Postwar American Cinema - FILM5310

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


The module will focus on postwar American cinema. The cinema of the period will be placed within the historical, cultural, political and artistic developments taking place around it. Students will be encouraged to explore the generative relationships between cinema and these other phenomena. Topics to be discussed will include (but are not limited to) cinema and the Vietnam War, Watergate, the birth of American performance art, rise in popular culture, the influence of European art cinema, the growth of American independent filmmaking. Films will be chosen from those made inside and on the edges of Hollywood (Independent and avant-garde).


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 60
Private study hours: 240
Total study hours: 300

Method of assessment

Essay 1 (2000 words) (40%)
Essay 2 (3000 words) (60%)

Indicative reading

David A. Cook, Lost Illusions: American Cinema in the Shadow of Watergate & Vietnam 1970-79 (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2000)
Howarth, N. King, & T. Elsaesser (eds.), The Last Great American Picture Show: New Hollywood Cinema in the 1970s (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2004)
Steve Neale (ed.), Genre & Contemporary Hollywood (London: BFI, 2002)
Richard Maltby, Hollywood Cinema (Cambridge: Blackwell, 2003)
Peter Stanfield, The Cool and the Crazy: Pop Fifties Cinema (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2015)

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

- demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of postwar American cinema through analysis of the debates on a number of basic industrial, aesthetic, social and cultural trends;
- an understanding the relevance of the demise of the studio system and the rise of package-based and independent production;
- show awareness of the impact of new technologies and forms of entertainment such as television and video; the popularity of genres like the blockbuster;
- demonstrate comprehension of the significance of the cinema of specific directors, the rise and impact of aesthetic trends, the social cultural and political context of filmmaking;
- show awareness of historical developments and be able to evaluate their relevance to understanding the transformations of postwar American cinema.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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