Historiography and the Archive: Rethinking "American Cinema"
This course is, on one hand, a practicum in archival research. We will learn to utilize new digital databases, as well as microfilm and multiple reference sources, in order to facilitate the course members' experience of working with editors at the American Film Institute to write entries for the new AFI catalogue of post-1975 film. This class, in short, will be linked to the AFI affiliate network.
At the same time, this course engages with the question of what it means to "write film history," and to trace and challenge the historiographical procedures inaugurated with the discipline of history in the 19th century in Western-European culture. To that end, readings will include recent humanistic inquiries into historical "meta-narratives" (i.e. Haydn White/Michel Foucault), and will focus on how these broader reflections might enable us to reconsider the history of U.S. cinema as something other than a "global Hollywood" positioned in opposition to an aggregate of national cinemas.
Films and readings throughout the course will enable students to emerge with a broad grasp of key moments, directors, genres, and debates over American cinema, from the inception of the U.S. film industry in the early 1910s, through the flourishing of a studio-era between 1920-1960, and on to the present.