L295 2105 YOUNG
American Film Culture

1:00p-2:15 TR (30) 3 cr.

REQUIRED FILMS SHOWN ON MONDAY EVENINGS FROM 7:00-9:30 P.M. BE SURE TO LEAVE THIS TIME OPEN IN YOUR SCHEDULE.

TOPIC: THE BLACK MALE IMAGE IN AMERICAN CINEMA

This class explores gender and race in popular culture through the representations of black males in American cinema. We will examine a score of movies--one or two feature-length films a week--as well as recent critical theories about film, in order to explore how the history of cinema both mirrors and distorts changing concepts of race in the 20th century.

The course divides into two parts: the Studio System and the Independent Filmmaker. Throughout, our focus will not just be on African-American filmmakers or stereotypes, but also on the complexity of race and gender in films ranging from D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation to Oscar Micheaux’s race movies to King Kong to Spike Lee’s Bamboozled. We focus particularly on different genres, from melodrama to animation to the disaster film, as well as rare films from the Black Film Archive.

Students will emerge with an overview of studio and independent cinema in this century; the ability to think and write critically and creatively about popular culture; and an overview of recent developments in film and cultural theory. Past students have found the resulting discussions lively, informative, and educational; while our discussions start with cinema, they often end up addressing relevant current events. There are no prerequisites--apart from a curiosity about what we see and what we too often don't.