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Throughout the 2020-21 academic year, we will be adapting the way we teach and assess your modules in line with government guidance on social distancing and other protective measures in response to Coronavirus. Teaching will vary between online and on-campus delivery through the year, and you should read guidance from the academic department for details of how this will work for a particular module. You can find out more about the University’s overall response to Coronavirus at: https://warwick.ac.uk/coronavirus.

FI102-30 The Hollywood Cinema

Academic year
20/21
Department
Film & TV Studies
Level
Undergraduate Level 2
Module leader
Catherine Constable
Credit value
30
Module duration
20 weeks
Assessment
60% coursework, 40% exam
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Introductory description

This module focuses on key themes, specifically the construction of stardom, genre, narrative and spectacle in classical and contemporary Hollywood across a period of 20 weeks. It also explores the ways in which different theoretical conceptions of Hollywood and its epochs open up or close down its capacity to explore/express the political. The module begins with the classical, charting historical aspects such as the development of the studio system, the star system and the impact of censorship, while also addressing ways in which the concept of 'the classical' has been theorised. It then addresses diverging conceptions of 1970s Hollywood as a period of 'Renaissance' that marked the emergence of new Auteur directors or a 'New Hollywood' founded in the blockbuster franchise model. Case studies of contemporary Hollywood will include detailed examination of the new models/variants of stardom, narrative and genre within the Marvel Cinematic Universe as well as addressing key directors, such as Sofia Coppola or Quentin Tarantino, who exemplify 'postmodern Hollywood'.

Module aims
  1. Students will gain an understanding of the different ways in which Hollywood has been conceptualised/theorised by key critics/theorists.
  2. Students will engage with the history of Hollywood cinema, specifically its conceptualisation in terms of different epochs.
  3. Students will be able to chart the ways in which Hollywood's presentation of stardom, genre, narrative and spectacle has altered across time.
  4. Students will gain the means to make informed, critical comparisons between different periods of Hollywood production and their respective products.
Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

Weeks 1-5 The Classical
This part of the module will address the studio system. It will look at the model of production, the construction of stardom, focussing on particular exemplars such as Marlene Dietrich and John Wayne, and popular genres, such as the maternal melodrama and the Western. It will examine the rise of censorship and its impact on film production and release. It will also address the theorisation of 'the classical' by Bordwell, Staiger and Thompson and the political dimensions of the studio system through considerations of Adorno's critique and the gendered and racial politics of its representations.
Suggested screenings: Blonde Bombshell (Victor Fleming, 1933), Stagecoach (John Ford, 1939), Blonde Venus (Josef von Sternberg, 1934).
Selected Reading:

  • Adorno, T and Horkheimer, M. ‘The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception’ in Schmid Noerr (Ed) and Jephcott, E. (Trans) The Dialectic of the Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments, Stanford University Press, 2002.
  • D. Bordwell, 'Part 1: The Classical Hollywood Style, 1917-60', in D. Bordwell, J Staiger and K. Thompson (eds) The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960, Routledge, 1985, part 1 pp.3-84.
  • R. Dyer, Stars, BFI, 1979.
  • C. Gledhill, Stardom Industry of Desire, Routledge 1991.

Weeks 7-10 'New' Hollywood
This part of the module will focus on the major changes to production that occurred across the 1960s with a view to interrogating two key conceptualisations of the epoch - Hollywood Renaissance versus New Hollywood. It will explore the work of key Renaissance directors such as Robert Altman and Arthur Penn and consider the ways in which their work interrogates generic and stylistic traditions. The exploration of New Hollywood will involve considering the changing role of the star, focussing on stars who transition from television to film such as Clint Eastwood, and analysing the rise of the blockbuster. The issue of the politics of representation will be explored in relation to both models of Hollywood - including an assessment of the limits of the radicality of Renaissance films and the political potential of the blockbuster.
Suggested Screenings: Bonnie and Clyde (Arthur Penn, 1967), Dirty Harry (Don Siegel, 1971).
Selected Reading:

  • G. King, ‘Chapter 1: New Hollywood version 1: The Hollywood Renaissance’, New Hollywood Cinema: An Introduction, I. B. Tauris, 2007, pp. 11-48.
  • Cook, D. A. Lost Illusions: American Cinema in the Shadow of Watergate and Vietnam, 1970-1979. Scribner’s/California UP, 2000.
  • Hillier, J. The New Hollywood. Studio Vista, 1992.
  • Kramer, P. The New Hollywood: From Bonnie and Clyde to Star Wars. Wallflower Press, 2005.

