Course Description

After World War I, the American film industry became the dominant cinema throughout the world, dwarfing national cinemas in number of productions and in box office revenues. Since then, the industry vertically integrated into the Hollywood studio system, was broken up by the US courts, threatened by television and new media, acquired by global conglomerates, and challenged by emerging cinemas in East and South Asia.

By most measures, however, the American film industry remains a dominant force in the culture industries of the world. This course examines the economic history of the American film industry since 1912. We will also focus on the technological and cultural changes of the industry, and pay special attention to how film has responded to successes and challenges of the US film industry and the changes to its business practices.

Time and Place

Tuesdays, 6:30 – 9:20 PM
Kiely Hall, Room 321
Sections: MEDST 263 (48557)

Instructor

Juan Monroy

Office Hours

G Building, Room 102-D
Tuesday, 5:00 – 6:00 PM
Schedule an appointment: https://juanmonroy.com/qcofficehours

Course Materials

Texts

The following textbooks are available through Amazon, Textbookx, and on reserve at Rosenthal Library. Note that not all textbooks are required.

Reserve Readings

Required course readings are available electronically as PDFs from the course website. Use your QC G Suite for Education account to access these materials.

Podcasts about the American Film (and Entertainment) Industry

  • The Business: a weekly radio show on the “the business of show business,” produced by KCRW-FM
  • The Frame: a daily radio show about movies, music, TV, arts and entertainment, straight from Southern California.

Blackboard

We will not be using Blackboard for this course.

G Suite for Education

This course will use G Suite for Education using your QC CAMS (often referred to as the QC Active Directory) account. Below are instructions for how to activate your QC G Suite for Education account (titled “Step 1” below) and how to join our course on Google Classroom (titled “Step 2” below). New QC students and students enrolled at another CUNY campus will have to take an additional, first step (titled “Step 0” below).

About Google accounts

You can have more than one Google account. If you use Gmail, you already have a Google Account: it is likely a personal Google account. Google offers organizations, businesses and educational institutions G Suite accounts for its users. Since you’re enrolled at Queens College, you have access to a QC G Suite for Education account.

You cannot access QC G Suite for Education using your personal Gmail or another G Suite account.

You can be logged into both accounts at the same time, but you will likely have to switch between accounts to access your QC G Suite for Education account versus your personal G Suite.

Step 0: Activate your QC Username

Students New to Queens College, Recently Transferred to QC, or Enrolled at another CUNY Campus.

You must first activate your Queens College username and email account at https://cams.qc.cuny.edu.

The process takes about three (3) business days so please start this process as soon as possible.

Step 1: Activate Your QC G Suite for Education account

Information Technology at Queens College offers detailed instructions for activating (or claiming) your QC G Suite for Education account. The process comes down to four steps.

  1. Go to https://gdrive.qc.cuny.edu/.
  2. Log in with your complete Queens College username (e.g., jmonroy100@qc.cuny.edu).
  3. From the QC authentication page, sign in with your QC CAMS account. Use your QC CAMS username (e.g. jmonroy100) and your QC CAMS password. (If you’re having trouble contact the QC CAMS Help Desk at 718–997–4444.)
  4. Accept the terms of service.

You can access your QC G Suite for Education account at https://google.com/a/qc.cuny.edu.

Your Google G Suite for Education username is [Your QC AD username]@qc.cuny.edu, for example, jmonroy100@qc.cuny.edu.

About Google Classroom

Google Classroom is a barebones, learning management system that you will use to submit your assignments and I will use to grade your work. We will not be using Blackboard.

I will also post announcements to Google Classroom instead of emailing everyone in class. However, you should use email to contact me, instead of the private commenting system in Google Classroom because it doesn’t work properly.

Step 2: Join Google Classroom

Google has instructions for joining a course in Google Classroom. The process basically comes down to four steps:

  1. Go to Google Classroom.
  2. Sign in using your QC CAMS login.
  3. Click the “+” to “Join class.”
  4. Enter the code I provided at the first meeting (for face-to-face classes) or via email (for online classes).

