Film and the “American Century”
The United States may no longer “bestride the globe” as it did in the “American” 20th century, and the advent of the Trump Era has severely eroded America's standing in the world,
but few would deny the continuing impact of U.S. culture, from Apple apps to video games, TV shows, pop music, and of course movies. Indeed, “Hollywood’s” (by which I mean the
U.S. film industry in general) ups and downs have often closely followed theoscillation of U.S. economic and geopolitical power over the last century, and at the same time,
American movies have been one of the most important vehicles for national cultural definition (and redefinition) as well as an essential frame of reference for how other countries perceive “US.”
Yet Hollywood’s influence has never been a one way street: immigrants dominated the early decades of the industry in the United States, and a wave of film people
escaping Nazi Europe helped define and establish several emerging genres in mid-century American film, including most-famously “film noir,” a movie “style”
which first emerged out of German Expressionism and the interwar French filmindustry. Meanwhile, iconic American genres such as the gangster film and the Western were reinterpreted
overseasand then returned to the United States in the 1950s and 60s as French New Wave and the “spaghetti Western,” and this process has continued up to the present.
Through a close analysis of several iconic U.S. films, genres and directors within their socio-cultural and political contexts, this class will explore the multidirectional, national
and international influences of Hollywood in the 20th century. Course Requirements: Besides keeping up with the regular required readings for the class (about 5-10 pages per week
with occasional written summaries of same and/or in-class exercises/quizzes) and actively engaging in class discussion, students will also do a circa 20-25 minute scene
or film analysis presentation either individually or in pairs/small groups depending on enrollment (a list of potential topics will be provided) and complete
the 10-12-page Hausarbeit/Term Paper by doing a film review/contextual analysis of two-three films in a similar genre or theme and/or from the same director.
NOTE: - Teaching Platform - Even though the University of Hildesheim faculty, like the rest of the university system in Niedersaxony, will be working/teaching on-line again this semester
to hopefully help prevent a COVID resurgence, we will strive to make the course as faithful as possible to the structure, content and interaction of a "in-person" class.