Spring 2024

Post-WWII American Cinema

Listed in: English, as ENGL-487  |  Film and Media Studies, as FAMS-425


Joshua M. Guilford (Section 01)


(Offered as ENGL 487 and FAMS 425) In the years following WWII, a series of social, economic, and political transformations dramatically reconfigured American life. Cinema served as both mirror and catalyst during this period, reflecting national crises while also contributing to the reorganization of American culture. This seminar explores both sides of this dynamic, examining how filmmakers represented the dilemmas of the post-WWII period, and how artists, studios, and lawmakers sought to intervene in such dilemmas via the cinema. We will view and discuss key examples of popular Hollywood genres from this period, such as film noir, the social problem film, sci-fi, and the western. But we will also examine independent films created by countercultural, queer, and BIPOC artists that sought to subvert popular norms and conventions. Weekly readings will engage such subjects as: the rise of suburbia; nuclear anxiety; female subjectivity and the avant-garde; containment culture and blacklisting; racial prejudice and civil rights; Beat culture and spontaneity; urban renewal and queer desire, as well as others. Students will explore such issues through in-class presentations, critical essays, and individual research projects.

Requisite: At least one foundational course in ENGL or FAMS. Open to juniors and seniors and to sophomores with consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Guilford.

How to handle overenrollment: Preference given to English and FAMS majors.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: emphasis on written work, readings, audio-visual analysis, independent film viewing, oral presentations

ENGL 487 - LEC

Section 01
M 7:00 PM - 10:00 PM KECC 008
Tu 2:30 PM - 3:50 PM SMUD 006
Th 2:30 PM - 3:50 PM SMUD 006


Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2021