English 161A - Fall, 2015

Film History I: Origins to 1945

Class Information

Instructor: Simmon, Scott
CRN: 73368
Time: TR 12:10-3
Location: 118 Olson


    This course is the first half of a two-quarter overview of the cultural and aesthetic history of filmmaking. (English 161B, “Film History II: 1945 to the Present,” will be offered Winter Quarter 2016; the courses may be taken separately and need not be taken in sequence.) Our loosely chronological survey will begin in the 1890s with the invention of cinema and end this quarter with the film response to World War II. We will look into the ways that the less regulated early silent film experimented with narrative methods and social subjects later forbidden. Hollywood’s evolving dramatic rules and comic styles will be contrasted with alternatives arising in the 1920s from German expressionism, French surrealism, and Soviet montage theory and, after the development of sound film, from political debates over the Depression of the 1930s, especially within the Asian and French film industries. Along the way, we’ll also explore the invention of gender roles onscreen and the early cinematic representations of nationality, class status, ethnicity, and race, as influenced by Hollywood’s Production Codes and other censorship practices. During the six class hours each week, we will see at least one full-length film and a number of excerpted sequences.


    Two papers (45%), two quizzes (30%), and a final (25%).


    with other readings online.
    "Film History" (third edition, 2010), Kristin Thompson & David Bordwell