I highly recommend downloading the Google Classroom mobile app for iOS or Android. If you allow push notifications, you will immediately receive important announcements from me and learn when assignments are posted.

Use the QC G Suite for Education Apps

We will be using some QC G Suite applications in this class.

  • Google Docs is a cloud-based, word-processing application. It is comparable to Microsoft Word on your personal computer except that all your documents are stored in your Google Drive. Be sure you’re using your QC G Suite account, not your personal Google account. Download the Google Docs mobile apps for iOS or Android.
  • Google Meet is a video-based, communication platform used for remote office hours. Download the Google Meet mobile apps for iOS or Android.
  • Google Forms is a survey and data collection platform that we will use for quizzes in some courses. There’s a bug in Forms that requires you to authenticate using your QC G Suite account on a web browser if you navigate to the quiz from the Google Classroom apps. To avoid this bug, I recommend taking the quizzes on a desktop computer.
  • Google Drive is a cloud-based file storage platform. Your QC Google Drive offers unlimited storage, compared to 15 GB with your personal Google Drive. Download the Google Drive mobile apps for iOS or Android.

Troubleshooting

A majority of access issues can be resolved switching to your Queens College Google account. This article describes how to switch between Google accounts.

Another resolution that always works is to log out of all your Google accounts in your web browser and then logging back into your QC G Suite account at https://google.com/a/qc.cuny.edu.

Policies

Attendance

For in-person classes, regular attendance is required. Attend twelve or more classes and receive five bonus points added to your final grade. Students missing more than four classes will not be permitted to take the final exam.

For hybrid course, regular attendance is required. Attend seven or more classes and receive five bonus points added to your final grade. Students missing more than three classes will not be permitted to take the final exam.

This policy does not apply to online courses.

Verification of Attendance

You must be present or participating in class during the verification of attendance period. Otherwise, I will report you as not attending and you will be dropped from the class.

The verification period is as follows:

  • fall and spring semesters: the first three weeks of classes
  • summer and winter semesters: the first four days of classes

Academically-related activities include, but are not limited to:

  • physically attending a class where there is an opportunity for direct interaction between the instructor and students;
  • submitting an academic assignment;
  • taking an exam, an interactive tutorial, or computer-assisted instruction;
  • attending a study group that is assigned by the school;
  • participating in an online discussion about academic matter;
  • engaging in an online academically-related activity, or initiating contact with the instructor to ask a question about the academic subject studied in the course or ask a course-related question.

Note: Logging into an online class is not sufficient, by itself, to demonstrate participation in an academically-related activity by the student.

Professionalism

Digital devices are prohibited in in-person classes. Unfortunately, students in the past have failed to use computers, tablets, smartphones, etc. in a professional, responsible, or productive manner, and, as such, you are not allowed to use these devices in class after the first class session.

You’re welcome to print out the slides ahead of time—they are available on this website—and to take notes on paper. I recommend buying a spiral notebook, some nice pencils, and a portable pencil sharpener to do this.

Further, if I find you engaging in any other disruptive behavior, such as passing notes, instant messaging, chatting, photographing, or texting, I will remove you from the classroom and have you withdraw from the class.

Late Work

Please submit your work on time. Late quizzes and take-home final exams will not be accepted. In some cases, assignments due at the end of the term will not be accepted. In-class exams must be taken at the date and time listed below unless other we make other arrangements.

All other work will be penalized as follows:

Fall and Spring Courses
After a 24-hour grace period, late work will be penalized by a 10% reduction for each 24-hour period it is late. After one calendar week, the assignment will not be accepted, and you will likely fail this class.
Summer and Winter Courses
After a one-hour grace period, late work will be penalized by a 10% reduction up to 24 hours after the deadline. Late work will not be accepted after 24 hours.
All courses
No work will be accepted after the last class session.

“Incomplete” Grades

There are no incomplete grades for this class except in the case of a documented emergency in the final weeks of the semester. If you experience such an emergency, please contact me immediately, and we will work out a schedule for you to complete the outstanding work before the beginning of the following semester.

