The module offers a history of American cinema since 1965, covering the decline of the Hollywood studio system and the moment, from 1968 to 1975, when a new wave of directors produced a number of key films sometimes known as constituting the Hollywood art-house period, through the rise of the blockbuster in the mid-1970s, to the reinvigorated New Hollywood of the 80s and 90s.
It explores whether this can be called the Hollywood post-classical period, the inter-relationship of studio and independent cinema, and historical issues such as changes in marketing and exhibition practices, and how the film industry survived the rise of television and exploited the rise of new home viewing technologies such as video, DVD, and laserdisc.
Aims and Objectives
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills
Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:
- Discuss the development of the image of American cinema as a global form from the 1960s onwards.
- Engage in close textual analysis of filmic examples in the context of relevant historical and theoretical frameworks.
- Develop a substantial, sustained argument.
- Deploy key critical terms from gender, race and cultural studies to the films studied on the course.
- Explore the importance of areas such as marketing and distribution for your understanding of the film text.
- Make appropriate use of secondary and theoretical materials.
- Evaluate and draw upon a range of academic and filmic sources in order to formulate, structure and justify your own arguments.
Knowledge and Understanding
Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:
- The relationship between mainstream Hollywood and independent production, as well as aesthetic and thematic innovations in experimental filmmaking, the avant-garde, and non-fiction cinema
- The definitions of ‘classical Hollywood’, ‘post-classical Hollywood’, ‘the Blockbuster’ and ‘American national cinema’.
- Shifts in the cultural politics of race, gender, national identity, and imperial prowess since the 1960s
- Shifts in the image, power and critical understanding of the American auteur in the period
- Shifts in models of American cinematic genres in the period
- Hollywood’s ‘art-house’ period from 1968-1975
- The decline of the classical studio structure from the 1960s onwards
- The development of the Blockbuster in the 1970s
Transferable and Generic Skills
Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:
- Work independently, making effective use of library, archival and Internet resources and demonstrating efficient time management.
This module analyses the history of American cinema since 1965, covering the decline of the Hollywood studio system and the moment, from 1968 to 1975, when a new wave of directors produced a number of key films sometimes known as constituting Hollywood’s ‘art house’ period, through the rise of the blockbuster in the mid-1970s, to the reinvigorated New Hollywood of the 80s and 90s. It explores the inter-relationship of studio and independent cinema, and historical issues such as changes in marketing and exhibition practices. We will also investigate whether this can be called Hollywood’s ‘post-classical’ period, and whether terms such as postmodernism, neo-classicism or New Hollywood might serve us better. Also at stake is how the film industry survived the rise of television and exploited the rise of new home viewing technologies such as video, DVD and laserdisc.
By the 1960s, American cinema found itself at a crossroads. Much like US society, filmmakers of the time sought to formulate a variety of responses to the nation’s shifts in cultural identities, political values, and aesthetic conventions. Focusing on the cultural politics of race, gender, class, and political ideology, this module chronicles the evolution of mainstream, independent, and experimental American cinema since 1965. We will discuss the steady decline of Hollywood and address the subsequent emergence of a cinema of experimentation, which New Hollywood had re-appropriated into the “new normal” by the late 1970s. The tension between normativity and subversion also structures our discussion of the 1980s, when independent productions challenged Hollywood’s white, middle-class, and domestic mores and, in doing so, contributed to an ideological and creative overhaul of mainstream filmmaking. We will then concentrate on the steady dissolution of this vibrant independent sector into a conglomerate studio system in the 1990s, which, in an era of reactionary politics, facilitated the new conservatism of American filmmaking by the early 2000s.
Learning and Teaching
Teaching and learning methods
Teaching methods include
- Individual consultation
Learning activities include
- Seminar discussion
- Independent study, viewing and research
- Writing a critical evaluation on a film, topic, and piece of scholarship
- Writing a sustained and detailed essay appropriate to Level 6 study
- Researching, presenting and writing-up the Presentation
A weekly lecture presents an overview of the area under analysis that week, using the week’s key film texts plus recommended critical, historical and theoretical material. Screenings take place once a week; students are expected to see other films independently, in order to emerge from this module with a strong overview in the forty years of U.S. cinema under discussion. Seminars encourage active discussion of the week’s topic and the development of visual, verbal and presentation skills, and provide a forum for the assessed presentation.
During the first five weeks of the module, students will write a critical evaluation on a film, topic and piece of scholarship as a means of preparing them for the level of critical analysis required in the longer, final essay.
The assessed presentation, which takes place in one of the seminars, introduces students to the week’s topic, providing lucid examples using clips, visual materials and/or deploy media such as PowerPoint or OHPs, and generating active debate in the group. This presentation is then written-up into a reflective report and contributes to the final mark for the module.
|Practical classes and workshops||30|
|Completion of assessment task||60|
|Preparation for scheduled sessions||40|
|Total study time||150|
Resources & Reading list
Allyson Nadia Field, Marsha Gordon (2019). Screening Race in American Nontheatrical Film. Durham: Duke University Press.
Cynthia Lucia, Art Simon, Roy Grundmann (2016). American Film History: Selected Readings, 1960 to the Present. Malden, MA: Wiley Blackwell.
Steve Neale and Murray Smith, (eds) (1998). Contemporary Hollywood Cinema. London and New York: Routledge.
Stephen Prince (2012). Digital Visual Effects in Cinema: The Seduction of Reality. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Jim Collins, Hilary Radner and Ava Preacher Collins, (eds) (1993). Film Theory Goes to the Movies. London and New York: Routledge.
Allyson Field, Jan-Christopher Horak, Jacqueline Najuma Stewart (2015). L.A. Rebellion: Creating a New Black Cinema. Los Angeles and Berkeley: University of California Press.
Charles R. Acland (2020). American Blockbuster: Movies, Technology, and Wonder. Durham: Duke University Press.
Assessments designed to provide informal, on-module feedback
- Discussion of essay work, before submission and after marking
- Feedback on presentations
This is how we’ll give you feedback as you are learning. It is not a formal test or exam.Oral presentation
This is how we’ll formally assess what you have learned in this module.
This is how we’ll assess you if you don’t meet the criteria to pass this module.
An internal repeat is where you take all of your modules again, including any you passed. An external repeat is where you only re-take the modules you failed.
Repeat type: Internal & External