AMH4317 History by Hollywood Syllabus. Fall 2014


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AMH4317 History by Hollywood Syllabus. Fall 2014
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History by Hollywood
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Newman, Louise


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AMH4317 History by Hollywood Race and Representation in the Western Fall 2014 Instructor: Louise Newman, Associate Professor Office: Keene Flint 212 Email: Course Description This course examines sev en Hollywood films released in the mid 1950s through 2003, which consider racial identities, gender roles, and sexual behaviors in U.S. society Three of these films are historical westerns; the remaining four are contemporary wes terns. In examining these films, we will focus on how filmmakers make use of historical settings and events (the settling of the United States Battle of Little Big Horn, American Indian Movement, for example ) to re flect on contemporary problems such as r ace relations, interracial relationships, masculine ideals, feminism, and homophobia We begin with John Ford's classic western, The Searchers (1956), whose plot involves a white man's attempt to rescue his niece who has been abducted in an Indian attack in the 1870s and who comes close to killing her because he considers her to be irredeemably sullied by her marriage to an Indian Then we will move to the period of the late 19 60s, early 1970s, when in the midst of the Viet Nam War protests and Civil Righ ts movements of that era some filmmakers began to create new narratives about Indians and Cowboys (decades ahead of Dances with Wolves ). We will analyze how one of these revisionist westerns, Arthur Penn's Little Big Man (1970) offers a satir ic retelling of the Indian wars and the settling of the West. From there, we move into the 1990s to look at how a feminist dire ctor, Maggie Greenwald, reworks other themes of the classic historical western in The Ballad of Little Jo (1993), a film that is also set in the 1865 1890 period and is purportedly based on the "true story" of a white woman who passes for a man, and who -as Greenwald imagines voluntarily engages in a clandestine sexual relationship with her Chinese servant. In our second unit, we will look to westerns set in a contemporary moment (rather than the nineteenth century), and explore romantic relationships that cross either racial or gender boundaries as a metaphor for thinking about the impact that history has had on individuals and s ociety. First, we will examine Lone Star (John Sayles, 1996), which is set in the 1990s but uses flashback s to reflect on the 1960s, and which is also a murder mystery, featuring several interracial romances as part of its story to raise fundamental questions about what purposes U.S. history should serve Then we will turn to Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain (2005), which is also set in the 1960s and explores homophobia both internalized and external variants Finally, we will look at two f ilms made by native American directors that directly challenge Hollywood's racial constructions of the Indian ending the course with Ch ris Eyr e's Smoke Signals (1998) and Sherman Alexie's The Business of Fancydancing ( 2002 ) Students will learn how to situate these seven Hollywood films in various historical context s so as to speculate about how they were understood by audiences at their original release dates along with what meanings these texts may hold for us today One of our c entral concerns will be to ask whether the meanings of t hese films have changed over time taking us into the thorny area of how best to interpret cultural texts that are produced in one historical moment (about another historical moment) but continue to circulate in a thi rd historical moment We will also explore what makes a Hollywood film "good" from a historical, as o pposed to aesthetic, perspective. I s it some correspondence/affirmation of an already known past, or an ability to offer new insights and perspectives about history? Is it because it lends itself to competing interpretations or generates meaningful reflection ? Or perhaps the historical value of a film lie s elsewhere in the way it changes our understanding of both past and present, as well as how we think about the possibilities for the future. Course Objectives To gain an appreciation for how film draws on popular ideologies to shape our understanding of both past and present