But aside from these circumstances, no late work will be accepted and no “incomplete” grades will be granted. If you have difficulty keeping up with coursework, consider giving yourself extra time to complete assignments, reducing your overall course load, and/or taking this class at a later semester.

No Extra Credit Assignments

There are no opportunities for extra credit. As a matter of fairness, your grade will be based on the work assigned to all students.

Email

Do not use the commenting system in Google Classroom to communicate with me.

Always use your QC email account (student@qmail.cuny.edu) to email me, and also direct all emails to my jmonroy@qc.cuny.edu account. This is the only way I can communicate with you, other than face-to-face meetings or via video conferencing.

CUNY Policy on Academic Integrity

The CUNY Policy on Academic Integrity, as adopted by the Board, is available to all students. Academic dishonesty is prohibited in the City University of New York and is punishable by penalties, including failing grades, suspension, and expulsion.

Use of Student Work

All programs in New York State undergo periodic reviews by accreditation agencies. For these purposes, samples of student work are occasionally made available to those professionals conducting the review. Anonymity is assured under these circumstances. If you do not wish to have your work made available for these purposes, please let the professor know before the start of the second class. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated.

Course Evaluations

During the final four weeks of the semester, you will be asked to complete an evaluation for this course by filling out an online questionnaire. Please remember to participate in these course evaluations. Your comments are highly valued, and these evaluations are an important service to fellow students and to the institution, since your responses will be pooled with those of other students and made available online, in the Queens College Course Information System. Please also note that all responses are completely anonymous; no identifying information is retained once the evaluation has been submitted.

Campus Resources

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities needing academic accommodation should register with and provide documentation to the Office of Special Services, Frese Hall, room 111. The Office of Special Services will provide a letter for you to bring to your instructor indicating the need for accommodation and the nature of it. This should be done during the first week of class. For more information about services available to Queens College students, contact the Office of Special Services (718–997–5870) or visit their website http://sl.qc.cuny.edu/oss/.

Technical Support

The Queens College Helpdesk, (718) 997–4444, helpdesk@qc.cuny.edu) is located in the I-Building, Room 151 and provides technical support for students who need help with Queens College email, CUNY portal, Blackboard, and CUNYfirst.

Help with Writing

One of the most important skills you will learn throughout your education is writing. If you cannot write, you will not succeed at communicating your ideas and will endanger your professional development.

The Writing Center at Queens College offers free assistance to students with writing. Please visit the center at least once for each writing assignment you have for your classes this semester. You can schedule a one-hour session or drop in to consult an on-duty tutor.

Assignments

Timeline of Historical Events

I will give you twenty-five (25) events relevant to the history of American film and culture. Give the four-digit, numerical year in which this event occurred. You are welcome to use to any sources to complete this assignment.

Historical Event Summary

Select one of the events from the Timeline of Historical Events assignment, and write a two-page summary (about four hundred words) of that event and its relevance for the US film industry. We will work on writing a thesis sentence for this assignment in class in preparation for this assignment.

To research your assignment, you must consult at least four research sources. Two must be primary sources, and two must be secondary sources. None of these can be Internet-only sources. You must cite your sources, according to MLA or Chicago.

  • Due: October 15, in class
  • Weight: 15%

American Film and the Hollywood Industry

At the fourth week of class, each student will be randomly assigned a film to watch and research with a specific deadline. Before your assigned deadline, share a 750-word review of the film that connects the film to its historical moment and reflects on its importance on the American film industry. You should consult at least four research sources and include a graphic illustration in your post. Your review should answer the following questions:

  • How does the historical moment and its contemporary culture act on this film?
  • Has the meaning and the importance of the film changed over years?
  • How did the film impact the business practices of Hollywood?

You will present your review of the film on the day that we screen the film in class.

Your specific deadline will be assigned September 17.

  • Length: 750 words
  • Weight: 20%

Examinations

Midterm Exam

The exam will consist of identification and short essay questions. The questions will be based on the material we covered in the first-half of the course, corresponding to the American film industry under the Studio System.

