History | The Great Depression in History and Film
J400 | 3888 | Bodnar


Above class open to majors only
Above class open to undergraduates only
J400: P-HIST J300

This class is a seminar for history majors that will examine the
politics and culture of the United States in the 1930s.  Through a
series of readings, discussions, and research projects,   students
will explore the onset of the Great Depression, how it was addressed
by political leaders  and ordinary people, and how Americans tried
to understand what was happening to them  through various forms of
cultural expression—especially Hollywood films of the time.
Significant attention will be directed to the New Deal programs of
Franklin Roosevelt, the struggles of working people to survive “hard
times,” the way the era affected women and minorities, and the films
of key directors of the decade such as Frank Capra.

Students will report on readings, debate issues, and develop a major
research project consisting of a paper of some 15-20 pages in
length.  Each student will also give an oral presentation of their
project in class.  Projects will be expected to integrate some
treatment of thirties films with other forms of historical
research.  Grades will be based on class participation and
presentations and writing assignments.  The major research project
will constitute a significant portion of the final grade.

Students will be expected to purchase several books and may need to
buy copies of some films pertinent to their research—although many
will be available in the IU library.  A final reading list is not
yet available but key books might include Andrew Bergman, "We’re in
the Money: Depression America and its Films"; Laura
Browder, "Rousing the Nation: Radical Culture in Depression
America";  Lea Jacobs, "The Wages of Sin: Censorship in the Fallen
Women Film, 1928-1942"; James McGovern "And a Time for Hope:
Americans in the Great Depression"; Robert S. McElvaine, "The Great
Depression: America, 1929-1941."