|American Society and Film
Prerequisite: US History. Open to Grades 11 and 12.
As the nation’s dream factory manufacturing fantasies and cultural myths, Hollywood has given Americans their most intensive—if highly distorted—picture of their country’s past, from the styles of the rich and famous to the underside of American life. Film has been instrumental in shaping our deepest presuppositions about race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexual conduct. This course will examine how classic films have treated American political, economic, and social life from post-WWII to the 1970s. Topics include the Cold War, Social Dynamics of the 1950s and early ‘60s, Civil Rights of the 1950s and 1960s, and the Vietnam era.
Students will also work on visual literacy skills by studying film as an art form. In addition to the selected Hollywood films, documentaries about the historical period as well as about film will be ‘texts’ for the course. There will be frequent homework assignments. Each historical period will be examined through primary source documents and scholarly articles as well as through films. A variety of assessments will be used to evaluate students’ progress in addition to the readings: analytic essays, graded discussions, oral presentations, and tests & quizzes. Students will be expected to view several films outside of class to supplement films shown in class. Active, well-prepared participation in class discussion and activities is essential to success in this course.
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