History by Hollywood: Race & Representation in the Western To complicate conventional understandings of truth, objectivity, causality, reality, facts, evidence, etc. key concepts for historians To make students better readers and interpreters of cultural texts To f urther develop students' critical reading, writing, and thinking skills R equired Readings/Screenings Books P urchase is strongly recommended These two texts are widely available from online and traditional booksellers, including, the University of Florida Bookstore and Gator Textbooks (located in the Creekside Mall on SW 2 nd Ave ) Benshoff, Harry M. and Griffin, Sean. America on Film: Representing Race, Class, Gender and Sexuality at the Movies. 2 nd edition. MA: Wiley Blackwell, 2009. One copy will be available on course reserve s at the Circulation desk, Library West for on site use on ly Greg M. Smith, What Media Classes Really Want to Discuss: A Student Guide. Routledge, 2 0 11. Course reserves is in the process of acquiring one copy to be made available for on site use only. Articles Electronic copies of the following articles are available through Smathers' Library /ARES C ourse reserves and can be downloaded to your computer at home if you use the VPN client ( available for free from Cisco ) to connect to the UF server. Bloom Alexander, ed., "Timeline and Introduction," in L ong Time Gone. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001, pp. ix xiv, 3 9. Cobb, Amanda J. "Th i s is What it Means to Say Smoke Signals" in O'Connor, Peter C. and John E ., eds. Hollywood's Indians : The Portrayal of the Native American in Film. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1998 206 228. Connelly, Sher r yl. "Two Filmmakers Shatter American Stereotypes," Indie Magazine, July 1998, 30 31, 38. Crowdus Gary and Richard Porton, "The importa nce of a singular, guiding vision: An interview with Arthur Penn." Cineaste 20.2 (1993 ): 4 17 Eckstein, Arthur M. "Darkening Ethan: John Ford's The Searchers (1956): Fro m Novel to Screenplay to Screen. Cinema Journal 38.1 (Autumn 1998): 3 24. Fregoso, Rosa Linda, "Reproduction and Miscegenation on the Borderlands," alon g with Ann DuCille's response, in Chicana Feminisms: A Critical Reader Ed. Arredondo, Gabr i ela, et. al. Durham: Duke University Press, 2003, pp. 323 353. Grant Ba rry Keith Film Genre: From Iconography to Ideology, Wallflower Press, 2007, p. 8 17. Keller James R. and Jones Anne Goodwyn "Brokeback Mountain: Masculinity and Manhood Studies in Popular Culture 30.2 (Spring 2008): 21 36. Hender son Brian. The Searchers : An American Dilemma," Film Quarterly 34.2 (Winter 1980 81): 9 23. ( Article is longer but these are the only required pages. ) Kasdan, Margo and Tavernetti, Susan. "Native Americans in a Revisionist Western: Little Big Man (1970)" in O'Connor, Peter C and John E., eds. Hollywood's Indians: The Portrayal of the Native American in Film. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1998 ,121 136. Klopotek Brian. "' I Guess Your Warrior Look Doesn't Work Every Time': Challenging Indian Masculinity n the Cinema." Across the Great Divide: Cultures of Manhood in the American West. Eds. Matthew Basso, Laura McCall and Dee Garceau. New York: Routledge, 2001, 251 273. Leung, William. "So Queer yet so Stra i ght: Ang Lee's The Wedding Banquet and Brokeback Mountain ." Journal of Film and Video 60. 1 (2008): 23 43.


