Fall 2022

Movie Censorship

Listed in: American Studies, as AMST-337  |  Film and Media Studies, as FAMS-337  |  History, as HIST-337


Francis G. Couvares (Section 01)


(Offered as AMST-337, FAMS-337, and HIST-337)  Almost from their very first days, even as they provoked a sense of wonderment, movies also provoked alarm and became targets of censorship. This course traces that set of reactions from the campaign to shut down the 1915 racist epic, “Birth of a Nation;” through the campaigns against sexual display and ethnic insult in the 1920s; to the Production Code era in the 1930s, with its “fallen women,” gangsters, and “screwballs"; through the end of the studio system and the rise of political censorship in the Cold War era. Frequent film viewing and intensive reading will be required, as also will be several smaller and at least one larger writing assignment.

Limited to 20 students.  Fall semester.  Professor Couvares

How to handle overenrollment: majors in History, American Studies, and FAMS will get priority

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Verbal and written analysis of films and interpretation of primary documents and historical scholarship

AMST 337 - LEC

Section 01
Tu 8:30 AM - 9:50 AM CHAP 101
Th 8:30 AM - 9:50 AM CHAP 101

This is preliminary information about books for this course. Please contact your instructor or the Academic Coordinator for the department, before attempting to purchase these books.

ISBN Title Publisher Author(s) Comment Book Store Price
Movie Censorship and American Culture 2nd ed. Univ. of MA, Amherst Couvares, Francis Amherst Books TBD
Public Enemies, Public Heroes: Screening the Gangster from Little Caesar to Touch of Evil Univ. of Chicago Press Munby, Jonathan Amherst Books TBD
Wages of Sin: Censorship and the Fallen Woman Film 1928-1942 Univ. of California Press Jacobs, Lea Amherst Books TBD
Hollywood V. Hardcore: How the Struggle over Censorship Created the Modern Film Industry NYU Press Lewis, Jon Amherst Books TBD

These books are available locally at Amherst Books.


2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2022