Kathleen Moran (Home Department: American Studies)
Monday and Wednesday 12:00-2:00, 141 McCone Hall (4 units), Class number: 44495

This course will introduce students to the interdisciplinary field of American Studies, taking the “Hollywood Dream Factory” as its central theme. Focusing on both parts of that phrase, the course will proceed along a double path: We will examine the economic and cultural history of the geographical neighborhood in Los Angeles called "Hollywood" and we will study the development of the motion picture industry from the rise of the studio system to the “new” entertainment economy of the 1980’s. Our topics will include the founding of Los Angeles and the history of labor in the culture industry, the implications of various shifts in the spatial organization of film production, and the effects of Hollywood on the larger politics of southern California. We will also consider works by Nathaniel West, Raymond Chandler and Joan Didion, and discuss the way Hollywood has framed its own history in movies it makes about the movie industry

You will be required to see twelve “classic” films, plus two contemporary movie about movies. Our main project will focus on helping students relate primary texts to historical arguments, social analysis and empirical data. Part of the course will be devoted to analyzing the ways that films create meaning and how the medium works to construct powerful fantasies about the boundaries between public and private, work and play, commerce and art, fantasy and reality.

Awards

Kathleen Moran

the Distinguished Teaching Award

Breadth

This course may be used to satisfy the Historical Studies breadth requirement in Letters and Science.