California in the Cinematic Imagination
50 | CCN: 15875
This course examines how California has figured in the cinematic imagination as an industrial center and as a landscape of fantasy, site for the formulation and revision of national mythologies regarding the American West. We will assemble a cinematic history of the state while asking how filmmakers from the silent era to the present have figured Californian landscapes as both wasteland and promised land, iconic backdrop for the examination of American national identity and politics, the construction of gender, and narratives of racial and class struggle. Texts will cover the history of the film industry in California and the development of film styles and genres; materials will also model formal, narrative, and ideological analyses of the films that structure the course. Students will cultivate two interlocking skill sets: a) the ability to appropriately deploy the vocabulary of formal film analysis, using terms specific to cinematography, mise-en-scène, and film narrative and b) the ability to appropriately deploy the vocabulary of cultural film analysis: that is, to identify what kind of cultural work films do as they draw upon and help construct state and national identity through discourses of race, class, gender, and sexuality.