Film History

Still from Les Vampires, 1931

Temple University

Fall 2013

Course website + syllabus

“Cinema is a matter of what’s in the frame and what’s out”  —Martin Scorsese

This course surveys several trends in the transnational development of cinema as an art and industry. Spanning from 1895 to the 1950s, it situates filmic developments in the contexts of concurrent political, economic, and cultural shifts. Topics include precursors to the cinema, the development of the moving image in various countries, shifts to sound, the rise of the Hollywood studio system, transnational genre movements, the role of cinema in colonial violence and imperialism, feminist critiques and racialized gender ideologies, queer filmmaking, national cinemas in the wake of war, and the role of cinema in revolutionary decolonization movements. This course emphasizes a transnational approach to cinema and media cultures, tracing the ways film helped to construct, moved across, and troubled national boundaries.

The course assumes that students already understand basic film concepts (editing, cinematography, mise-en-scène, etc.), as they will apply them to the films we watch. Students will learn to incorporate formal film analysis into an analysis of ideology, production, circulation, and consumption, and will develop the skills to construct compelling arguments about the politics and history of cinema.