I am teaching a class this semester (at LAGCC) on Kill Bill. It’s a guided research paper class, and I get to pick the topic. What I am going to do is show Kill Bill, discuss it, and then spend a good chunk of the class lecturing on it. The students get to pick a popular genre connected, even if very marginally, to Kill Bill: the western, samurai, kung-fu, science fiction (Ellie, you will remember, dies in a parody of her character from Blade Runner), revenge tragedy, superhero, grindhouse. The students, possibly in groups (I have not yet worked that out), have to experience their chosen genre across time – seeing at least three examples from three distinct historical periods; they have to find articles on their genre and compose a paper describing they ways in which the genre has shifted, they ways in which latter works (works they chose) respond to earlier ones. I will be lecturing on the ways in which works in a genre respond to their history, something I have been writing about for years. I am going to guide them toward films that are allusions in Kill Bill, and then, at the end, they will all hand in their papers and present their conclusions on how the history of their genres flow into Tarantino’s big movie.
Fun class, yeah? I will let you know how it goes, and take suggestions. Currently I am looking for good books on film genre -- I have quite a bit at the house, but I am looking for something comprehensive for students, either a big book for all of us, or a series of books on each genre for each group. I am looking for something with clarity and scope and trying to avoid French philosophical and psychoanalytic jargon. Weigh in.