Post Modern Film Class Syllabus for The Room

Week 1: Johnny and the Campbellian Hero’s Journey. In medias res: Who is Johnny and why did he come to San Francisco with only two suitcases?

Week 2: “God, forgive me.” Religious symbolism: dissecting The Room’s denouement, and Johnny Vs. Cool Hand Luke—who is the better Christ-like figure?

Week 3: Bildungsroman in the 21st century: Making the case for Denny’s character growth.

Week 4: What football as a leitmotif reveals about cultural appropriation in modern American cinema.

Week 5: Reframing Johnny’s actions and dialogue through Kant’s Categorical Imperative.

Week 6: Deus ex Machina: Peter the psychologist.

Midterm: Write a 3-5 page essay discussing similarities and differences if The Room were directed by one of the following (choose one) filmmakers: Wes Anderson, Zoe Lister-Jones, Spike Lee, Michael Bay, Lars Von Trier, M. Night Shyamalan, or Quentin Tarantino.

Week 8: “Oh, hi doggy”: Rethinking Mise-en-scene in the flower shop.

Week 9: The McGuffin: Understanding the purpose of Claudette’s breast cancer.

Weeks 10: Eros in the 21st Century: Positing the sex scenes in The Room as a response to the hypersexualized depictions in pornography—a call to earnest, awkward, human lovemaking.

Week 11: Chris R. and the economics of criminal drug rings.

Week 12: Understanding “tent pole” films: Could Tommy Wiseau have been aiming for a franchise?

Week 13: From script to screen: why Johnny’s vampire flying car scene never made the film, and other early draft gaffes.

Week 14: American Cinema’s take on the Auteur: from Orson Welles to Tommy Wiseau and beyond.

Final: Write a 30-page treatment for a sequel to The Room.




Kevin Sterne