Communication and Culture | Media History: American Silent Film
C594 | 26296 | Greg Waller


Topic: American Silent Film
Class Number: 26296
Tu 9:30 AM-12:00 PM
Film Screenings: M 7:00 PM-10:30 PM

Open to Graduates Only!

Professor: Greg Waller
E-mail: gwaller@indiana.edu
Office: Mottier 105 & 211
Office hours: TBA
Phone: 5-7282

This course will offer students the chance to take an in-depth look
at American cinema during the silent era, 1896-1927. Weekly
screenings will sample a wide range of moving pictures across genres
and styles, ephemeral and epic, canonical and non-canonical, fiction
and non-fiction, from early Edison material through the cinema of
attractions, one-reel narratives, multi-reel features, and the high-
end products of the fully institutionalized Hollywood system of the
1920s.  In addition to films by Griffith, Keaton, Chaplin, and De
Mille, expect to see recently preserved industrials and travel films
as well as films by Oscar Micheaux and Lois Weber.

Class discussion will focus on close analysis of these films and
will situate them within the complex and fascinating history of
motion picture production, distribution, exhibition, and reception
during this period.  At the same time, we will be concerned with the
multiple historical contexts within which these films were produced
and consumed and with they ways that they reflect and participate in
the emergence of twentieth-century America.  Readings will take up
the debates that energize this sector of film studies and will
include examples of the sort of historical research that has over
the past 20 years thoroughly re-shaped our understanding of the
silent era.  We will also regularly engage “primary” historical
material drawn from the trade press and, more broadly, from the
public discourse concerning moving pictures.  Students will have the
opportunity to work with rare silent films from the David Bradley
Collection, housed here at IUB.

Requirements will include a final exam, short research exercises,
and a final paper.  Weekly screenings outside of class at a time and
place to be announced.