Women/Gender, Race, Class and Sexuality in Film: History and Feminist Film Theory

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This yearlong seminar uses history and feminist film theory to analyze American cinema from its silent origins to the present. Gender, race, class, and sexuality offer contextual ways to look at the representation of women and men in films. We analyze cinema as a part of historical processes and assess historical and feminist interpretations. We learn how to read films, discussing explicit and implicit meanings. A variety of film genres will be analyzed from early motion pictures of the 1890s, silent films, 1940s women’s film, avant garde, film noir, Afro-American cinema, second-wave feminist film, documentary, queer cinema, films of politics, masculine genre films (action/adventure), ethnic cinema, and fantasy/horror through global cinema. Students will develop a critical understanding of movies, not only as part of cultural and social history but also as a political vehicle for activism and change.