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Historical Films

ENGL 292.401
TR 3:00-4:30pm

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.


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