module specification

SJ6032 - Screening America in Hollywood Film (2018/19)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2018/19
Module title Screening America in Hollywood Film
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 30
School School of Computing and Digital Media
Total study hours 300
81 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
219 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 40%   3,000 Word Essay
Coursework 60%   5,000 Word Essay
Running in 2018/19
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year North Wednesday Morning

Module summary

This module explores the ways in which Hollywood film represents American history and culture. Considering both specific historical events and broader cultural eras, the module examines both issues of historical narrative and Hollywood’s key role in both representing and challenging norms of American culture.

Module aims

This module aims to:

• Examine the ways in which Hollywood film shapes our understanding of American history

• Explore American mythology articulated through Hollywood film

• Critically analyse screen representations of American historical events

• Examine our understanding of particular cultural eras represented in Hollywood film

• Explore the ways in which Hollywood film reinforces and challenges cultural norms


The module will first explore a number of key moments in American history, considering the ways in which our knowledge and understanding of these events and of American mythology has been shaped by Hollywood film. Case studies may include the American Civil War, the Great Depression and New Deal, the immigrant experience and the assassination of John F. Kennedy, considering films such as Gone with the Wind, Gold Diggers of 1933 and JFK. The second part of the module will focus on a particular era in American culture, exploring the ways in which Hollywood film defines the image of an era and the extent to which these representations both reinforce and challenge cultural norms.

Learning and teaching

Learning and teaching on the module will be conducted via lectures, seminars, screenings, blended learning and students’ guided independent study. Students will be expected to enhance their learning in scheduled classes through guided research. Student development weeks will provide students with the opportunity for primary research and for individual feedback in tutorials with tutors to develop planning and research for their assignments. The developing assessment strategy provides opportunities for personal development as students are able to reflect on and develop their learning and research in conjunction with tutor feedback in preparation for their final essays.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

• Critically analyse screen representations of key moments in American history
• Critically debate the impact of Hollywood film on the audience’s understanding of American history and mythology
• Explore and analyse the depiction of particular eras of American cultural history in Hollywood film
• Critically analyse the ways in which Hollywood film both reinforces and challenges cultural norms through its representation of American culture
• Effectively articulate ideas and arguments in essay coursework

Assessment strategy

The module’s strategy of assessment both promotes developmental learning and research and enables students to demonstrate key skills and engagement with module content. The first assignment provides the opportunity for students to demonstrate an understanding of key issues of historical representation. Formal feedback will be provided on this assignment. Through the final essay, students will have the opportunity to build on this theoretical basis and feedback from their earlier assignment to critically analyse Hollywood’s representation of the specific cultural era explored on the module.


Peter Biskind, Seeing is Believing: How Hollywood Taught Us to Stop Worrying and Love the Fifties (London: Pluto Press, 1983).
Robert Burgoyne, The Hollywood Historical Film (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2008).
Steven Cohan, Masked Men: Masculinity and the Movies in the Fifties (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1997).
Thomas Cripps, Making Movies Black: The Hollywood Message Movie from World War II to the Civil Rights Era (Oxford: OUP, 1993).
Karen McNally, When Frankie Went to Hollywood: Frank Sinatra and American Male Identity (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2008).
Steven Mintz and Randy Roberts (eds.), Hollywood’s America: United States History Through Its Films (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2001).
John E. O’Connor and Martin A. Jackson, American History/American Film: Interpreting the Hollywood Image (New York: Continuum, 1988).
Peter C. Rollins (ed.), Hollywood as Historian: American Film in a Cultural Context (Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky Press, 1998).
W. Bryan Rommel Ruiz, American History Goes to the Movies: Hollywood and the American Experience (New York: Routledge, 2011).
J. E. Smyth, Hollywood and the American Historical Film (Basingstoke, Hants: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).