  • Tuesday, October 29
  • Weight: 25%

Final Exam

The Final Exam is an in-class exam, consisting of identification and short essay questions. The questions will be based on the material we’ve covered during the entire course with an emphasis on the material we covered in the second-half of the course, corresponding to the American film industry after the advent of television.

  • Tuesday, December 17
  • Weight: 25%

Course Schedule

September 3: Getting Started

  1. Get the required textbooks:
  2. Get the recommended textbooks:
  3. Activate your Google Apps at QC account.
    • Students New to Queens College, Recently Transferred to QC, or Enrolled in another CUNY Campus: You must activate your email and Active Directory accounts before you can activate your G Suite for Education account. The process takes about three (3) business days so please start this process as soon as possible.
  4. Join the class on Google Classroom:8vwwuu
  5. Complete the Welcome Survey on Google Classroom.
Screenings
  • Dickson Camera Test (Edison Manufacturing Company, USA, 1891)
  • Men Boxing (Edison Manufacturing Company, USA, 1891)
  • Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze (W. K. L. Dickson, USA, 1894)
  • Luis Martinetti Contortionist (W. K. L. Dickson, USA, 1894)
  • Athlete with Wand (W. K. L. Dickson, USA, 1894)
  • Buffalo Dance (W. K. L. Dickson, USA, 1894)
  • Imperial Japanese Dance (W. K. L. Dickson, USA, 1894)
  • Fire Rescue Scene (W. K. L. Dickson, USA, 1894)
  • Boxing Cats (W. K. L. Dickson, USA, 1894)
  • The Kiss (W. K. L. Dickson, USA, 1896)
  • Star Theatre (American Mutoscope and Biograph, USA, 1901)
  • President McKinley at Home (American Mutoscope and Biograph, USA, 1896)
  • Skyscrapers of New York City, from the North River (Edison Manufacturing Company, 1903, 3 min.)
  • A Wringing Good Joke (Edison Manufacturing Company, USA, 1903)
  • The Gay Shoe Clerk (Edison Manufacturing Company, USA, 1903)

September 3: Nickelodeons and the Trust

Assignment

You will be assigned a film and deadline for American Film and the Hollywood Industry today in class.

Reading
Screenings
  • Jack and the Beanstalk (George Fleming and Edwin S. Porter, 1902, 10 min.)
  • The Great Train Robbery (Edwin S. Porter, 1902, 12 min.)
  • Life of an American Fireman (Edwin S. Porter, 1903, 10 min.)
  • The Kleptomaniac (Edwin S. Porter, USA, 1905, 10 min.)
  • Rescued from an Eagle’s Nest (Edwin S. Porter and J. Searle Dawle, USA, 1908, 6 min.)

September 10: The Innovative Independents

Readings
Screening
  • The Cheat (Cecil B. DeMille, 1915, 75 min.)

September 17: Fox, Warners, and the Coming of Sound

Reading
  • Gomery, Douglas and Clara Pafort-Overduin. “The Coming of Sound and the Studio System.” In Movie History: A Survey, 137–164.
  • Gomery, Douglas. “The Coming of Sound: Technological Change in the American Film Industry.” In Tino Balio, ed. The American Film Industry, rev. ed. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1985. 229–251.
  • Allen, Robert. “William Fox Presents Sunrise.” Quarterly Review of Film and Video 2.3 (1977): 327–338.
  • Studio Flashes.” New York Times (1923-Current File), February 13, 1927.
Screenings
  • Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (F.W. Murnau, 1927, 95 min.)

Phonofilm shorts

Movietone Short

Vitaphone Shorts

  • Will Hays Presents Vitaphone
  • The Jazz Singer (Alan Crosland, 1927, 88 min.)

September 24: The Big Five, Little Three, and the Code

Assignment

Timeline Assignment due today in class.

