Spring 2023

“It was the ’70s”: US Film, History, and the Cultural Imagination

Listed in: English, as ENGL-484  |  Film and Media Studies, as FAMS-424

Moodle site: Course


Amelie E. Hastie (Section 01)


(Offered as ENGL 484 and FAMS 424) Sometimes referred to as the “silver era” of US film production, the 1970s were a period of aesthetic, technological, and cultural transformation. New “auteurs” emerged as both mavericks and commercial success stories. Independence reigned supreme for some, while others helped to usher in the contemporary blockbuster. At the same time, scholarly study of film was steadily increasing, experimenting with new disciplinary methods, waging debates, and often distancing itself from popular critical writings. All told, such narratives of the era have meant that the 1970s looms large in our cultural imagination of film production. This course will trace film history to consider how narratives of the era have been written and how, in recent years, they have been written anew.

The first half of the course will explore several canonical works, while the second half of the course will consider films that have been recently excavated and/or remade. By intermixing popular critical writings (including reviews, interviews, and essays), academic writings of the era, and recent historical studies, we will consider historical and historiographical methods of film studies scholarship. Moreover, in our discussion of newly excavated or historically underrepresented cases–including works directed by women, examples of Blaxploitation cinema, and independent drama–we will explore how canons are both designed and remade, functioning as emblems of the time of their own critical production. Students will work with primary archival materials along with contemporaneous critical or theoretical models in order to develop their own historical narratives of 1970s film.

Requisite: Prior FAMS coursework or, alternatively, prior 200-level courses in ENGL. Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Hastie.

How to handle overenrollment: Priority given to ENGL and FAMS majors.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: emphasis on written work, readings


2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Fall 2013