The Beatles and their World

the_beatles_banner_richard-avedon_1967

HIST 2114H Issues in European History: The Beatles and their World

It has almost half a century since four young, working-class boys from Liverpool swept onto the international scene and captured the imagination of a generation. The Beatles’ rise to the top of the charts is significant not only because of the lasting cultural and commercial legacy of the group and its members, but also because the rise and fall of the Beatles allows us to examine the profound social and cultural transformations wrought by the cultural revolution of the sixties. This course will introduce students to the history and cultural legacy of the Beatles, including their music, films, and subsequent post-Beatles work. It will be interdisciplinary: a mixture of history, literature, biography, and musicology. In addition to weekly readings, short papers, and discussions, students will take part in individual and group research and presentations.

Contact Information:

Dr. Robert Stephens
328 Wallace Hall
Phone: 231-6770
Email: rosteph2@vt.edu
http://www.history.vt.edu/stephens

Office Hours: by appointment

 Course Meetings:

Monday 5:30-8:15PM, 132 Hillcrest

 Course Evaluation:

1. Leading group discussion twice, 20%
2. Midterm project proposal, 5%
3. Midterm project, 15%
4. Midterm presentation, 10%
5. Final project proposal 5%
6. Final project, 15%
7. Final presentation, 10%
8. Attendance and Participation, 20%

Attendance will be taken and the grade will be based on the number of absences, each absence counting 25% of your grade. Therefore, one unexcused absence will reduce your attendance and participation to 75% automatically; two will result in a starting grade of 50%; four unexcused absences will result in an automatic Failing grade for the entire course. In class, active participation is required. That means taking part in the discussions and talking in every class. You will be given a grade based on your overall participation

Some Policy Matters:
1. Completion of all assignments is required, even if you are taking the course pass-fail.
2. Late exams will be given only with an official, documented excuse.
3. Please make sure your cell phones are turned off when you enter class.

Special Needs:

If you need adaptations or accommodations because of a disability (learning disability, attention deficit disorder, psychological, physical, etc.), if you have emergency medical information to share with me, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible.

Honor Code:

Virginia Tech has a stringent honor code. The honor pledge states: “I have neither given nor received unauthorized assistance on this assignment.” If you are not familiar with the honor code system, I strongly encourage you to do so immediately; by attending this university you tacitly agree to be governed by this set of rules. The honor code is available at the following URL: http://www.honorsystem.vt.edu/

Any infractions will be reported to the Honor System Review Board and could lead to a failing grade in the course, community service, probation, or even expulsion from the university.

Books:

The following books are required reading and are available at the bookstore:

The Beatles, The Beatles Anthology (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2002). ISBN 0811836363.

June Skinner Sawyers, Read the Beatles (New York: Penguin, 2006). ISBN: 0143037323.

Music:

Music for the course is on reserve at Newman Library.

 Midterm and final projects:

This is an honors colloquium. Therefore you will be given free reign to decide on the format and content of your midterm and final projects. There are no set guidelines. You may work individually or in small groups that have shared interests.

These projects should be original and innovative. They should also highlight what you have learned about the subject outside of class. The projects will be graded holistically and in comparison to the work of the other students. Credit will be given for originality, commitment and time investment, and the quality of the final product. I suggest you play to your strengths, and feel free to consult me about your ideas ahead of the proposal submission.

The proposal should be approximately 500-words and include a discussion of the proposed format, content, and intellectual rationale for the project. You should hand in a hard copy to the instructor on the due date.

The project you turn in will be determined in consultation with me. You should hand in a hard copy on the due date. If the format of your project is not conducive to posting, you should consult with me ahead of time.

During two class conferences, you will present your project to the class.

These projects should be intellectually stimulating and fun. Don’t choose a project that will fail to engage you as you prepare. Feel free to let your imagination roam.

Leading class discussion:

This colloquium is organized around group discussion. Each week you will have three hours to discuss the things you have read and heard during the previous week. Everyone must actively participate, and your course participation grade will be based in large part on your in-class participation.

Each week two to three members of the class will be responsible for leading class discussion on the readings and music. We will pass around a sign-up sheet during the first week of class.

