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American Movies as American Studies: An Introduction to American Studies

AMST 177
Fall 2020
Section: 01  
Course Cluster and Certificates: Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory Certificate

Our aim is to see how movies from the 1930s to the present can help us grow as critical (and self-critical) American studies thinkers (and have fun--even as we question the effects and implications of this fun--doing it). Talkies appeared as a complex mass-cultural form of American studies, exported all over the world, precisely when the academic field of American studies emerged in the early 1930s. From the get-go, movies involved in mass-disseminating America's inventions of power have made available, in very entertaining ways, critical insight that can blow the whistle on how the reproduction of Americans and American ideologies are pulled off. Together we will explore the modern Americanization of power (hard power, soft power) and focus our exchanges on four intersecting concerns that movies can be particularly good at illuminating: (1) how culture industries (including movies) shape consciousness, needs, desires, incentives, values, and sense of belonging, and frame--limit--our vision of what constitutes problems and solutions; (2) how social critique (even movie critiques of movies) can be mass-popularized; (3) how America makes Americans, especially, into workers (even if they hate what they do and wonder about what and who they are working for) and weapons of various sorts (even if they are frightened and wonder about what and who they are fighting for and against); and (4) how and why America constructs difference (e.g., class, gender, race, individuality, national identity). This lecture/discussion course is a thinking-intensive and imagination-intensive critical project designed to engage compelling big-picture concerns--systemic matters--vital to American studies critiques.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: SBS AMST
Course Format: Lecture / DiscussionGrading Mode: Student Option
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (AMST)(CSCT)
Past Enrollment Probability: 50% - 74%

Last Updated on JUL-15-2024
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