TITLE OF COURSE: World History of Animation

COURSE NUMBER & SECTION: MES160-1100, Fall 2022

SCHEDULE: Tuesdays, 11AM – 1:45PM | Online (Synchronous). Please check Blackboard for Zoom link and passcode. 

PROFESSOR: Anna Pinkas | email: | Office hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:30AM – 11AM (please visit Blackboard for Zoom link or email to set an appointment)


BASIC SKILLS: Pass ESL54 or ENG 88/ Pass ACR 94 or writing Index 55+ | PRE AND CO-REQUISITES: None

DESCRIPTION: World History of Animation introduces students to seminal works of animation across time and cultures. The course discusses the evolution of the art form through the lens of technical innovations, socio-political contexts, and aesthetic movements. Students will study works ranging from large productions to independent and experimental shorts, and the influence of different international productions on one another, including Asian and European works and creators. 



Description Measurement
1. Identify vocabulary used in the field of animation, such as frame rate, storyboarding, concept art, celluloid, stop motion, CGI, rendering etc. Quizzes, journals and papers
2. Recognize how technical innovations have changed the aesthetic, financial considerations, and distribution of animated works. Papers and journals
3. Differentiate animation genres, techniques and modes of production of different eras and nations. Papers and journals
4. Compare and contrast the visual style, target audience and intent of animated works across time and cultures. Papers and journals
5. Identify issues of difference among animators/studios and the ways difference has affected their animated works. Papers and journals


Description Measurement
Communication Skills – Students will write, read, listen and speak critically and effectively. Student behaviors include being able to: Express ideas clearly in written form; Employ critical reading skills to analyze written material; Exhibit active listening skills; Give an effective oral presentation. Papers and journals
Arts & Humanities- Students will be able to develop knowledge and understanding of the arts and literature through critiques of works of art, music, theatre and literature. Papers and journals
Information & Technology Literacy – Students will collect, evaluate and interpret information and effectively use information technologies. Student behaviors include being able to: Conduct research using appropriate research strategies; Make effective use of technology. Using the OER website and Blackboard
Values- Students will be able to make informed choices based on an understanding of personal values, human diversity, multicultural awareness and social responsibility. Papers

REQUIRED TEXT: This is an OER/ZTC (Open Educational Resources/Zero Textbook Course) course. Free class materials (including films, readings etc.) are available at

OTHER RESOURCES:  The films on this syllabus are available for free on KANOPY Streaming Videos and/or online. Please follow these instructions to login to KANOPY (you must use your BMCC ID and password to gain access through this URL: Students must also use Open Lab & Blackboard to access other course content and grading

USE OF TECHNOLOGY: Students will use Blackboard to post their assignment. Faculty will upload grades and comments there too, along with any other course material they see fit. Students will need to login to OpenLab and Blackboard regularly. If you do not have (or cannot remember) your id and password for both/either, contact the BMCC helpdesk right away: 212-220-8379 ; RoomS141 (199 Chambers Street). You may also rest your password by going to and clicking on “Account & Password Reset”. All Students are required to use their full BMCC email address when signing into the computers, Wi-Fi, BMCC Portal and other BMCC IT Services requiring authentication. (For example, John Doe would now sign in as

TUTORING: Take advantage of BMCC’s one-on-one tutoring services (free!) (available online and in-person). Visit for more information.

GRADING: Grading is based on successful completion of all papers, quizzes, writing exercises, and class participation. Assignments must be handed in on time. Points will be deducted for work that is handed in late.

Class participation 10%
Quizzes 15%
Journal entries 20%
Short paper (3-4 pages) 25%
Long paper (5-7 pages) 30%

Papers: Both the short and long papers will be critical analysis papers, NOT research papers. The point of each is to cultivate visual literacy by naming the choices made by the filmmakers and then analyze how these choices impact the viewer. Guidelines and topics will be handed out in advance. You will be asked to submit outlines and drafts for both papers prior to the full version. Improper citation and not following the guidelines will count against the final grade for both papers. Any missing paper or exam will result in a Zero for that assignment unless the student is able to provide a reasonable explanation in a timely communication to the instructor. You will NOT pass this course if you do not complete ALL assignments.

Class Participation: 10% of the grade for this course comes from your participation: arriving to class on time, taking notes, asking questions about the materials covered, answering when called upon, completing in-class exercises, watching the films shown. Please be on time and notify the professor if you will be absent. While this is an online class, it will meet synchronously every week and you are expected to attend each session. If you miss a class, it is your responsibility to catch up on the material you missed and to make sure you meet assignment deadlines. NOTE: the use of cell phones during class is NOT allowed. Please be respectful of others in class who may find this distracting. The use of cell phones will be reflected in your class participation grade AND the professor reserves the right to ask you to leave the classroom, particularly during the film screenings.

WEEKLY BREAKDOWN (Subject to change)

[Note: See “Topics” menu for a list of films and readings assigned each week. Not everything will be shown in class; students are responsible for reviewing ALL listed material]

Week 1 (Tue 8/30) : Course introduction | Definition and techniques

  • Overview of Syllabus, course materials, and online streaming platforms
  • What is animation?
  • Persistence of Vision
  • Frame Rate
  • ASSIGNMENT: JOURNAL ENTRY: Students will set up their journals on OpenLab and post their first entry

Week 2 (Tue 9/6) : Sequential art, optical toys and early animation

  • Animated Cave Paintings
  • Shadow Puppets
  • Magic Lanterns
  • Optical Toys
  • Émile Reynaud’s Théâtre Optique
  • Eadweard Muybridge’s Locomotion Studies
  • Arthur Melbourne-Cooper: Pioneer of stop-motion
  • John Stuart Blackton’s Lighting Sketches
  • George Méliès: Pioneer of VFX
  • The End of an Era

