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Baaaad Cinema: American Film Censorship, 1896-Present

ENGL 291.401
also offered as: CINE 201
T 3-6
Benn 201
screenings: Mondays 5-8 F-B 15

This course is designed to provide an historical and textual perspective on the history of censorship in the cinema. We will assess a variety of concerns surrounding American film censorship. We will consider different types of film censorship, including state censorship, industry self-regulation, personal restraint or "pre-emptive" censorship by producers and directors, and exhibition-level censorship. We will also explore censorship across time, looking at the changes to the processes and systems of censorship by various crucial legal decisions. Finally, we will examine the impact of censorship on textual meaning, "textuality," amd viewer film-going experience. This course is designed, also, to give students a better sense of how censorship operated in various historical moments and was driven by historically specific motivations. It will require a desire to learn history as well as a desire to read and understand film texts. We will address questions such as: Is complete censorship possible? Is censorship beneficial or productive? And how does the operation and technique of censorship differ based on what is being censored? Seeing censorship as a part of the broader cultural discourses with which it is enmeshed is a goal of our course. By the end of the course, students should have a clear sense of those organizations responsible for cutting films, what was cut from films, and how censorship, writ large, affected Hollywood textuality.

fulfills requirements
Elective of the Standard Major