Discussion leaders must generate a list of at least ten questions that will guide discussion for the week. These must be posted to Scholar on Sunday so that class members will have two days to prepare for the discussion. Each group should turn in a hard copy of the discussion questions at the beginning of the class period.

Schedule:

Week 1, Aug. 25:
Introductions

WiththebeatlescoverWeek 2, Sept. 1: Early Beatles
Readings:
1. Anthology, pp. 6-78
2. Read the Beatles, xv-38

Week 3, Sept. 8: 1963
Readings:
1. Anthology, pp. 79-110
2. Read the Beatles, pp. 39-47
Listening: Please Please Me and With the Beatles
Writing: midterm project proposal.

Week 4, Sept. 15: 1964
Readings:
1. Anthology, pp. 111-161.
2. Reading the Beatles, 48-76.
Listening: A Hard Day’s Night and Beatles for Sale.

album-The-Beatles-RevolverWeek 5, Sept. 22: 1965-1966
Readings:
1. Anthology, 163-237.
2. Reading the Beatles, 77-91.
Listening: Help!, Rubber Soul, and Revolver.

Week 6, Sept. 29: Midterm presentations 1

Week 7, Oct. 6: Midterm presentations 2

Week 8, Oct. 13: 1967
Reading:
1. Anthology, 238-278.
2. Reading the Beatles, 92-135.
Listening: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Magical Mystery Tour.

Beatles_-_Abbey_RoadWeek 9, Oct. 20: 1968
Readings:
1. Anthology, 279-312.
2. Reading the Beatles, 142-157.
Listening: The White Album
Writing: proposal for final project.

Week 10, Oct. 27: 1969-1970
Readings:
1. Anthology, 313-357.
2. Reading the Beatles, 157-166.
Listening: Yellow Submarine, Abbey Road, and Let it Be.

Week 11, Nov. 3: Lennon
Reading:
1. The Rolling Stone Interview
Part I: http://www.jannswenner.com/Archives/John_Lennon_Part1.aspx
Part II: http://www.jannswenner.com/Archives/John_Lennon_Part2.aspx
Listening: Working Class Hero

Band on the runWeek 12, Nov. 10: Research and Writing Day

Week 13, Nov. 17: McCartney, Harrison, and Starr
Reading:
1. Reading the Beatles, 237-336.
Listening: McCartney, All the Best!; Harrison, All things must pass; Starr, Photograph

Week 14, November 24: Final presentations 1

Week 15, December 8: Final presentations 2

 

war is over

 

 

 

Posted in European History, HIST 2114H, Syllabus | Leave a comment

Against Relevance

A Short Article for the August 25, 2013 edition of the HRCulean, the weekly newsletter of the VT Honors Residential College.

If you listen the media these days, higher education is in a crisis; I mean full on melt down mode.  College is too expensive; it’s too easy; it’s too hard; and… what students learn isn’t… “relevant.”

I’m sure you’ve heard this.  I’m sure you’ve thought about this.  I am pretty sure, at least at times, you actually believe this.

As you enter the school year, I’d like you to take a few moments to think about this.  What does it mean to have relevance?  What is actually relevant to you and to your life?  When it comes to the media, politicians, and pundits, “relevance” is pretty simple: either your courses help you in your future job, or they don’t.  Job skills are relevant; Shakespeare isn’t.  Your courses either help grease the wheels of commerce (relevant) or they don’t (irrelevant).  I’m sure you have had some of these thoughts yourselves.  “Why do I have to take this course?”  “How is this relevant to my life?”  “Why doesn’t my professor make this relevant?”

I want to make an argument against relevance.  Instead of asking the question, “Why is this relevant to me?” Perhaps you should ask it in the negative: “Why isn’t this relevant to me?”  The world is an infinitely complicated place.  And even if you think that drought in the Sudan has little relevance to your life, you’d be wrong.  The connections are there.  We are part of a whole.  The things that happen to others, the desires and goals of others, the actions that we all take, affect the rest of the world.

