Summer 2024

  • Special Topics in Film: Genre Romantic Comedy

    171 001 | CCN: 14628

    Booth Wilson

    Location: Dwinelle 188

    Date and Time: TU, W, TH, 1-3:30pm

    4 Units

    In this course, we will consider a selection of films and related scholarship from the history of the romantic comedy genre. First, we’ll spend a week considering some useful critical frameworks: the place of romance or the couple in the history of literary comedy and how scholars have studied it; the designation of the romantic comedy genre in film studies; an interest in considering how the articulation of romantic narratives in the early 20th century was complicit in cultural changes in gender discourse, consumerism, and class identities. From here, we will turn to an historical journey that will move us from the late 1910s to the early 21st century. I have included not only films considered “important” to the romantic comedy canon by American fans of the genre, but also films that scholars have identified as mapping cultural changes in the way we think about heterosexuality, partnership, and monogamy. We will consider early and late sex comedies, comedies about gender performativity and disguise, screwball comedies of marriage and remarriage, and so-called “radical” and “neo-traditional” romantic comedies. This consideration of the history of the genre will equip us to think historically about more recent films about which no scholarship yet exists. Your contribution to our field, in your end-of-semester projects, will be to draft the as-yet-unwritten essays that map the field for the generation to come.