Film Nations: Comparative Perspectives on Spanish and U.S. Cinema (in English)

Universidad Pablo de Olavide

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Film Nations: Comparative Perspectives on Spanish and U.S. Cinema (in English)

  • Host University

    Universidad Pablo de Olavide

  • Location

    Seville, Spain

  • Area of Study

    Art History, History

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • ECTS Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    Course Description
    The course is aimed at establishing the points of convergence and divergence between the history, economy, aesthetics, and social significance of film production in Spain and the United States. Issues like the following will all be addressed:

    • The political economy of American vs. Spanish cinema (industry, technologies, State policies on film, independent production, etc.).

    • Main trends, movements and significant works and authors in both Spanish and U.S. cinemas.

    • Film as social and cultural indicator (how do Spanish and U.S. Cinema deal with past and contemporary social dilemmas? How does film relate to ideology and politics in the local and global scenarios?).

    • Audience reception (in which ways have Spanish and American audiences related historically to domestic and foreign film productions? Are there distinctive “film cultures” in both countries?).

    • Spanish and American cinema at the crossroads with other arts and cultural discourses. 

    Course Goals and Methodology

    By the end of the semester, students are expected to:

    • Understand cinema as a multidimensional phenomenon: technological, industrial, artistic, and social. • Explore two contrasted cinematic traditions.

    • Reflect on the ways film operates between the global and the local, the universal and the culturally and historically specific.

    The course includes in-class lectures, debates, screenings and film discussions, exams, and a field research (*small group work) on a topic to be discussed with your professor. 

    Learning Objectives

    Through this course, students will:  

    • Increase visual and media skills.

    • Discuss film in its industrial and technological dimensions.

    • Recognize different trends, traditions/genres, authors and film movements in both Spanish and U.S. Cinema.

    • Apply film theory to the analysis of individual films (in-class screenings).

    • Gain some basic vocabulary to explore the art and technique of filmmaking.

    • Relate film to larger debates on nationalities and globalization.

    • Understand the ideological/political dimension of film.

    • Complete a project meeting previous learning objectives. 

    Required Texts
    All course materials (presentations, reading assignments, study guides, film handouts, etc.) will be available on Blackboard (virtual platform). Additional texts (selection)
    • Altman, R. (1999). Film/Genre. London: BFI.
    • Bordwell, D. (1985). Narration in the Fiction Film. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. Bordwell, D. (1999). On the History of Film Style. Harvard: University Press.
    • Bordwell, D. & Thompson, K. (1997). Film Art: An Introduction. New York: McGraw-Hill. Elsaeser, T. & Hagener, M. (2015). Film Theory. An Introduction through the Senses. New York: Routledge.
    • Livingston, P. & Plantinga, C. (Eds.) (2009). The Routledge Companion to Philosophy and Film. New York: Routledge.
    • Miller, T. & Stam, R. (1999). A Companion to Film Theory. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell. Shohat, E. & Stam, R. (1994). Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multiculturalism and the Media. London: Routledge.
    • Stam, R. (Ed.) (2000). Film Theory: An Introduction. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell.
    • Vaughan, H. & Conley, T. (2018). The Anthem Handbook of Screen Theory. London: Anthem.

    On U.S. Film:
    • Baker, C. N. (2018). Contemporary Black Women Filmmakers and the Art of Resistance. Columbus: The Ohio State University Press.
    • Biskind, P. (1999). Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and Rock ‘N Roll Generation Saved Hollywood. New York: Simon & Schuster.
    • Biskind, P. (2007). Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance and the Rise of Independent Film. London. Bloomsbury.
    • Bordwell, D., Staiger, J. & Thompson, K. (1985). The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960. London: Routledge.
    • Dixon, W. W. (2004). Teaching film after 9/11. Cinema Journal, 43(2), 115-118.
    • Gaudreault, A. (Ed.). (2009). American Cinema, 1890-1909: Themes and variations. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
    • Gomery, D. (1992). Shared Pleasures: A History of Movie Presentation in the United States. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.
    • Grainge, P. (2007). Brand Hollywood: Selling Entertainment in a Global Media Age. London: Routledge.
    • Hoberman, J. (2013). Film after Film: Or what Became of 21st Century Cinema [1st paperback edition]. London & New York: verso.
    • Jacobs, L. (1978). The Rise of the American Film: A Critical History (6th print.). New York: Teachers College Press.
    • Krutnik et al. (Eds.) (2007). “Un-American” Hollywood: Politics and Film in the Blacklist Era. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
    • Levy, E. (1999). Cinema of Outsiders. The Rise of American Independent Film. New York: NYU Press.
    • Lewis, J. (2019). American Film: A History. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. Maltby, R. (1995). Hollywood Cinema. Oxford: Blackwell.
    • McDonald, P. & Wasko, J. (Eds.) (2007). The Contemporary Hollywood Film Industry. London: Wiley-Blackwell.
    • Miller, T. (2007). Global Hollywood 2010. International Journal of Communication, 1, 1-4. Miller, T. et al. (2001). Global Hollywood 1. London: BFI.
    • Miller, T. et al. (2005). Global Hollywood 2. London: BFI.
    • Mills, B. (2018). Black Women Filmmakers and Black Love on Screen. New York: Routledge.
    • Montáñez Smukler, M. (2018). Liberating Hollywood: Women Directors and the Feminist Reform of 1970s American Cinema. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. Neale, S. (Ed.) (2002). Genre and Contemporary Hollywood. London: BFI.
    • Ray, R. B. (1985). A Certain Tendency of the Hollywood Cinema, 1930-1980. Princeton, NJ: University Press,
    • Ryan, M. & Kellner, D. (1990). Camera Politica: The Politics and Ideology of Contemporary Hollywood Film. Bloomington-Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.
    • Sklar, R. (1994). Movie-made America: A Cultural History of American Movies. New York: Vintage.
    • Tietjen, J. & Bridges, B. (2019). Hollywood: Her Story. An Illustrated History of Women and the Movies. Guilford, Connecticut: Lyons Press.
    • Ward Mahar, K. (2006). Women Filmmakers in Early Hollywood. Baltimore, MD: The John Hopkins University Press.
    • Westwell, G. (2014). Parallel Lines. Post 9/11 American Cinema. London & New York: Wallflower Press.
    • Williams, L. R. & Hammond, M. (2006). Contemporary American Cinema. New York: McGraw Hill.
    • Wood, R. (2003). Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan… and beyond (exp. and rev. ed.). New York: Columbia University Press.

