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History in Film

ENGL 291.401
crosslisted as: CINE 201, COML 201
TR 10:30-12:00 pm
fulfills requirements:
Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the Standard Major
Elective Seminar of the Standard Major

 This course is a broad and eclectic introduction into the relationship between cinema and history.  It explores a diverse range of films which claim to show that film can narrate and also shape history, and pays special attention to the manner in which films write and rewrite history by articulating and shaping popular memory.  The course will be based on a premise that cinema, as a truly popular and global phenomenon, produces both the normative or institutional versions of history, as well as popular resistances to such official 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, history, and identity.