So I challenge you.  Next time you think to yourself, “how is this relevant?,” I want you to pause and actually consider the question.  Instead of having to justify curiosity and attention, make the effort to discover how the matter at hand is relevant. What are the connections that bind that topic to you? Why does it matter?  And the next time that someone tries to reduce your education to a set of job skills, please explain to them why there are many things entirely unrelated to your future profession that are worthy of examining, that the world is a laudable object of your search for relevance.

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Syllabus: Europe Since 1945

Paris_Wikivoyage_BannerDescription:

Enormous changes have taken place in Europe since the end of the Second World War.  This course will cover the period from the end of hostilities to the fall of communism and beyond.  The course is divided into four sections.  The first part will cover the end of the war and the period of reconstruction and the early cold war.  The two middle sections of the course will focus on the tremendous changes experienced in Europe during the fifties and sixties.  The final portion will cover the period between the sixties and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Dr. Robert Stephens
1317A Ambler Johnston Hall
Phone: 231-5326
Email: rosteph2@vt.edu
http://www.history.vt.edu/stephens

Office Hours: Monday 1:30-3:30, or by appointment

Course Evaluation: onsyllabus

Four Exams: 72%
Writing assignments: 15%
Professionalism: 13%

Exams:

Format: The exams will include two sections: 1) an out-of-class essay and 2) an in-class objective exam (i.e. multiple choice, matching, true/false, etc.).  The essay questions will be posted one week in advance of the exam. Students must bring their printed essay to class on the day of the objective portion of the exam.

Grading: The essays will be graded for content and style. Each essay must contain: a clear and convincing thesis, specific evidence from the readings and other course content, a conclusion, and proper Chicago Manual of Style footnotes (http://www.lib.vt.edu/find/citation/chicago.html). Grammar and spelling count!

Writing Assignments:

Throughout the semester, there will be both in-class and out-of-class writing assignments.  These assignments will vary based on the particular set of skills we are working on at the time.  You will only be allowed to make up these assignments with an acceptable documented excuse.

Professionalism:

This is not merely an attendance grade.  This grade will gauge your approach to the course: your preparedness, your comportment in class, your participation in discussions, and your enthusiasm.  Since this course is partly discussion-based, it will behoove you to attend every class.  Repeated absences will seriously diminish your final grade.  But I want to see much more than just attendance. I want to see you grapple with the issues; I want to see you think out loud; I want you to form your own opinions and articulate them.  I want you to treat this course as a professional-in-training, which is what you already are.

Some Policy Matters:  

1. Completion of all assignments is required, even if you are taking the course pass-fail.
2. Late exams will be given only with an official, documented excuse.
3. Please make sure your cell phones are turned off when you enter class.
4. Laptops may not be used during film screenings or discussions.  During the screenings, the lights disturb other students, and during the discussions I want you focused on talking not typing.

Special Needs:

If you need adaptations or accommodations because of a disability (learning disability, attention deficit disorder, psychological, physical, etc.), if you have emergency medical information to share with me, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible.

Honor Code:

Virginia Tech has a stringent honor code. The honor pledge states: “I have neither given nor received unauthorized assistance on this assignment.” If you are not familiar with the honor code system, I strongly encourage you to do so immediately; by attending this university you tacitly agree to be governed by this set of rules. The honor code is available at the following URL:  http://www.honorsystem.vt.edu/

Any infractions will be reported to the Honor System Review Board and could lead to a failing grade in the course, community service, probation, or even expulsion from the university.

Books:

The following books are required reading and are available at the bookstore:

1. Tony Judt, Postwar: A History of Europe since 1945 (New York: Penguin Books, 2005).  ISBN: 0143037757

2. Henri Alleg, The Question (Lincoln, NB: University of Nebraska Press, 2006).  ISBN: 0803259603

3. Ian Buruma, Murder in Amsterdam: Liberal Europe, Islam, and the Limits of Tolerance (New York: Penguin, 2006).  ISBN: 9780143112365

Articles:  

In addition to the three required texts, you will be required to read a number of scholarly articles and chapters from books.  The articles will be available in Adobe Acrobat PDF format in Scholar.