    On Spanish Film:
    • Benet, V. J. (2012). El cine español. Una historia cultural. Barcelona: Paidós.
    • Bentley, B. P. E. (2008). A Companion to Spanish Cinema. Woodbrige, Suffolk: Tamesis.
    • Davies, A. (Ed.) (2011). Spain on Screen: Developments in Contemporary Spanish Cinema. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.
    • Egea, J. F. (2021). Filmspanism: A Critical Companion to the Study of Spanish Cinema. New York: Routledge.
    • Faulkner, S. (2013). A History of Spanish Film: Cinema and Society 1910-2010. London: Bloomsbury.
    • Feenstra, P. (2012). New Mythological Figures in Spanish Cinema: Dissident Bodies under Franco. Amsterdam: University Press.
    • Jordan, B. (1998). Contemporary Spanish Cinema. Manchester: University Press.
    • Jordan, B. & Allinson, M. (2005). Spanish Cinema: A student´s Guide. London: Hodder Arnold.
    • Kinder, M. (1993). Blood cinema. The Reconstruction of National Identity in Spain. Berkeley: University of California Press.
    • Labanyi, J.& Pavlovic, T. (Eds.) (2013). A Companion to Spanish Cinema. Malden, MA/Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
    • Marsh, S. (2020). Spanish Cinema against Itself. Cosmopolitanism, Experimentation, Militancy. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
    • Mira, A. (2005). The Cinema of Spain and Portugal. London: Wallflower.
    • Pavlovic, T. Et al. (2008). 100 Years of Spanish Cinema. Malden, MA/Oxford: Wiley- Blackwell.
    • Resina, J. R. & Lema-Hincapié, A. (assistant) (Eds.) (2008). Burning Darkness: A Half Century of Spanish Cinema. New York: State University of New York Press. Stone, R. (2002). Spanish Cinema. New York: Longman.
    • Triana-Toribio, N. (2003). Spanish National Cinema. London: Routledge.

    • (Official website of the American Film Institute (AFI).
    • (official website of the Spanish Ministry of Culture, Education and Sports, including a link to a comprehensive Spanish film database).

    Course Requirements and Grading
    Students’ progress will be checked by class participation, journal, a final project (an oral presentation / video essay), and two exams (mid-term plus final). The final grade is broken down as follows:

    • Film Journal (15%)

     • Midterm + Final (20% + 20%)

    • Participation (20%)  

    • Project (25%)  


    Class contents
    Topic 1: Introduction: Dimensions of Film.
    -Introductions. Course syllabus. Introductory activity 
    -Introductory discussion: (Post-) film in the era of YouTube and Netflix.
    -Film as a technological medium, art, commodity, and social representation. 
    -What is film? Film Studies basics: The language of film.
    -The language of film II Samples (analysis) 

    Topic 2: Early Cinema 
    - The political economy of early Spanish and U.S. cinema & Film pioneers.
    - The political economy of early Spanish and U.S. cinema & Film pioneers (cont.)

    Topic 3: The Classical Film.
    -The Hollywood system vs. upheavals in film production in Spain: The Rise of Hollywood Classicism
    - The Hollywood system vs. upheavals in film production in Spain: The Spanish experience.
    -Hollywood genres: The Western as American (film) mythology.
    -Classicism and specificity in Spanish film. The “españolada” in film.

    Topic 4: Hollywood Decline and Spanish Dissidents
    - Towards the end of classicism. “Establishing the canon: What is classicism in film?” “Alternative histories of cinema.”
    - Film noir and the challenge to classicism. The art and ideology of the noir
    - Spanish dissident filmmakers. The Conversaciones de Salamanca.

    Topic 5: The New Wages.
    - Hollywood in Transition..
    - Realismo crítico in Spanish Cinema.

    Topic 6: The Emergence of Global Cinema
    - The New Hollywood Generation
    - Cinema in Spain: From the transition period to globalization.

    Topic 7: (Post-)Cinema in the 21st Century.
    - Final Project Presentations I The political economy of world cinema in the digital age.  
    - Final Project Presentations II 
    - Cine resistente in Spain, or the "Other Spanish Cinema"

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

Availability of courses is based on enrollment numbers. All students should seek pre-approval for alternate courses in the event of last minute class cancellations


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