Reading
  • Lewis, Jon. “Technical Innovation and Industrial Transformation, 1927–1938.” American Film: A History. New York: W. W. Norton, 2008. 102–145.
  • Gomery, Douglas. “US Film Exhibition: The Formation of a Big Business.” In Tino Balio, ed. The American Film Industry, rev. ed. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1985. 218–228.
  • Sklar, Robert. “The Golden Age of Turbulence and the Golden Age of Order.” In Movie-Made America, 175–194.
  • Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America. “A Code to Maintain Social and Community Values in the Production of Silent, Synchronized and Talking Motion Pictures.” Reprinted in “Documents on the Genesis of the Production Code.” Quarterly Review of Film and Video 15.4 (1995): 60–63.
Screening
  • Little Caesar (Mervyn Le Roy, 1931, 78 min.)

October 15: Wartime Hollywood

Assignment

Historical Event Summary due today in class.

Reading
  • Lewis, Jon. “Hollywood In Transition, 1939–1945.” American Film: A History (New York: W. W. Norton, 2008). 147–168.
  • Schatz, Thomas. “The Motion Picture Industry During World War II.” Boom and Bust: American Cinema in the 1940s. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1997. 131–168.
In-Class Screening
  • Down Argentine Way (Irving Cummings, 1940, excerpt)
  • The Great Dictator (Charles Chaplin, 1940, excerpt)
  • The Clock (Vincente Minnelli, 1945, 90 min.)
Outside Screening

October 22: The Beginning of the End of the Studio System

Reading
  • Lewis, Jon. “Adjusting to Postwar America, 1945–1955.” American Film: A History. New York: W. W. Norton, 2008. 193–200.
  • Schatz, Thomas. “MGM: Last Gasp of the Studio Era.” The Genius of the System. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010. 440–462.
  • Sklar, Robert. “The Disappearing Audience and the Television Crisis.” In Movie-Made America, 269–285.
Screening
  • On the Town (Stanley Donen, 1949, 97 min.)

October 29: Midterm Exam

We will take our midterm exam in class, 6:30–8:30 PM. You need not supply any paper, blue books, or any exam form.

November 5: Hollywood vs. Television

Reading
Screening
  • Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (Frank Tashlin, 1957, 93 min.)

November 12: 1967 and the Youth Audience

Reading
  • Lewis, Jon. “Moving Toward A New Hollywood, 1955–1967.” American Film: A History. New York: W. W. Norton, 2008. 273–279.
  • Sklar, Robert. “Hollywood’s Collapse.” In Movie-Made America, 286–304.
Screening
  • Bonnie and Clyde (Arthur Penn, 1967, 112 min.)
  • Dr. Doolittle (Richard Fleischer, 1967, 144 min.)

November 19: New Hollywood

Reading
  • Lewis, Jon. “A Hollywood Renaissance, 1968–1980.” American Film: A History. New York: W. W. Norton, 2008. 281–327.
  • Schatz, Thomas. “The New Hollywood.” In Jim Collins, Hillary Radner, and Ava Preacher Collins, eds. Film Theory Goes to the Movies. New York: Routledge, 1993. 8–36.
Screening
  • The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974, 113 min.)

November 26: Wasserman, MCA/Universal, and the Blockbuster

Reading
  • Gomery, Douglas. “Modern Hollywood Studio System,” and “Universal.” The Hollywood Studio System: A History. London: BFI Publishing, 2005. 202–225.
  • Sklar, Robert. “Nadir and Revival.” In Movie-Made America, 321–338..
Screening
  • Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975, 124 min.)

December 3: Sundance and Independent Hollywood

Reading
In-Class Screening
  • Fargo (Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, 1996, 97 min.)
Oustide Screening

December 10: The Big Five and Hollywood’s Second Century

Reading
  • Lewis, Jon. “The End of Cinema as We Know It, 1999–2006.” American Film: A History. New York: W. W. Norton, 2008. 401–425.
  • Gomery, Douglas. “Coda: The Modern Conglomerate Studio System,” The Hollywood Studio System: A History. London: BFI Publishing, 2005. 309–317.
Screening
  • Coming Attractions

December 17: Final Exam

We will take our final exam today in class, 6:15 – 8:15 PM. You need not supply any paper, blue books, or any exam form.