Many of the articles for this course are also available from various electronic vendors to which the University Library subscribes. In the cases in which it was possible, I have included a stable URL link to the article. These links will only work if the sites recognize you as an authorized VT user. You can accomplish this in one of two ways: 1) you can use a computer connected to a campus network (ethernet or wireless), or if you are not on campus, 2) you can sign on to the library’s off campus ezproxy, using you pid and password. Most of these articles are large files. In particular, the JSTOR articles are too large to download over a 56k modem connection. If you have problems accessing the readings through the stable URL links, please use Scholar.

Elizabeth Heineman, “The Economic Miracle in the Bedroom: Big Business and Sexual Consumption in Reconstruction West Germany” The Journal of Modern History 78, no.4 (2006): 846-877.  http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/pdf/10.1086/511204

Jeremi Suri, “The Promise and Failure of ‘Developed Socialism’: The Soviet ‘Thaw’ and the Crucible of the Prague Spring, 1964-1972” Contemporary European History 15 (2006): 133-158. http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?aid=433541

Belinda Davis, “Activism from Starbuck to Starbucks, or Terror: What’s in a Name?” Radical History Review, 85 (2003): 37-57. http://rhr.dukejournals.org/cgi/reprint/2003/85/37

Scholar:

The URL for scholar is: https://scholar.vt.edu/portal

You should be able to sign on with your pid.  If you have problems logging on, please contact technical support at 4help http://www.computing.vt.edu/help_and_tutorials/4help/index.html.

Schedule:

Week 1: August 27-29
Introduction: Readings:
Thursday: Judt, 1-41

Week 2: Sept. 3-5
Readings:
Tuesday: Judt, 63-99
Thursday: Documents: “Beveridge Report Summary,” and Aneurin Bevan, “In Place of Fear: A Free Health Service” (Available on Scholar)

Week 3: September 10-12
Readings:
Tuesday: Judt, 129-164
Thursday: Film: 7 Up

Week 4: September 17-19
Tuesday: Judt, 197-237
Thursday: Exam

Week 5: September 24-26
Readings:
Tuesday: Judt, 241-277
Thursday: German Historical Institute Documents, “The Shadow of the Wall” http://germanhistorydocs.ghi-dc.org/sub_doclist.cfm?sub_id=29&section_id=15

Week 6: October 1-3
Readings:
Tuesday: Judt, 278-323
Thursday: Discussion of Alleg, The Question, xiii-102

Week 7: October 8-10
Readings:
Tuesday: Judt, 324-359
Thursday: Film: 21 Up

Week 8: October 15-17
Readings:
Tuesday: Elizabeth Heineman, “The Economic Miracle in the Bedroom: Big Business and Sexual Consumption in Reconstruction West Germany” The Journal of Modern History 78, no.4 (2006): 846-877.  http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/pdf/10.1086/511204

Thursday: Exam

Week 9: October 22-24
Readings:
Tuesday: Judt, 390-421
Thursday: Arthur Marwick, “Youth, Consumption, and Politics in the Age of Radical Change,” in Between Marx and Coca Cola: Youth Cultures in Changing European Societies (New York: Berghan Books, 2006), 39-58. (Available on Scholar)

Week 10: October 29-31
Readings:
Tuesday: Judt, 422-452
Thursday: The Digital History Reader, 1968 Module. http://www.dhr.history.vt.edu/modules/eu/mod05_1968/index.html

Week 11: November 5-7

Readings:
Tuesday: Jeremi Suri, “The Promise and Failure of ‘Developed Socialism’: The Soviet ‘Thaw’ and the Crucible of the Prague Spring, 1964-1972” Contemporary European History 15 (2006): 133-158. http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?aid=433541
Thursday:  Film: 56 Up

Week 12: November 12-14
Tuesday: Germaine Greer, The Female Eunuch, excerpts. (Available on Scholar)

Thursday: Exam

Week 13: November 19-21
Reading:
Tuesday: Judt, 453-503
Thursday: Belinda Davis, “Activism from Starbuck to Starbucks, or Terror: What’s in a Name?” Radical History Review, 85 (2003): 37-57. http://rhr.dukejournals.org/cgi/reprint/2003/85/37

Week 14: November 26-28
Thanksgiving Holiday
Begin Reading Buruma, Murder in Amsterdam, for discussion on December 3.