History by Hollywood: Race & Representation in the Western # Magowan Kim. "'Blood Only Means What You Let It:' Incest and Miscegenation in John Sayles' Lone St ar ." Film Quarterly 57 (Fall 2003): 20 31. Mihelich John "Smoke or Signals? American Popular Cul ture and the Challenge to Hegemonic Images of American Indians in Native American Film," !"#$ % &'()' *+,"+""$%& !"'()*)+,"!--$./" 129 137 Modleski Tania. "A Woman's Gotta Do What A M an's Gotta Do? Cro ss Dressing in the Western." Signs 22.3 (Spring 1997): 519 45. Reed T.V. "Old Cowboys, New Indians: Holl ywood Frames the America Ind i an. Wicazo SA Review (Summer 2001): 75 96. Rosenstone, Robert. "The Historical Film," Visions of the Past 1995 45 79. Sayles, John and Smith, Gavin. Sayles on Sayles Boston: Faber and Faber 1998, 217 233. West, Dennis and West, Joan M "Sending Cinematic Smoke Signals: An Interview with Sh e rman Alexie." Cineaste 23.4 (1998): 28 31. Youngberg Quentin. "Interpenetrations: Re encoding the Queer Indian in Sh e rman Alexie's Th e Business of Fancydancing. Stu d i es in American Literatures 20. 1 (Spring 2008): 55 75. Additional r eadings, including film reviews, interviews with directors, and podcasts/ websites wi ll be assigned under the "Readings" and "Additional Activit ies" section s in the individual m odules Documentaries and feature f ilms to be screened (required) Unless otherwise indicated on the website or below t he following films must be purchased or rented /streamed from online vendors. T hey cannot be downloaded or streamed from the course website One copy of each Hollywood film will be available at Library West/Circulation Desk f or on site viewing only Documentaries American Storytellers ( K evin Mukherji, 2003). Netflix loans DVD. Amazon streams the film for $1.99. DVD available for purchase on Amazon .com for $1 $ 4.00 (used) and $10.00 $ 14.00 (new). Reel Injun (Neil Diamond, Catherine Bainbridge, Jeremiah Hayes, 2009). This documentary is available on a number of websites and can be screened on them for free. There is also a copy at Library West/Circulation Desk f or on site viewing only For those who want to purchase thei r own copy, DVDs are available from ($20 new, $ 10 used). We Shall Remain : America Through Native Eyes ( Chris Eyre 2009 ). This three disk DVD, 470 minute documentary aired on PBS as part of the "Ame rican Experience" series in 2009 It can be viewed for free on the PBS website or purchased from Amazon. com ($24 new, $21 used ). Feature films The Searchers (John Ford, 1956 ) Netflix loans DVD or this film can be streamed from Amazon ($2.99) or purchased (used) from Amazon for roughly the same price. Little Big Man (Arthur Penn, 1970 ) Netflix loans DVD DVD also available for purchase on Amazon $5.00 used, $7.00 new). The Ballad of Little Jo (Maggie Greenwald, 1993 ) Not available from Netflix. DVD available for purchase on Amazon .com ($5.00 used, $8.00 new). Brokeback Moun t ain ( Ang Lee, 2005) Can be streamed instantly from Netflix or Amazon ($2.99) or purchased from Amazon (.01 used, $1.00 new). Lone Star (John Sayles, 1996) Netflix loans DVD DVD available for purchase on Amazon ($1.50 used, $5.50 new). Smoke Signals (Chris Eyre, 1998) Can be streamed instantly from Netflix or purchased on Amazon ($3.00 used, $5.00 new). The Busine s s of Fancydancing (Sherman Alexie, 2002 ) The film is out of print and can no longer be purchased at a reasonable price. Netflix loans DVD but does not have the film available for instant streaming. There is a copy at Library West Circulation desk for on site viewing.


History by Hollywood: Race & Representation in the Western 0 In addition, students will choose an additional feature film to watch (not one listed above) to use as the basis for the final project. Assignments There are two major assignments scheduled over the 16 week semester Twice during the semester (in Modules 8, 13) students will submit a portfolio containing short essays on a total of 4 of the 7 films assigned on the syllabus. The first submission will contain 1 commentary, on either The Ballad of Little Jo or Little Big Man and it is due in Module 8 (50 points) The second submission will conta in 3 commentaries, selected from among Lone Star Brokeback Mountain Smoke Signals and Busine s s of Fancydancing and it is due in Module 13 (150 points) In Module 14 students will submit a presentation u sing Powerpoint al o ng with a brief word document (3 00 points) which they will have to upload and share with classmates. Students will need to budget extra time to complete this assignment as it will require the locating of information that is not available through this website Students can sign up f or a non syllabus film at any point in the semester but no later than Module 10 Students may choose to work in groups of up to three people on this p owerpoint assignment one grade will be assigned and all students in the group will receive the same grade regardless of how the workload was divided. Points Assigned (1000 pts total) 11 Graded Quizz es (10 0 total questions) 3 pts per question 30 0 pts 20 Posts to 10 weekly Discussion Boards 10 points each 200 pts Portfolio (4 Film Commentaries) 50 points each 200 pts Final assign m ent ( P owerpoint, word document on a non syllabus film ) 3 0 0 pts Extra Credit points Syllabus/Handout Quiz 10 pts Midterm Evaluation 10 pts Grading Scale Overall letter grades for the course will be assigned according to the following scale: Letter Grade Total Points GPA Equivalent A 950 1000 4.0 A 900 950 3.67 B+ 875 899 3.33 B 850 874 3.0 B 800 849 2.67 C+ 775 799 2.33 C 750 774 2.0 C 700 749 1.67 D+ 675 699 1.33 D 650 674 1.0 D 600 649 0.67 E <600 0


