TITLE OF COURSE: World History of Animation

COURSE NUMBER & SECTION: MES160-1100, Fall 2023

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. Informal Classroom Speaking and Writing Exercises, Paper, Quizzes, Film Journals, Final Presentation
2. Recognize how technical innovations have changed the aesthetic, financial considerations, and distribution of animated works. Informal Classroom Speaking and Writing Exercises, Paper, Quizzes, Film Journals, Final Presentation
3. Differentiate animation genres, techniques and modes of production of different eras and nations. Informal Classroom Speaking and Writing Exercises, Paper, Quizzes, Film Journals, Final Presentation
4. Compare and contrast the visual style, target audience and intent of animated works across time and cultures. Informal Classroom Speaking and Writing Exercises, Paper, Quizzes, Film Journals, Final Presentation
5. Identify issues of difference among animators/studios and the ways difference has affected their animated works. Informal Classroom Speaking and Writing Exercises, Paper, Quizzes, Film Journals, Final Presentation


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. Informal Classroom Speaking and Writing Exercises, Paper, Quizzes, Film Journals, Final Presentation
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. Informal Classroom Speaking and Writing Exercises, Paper, Quizzes, Film Journals, Final Presentation
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, Zoom 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. Informal Classroom Speaking and Writing Exercises, Paper, Quizzes, Film Journals, Final Presentation

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 20%
Journal entries 20%
Midterm paper (3-4 pages) 25%
Final presentation (5-7 mins) 25%

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.

Quizzes: There will be three multiple choice quizzes. They will be announced, taken on Blackboard during class, and open book. Questions will need to be answered in 20 minutes (automatic timer on Blackboard).

Journal entries: Please complete all journal entries in a timely manner. We will review them at the beginning of each class. They are meant for you to reflect on the previous week’s films, share your thoughts with the class, and brainstorm ideas for your midterm paper and final presentation.

Midterm paper: The short paper will be a critical analysis paper, NOT a research paper. The goal 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 an outline and draft for prior to the full version. Improper citation and not following the guidelines will count against the final grade. Any missing paper 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.

Final presentation: Each student will give a presentation on the animated film of their choice at the end of the semester. The presentation should be 5-7 minutes long, include slides with text and images as well as video clips. Students will need to submit an outline of the presentation at least 2 weeks prior.

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 8/29) : 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 9/5) : 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 9/12) : 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 9/19) : 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)

Week 5 (Tue 9/26) : 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 10/3) : 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.

Portfolio Advice from Titmouse [optional]

Come learn about Titmouse and what they seek in applicants with:
Ellen Su, Head of Artistic Recruiting
MONDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2023 AT 11:30AM–12:30PM

Seats are limited so please RSVP here:

Titmouse is an independent award-winning animation production company, with three studio locations in Los Angeles, New York City, and Vancouver. Titmouse employs over 700 of the most talented people in the industry (that are guaranteed 100% human). Writers, producers, directors, storyboard artists, animators, compositors and editors are all right here, in house. Our state‐of‐the‐art sound studio is where many of our original TV shows, films, commercial work, branded and digital content are recorded. We even have very fancy edit bays where our very fancy editors put the finishing touches on your very fancy cartoons.
All CUNY students, faculty and staff are welcome.
Email Professor Robert Thill at with any questions.

(!!NO CLASS Tue 10/10 – follows a Monday Schedule)

Week 7 (Tue 10/17) : 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 10/24) : 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


Patrick Quinn, CUNY MediaMKRS Internship Coordinator will discuss MediaMKRS’ career development opportunities.
The MediaMKRS program was launched in 2019 as a partnership between the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, the City University of New York, media companies and The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and to train, credential and prepare talented New Yorkers for careers in media and entertainment.
All CUNY students, faculty and staff are welcome.
Email Professor Robert Thill at with any question

Week 9 (Tue 10/31) : Mid-Century Shifts in American Design

  • QUIZ 2 (postponed to 11/7)
  • 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 11/7) : 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 11/14) : 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: FINAL PRESENTATION THESIS OR OUTLINE. Please review the final presentation guideline and grading rubric and submit a thesis or outline as a journal entry by next week. The presentation 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. The presentation should include slides with text, images and video clips. (addresses SLO #2, #3, #4, and #5) (See guidelines and rubrics)

Week 12 (Tue 11/21) : 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 11/28) : 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 12/5) : Authorship in animation

  • QUIZ 3
  • Animation festivals
  • Animation education
  • Financial support
  • Contemporary independent animators
  • Representation in contemporary animation

(!!NO CLASS Tue 12/12 – Reading Day)

Week 15 (Tue 12/19): That’s All Folks!


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