ENGL 3822 Ethnicity and Emotions in U.S. Film


Catalog Description: Prerequisites: Completion of Blocks A and B4, an additional course from Block B, and at least one course each from Blocks C and D. Critical analysis of the representations of ethnicity and emotions in U.S. film. UD GE C; (re)

Course Description: Cinema is increasingly becoming an influential medium in the reshaping and transmission of social and cultural representations of human emotions as expressed in racial, ethnic, class, gender-based ideological constructs. This course will examine the constant and integral intersections of ethnicity and emotions in U.S. film relating to the themes of community, citizenship and nationhood. The critical perspective is based on an interdisciplinary framework, examining issues relative to cultural values, ideas of human nature, artistic traditions, and institutional elements that make up the core and formal contents of such films. The course focuses on how U.S. film especially is of global significance regarding race and ethnicity in how their focus on  narratives of “history” and “national soil” provoke emotional responses to notions of collective identity such as pride, fear, longing, despair, revenge, rage, anxiety, loneliness and alienation.

Course Outline

1. A Summary History on Hollywood’s ethnic imagery and film language.
        a.    The role of film in shaping perspective on race, ethnicity, class, gender and intersectional identities.
        b.    Imposed identities and the American film
2. Origins of stereotypes in early American Cinema and the use of black face.
       a.    Film as propaganda (Birth of a Nation)
       b.    Race, gender and othering
3. Black Filmmakers during the Silent Era (John W. Noble & Oscar Micheaux)
       a.    Resisting imposed images
       b.    The rise of independent Black film
4. Early Black actor and consciousness (Hattie Mc Daniel and Paul Robeson)
       a.    Race, gender, class and classic sterotypes
       b.    Playing stereotypes in film
5. Counter Narratives and Assimilation Narratives
       a.    Defining counter narratives and assimilation
       b.    BORDERTOWN and Latino Representation in film
6. Post WWII Hollywood Social Problems in Film  
       a.    Anti-Asian sentiment in cinema
       b.    Citizenship and intersectional identities
7. Examining the dilemma of Black authors turned screenwriters
       a.    Writing race/class/gender intersections into American film
       b.    Richard Wright’s Native Son 1951
8. Post Civil Rights and Post Cold War Cinema
       a.    Race, gender, class and religion: LILLIES OF THE FIELD
       b.    Black manhood as a perpetual threat: GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER
9. The “Underrepresented Viewer”
       a.    The Oppositional Gaze: Toni Cade Bambara and bell hooks
       b.    Incorporating the oppositional gaze into filmmaking: Black women filmmakers
10. Black Nationalism in Cinema: Blaxploitation
       b.    Gender identities and nationalism
11. Emerging Minority Independent Filmmaking Voices  
       a.    What it means to build a film movement
       b.    LA REBELLION as a Multicultural Film Movement
12. Immigration, Modernization, and rewriting national histories
       a.    Race/gender/class representations and the global film market
       b.    Emerging global film
13. Hollywood Cinema and the Power of Myth Building.
       a.    Representing womanism in film
       b.    Alice Walker, Steven Speilberg and THE COLOR PURPLE
14. Commercializing Black Cinema.  
       a.    Spike Lee and race/gender/class in film
       b.    Black Gangster Films and the Black Buddy in Buddy Films
15. Becoming an “Active Viewer” and how to change stereotypes in Hollywood
       a.    The awakening of viewers
       b.    Acts of resistance

About the Banner: Melvin van Pebbles, detail from movie poster for Sweet Sweetback's BaadAsssss Song (image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweet_Sweetback%27s_Baadasssss_Song#/media/...)