This course will explore four major American film genres - the musical, the western, the crime film, the horror film - and also the concept of genre itself as a way of thinking about film. How do genres shape or get shaped by social and historical preoccupations? What can genres do that individual works can't? How do genres change? Why is genre so important in American film, and so (relatively) unimportant everywhere else? Examples of films to be seen and studied (subject to availability): Shall We Dance?, On the Town, It's Always Fair Weather; Red River, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Unforgiven; Scarface, The Big Heat, Godfather II; Frankenstein, Carrie, The Shining. One screening and one class each week, with complementary readings.