Seeing the Twentieth Century: European History and Film from the 1890s to the Present
Prof. Jordanna Bailkin (email@example.com)
Lectures are asynchronous; Friday discussion sections are synchronous
Films will be available to stream asynchronously
The twentieth century, as the historian Eric Hobsbawm has said, was an “age of extremes.” This course serves as an introduction to this turbulent age. We will survey the histories of world war, the rise and fall of fascism and communism, postwar migrations, the Cold War and decolonization, and the making (and breaking) of the European Community up through the age of Brexit.
Our discussions will be unified by our focus on the social and political function of film. This course is intended to provide an opportunity for students to explore the diverse historical uses of film – and to sharpen their own skills of visual analysis – along with an overview of major themes in 20th-century European history. Through our explorations of key moments in the recent European past, we will consider broader questions of citizenship and identity in modern political life.
We will read texts such as Art Spiegelman's Maus II: And Here My Troubles Began. Films will include early French films by Georges Melies, Jean Renoir's Grand Illusion, Sergei Eisenstein's Ten Days that Shook the World, Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will, Michael Verhoeven's Nasty Girl, Billy Wilder's One, Two, Three, Gillo Pontecorvo's Battle of Algiers, Richard Lester's Hard Day's Night, and Matthieu Kassovitz's Hate. Assignments will include a midterm, an exam, and a 7-8 page paper based on the readings and films.