10927 Memory, Trauma and Fantasy in American Cinema 1

Credits: 6 advanced credits in Film Studies or in Cultural Studies

Prerequisites: 36 credits, of which at least 12 are in Film Studies, including Understanding Movies: Introduction to the Art of Cinema. Students must also fulfill all English requirements and take bibliographic instruction in the Library.

Recommended: History of the Cinema: From the Beginning of Cinema to the Appearance of Sound, History of the Cinema: From Classical Hollywood to Italian Neorealism, Modern Literary and Cultural Theory: An Introduction

The course is based on a series of lectures by Thomas Elsaesser, a course book and collection of sources edited by Nurith Gertz and Boaz Hagin, and nine movies loaned to students.

The course acquaints students with research on trauma, memory and fantasy, both of the individual and of the collective, and deals with the ways they can be used as a method to study culture. This method is applied to selected contemporary American films. The course presents three core traumas, central and unique to American culture: the “enemy within trauma” of the failed melting pot, the “empire trauma” and the “racial trauma.” It also examines the cinematic representations of trauma and their relationship to contemporary American culture and to the economic and social changes taking place in it.

Topics: Acquaintance with central elements in the academic study of trauma; Collective remembrance and forgetting; Acquaintance with the melting pot, race and empire traumas and the encounter with the fantasies of the “other”; JFK and the melting pot trauma; Forrest Gump, the racial trauma and digital technology; Journeys in time and the racial trauma; The empire trauma and Spielberg’s rescue movies; Fantasy, melodrama and multiculturalism; Prosthetic memory.

1Students may write a seminar paper in this course although it is not required.