Southern, Eastern, Western, Noir: Regional and National Identity through Genre (Maymester)

HNR 340 - Southern, Eastern, Western, Noir: Regional and National Identity through Genre (Maymester)

MySlice Info:

Term: Sum 2017
Class #: 70516
Section: M500
Credits: 3

W. G. Osborne III

Counts toward:
HNR Hum, Collaboration, Interdisciplinary

Course Time(s):
M-F 1:00-5:00 pm, May 15-26


Course Description:

Spend two weeks this summer watching regional genre films, taking local field trips for source material, and then making your very own regional genre movie.

You might have noticed that Americans can have widely differing views. And it’s likely struck you that sometimes those views can “color code” a map, where one area seems to share a view that another tends to deny. Turns out what you think has a whole lot to do with where you’re from—and in really deeply interesting ways. It also turns out this influence of place on beliefs and actions goes back a long, long way: accents, styles of dress, conceptions of basic notions like “freedom” or the role of government—the sources of these beliefs and behaviors can be traced to very distant times and places. During the 20th Century, when modern mass media entertainments like film were codified into genre conventions, these regional American ideological differences help define character types that still dominate our 21st Century media. (Consider for example the cowboy; what does he represent? How about the New England priest?). In short, our common stock of mythic fictional American cast of characters has a lot to tell us about the many different Americas that make up the United States; by watching such genre films closely, and looking at the related areas of literature and music, we can see how our own views on race, nationalism, government, and so on have been shaped, at least in part, by these arbitrary influences. (And we can see too how these unique regional cultural tendencies face erasure in light of suburban and global sameness).

Film-making experience not necessary!