Week 3 (Tue 9/13) : Beginnings of the Animation Industry

  • Émile Cohl
  • Winsor McCay
  • Comics and Early Animators
  • Effects of WW I on the Film Industry
  • Bray Productions and Cel animation
  • Fleischer Brothers
  • Distribution
  • Pat Sullivan and Felix the Cat
  • Advent of Sound
  • Stop motion developments

Week 4 (Tue 9/20) : Animation as Modern Art 

  • QUIZ 1
  • Overview of Modern Art
  • Absolute Film
  • Lotte Reininger & the First Animated Feature Film
  • Berthold Bartosch’s “L’Idée” – From Woodcuts to Animation
  • Alexeieff & Parker’s Pinscreen Animation
  • Soviet Film Theory
  • ASSIGNMENT: SHORT PAPER THESIS OR OUTLINE. Please review the short paper guideline and grading rubric and submit a thesis or outline as a journal entry by next week. The short paper requires an in depth analysis of one of the animations screened in the first 5 weeks. Students will be asked to contextualize the film in terms of cultural movements, and analyze the role of gender, race, class and ethnicity in the work. (addresses SLO #2, #3, #4, and #5) (See guidelines and rubrics)

!!!NO CLASS on Tue 9/27 & 10/4) !!!

Week 5 (Tue 10/11) : Disney – from Mickey Mouse to Bambi

  • Ub Iwerks
  • Move to California
  • Mickey Mouse
  • Silly Symphonies
  • Marketing
  • Reorganization
  • Studio Practices
  • 12 Principles
  • Snow White
  • Features in the 40s
  • ASSIGNMENT: SHORT PAPER DRAFT. Please submit on Blackboard

Week 6 (Tue 10/18) : Fleischer Studio, Warner Bros & MGM 

  • The Fleischer Studio
  • Warner Bros Studio
  • MGM
  • ASSIGNMENT: WORK ON THE SHORT PAPER. Address the feedback you received on your draft.

Week 7 (Tue 10/25) : WWII & propaganda

  • Overview of media control
  • Depiction of the “other” in WWII animation
  • War animation
  • ASSIGNMENT: COMPLETE THE SHORT PAPER. Please submit on Blackboard.

Week 8 (Tue 11/1) : International Development in Post War Animation

  • Overview of the Post War Global Context
  • Great Britain
  • Canada
  • France
  • Japan
  • China
  • Soviet Union (USSR)
  • Czechoslovakia
  • The Zagreb School

Week 9 (Tue 11/8) : Mid-Century Shifts in American Design

  • QUIZ 2
  • Overview of mid-century art & design
  • Background design evolution at Warner Bros. & Disney
  • Disney Strike
  • UPA Studio
  • The Blacklist
  • Storyboard Studio
  • Rise of animated advertising

Week 10 (Tue 11/15) : The Rise of Television

  • Overview of Television’s Rise
  • Puppets in Early Children Programming
  • New Studios Dedicated to TV Animation
  • Hanna-Barbera Productions, Inc.
  • Educational Programming
  • Product-driven Shows
  • Disney and TV
  • TV Animation for Adults
  • Music-videos
  • Japanese TV Animation

Week 11 (Tue 11/22) : New audiences, early CGI experiments and gaming

  • Postwar formal experimentation
  • Early CGI experiments
  • Overview of 1960s and 70s youth movement
  • Animated feature films for the youth audience
  • From arcade games to personal consoles
  • Types of games
  • Online gaming
  • Indie games
  • Issues in gaming
  • ASSIGNMENT: LONG PAPER THESIS OR OUTLINE. Please review the long paper guideline and grading rubric and submit a thesis or outline as a journal entry by next week. The long paper requires the student to pick an animated film or tv show and analyze it. As in the short paper, students will be asked to contextualize the film in terms of cultural movements, and analyze the role of gender, race, class and ethnicity on the work. Students will be required to reference two of the assigned readings in their discussion of the work. (addresses SLO #2, #3, #4, and #5) (See guidelines and rubrics)

Week 12 (Tue 11/29) : Disney Renaissance & the rise of CGI 

  • Disney’s Competition in the US
  • Disney’s Renaissance
  • Overview of Early CGI Technology
  • Pixar
  • Pixar’s competition
  • Disney & CGI
  • Live-Action or Animation?
  • The “Uncanny Valley”

Week13 (Tue 12/6) : Japanese Animation

  • Influence of traditional art
  • Manga and Anime
  • Osamu Tezuka
  • Anime themes and iconography
  • Toei Animation
  • Studio Ghibli
  • Anime and Western audiences

Week 14 (Tue 12/13) : Authorship in animation

  •  Animation festivals
  • Animation education
  • Financial support
  • Contemporary independent animators
  • Representation in contemporary animation
  • ASSIGNMENT: COMPLETE LONG PAPER. Please submit on Blackboard + REVIEW FOR QUIZ 3

Week 15 (Tue 12/20): That’s All Folks!

  • QUIZ 3
  • Extra-credit presentations (Optional)
  • Final screenings/discussions (TBA)

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Plagiarism is the presentation of someone else’s ideas, words or artistic, scientific, or technical work as one’s own creation. Using the idea or work of another is permissible only when the original author is identified. Paraphrasing and summarizing, as well as direct quotations, require citations to the original source. Plagiarism may be intentional or unintentional. Lack of dishonest intent does not necessarily absolve a student of responsibility for plagiarism. Students who are unsure how and when to provide documentation are advised to consult with their instructors. The library has guides designed to help students to appropriately identify a cited work. The full policy can be found on BMCC’s Web site, For further information on integrity and behavior, please consult the college bulletin (also available online).


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