taussig, What Color Is the Sacred? (Chicago: University Of Chicago Press, 2009).

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