Hollywood Studios - FI314

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
(version 3)
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4 30 (15) DR T Jeffers McDonald







The module studies the emergence and consolidation of the studio system in Hollywood, between the coming of sound in 1929 until the collapse of the studios in 1960. Indicative topics include the rise of the star system; the emergence of genres; self-regulation and censorship; developments in technology; and changes in audience. Examination will be made of the development of the 'classic Hollywood cinema' style of film against the backdrop of varying contexts of production, distribution, exhibition and regulation. A focus on genres (such as the gangster film, western and musical) in their various phases of development and permutation will be a lens for student understanding of the importance of standardization. Studio development and collapse are also seen in broader historical and political contexts, enabling students to appreciate the forces that motivated film production, distribution and exhibition during the period.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

Total contact hours: 72
Private study hours: 228
Total study hours: 300

Method of assessment

Essay (2000 words) (40%)
Seminar Participation (10%)
Examination, 2 hour unseen (50%)

Indicative reading

Bordwell, D. & Thompson. K. (2009) Film History. Berkshire: Mcgraw Hill.
Clark, D. (1995) Negotiating Hollywood: The Cultural Politics Of Actor's Labor. Minnesota: University of Minneapolis Press.
Gomery, D. (2005) The Hollywood Studio System: A History. London: Bfi Publishing.
Maltby, R. (2003) Hollywood Cinema. Malden, Ma: Wiley-Blackwell. (2nd Edition)
Mcdonald, P. (2000) The Star System. London: Wallflower Press
Schatz, T. (1998) The Genius Of The System: Hollywood Film-Making In The Studio Era. London: Faber.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
- Demonstrate an understanding of the history of the Hollywood Studio System and to have examined its development in terms of economic, political, structural and artistic achievements.
- Indicate an awareness of the technological advances made during the period under investigation (1929-1960) and to have discovered how these informed changes in film aesthetic, production, distribution and exhibition.
- Show appreciation of the significance of the development of the star system in Hollywood.
- Display knowledge about the emergence of standardized genre films, and to have closely studied a number of specific examples.
- Exhibit comprehension of the importance of discourse about the standardization as well as regulation and censorship of the Hollywood industry. This includes familiarity with the Hays Code.
- Demonstrate perception of the significance of changes and growth in audience and the mechanisms of publicity.

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