Weeks 11-15 The Contemporary Blockbuster Franchise
This part of the module will consider the rise of the blockbuster franchise and its most prevalent manifestation - the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It will focus on the ways in which the blockbuster franchise model has affected the construction and conception of stardom, the shift from the unified classical film to the fragmented narratives of the multiverse and the reconfiguration of gendered and racial spectacle.
Suggested Screenings:
The Avengers (Joss Whedon, 2012), Black Panther (Ryan Coogler, 2018), Wonder Woman (Patty Jenkins, 2017).
Selected Reading:

  • T. Schatz, ‘The New Hollywood’ in J. Collins, H. Radner and A. P. Collins (eds) Film Theory Goes to the Movies, Routledge, 1993, pp. 8-36.
  • Henderson, S. ‘The Rise of the Franchise’ in The Hollywood Sequel: History & Form, 1911-2010 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), pp. 86-92.
  • Brinker, F. ‘Transmedia Storytelling in the “Marvel Cinematic Universe” and the Logics of Convergence-Era Popular Seriality’ in Yockey, M. (ed.) Make Ours Marvel: Media Convergence and a Comics Universe, (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2017), pp. 207-233.
  • Purse, L. ‘Action Women’ in Contemporary Action Cinema (Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 2011), pp. 76-93.

Weeks 17-20 Postmodern Hollywood
This part of the module will draw together considerations of aesthetics and style rethinking the linear model of development in which the classical gives way to new Hollywood and finally to the blockbuster franchise in favour of a multiple model that traces a distinctive postmodern style in the reflexive products of the studio system to the current day. This part of the module will offer an analysis of one key director such as Sofia Coppola or Quentin Tarantino.
Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (Quentin Tarantino, 2019), The Beguiled (Sofia Coppola 2017).
Selected Reading:

  • C. Constable, ‘Chapter 1: Classical, Post-classical, Postmodern’, Postmodernism and Film: Rethinking Hollywood’s Aesthetics, Wallflower Press, 2015, pp. 5-38.
  • J-F. Lyotard, ‘Notes on the Meaning of “Post-”’, The Postmodern Explained to Children: Correspondence 1982-1985, Turnaround, 1992, pp. 87-93.
  • Brooker, P and Brooker, W. (eds) Postmodern After-Images: A Reader in Film, Television and Video. Arnold, 1997.
  • Booker, M. Keith. Postmodern Hollywood: What’s New in Film and Why It Makes Us Feel So Strange. Praeger, 2007.
Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • 1) An understanding of the ways Hollywood has been conceptualised/theorised by key critics/theorists.
  • 2) A knowledge of the history of Hollywood, specifically its conceptualisation in terms of different epochs.
  • 3) The means to make informed comparisons between different periods of Hollywood production and their respective products.
  • 4) An ability critically to interpret the module films and to articulate arguments about them, both orally and in writing, building on skills taught in earlier modules.
  • 5) An ability to utilise critical sources and research tools, building on the skills taught in earlier modules.
Indicative reading list

