History of the Cinema: 1895-1945

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This course surveys the history of the motion picture, along with some of the discourses it inspired, from the nickelodeon period through World War II, considering avant-garde, documentary and commercial films, with particular emphasis on the movie as urban entertainment, expression of modernity and cult enthusiasm. Important figures include D.W. Griffith, Fritz Lang, Dziga Vertov, Carl Th. Dreyer, Leni Riefenstahl, Orson Welles, and Maya Deren. The transition from silent to sound cinema and the surrealist theory of film spectatorship will be given particular attention.

3 credits

Course Code: HUM 328

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.