American Film and Visual Culture

Module code: HA1224 

Module co-ordinator: Dr Guy Barefoot

Module Overview

This second year module focuses on American film but also examines American photography, television and video games, and the industries and the changing cultural contexts within which these have been produced and received. Topics range from slapstick comedy of the Hollywood silent era to 21st century HBO dramas.

Potential Screenings

Films shown in previous years have included:

  1. Programme of short films to include Musketeers of Pig Alley (dir. Griffith, 1912), Sherlock Jr. (dir. Keaton, 1924), His Wooden Wedding (dir. McCarey, 1925)
  2. Gold Diggers of 1933 (dir. LeRoy, 1933)
  3. The Killers (dir. Siodmak, 1946)
  4. Written on the Wind (dir. Sirk, 1956)
  5. Bonnie and Clyde (dir. Penn, 1967)
  6. Jaws (dir. Spielberg, 1975)
  7. Do the Right Thing (dir. Lee, 1989)
  8. Starship Troopers (dir. Verhoeven, 1997)
  9. Episodes from the first seasons of Six Feet Under (2001) and The Wire (2002)

Selected Reading

  • Tino Balio, Grand Design: Hollywood as a Modern Business Enterprise 1930-39 (1995) [see also other titles in the History of American Cinema series]
  • Richard Barsam, Looking at Movies, 3rd edition (2010)
  • John Belton, American Cinema/American Culture, 4th edition (2012)
  • Harry M. Benshoff and Sean Griffin, America on Film: Representing Race, Class, Gender and Sexuality at the Movies, 2nd edition (2009)
  • David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson, Film Art: An Introduction, 10th edition (2013)
  • Barry Keith Grant (ed.), American Cinema of the 1960s: Themes and Variations (2008) [see also other titles in the Screen Decades series]
  • Martin Halliwell, American Culture in the 1950s (2007) [see also other titles in the Twentieth Century American Culture series]
  • John Hill and Pamela Church Gibbon (eds.), American Cinema and Hollywood (2000) [also available in Hill and Gibbon’s Oxford Guide to Film Studies]
  • Jon Lewis, American Film: A History (2008)
  • Richard Maltby, Hollywood Cinema: An Introduction, 2nd edition (2003)
  • Mark Rawlinson, American Visual Culture (2009)
  • Robert Sklar, Movie-Made America: A Cultural History of American Movies (1975)


One 1,500-2,000 word essay (30%), one 3,000-3,500 word essay (70%)