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American Film Genres and Hollywood

ENGL 292.404


This course will consider the role of film genres within the history of the Hollywood film industry. We will work our way chronologically through a number of historically significant genres from the classical era of the Hollywood studio system including gangster films, the horror film, screwball comedies, film noirs, melodrama, and the Western. We will also look at the role of genre in contemporary or “post-classical” Hollywood paying attention to revisionist and hybrid genres and popular contemporary genres such as the superhero film and the “puzzle film.” Our primary aims for the course will be to develop a historically contextualized framework for understanding the narrative, thematic, and stylistic conventions of individual genres as well as their important economic and business functions within the Hollywood entertainment industry. Films may include Scarface (1932), Frankenstein (1931), Double Indemnity (1944), All That Heaven Allows (1955), Blade Runner (1982), Memento (2000), and Spider-Man (2002). Students will be required to complete weekly film viewing responses, a few short writing assignments, and one longer research essay.