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Contemporary American Cinema


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 7
  • Assessment: a 5000-word essay (100%)

Module description

This module explores the changes which have taken place, and are still taking place, in the production, distribution and exhibition of American film in the past four decades. These changes have occurred under the influence of emerging digital media technologies, so this module considers the impact of computer-generated imaging on production processes, visual aesthetics, and notions of stardom. We will also consider the significance of the growing use of the internet and World Wide Web as a means of distributing and viewing films, and the associated implications of the shift from celluloid to digital media and the multiple-media (e.g. video games, DVD, merchandising) phenomenon of modern 'blockbuster' movies. We will also look at the relationship between mainstream studios and the expanding independent arena.

Bookending this core material will be two sessions considering the relationship of American cinema to American politics, both at the beginning of the 1970s and now.

The module will be taught via the distribution of reading and viewing materials (the latter on DVD) and weekly seminars to discuss this material and related issues.

Indicative module content

  • Background: the end of the Studio System
  • New Hollywood
  • 1970s politics and cinema
  • Blockbusters
  • International relations
  • Film and television
  • Independent cinema
  • Digital Hollywood
  • Hollywood in the age of terror
  • The future of cinema