7AAYCC13 Film and American Culture
Taught by Dr Harvey G. Cohen
Film and American Culture introduces students to the study of American film as a cultural document, a reflection of society, and a shaper of society. By analysing the issues and problems the film industry faced during the last century-plus, students acquire historical perspective concerning issues and problems faced by the film industry today, such as censorship, raising production funds, new technologies, labour, management, contracts, discrimination, and managing economic downturns. Thanks to the technology of film, we can view valuable and entertaining primary documents that allow us to see precisely what audiences saw over the last century. Using a diverse selection of films, we will conduct research concerning how films have reflected and shaped the American people and their changing society. Movies have always been a big business, and we will also closely trace how behind-the-scenes commercial and financial considerations have impacted the film industry and its products. Special attention will be paid to the unequal access to power, success, and status across lines of race, gender, class, sexuality, and ethnicity in American society, and how the film industry sometimes helped loosen those social boundaries.
Week 1: Silent Film, Part 1: Victorianism and Modernism
Week 2: Silent Film, Part 2: Vertical Integration
Week 3: A Case Study in the Personality of Movie Studios: Warner Brothers
Week 4: The Factory: The Difference of Citizen Kane
Week 5: Film Noir and Los Angeles
Week 6: The Western: Gender, the Red Scare, and the Rise of the Independent Film
Week 7: Women, Marriage, Families and 1950s Conformity
Week 8: The Cold War in American Film
Week 9: The 1960s: Rebellion and the Search For New Markets
Week 10: Appearance and Reality: Hollywood Screens the History of Los Angeles
Peter Biskind, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls (Simon & Schuster, New York, 1999).
Edward Buscombe, The Searchers (British Film Institute, London, 2000).
Manohla Dargis, L.A. Confidential (British Film Institute, London, 2003).
Michael Eaton, Chinatown (British Film Institute, London, 1997).
Neal Gabler, An Empire Of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood (Anchor, New York, 1989).
John E. O’Connor and Martin A. Jackson, ed., American History/American Film: Interpreting the Hollywood Image (New York, Ungar, 1987).
Thomas Schatz, The Genius of the System: Hollywood Filmmaking in the Studio Era (Owl Books, New York, 1996).
Richard Schickel, Double Indemnity (British Film Institute, London, 1992).
Robert Sklar, Movie-Made America: A Cultural History of American Movies (Vintage Books, New York, 1994).
David Thomson, The Whole Equation: A History of Hollywood (Vintage, New York, 2005).
Eileen Whitfield, Pickford: The Woman Who Made Hollywood (University Press of Kentucky, 1997).
1 essay of 4000 words maximum