All Film Studies students are required to participate in at least one Connecting Experience as part of their BDP work. Take a look at what some Film Studies students have done recently for their BDP Connecting Experiences, then read on for additional information and resources.
Type of Experience: Research, “Identity Through Advocacy: Protesting Jewish Ethnic Caricatures in Early Hollywood Cinema”
Mentor: Robert Abzug, Director, Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies; Department of American Studies
What was the origin of this research project?
My research project was born from a host of different influences. The project formed a significant part of my history honors thesis, and I found much of the inspiration for my topic through a Historiography seminar. However, my interest in entertainment portrayals in ethnicity stretched back to my sophomore year, when I wrote a paper on Hollywood caricature during World War II. In short, my selection of a topic depended on the guidance of others in terms of research methodology, but the subject was of my own personal interest for much of my college career.
Describe your research project and your interest in the subject area.
I researched Jewish caricatures and stereotypes in early American cinema (1915-1930) and the protests against these negative portrayals by the Jewish community. I focused in particular on the papers of Henry Cohen, the rabbi of Galveston, who conducted several campaigns against such stereotypes. In my connecting experience, I examined what exactly these stereotypes were and the implications of viewing them as negative. My interest in the subject area stems from growing up as Jewish in a neighborhood with few other Jews. I became curious from a young age about how Jewishness is defined, both from inside and out.
How did this experience connect to your BDP
Although I examined stereotypes in both vaudeville and early cinema, I particularly looked at representations of Judaism in film. I created in-depth analysis of images and examined the culture of Hollywood behind the creation of such films. I also researched audience culture and how audience composition and viewing habits determined reactions to caricature. Additionally, I secured research materials from a film archive and became proficient with media technology necessary for proper cinematic note taking.
In what ways has this CE shaped your plans for the future?
This connecting experience has, more than anything, allowed me to see that research is possible. When I say possible, I mean that all aspects of research are possible – obtaining materials, securing grants, assembling facts, and composing analyses – with the right program to tell you that these things are possible. Wi