English 161A - Fall, 2017

Film History I: Origins to 1945

Class Information

Instructor: Simmon, Scott
CRN: 62662
Time: TR 2:10-5:00
Location: 118 Olson


    This course is an overview of the cultural and aesthetic history of filmmaking worldwide in its first six decades, from the invention of cinema in the 1890s through 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. 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 midterm quizzes (30%), and a final (25%).


    and other readings online.
    Film History (3rd edition, 2010--OR 2nd edition, 2003) ), Kristin Thompson & David Bordwell