Image and Concept: Movies as Historical Documents for an Understanding of the Era of the Great Depression in The United States, 1931-1941

History 84

Fall 2010
Instructor: 
Location: 
125 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
W 2-5P
CCN: 
39264
Units: 
Units

This seminar will meet the entire semester. For eight of those weeks we will meet from 2:00-5:00 p.m. to view and discuss eight movies. During the alternate weeks the seminar will meet for approximately an hour and a half to further examine the issues raised by the movies and those presented by the course reader. The movie schedule will be available at the first class meeting. We will be studying the history of this country, focusing on a brief period, one decade. Yet during those years the nation entered into and responded to the deepest economic downturn in our history. That experience transformed our country. It clearly provided precedents that are being called upon today, in our present time of economic difficulties. Movies provide invaluable evidence of what it was like to be alive in ";the era of the Great Depression."; Movies have significant advantages and shortcomings as historical documents. We will examine both. What are the benefits and drawbacks of images and concepts as ways of knowing? Can movies adequately deal with a complex historical event? In what sense can movies tell the truth? In what way do movies help define the values of their audiences, and in what way are the movies themselves shaped by existing values of their audiences? These are some of the questions that we will try to answer. In addition to viewing the movies, each student must purchase and study closely a reader providing information and background for the course. At the end of the semester, each student must submit a ten-page typewritten critical summary paper tying the course together in his/her own way. No additional reading is required for this paper, only additional thinking. This seminar is open to freshmen and sophomores. Enrollment is limited to fifteen students. At the first and second meeting of class, a few students may be admitted, with the permission of the instructor, to replace those enrollees who have decided to go elsewhere. Samuel Haber is an Emeritus Professor in the History Department who is writing a book on American History of the era 1920-1945.

Notes: 

(2 units, P/NP) Samuel Haber is an Emeritus Professor in the History Department who is writing a book on American History of the era 1920-1945.