Communication And Culture | Media History
C594 | 1213 | Chris Anderson


Topic: Hollywood and American Culture, 1930-1975
Class meeting: 3:30-6:30 pm R BH137

Hollywood is not only the principal site of motion picture production
in the United States, but also a cultural intersection where the
popular media -- movies, radio, television, music, publishing, etc. --
have converged and influenced one another throughout the twentieth
century. This course will pull together histories of these separate
media in order to develop a more comprehensive view of Hollywood as a
site of cultural production. The primary focus will be the
development of the Hollywood studio system and the establishment of
a "commercial aesthetic" that characterized Hollywood filmmaking.
Along the way, this course also will look at several key issues:
exhibition (from movie palaces to television sets to suburban
multiplexes) and the studios' strategies for supplying these venues
with product; the relationship between Hollywood and Wall Street; the
organization of the production process in movies and television; the
development and transformation of stars and genres; the integration
of media industries; technological innovations; censorship; the
changing composition of audiences, etc.

Much has changed in Hollywood over the past century but Hollywood has
survived as a site of cultural production. Movie studios have
diversified into related fields, such as theme parks and television
production. The studios themselves have been absorbed into
transnational conglomerates that view film production as merely one
source in a worldwide stream of revenue. New distribution
technologies -- cable, satellites, home video, the Internet -- have
turned the family home into Hollywood's most lucrative exhibition
market. International markets now challenge the U.S. market as the
primary source of movie industry revenue. Yet the term "Hollywood"
continues to survive because it locates the diverse interests of the
media industries that have become increasingly interwoven since the
1950s. In all senses, Hollywood has shown remarkable resilience, an
ability to incorporate major changes into the structures established
first by a small band of entrepreneurs nearly seventy years ago. This
course will attempt to explain both continuity and change in
Hollywood, from the early years of sound films and network radio
through the decline of the studio system and the eventual
reorganization of the movie and entertainment industries in the mid-
1970's.