Week 15: December 3-5
Reading:
Tuesday: Judt, 535-558, 586-633
Thursday: Discussion of Buruma, Murder in Amsterdam

Week 16: December 10
Tuesday: Optional Final

Final Exam: During regularly scheduled final exam period

 

Posted in European History, HIST 3394, Syllabus | Leave a comment

History Through Film, Spring 2013, Syllabus

Contact Information:

Dr. Robert Stephens
1319A Ambler Johnston Hall
Phone: 231-5326
Email: rosteph2@vt.edu
Webpage: http://www.history.vt.edu/stephens
Office Hours: Mondays 1-3, or by appointment

Course Meetings:

Film screenings: Mondays 6-9, Ambler Johnston Theater
Discussion Sections: Tuesday or Thursday 2:00-2:40, McBryde 126

Description: 

This course will use film to approach significant problems in history. Students will be asked to rethink the relationships between “reality” and “representation” and to reconceptualize the boundaries between history and film. The course will be arranged around several themes: slavery, war, and political violence. Each week students will view a film and read corresponding texts.

Because of the nature of the course and the amount of time that must be dedicated to screening the films, this class will be very different than a traditional lecture-based course. It requires students to be self-motivated learners and emphasizes individual close readings of the assigned texts, thoughtful individual critiques of the films and readings, and weekly discussions. Students who feel more comfortable in lecture or “fact-oriented” classes should be advised that this class might not be well suited to their needs.

The exams will consist of two sections: an objective exam and a take-home essay. Students who have difficulty with essay exams may want to consider whether this course will help them accomplish their goals, and all students should consider themselves duly warned.

Course Evaluation:

Three Exams: 66%
Weekly Blog Posts: 20%
Professionalism: 14%

Exams: 

Format: The exams will include two sections: 1) an out-of-class essay and 2) an in-class objective exam (i.e. multiple choice, matching, true/false, etc.).  The essay questions will be posted one week in advance of the exam. Students must bring their printed essay to class on the day of the objective portion of the exam.

Grading: The essays will be graded for content and style. Each essay must contain: a clear and convincing thesis, specific evidence from the readings and the film, a conclusion, and proper Chicago Manual of Style footnotes. Grammar and spelling count!

Social Media:

Blogging: For this course, you’ll be required to set up a blog and use it for your weekly assignments (and for anything else you would care to post about).  The future of higher education will be suffused with media platforms. Not only will you need to learn to use them deftly in the classroom, but you need to start building your own “digital” presence and learning to manage that presence.  I won’t go into great detail here on the conceptual reasons for why to use blogging; instead, I’ll point you to this thoughtful piece by Gardner Campbell.

You can set your blog up immediately here (https://blogs.lt.vt.edu/). Here are brief instructions on setting up your blog. Feel free to personalize them in any way you choose; here are some advanced tips and other documentation.  You should think of your blog as a sketchpad for you to present ideas and to think through this course and your learning.

Each blog post should make specific references to the film and the readings.  All blog posts are due by Sunday at midnight.

In this course, we’ll have a blog that will use the RSS feeds from each of your blogs to create a “mother blog” where you (and others) can follow the discussion in the class, where you can post comments on each others essays, and where, most importantly, we can keep the conversation going.  Please send me your URL as soon as you have it, and I’ll add you to the feed.  This isn’t about judgment, but about collective learning in a supportive environment; keep that in mind.

Twitter: I’ll also be using Twitter and suggest that you do so as well.  Twitter, in my estimation, only does some things well, like sharing links and short ideas.  But it does that very well.  When I run into something that I think would help the class, I’ll tweet it with the hashtag #HIST3694.  And I challenge you to do the same.  There are so many moments in the day when we run into something that sparks an idea: let’s share those!

Professionalism: 

This is not merely an attendance grade.  This grade will gauge your approach to the course: your preparedness, your comportment in class, your participation in discussions, and your enthusiasm.  Since this course is largely discussion-based, it will behoove you to attend every class.  Repeated absences will seriously diminish your final grade.  But I want to see much more than just attendance. I want to see you grapple with the issues; I want to see you think out loud; I want you to form your own opinions and articulate them.  I want you to treat this course as a professional-in-training, which is what you already are.  My prime directive is: everyone has a perspective, and our ideas collectively are better than our ideas in solitude.  Therefore,  everyone has the opportunity and obligation to contribute in every class.  This means you must come to class prepared.  To do this, you must have seen the film, done the reading, and reflected in writing on your blog.

