American History and Film – Part I (1950s and 1960s)

This course examines from the perspective of film some of the key historical events characterizing the American society during a chronological arch of time spanning from the end of WWII and the beginning of the Cold War up to the political and social changes of the 60s. Beginning with an introduction to classical Hollywood cinema and its most popular genres, the course will be analyzed a selection of movies interpreting and/or questioning some of social, political, and cultural themes defining the American society in the Fifties and Sixties. Specific attention will be devoted to the emergence of New Hollywood, its relation with European/Asian cinema, and the innovations introduced in terms of film-making, and new film narratives. The course will address the issue of film as an alternative historical source and as a fundamental component of Twentieth-century North American culture, in other words, film not only records and represents history but also shapes our understanding of history. Accordingly, students will critically analyze how American political and social conflicts are portrayed and worked out on the screen. Through viewing, discussing, and writing about specific films, students will learn how to read film as cultural texts that describe, in a specifically filmic language, North American history and culture.

Credits: 3 Cr.