Hollywood History

HI 231         MAY 2010


Dr. Erika Lindgren                                                                              erika.lindgren@wartburg.edu

314 LH                                                                                                http://faculty.wartburg.edu/lindgrene


Office Hours:  Monday, Tuesday, Thursday 11-12, and by appointment.



Course description

Examines the influence of American [and non-American] films on the public perception of European history through consideration of filmmaking requirements as well as historians' concerns. Interconnected: Humanities/Fine Arts. May Term even years.



Course Goals

• Students will gain an understanding of how feature films have presented history to the public over time..

• Students will learn the basics of film analysis and terminology.

• Students will read and discuss the scholarship on history and film.

• Students will read primary and secondary historical sources.

• Students will consider, discuss, and write about individual films and the historical issues/questions that they raise.

• Students will have fun.



Course Material

There are no books for this class.  However, you will be expected to Xerox or print out some materials that are on Reserve [R] or Online [O].



Required Assignments

Double feature paper 1: This 2-3 page paper asks you to compare the pair of films on the Spartans viewed in class in terms of several issues.  See separate prompt.


Double feature paper 2:  This 2-3 page paper asks you to compare the pair of films on the Crusades viewed in class in terms of several issues. See separate prompt.


Triple feature paper: This 3-4 page paper asks you to compare the three Joan of Arc films viewed in class in terms of several issues. See separate prompt.


Reflective Essay: This 3-4 page essay will ask you to think broadly about the topic of this course.  See separate prompt.


Small Exam:  This short exam will assess your understanding of film terminology.  Given during the Finals period.


Students are expected to take notes while viewing the films.  Suggestions will be given by the professor on what to look for.


Grade components   usual A-F scale used.

Double feature paper 1                       10%

Double feature paper 2                       10%

Triple feature paper                             20%

Small Exam                                         10%

Reflective Essay                                  20%

Participation                                        30%


Note on Attendance and Participation: All students are expected to actively contribute to the discussion of the movies, class readings and lectures.  You are allowed 2 absences after which each additional absence will reduce your final course grade by a third of a letter grade [i.e. from a B to a B-]


Grading Standards for Papers


Other Important information

Special Needs:

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) provides protection from illegal discrimination for qualified individuals with disabilities.  Students requesting instructional accommodations due to disabilities must arrange for such accommodations by contacting Pathways Associate for Testing and Advising Carla Coates.  She can be reached at the Pathways Center, 314 Vogel Library, Wartburg College, Waverly, IA 50677, 352-8230, <Carla.coates@wartburg.edu>.   Presenting documentation of a student’s disability early (before the beginning of classes) is helpful and often necessary to secure needed materials in a timely way.  Accommodations should be requested PRIOR to affected assignment due dates.  For more detailed information, please see http://www.wartburg.edu/pathways/testing/AccomodationProcessStudents.pdf


Honor Code/Plagiarism

Plagiarism is the representation of the work or ideas of others as your own.  Plagiarism can result from failing to cite a source, giving sufficient credit to the original authors, closely paraphrasing without attribution, and direct copying.  The Academic Policies Committee of Student Senate and the Honor Council have asked faculty to remind students that they have a “…responsibility to promote academic honesty by opposing cheating and plagiarism and reporting dishonest work”.  All forms of plagiarism and cheating will result in severe academic penalties, including failure of the course.


By attending Wartburg College, students are demonstrating their dedication to the Honor Code.  The Honor Code reminds students of their responsibility to promote academic honesty by opposing cheating and plagiarism and reporting dishonest work.  This is a reminder of your obligation to the Honor Code (from the policy developed by students and overseen by the Student Senate, the Honor Council, and the Academic Ombudsperson).




Classroom policies:

            1.   Arrive promptly

2.      Please turn off all cell phones, pagers, beepers, and noisy watches.

3.      You may only record my classes with my permission.

4.      If you know you must leave early, let me know before class and sit near the door.

5.      Limit exiting and reentering the classroom during the class period.  It is disruptive to your fellow students and distracting to the professor.

6.      Make sure you put your name on everything you turn in!

7.      Follow the directions on all assignments!  It will save headaches and heartaches.

8.      I have nothing against food and drink in the classroom.  Just make sure it is not too messy, smelly, or noisy- NO chips!!  AND PICK UP AFTER YOURSELF!



Schedule of classes  [R] = on reserve, [O]=online- follow the link on the Web syllabus, [JSTOR]= JSTOR database on Library website, [EBSCO]=  Academic Search Complete database on Library website..


List of Reference Works


Week 1


5/3       Introduction/ Small Fieldtrip/ The Ancient World on Film (Sword and Sandal epics)


5/4       Ancient Greece and Sparta lecture; The 300 Spartans (1962)

Read: Herodotus [O] and Natalie Zemon Davis, “”Any Resemblance to Persons Living or Dead’: Film and the Challenge of Authenticity,” Yale Review 76 (1987): 457-482 [R]


5/5       300 and discussion

Read: Robert Brent Toplin, “Cinematic History as Genre,” in Reel History: In Defense of Hollywood [R] and Natalie Zemon Davis, “Film as Historical Narrative,” in Slaves on Screen [R] and for a little fluff, Steve Daly, "Double-Edged Sword," Entertainment Weekly Issue 925 (March 16, 2007), 36. [EBSCO]


5/6       Discussion and Roman History background  Double Feature paper 1 due

Read: Primary Sources on Spartacus [O] (scroll down to: C. the War with Spartacus).