Selected Reading:
Adorno, T and Horkheimer, M. ‘The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception’ in Schmid Noerr (Ed) and Jephcott, E. (Trans) The Dialectic of the Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments, Stanford University Press, 2002.
Booker, M. Keith. Postmodern Hollywood: What’s New in Film and Why It Makes Us Feel So Strange. Praeger, 2007.
Bordwell, D. 'Part 1: The Classical Hollywood Style, 1917-60', in D. Bordwell, J Staiger and K. Thompson (eds) The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960, Routledge, 1985, part 1 pp.3-84.
Brinker, F. ‘Transmedia Storytelling in the “Marvel Cinematic Universe” and the Logics of Convergence-Era Popular Seriality’ in Yockey, M. (ed.) Make Ours Marvel: Media Convergence and a Comics Universe, (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2017), pp. 207-233.
Brooker, P and Brooker, W. (eds) Postmodern After-Images: A Reader in Film, Television and Video. Arnold, 1997.
Constable, C. Postmodernism and Film: Rethinking Hollywood’s Aesthetics, Wallflower Press, 2015.
Cook, D. A. Lost Illusions: American Cinema in the Shadow of Watergate and Vietnam, 1970-1979. Scribner’s/California UP, 2000.
Dyer, R. Stars, BFI, 1979.
Gledhill, C. Stardom Industry of Desire, Routledge 1991.
Henderson, S. ‘The Rise of the Franchise’ in The Hollywood Sequel: History & Form, 1911-2010 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), pp. 86-92.
Hillier, J. The New Hollywood. Studio Vista, 1992.
King, G. ‘Chapter 1: New Hollywood version 1: The Hollywood Renaissance’, New Hollywood Cinema: An Introduction, I. B. Tauris, 2007, pp. 11-48.
Kramer, P. The New Hollywood: From Bonnie and Clyde to Star Wars. Wallflower Press, 2005.
Lyotard, J-F. ‘Notes on the Meaning of “Post-”’, The Postmodern Explained to Children: Correspondence 1982-1985, Turnaround, 1992, pp. 87-93.
Purse, L. ‘Action Women’ in Contemporary Action Cinema (Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 2011), pp. 76-93.
Schatz, T. ‘The New Hollywood’ in J. Collins, H. Radner and A. P. Collins (eds) Film Theory Goes to the Movies, Routledge, 1993, pp. 8-36.

Subject specific skills

This module develops skills of audio-visual literacy, through close textual and/or contextual analysis in relation to the moving image and sound. It may also develops understandings of historical, theoretical and conceptual frameworks relevant to screen arts and cultures.

Transferable skills
  • critical and analytical thinking in relation
  • independent research skills
  • team work
  • clarity and effectiveness of communication, oral and written
  • accurate, concise and persuasive writing
  • audio-visual literacy

Study time

Type Required
Lectures 18 sessions of 1 hour (6%)
Seminars 18 sessions of 1 hour (6%)
Other activity 36 hours (12%)
Private study 228 hours (76%)
Total 300 hours
Private study description

Weekly reading and viewing in preparation and follow-up for classes, and private study for essay and exam preparation

Other activity description

Screening

Costs

No further costs have been identified for this module.

You do not need to pass all assessment components to pass the module.

Students can register for this module without taking any assessment.

Assessment group D3
Weighting Study time
Essay 1 (3000 words) 30%

Essay questions are distributed at the beginning of term.

Essay 2 (3000 words) 30%

Essay questions are distributed at the beginning of term.

2-hour examination (Summer) 40%
Feedback on assessment

written feedback and annotated essay via Tabula

Past exam papers for FI102

Pre-requisites

To take this module, you must have passed:

Post-requisite modules

If you pass this module, you can take:

  • FI338-15 The Art of Animation
  • FI354-15 Film Aesthetics 2
  • FI355-15 Film Aesthetics 1
  • FI310-30 Dissertation Option in Film and/or Television Studies for Final Year Students

Courses

This module is Core for:

  • Year 2 of UFIA-W521 Undergraduate Film with Television Studies
  • UITA-R3W5 Undergraduate Italian with Film Studies
    • Year 2 of R3W5 Italian with Film Studies
    • Year 3 of R3W5 Italian with Film Studies

This module is Optional for:

  • Year 2 of UGEA-RP33 Undergraduate German with Film Studies

This module is Core option list A for:

  • Year 2 of UFRA-R1WA Undergraduate French with Film Studies