This course will provide a survey of film history from the 1930s through the 1960s, examining institutional and aesthetic shifts in the film industry, as well as significant movements and genres in world cinema (musicals, melodramas, film noir, Neorealism, the French New Wave, Direct Cinema). Readings and class discussions will consider the historical, political, aesthetic, and cultural contexts of these cinematic trends, and will present an overview of the development of film criticism and theory during this period. By the end of the course, students will be familiar with the advent of sound technology, the rise (and fall) of the studio system in the U.S., the emergence of cinematic “new waves” in Europe and Asia, and the development of various international avant-garde and “counter-cinemas.”
This course is designed to meet the goals and objectives of a PLAS course: we will look at the ways in which cinema, as an art form, creates various kinds of meanings, and how the aesthetics of films relate to shifting global environments. We will explore the ways in which film has transformed historically, and at the ways in which film theory and criticism have evolved as well. We will examine primary documents (films) and second readings (essays, interviews, and other critical analyses), and will pay careful attention to issues of political context, and to representations of race, gender, class, and ethnicity, in each period of study.