Some Policy Matters: 

1. Completion of all assignments is required, even if you are taking the course pass-fail.
2. Late exams will be given only with an official, documented excuse.
3. Please make sure your cell phones are silenced when you enter class.
4. Laptops may not be used during film screenings or discussions.  During the screenings, the light disturbs other students, and during the discussions, I want you focused on talking not typing.

Honor Code: 

Virginia Tech has a stringent honor code. The honor pledge states: “I have neither given nor received unauthorized assistance on this assignment.” If you are not familiar with the honor code system, I strongly encourage you to do so immediately; by attending this university you tacitly agree to be governed by this set of rules. The honor code is available at the following URL:  http://www.honorsystem.vt.edu/

The honor code will be strictly enforced in this course. This includes all assignments. Any infractions will be reported to the Honor System Review Board and could lead to a failing grade in the course, community service, probation, or even expulsion from the university.

Books: 

The following books are required reading and are available at the bookstore:

1. Davis, Natalie Z. Slaves on Screen: Film and Historical Vision (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002).

Articles: 

In addition to the required text, you will be required to read a number of scholarly articles and chapters from books.  The articles will be available in Adobe Acrobat PDF format in Scholar.

Many of the readings for this course are also available from various electronic vendors to which the University Library subscribes. In the cases in which it was possible, I have included a stable URL link to the article. These links will only work if the sites recognize you as an authorized VT user. You can accomplish this in one of two ways: 1) you can use a computer connected to a campus network (ethernet or wireless), or if you are not on campus, 2) you can sign on to the library’s off campus ezproxy, using you pid and password. If you have problems accessing the readings through the stable URL links, please use Scholar.

You should read all of the readings assigned for the week before your discussion session meets!

Scholar:

Outside of class, this course will utilize Scholar. The URL for scholar is: https://scholar.vt.edu/portal. You should be able to sign on with your pid.  If you have problems logging on, please contact 4-HELP.

Schedule: 

Week 1: January 22  & 24

Introduction: “History and Representation”

Readings:
1. Davis, Slaves on Screen, 1-16.

Week 2: January 29 & 31  

Film: Spartacus (1960)

Readings:
1. Davis, Slaves on Screen, 17-41.
2. Hayden White, “Historiography and Historiophoty,” The American Historical Review 93 (1988): 1193-1199. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1873534

Reviews: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0054331/externalreviews

Week 3: February 5 & 7  

Film: Gladiator (2000)

Readings:
1. Amelia Arenas, “Popcorn and Circus: Gladiator and the Spectacle of Virtue,” Arion 9, 1 (2001): 1-12.  http://www.jstor.org/stable/20163824
2. Ward Briggs, “Layered Allusions in Gladiator,” Arion 15, 3 (2008): 9-38. http://www.jstor.org/stable/29737358
3. Damian Sutton, “The DreamWorks effect: the case for studying the ideology of production design,” Screen 45 (2004): 383-390. http://screen.oxfordjournals.org/content/45/4/383.full.pdf+html

Reviews: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0172495/externalreviews

Week 4: February 12 (Class Meets together on Tuesday)

Film: Burn! (1969)

Readings:
1. Davis, 41-69, 121-136.
2. Robert Brent Toplin, “Cinematic History: Where Do We Go From Here,” The Public Historian 25 (2003): 79-91. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3379185

Reviews: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0064866/externalreviews

Week 5: February 19 & 21

Film: Review Session: February 19
Exam: February 21

Week 6: February 26 & 28 

Film: Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Readings:
1. John Bodnar, “Saving Private Ryan and Postwar Memory in America,” The American Historical Review 106 (2001): 805-817. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2692325
2. Phil Landon, “Realism, Genre, and Saving Private Ryan,” Film & History: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Film and Television Studies 28 (1998): 58-62. http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/film_and_history/summary/v028/28.3-4.landon.html
3. “An Internet Discussion of Saving Private Ryan, Film & History: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Film and Television Studies 28 (1998): 72-81. http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/film_and_history/summary/v028/28.3-4.article.html

