Communication and Culture | Topics in Media History (Topic: Cinema in the Cold War Era)
C420 | 28831 | Klinger, B.

TuTh, 11:15 AM-12:30 PM, C2 203
Required film screenings: W, 7:15 PM-10:15 PM, OP 111

“Making War, Making Peace” Themester at the College Course
Fulfills College S&H Requirement

Instructor: Barbara Klinger
Office: C2 225
Phone: 855-1796

After the end of WWII—an officially declared, openly fought “hot”
war—what became known as the Cold War began to take shape between
the Soviet Union and the United States. This was a conflict that
would last for almost half a century. The Cold War was not
characterized by overt warfare between these two nations, but by an
ideological confrontation between Communism and democracy and
between East and West. This confrontation appeared at times
in “proxy” wars like that which took place in Vietnam. It
materialized in other ways as well, including constant military
tension, a nuclear arms race that created fears about the
annihilation of civilization, concerns about conformism as well as
non-conformist identities, and the “Red Scare” which promoted
hysteria among officials and civilians alike about the Communist
infiltration of the U.S. government, the entertainment industry,
education, and the family itself.

This course will introduce students to key historical developments
and figures that shaped the Cold War era in the U.S., while
examining the particular impact the war had on Hollywood. As we
pursue the topic, we will analyze American films and TV programs
drawn from genres that include science fiction, film noir, action
films, spy thrillers, war films, and documentaries. These diverse
forms negotiated the anxieties, paranoia, and politics of the Cold
War from 1945 through President Reagan’s branding of the Soviet
Union as the “evil empire” in the 1980s. When the Berlin Wall—a
major marker of this era of conflict—fell at the end of the 1980s,
the Cold War was declared officially over. However, we will consider
the recent resurrection of Russia and Eastern Europe as arch-enemies
in contemporary films (e.g., Taken and Salt) and TV shows (e.g.,
Alias and 24), and the lingering fears about nuclear threats that
have appeared on the screen (e.g., Countdown to Zero) as re-
animations of related global concerns.

Among films and TV shows we may screen are: Invasion of the Body
Snatchers, Kiss Me Deadly, Point of Order, The Twilight Zone, Atomic
Café, From Russia with Love, The Manchurian Candidate, Dr.
Strangelove, War Games, Red Dawn, The Day After, and Rambo. We will
approach these media through historical scholarship and critical
analyses that help to illuminate the relationship between American
media and the Cold War. During the course of the semester, students
will become conversant not only with this significant era in the
20th century, but with how to analyze media that are produced during
times of national and international crises related to war.

The course will mix lecture and discussion, with class participation
counting toward the final grade. Assignments will include exams,
short papers, and presentations.