2017-2018 Catalog

MAC 295 Topics in Film and Media Studies

The study of film and media has involved disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches for about half a century. This intermediate topical course of varying emphases studies the key critical terms, issues, and debates in popular media cultural study, including genre study, in relation to specific topics. Readings of film and media examples illustrate how different theories or perspectives can be applied to contemporary pop culture.

Genre in Contemporary Film, TV, and Digital Media. Genre films were part of Classic Hollywood, but genres started changing in interesting ways as media industries evolved after World War II, with the introduction of television, new technologies that enabled shooting on location or new opportunities with color film, the rise of drive-in movie theaters, and indie or exploitation filmmaking. We will study the shift from classic genre films and theory to hybrid genres and genre revisionism in film/media movements spearheaded by people of color, feminists, and LGBT communities, as well as studios. The focus in the class is on genre theory studied through historical and technological shifts in media production. Screenings will introduce a range of genres, from classic films like the Western and noir to more recent genres like road films, television melodramas, and war video games.

Imagining War: Genre on Screen and Battlefield. The war film has arguably been one of the most consistent and popular elements of cinema's history. It was a component of film from its beginnings and is now a regular mainstay amongst Hollywood blockbusters. It has also undergone several political revisions and technological shifts in media production, distribution and exhibition, making it ideally suited to study the theory and history of genre. Importantly, this course will not only look at how war figures in film, but how film also profoundly effects and configures war. Entertainment and war are the United States' primary exports. Militarism and the Hollywood studio system have had a long and deadly interdependence. By conceiving of the viewing screen as an extension of the battlefield (and vice versa), this course will look at the profound social and political implications of the classic genre system. We will do this by examining such films as Apocalypse Now, The Deer Hunter, Hiroshima Mon Amour, Battle of Algiers, Black Hawk Down, Kandahar, Night and Fog, The Hurt Locker. Das Boot, Saving Private Ryan, All Quiet on the Western Front, Dr. Strangelove, Inglourious Basterds, Birth of a Nation, Rambo, MASH, as well as a host of television shows, websites, and video games

The Western: From Colonialism to Gaming. This course will primarily explore the classic Hollywood genre system through a detailed look at "The Western." However, before looking at how genre operates within cinema, we take a broad historical and theoretical examination of genre within literary studies, critical theory, Wild West shows, philosophy, travel literature, ethnographic photography, and cultural studies. The aim is to critically examine a wide array of generic conventions within "The Western" film, while simultaneously situating these conventions within the broader historical and ideological context of European colonization of North America. Particular attention will be placed on the role of racial and gender performances within "The Western" genre as both a founding American myth and a component of the Hollywood film system. We will analyze both the classic Western as well as revisionist films. Additionally, we will investigate how the genre transforms as it moves into other media, including fine art, television, gaming, and other digital contexts.


4 units

Core Requirements Met

  • Fine Arts