Reviews: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120815/externalreviews

Week 7: March 5 & 7 

Film: Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Readings:
1. Ben Walters, “Debating Inglourious Basterds,” Film Quarterly 63, 2 (2009): 19-21.  Scholar.
2. Ryan Gilbey, “Days of Gloury,” Sight & Sound 19, 9 (2009): 16-21.  Scholar.
3. Todd Herzog, “‘What shall the history books read?’ The debate over Inglourious Basterds and the limits of representation,” in Robert von Dassanowsky, ed., Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds: A Manipulation of Metacinema (New York: Continuum, 2012), 271-296.  Scholar.
4. Thomas Frank, “Blood Sport,” Harper’s 236 (March 2013): 4, 6-7. Scholar.

Reviews: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0361748/externalreviews

Week 8:  March 9 & 11

Spring Break

Week 9: March 19 & 21

Film: La Grande Illusion (1937)

Readings:
1. Pierre Sorlin, “War and Cinema: Interpreting the Relationship,” Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television 14 (1994): 357-66.  http://ezproxy.lib.vt.edu:8080/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ufh&AN=9411303449&site=ehost-live&scope=site
2. Marc Ferro, “La Grand Illusion and its Receptions,” in Cinema and History (Detroit, Michigan: Wayne State University Press, 1988): 132-138. Scholar.
3. Stanley Kauffmann, “Jean Renoir’s La Grande Illusion,” Horizon 14, Nr. 3 (1972): 49-55. Scholar.

Reviews: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0028950/externalreviews

Week 10: March 26 & 28

Film: Restrepo (2010)

Readings:
1. Bing West, “Groundhog War: The Limits of Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan,” Foreign Affairs 163 (2011): 163-171. http://heinonline.org/HOL/Page?handle=hein.journals/fora90&g_sent=1&collection=journals&id=939
2. “The Making of Restrepo: Behind the Scenes: An Interview with the Filmmakers,” National Geographic Movies: http://movies.nationalgeographic.com/movies/restrepo/junger-hetherington/
3. Adam Weinstein, “A Few Good Men,” Mother Jones (Sept/Oct 2010): http://www.motherjones.com/media/2010/07/sebastian-junger-interview
[Note there are 4 pages!]

Reviews: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1559549/externalreviews

Week 11: April 2 & 4  

Review Session: April 2
Exam: April 4

Week 12: April 9 & 11

Film: Munich (2005)

Readings:
1. Daniel J. Levine, “Munich: Warp-Speed Storytelling and the War on Terror,” Theory and Event 9 (2006): http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/theory_and_event/v009/9.3levine.html
2. Yosefa Loshitzky, “The Post-Holocaust Jew in the Age of “The War on Terror”: Steven Spielberg’s MunichJournal of Palestine Studies 40 (Winter 2011): 77-87. http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/jps.2011.XL.2.77

Watch:
“Munich – Spielberg speaks about a movie,” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gw8sDJtGaqI

Reviews: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0408306/externalreviews

Week 13: April 16 & 18  

Film: Der Baader-Meinhof Komplex  (2008)

Readings:
1. Jeremy Varon, “Stammheim Forever and the Ghosts of Guantanamo: Cultural Memory and the Politics of Incarceration,” in Baader-Meinhof Returns: History and the Cultural Memory of German Left-Wing Terrorism, eds. Gerrit-Jan Berendse and Ingo Cornils (New York: Rodopi, 2008): 303-326. Scholar.
2. Raphael Schlembach, “Some notes on the ‘Baader-Meinhof Complex’,” Ephemera: Theory & Politics in Organization 9 (2009): 234-241.  http://www.ephemeraweb.org/journal/9-3/9-3schlembach.pdf
3. Charity Schribner, “Fucking and shooting: the release of The Baader-Meinhof Complex,” The Sixties: A Journal of History, Politics and Culture 2, 2 (2009): 251-253.  Scholar.
4. Jon Zelamy, “The Baader Meinhof Complex: Talkin’ Terrorism with Uli Edel,” http://eightmillionstories.com/archive.php?gvID=159

