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Topics in Cinema Studies (Cinema and Popular Memory)

ENGL 292.402
crosslisted as: CINE 392.402
instructor(s):
TR 1:30-3
Benn 141
screenings: Thursdays 4:30-7 F-B 138

This course examines the relationship between cinema, history, and popular memory. It explores a diverse range of films which claim to show that film can express and also shape popular memory, and pays special attention to the manner in which films write and rewrite history by articulating and shaping such memory. The course will be based on a premise that cinema shapes or negotiates the vision of who we are as individuals, groups and larger collectivities. As a truly popular and global phenomenon, it is cinema that produces both the normative or institutional versions of history, as well as popular resistances to the power of that history. Because these issues are most prevalent in a genre called “historical films,” we will view and analyze several examples of this genre to try to answer the following questions: What is a historical film? What is its relationship to history and historical narratives? What is its role in producing or reshaping our memory of historical events? By extensive analysis of diverse films, both fiction and documentaries, we will thus raise significant questions about the construction of memory and history.