Communication And Culture | Topics in Media History: Early Cinema
C420 | 9541 | Solomon


The first two decades of film history (1895-1915) were a period of
tremendous change and transformation.  Before the normalization of
a “classical style” of feature filmmaking and the
institutionalization of Hollywood as the international center of film
production, cinema was a highly diverse collection of practices
subject to constant re-negotiation.  Treating cinema as a cultural
phenomena, this course will map its various places in the historical
landscape of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Emphasis will be placed on studying the relationship between motion
pictures and the other forms of popular amusement (vaudeville,
melodramatic theater, dime novels, strip cartoons, sensational
journalism, magic lantern shows, popular science, etc.) that shaped
the early medium’s content and form.  Issues for our consideration
will include the archeology of cinema, sound and color in early film,
acting styles, cross-cultural influences, non-fiction film and other
alternatives to the narrative feature, and the role of formal
analysis in early film history.  The course will culminate with a
research paper (15+ pages) which combines the findings of recent
early cinema scholarship with the student’s own original, primary-
source research.