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Steven Hoelscher, Chair Burdine 437, Mailcode B7100, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-7277

Fall 2009

AMS 370 • Movies and Modern America-W

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
29970 T
7:00 PM-10:00 PM
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Course Description

This seminar focus on the changes in American filmmaking against the background of the upheavals in American culture, politics, and society from the 1940s to the present. We will examine the breakdown of the traditional Hollywood studio system, the rise of a new generation of American directors (both in the 1970s and 1990s) who were heavily influenced by their counterparts in Europe, their efforts to deal in cinematic terms with the social and psychological schisms in American society, and the impact of their films on audiences abroad as well as at home. More specifically, we will focus on these issues through the prism of movies made about spys and private eyes, made during and after World War II, during the Cold War, and as a respnse to the Watergate and the Vietnam war. Most of all, we will seek to explain why the movies they appeared in were at once so controversial and so memorable, why they seemed to reflect so accurately the personal and social problems of movie-goers, and why people felt after seeing them that they needed to change their lives. Students should not register for the course unless they have a solid background in 20th century American cultural, social, and political history. They should also have a good knowledge of the history of American film.

Grading Policy

Students will write 15-20 page interpretative essay due at the end of the semester. The paper will count 80% of the student's grade.


The movies to be shown and discussed include The Maltese Falcon, The Third Man, The Who Came In From the Cold, Chinatown, and All the President's Men.


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