History of Film: 1895-1929
Instructor: Mal Ahern
This course surveys the history of cinema from its emergence in the late Nineteenth Century to the advent of synchronized sound. Students will learn how cinema transitioned from a technical novelty to a narrative medium, and explore early cinema’s relationship to other new technologies (the telephone and radio), mass entertainments (the amusement park), and artistic media (painting and literature). As we trace the development of formal conventions for storytelling, we will also explore a range of alternatives to conventional film style in avant-garde and independent filmmaking. Other topics will include the emergence of national film cultures (in France, Germany, the Soviet Union, China, and Japan), the history of film technology, and the role of women in the early film industry. Students will complete a guided research assignment that introduces them to working with primary sources and archives.