History by Hollywood: Race & Representation in the Western 1 University /Course Policies All students should observe the University of Florida's standards of academic honesty. !""#$%%&&&'()*'+,-'.(+%/+(0102-%212(.301'#!# Acts of dishonesty, cheating and plagiarism include (but are not limited to) the following : Turning in a paper that was written by someone else (i.e., papers written by another student, a research service, or downloaded off the Internet) ; or written by you for a nother course Copying, verbatim, a portion of text from the work of another author without using quotation marks and acknowledging the source through a commonly accepted style of footnoting Paraphrasing (i.e., restating in your own words) text written by another author without referencing that author both within in the text and using a commonly accepted style of footnoting Using a unique idea or concept, which you discovered in a specific reading website, b l og, discussion board, etc. without acknowledgi ng the original author and source, both within the text and by using a commonly accepted style of footnoting Overview of the Weekly Schedule /Deadlines Sat/Sun /Mon : Watch films, read the required sele c tions and do other assigned activities Tues (11:59 pm): First P ost to the Discussion Board is due (posts that are submitted on Monday will be awarded an extra point to encourage early submission) Thurs (11:59 pm): Second P ost to the Discussion Board is due Friday (11:59 pm): Take Quiz; any ad ditional assignments that may be due i n a given module ar e also due by Friday at 11:59 pm ( e.g., Portfolios, Final Project ) Schedule of Topics, Readings and Major Assignments Many a dditional activities, includi ng reading film reviews and websites not listed here, ar e also assigned for most modules. M o dule 1 Realis m is not the same thing as reality Smith 1 34, 52 62 Module 2 Objectification and Stereoty p ing Smith, 35 59, 88 113. Benshoff and Griffin 3 17, 47 55, 78 84, 213 222. Module 3 Historians on Film, Filmmakers on Histor y Rosenstone, 45 79. Mazur, (3p ) Zelikow, (4p) Module 4 Hollywood's Early Histor y Benshoff and Griffin, 30 43, 56 76, 187 190. Module 5 Masculinity and Race in John F ord's The Searchers (1956) : A Classic Western? Benshoff and Griffin 102 110, 257 260, 274 2 7 7 Eckstein, 3 24 Henderson 9 23 Grant, 8 17. Module 6 A (Not so ? ) Revisionist Western, Arthur Penn's Little Big Man (1970)


History by Hollywood: Race & Representation in the Western % Benshoff and Griffin 110 122. Bloom, ix xiv, 3 9 Kasdan and Tavernetti 121 136. Klopotek, 251 255 Crowdus and Porton, 4 17. Module 7 Feminist Histor ical Imaginings : Maggie Greenwald's The Ballad of Little Jo (1993) Benshoff and Griffin, 27 8 302 Modleski, 519 545. Module 8 Portolio first submission due (1 film commentary, on either Ballad of Little Jo or L ittle Big Man 50 points) Module 9 Multicultural Histories in John Sayles' Lone Star (1996 ) Sayles, 217 233. Magowan 20 31 Fregoso and duCille, 32 3 353 Module 10 Queering the Wes t ern : Ang Lee's B rokeback Mountain (2005) Benshoff and Griffin 347 353, esp. 406 40 7 Keller and Jones, 2 1 36. Leung 23 43 Last module to submit title of f ilm for final project Module 11 Redefining Indian Masculinity/ Retelling In dian History : Chris Eyre's Smoke Signals (1998) Benshoff and Griffin 110 121 esp. 118 West, 28 32. Klopotek 25 1 273 Cobb 20 6 228 Reed 75 96 Connelly 30 3 1, 38 Mihelich, 129 137 Module 12 Queering the Native Sphere : Sherman Alexie's The Business of Fancydancing ( 2 002 ) Youngberg 55 75 Module 13 Portfolio second submission due (15 0 points) (C ommentary on 3 films, choosing from Lone Star, Brokeback Mountain Smoke Signals and The Busine s s of Fa ncydancing) Module 14 Final Project d u e ( Powerpoint and word document on non syllabus film, 300 points) No common readings; students should be reading material they have identified for the film that is the basis of their final project