AMCULT 235 - From Harems to Terrorists: Representing the Middle East in Hollywood Cinema
Section: 001
Term: WN 2009
Subject: American Culture (AMCULT)
Department: LSA American Culture
Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

This course provides an overview of representations of Arabs and Arab-Americans in the U.S. media, and specifically Hollywood cinema. Through an examination of Hollywood films over the last century, such as The Sheik (1921), Harum Scarum (1965), and True Lies (1994), it traces a shift in stereotypes from the rich Arab sheik with a harem to the Arab terrorist. Through this process, the course examines the connection between representations and the historical and political moment in which they are created and disseminated, from European colonization of the Arab world, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, the Iran hostage crisis, to 9/11. How have international relations, political events, and foreign policy influenced representations in Hollywood filmmaking? What is the impact of stereotypes? How do film representations become part of American culture? Through examining these questions, we analyze the changing landscape of race, gender, and politics in film. We also examine the counter-current of filmmaking via unusual Hollywood films, documentaries, low-budget feature films, short films, and other genres.

Intended audience: Undergraduate students with general interest in learning to analyze media, the impact of stereotypes, and the relationship between the U.S. and the Middle East. Also applying for R&E requirement.

Course Requirements: Weekly film screening and short response papers. Midterm take-home exam would ask students to select a film from a list and write about representations of Arabs and the Middle East in the film, applying some of the theories learned in class. Or it might ask them to write an essay that compares films from two different time periods that we have seen in class, analyzing how the representation has changed based on the historical and political era and drawing from the readings in class. A final exam would ask students to work on an art-as-resistance project.

Class Format: 4 credit class comprises 3 hours lecture per week, with a 1 hour discussion section with GSI support (graded component), plus weekly required film viewing.

AMCULT 235 - From Harems to Terrorists: Representing the Middle East in Hollywood Cinema
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
MW 4:00PM - 5:30PM
Note: Students will be auto-enrolled in section 001 when they elect a discussion section (sections 003-004).
002 (LAB)
M 7:00PM - 10:00PM
Note: Students will be auto-enrolled in section 002 when they elect a discussion section (sections 003-004). Section 002 is for film screenings.
003 (DIS)
Tu 5:00PM - 6:00PM
004 (DIS)
Tu 6:00PM - 7:00PM
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