Terms: Spartacus; Slavery in Republican and Imperial Rome; gladiators; Pompey; Crassus.


5/7       Spartacus (1960) [please note that class will run 20 minutes over because Spartacus is a very long film]

Read: Natalie Zemon Davis, “Resistance and Survival: Spartacus,” in Slaves on Screen [R] and George F. Custen, “Clio in Hollywood,” in Bio/Pics: How Hollywood Constructed Public History [R]



Week 2


5/10     Spartacus discussion/ The Middle Ages on Film Lecture

Read: Martha W. Driver and Sid Ray, “Preface: Hollywood Knights,” and “What’s Accuracy Got to Do with It?” in The Medieval Hero on Screen [R].


5/11     The Lion in Winter (1968) and discussion

Read: Handout and David Herlihy, “Am I a Camera? Other Reflections on Films and History,” American Historical Review 93 (1988): 1186-92 [JSTOR] and Bernard S. Bachrach, "Henry II and the Angevin Tradition of Family Hostility," Albion: A Quarterly Journal Concerned with British Studies 16:2 (Summer 1984):111-130 [JSTOR]

Terms: Henry II; Eleanor of Aquitaine; Richard I (the Lionheart); John (king of England); Philip Augustus


5/12     Discussion and Medievalism 1

            Read: Robert Brent Toplin, “Cinematic History: Where Do We Go from Here?” Public Historian 25.3 (Summer 2003) 79-91. [EBSCO] and Scott Alan         Metzger, “Pedagogy and the Historical Feature Film: Toward Historical Literacy” Film & History 37.2 ( September 2007): 67-75. [EBSCO] and Nickolas Haydock, "Introduction," in Hollywood in the Holy Land. [R]


5/13     Background on the Crusades and The Crusades (1935)    

            Read: Lorraine Kochanske Stock, "Now Starring in the Third Crusade," in Hollywood in the Holy Land. [R]


5/14     Kingdom of Heaven (2005)

            Read: E. L. Risden, "Nobody but the Other Buddy," in Hollywood in the Holy Land. [R] and Nickolas Haydock, "Theaters of War: Paracinematic Returns to the Kingdom of Heaven" in Movie Medievalism [R]




Week 3


5/17     The Sorceress (1987)  Double Feature paper 2 due

            Read: Handout

Terms: Dominicans or Dominican Order; witchcraft in the Middle Ages; heresy; Albigensians /Cathars


5/18     The Name of the Rose (1986)

Read: Greta Austin, “Were the peasants really so clean? The Middle Ages in film” Film History 14 (2002) 136-141. [EBSCO] and Sol Cohen, "Review: An Innocent Eye: The 'Pictorial Turn,' Film Studies and History," History of Education Quarterly 43:2 (Summer 2003): 250-261. [JSTOR].  Go to Google books and take a peek at Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose.  You can also link to the Google preview through our Library catalogue.

            Terms: Franciscans; Spiritual Franciscans; Bernardo Gui


5/19     Medievalism 2

            Read: Nickolas Haydock, "The Medieval Imaginary," in Movie Medievalism [R] and Carl James Grindley, "Arms and the Man: The Curious Inaccuracy of medieval Arms and Armor in Contemporary Film," Film and History 36:1 (2006)14-19.


5/20     A Knight’s Tale (2001) and discussion

            Read: Nickolas Haydock, "The Waywardness of Cinematic Pastiche in First Knight and A Knight's Tale," in Movie Medievalism [R] and Caroline Jewers, "Hard Day's Knights: Forst Knight, A Knight's Tale, and Black Knight," in The Medieval Hero on Screen [R].

            Terms: Geoffrey Chaucer; jousting; tournaments; Edward the Black Prince


5/21     Joan of Arc background, group presentations, and discussion.

Read: Edward Benson, " Oh What a Lovely War!: Joan of Arc on Screen," in The Medieval Hero on Screen [R].


Open the book listed below at various places to get a feel for the source, then in your group break up your assigned section.

Group 1, The Trial of Joan of Arc, trans. Daniel Hobbins, 33-117 [R]

                        Group 2, The Trial of Joan of Arc, trans. Daniel Hobbins, 118-157 [R]

                        Group 3, The Trial of Joan of Arc, trans. Daniel Hobbins,  157- 195 [R]

                        Group 4, The Trial of Joan of Arc, trans. Daniel Hobbins, 197-213 [R]



Week 4


5/24     The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) and discussion    Reflection paper due

            Read: NO READING


5/25     Joan of Arc (1948) and discussion

            Read: Anke Bernau, "Girls on Film: Medieval Virginity in the Cinema," in The Medieval Hero on Screen [R].


5/26     The Messenger (1999) and discussion

            Read: Nickolas Haydock, "Shooting the Messenger: Luc Besson at War with Joan of Arc." in Movie Medievalism [R]


5/27     Final Exam Period  Triple Feature paper due at 8 am.   Small Exam at 9:30 am.  Study Guide


The professor reserves the right to make changes to this syllabus and will notify students when she does so.