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Entertaining Social Change
AMST 315
Spring 2024
Section: 01  
Crosslisting: ENGL 309, FGSS 315

"Our problem," Tom Frank writes, "is that we have a fixed idea of what power is, of how power works, and of how power is to be resisted." This is especially true of "entertainment." Power that may not seem like power--only, say, like "fun" or "amusement"--can be especially powerful. A thread that connects all of our texts will be: how has the systemic critique of social contradictions been popularized as compelling and fascinating in modern times? A related concern: what are the seductions and violence built into "enjoyment"--"enjoyment" that reproduces "Americans"? We will "entertain" the diverse strategies that progressive moviemakers have developed to entertain Americans--to teach, persuade, seduce, provoke, upset, anger, and move them through laughter, tears, and not least of all ideas--so that Americans will be more inclined to "entertain" social critique that inspires and envisions social change.

Our critical focus will be on the popularizing (and sometimes the selling) of social critique in movies including: Straight Outta Compton, Malcolm X, Medium Cool, Network, El Norte, Smoke Signals, Before the Flood, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, Salt of the Earth, Matewan, and The Big Short. We will place special emphasis on self-reflexive movies about "entertainment" and about labor/social movement organizing. Entertainment, we will see, plays a key role in organizing--and reorganizing--Americans. In doing so it can place limits on our vision of what--and who--needs to be changed. By putting our movies in conceptual dialogue, and making these limits more visible, we will help one another think, see, and feel beyond these limits. As we are "entertained"--and we will be--we will consider the stakes of being "entertained."
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: SBS AMST
Course Format: SeminarGrading Mode: Student Option
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (AMST)(ENGL)(FGSS)(FILM-MN)(HRAD-MN)
Past Enrollment Probability: 50% - 74%

Last Updated on JUN-24-2024
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