Reviews: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0765432/externalreviews

Week 14: April 23 & 25

Film: Hunger (2008)

Watch (but only after you’ve seen the film):
Steve McQueen interview, part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyP9xfkHv5s
Steve McQueen interview, part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozgk8F2auo8
Steve McQueen interview, part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AY_nxm0ZFfM
Steve McQueen interview, part 4: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWUArEQgRTw

Readings:
1. Kirk Leech, “A delayed appetite for the facts,” The Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/oct/21/northernireland-northernireland
(Make sure to take a look at the comments; it gives a good sense of the ongoing debate.)
2. Vanessa Thorpe and Henry McDonald, “Anger as new film of IRA hero Bobby Sands screens at Cannes,” The Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2008/may/11/cannesfilmfestival.northernireland
3. Zachary Wigon, “The Cinema is a Train: On Steven McQueen’s Hunger,” Filmmaker (Fall 2012): http://filmmakermagazine.com/28233-the-cinema-is-a-train-on-steven-mcqueens-hunger/

Reviews: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0986233/externalreviews

Week 15: April 30 & May 2

Film: Standard Operating Procedure (2008)

Readings:
1. Caetlin Benson-Allott, “Standard Operating Procedure: Mediating Torture,” Film Quarterly 62, 4 (2009): 39-44.  http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/fq.2009.62.4.39
2. Linda Williams, “Cluster Fuck: The Forcible Frame in Errol Morris’s Standard Operating Procedure,” Camera Obscura 25 (2010): 29-67.  http://ezproxy.lib.vt.edu:8080/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=vth&AN=51119025&site=ehost-live&scope=site

Reviews: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0896866/externalreviews

Week 16: May 7 

Final Review: May 7

Final Exam:

Monday, May 13 at 4:25 PM

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Final Presentation Instructions

Now this is a presentation!

As requested, I am giving you broad guidelines for your final presentation and report.  These are meant to be expansive enough to give you the freedom to craft your presentation to your needs, but narrow enough to help you present your topic in a “orthodox” proposal format.

The presentation should consist of four sections.

1.  The question.

What is the question you are seeking to answer?  The main question should be presented as a question, not as a thesis or answer to the question.  You may also want to include subordinated questions that come under the aegis of the main question.  This sections should be short.

2.  Historiography

What literature exists on this topic?  This does not need to be terribly specific.  In your actual thesis proposals, it will be.  But for the sake of this exercise, since it is an oral presentation, you should give a general sense of the historiography (ie. some authors argue this, others argue this; historians have focused on this problem as an example of this; newer work in this other field could be used to inform studies of this; etc.).  This section should also be relatively short.

3.  Method

What is the methodology you expect to use to investigate this question, and what are the sources or kind of sources that will allow you to answer it?  You should tie this to a specific methodology.  We’ve covered a number of them this semester, but there are others.  You should choose the methodology best suited to your project.  This section should be longer than the first two, but not as long as the next.

4.  A preliminary hypothesis

Given what you know about the topic, what would you hypothesize as your answer.  This should give a specific, if hypothetical, answer to the question you posed at the outset.  This should allow you to illustrate how you’ll use your methodology to answer the question and how that will fit into the historiography that you’ve outlined.  This should be the longest section.

The report should cover the four sections of the presentation and include a bibliography that covers the historiography and primary sources you have uncovered.

The report can be in one of two forms: the actual presentation written down or a detailed outline.  I would suggest that it would be better to do both: have a written version but give your presentation from an outline, but I will accept either form.

As you requested, this is an exercise that not only allows you to get a head start on your thesis proposals, but it also allows you to work on your formal presentation skills.  Therefore, you will be graded on both the content of the proposal and the presentation itself.

As always, please let me know if you have any questions.  I look forward to seeing and hearing some fantastic work!

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Forum Instructions

Forum instructions:

The forum assignment is meant to simulate the forums we’ve been reading in the AHR.   As you’ve seen from what we’ve read, there is no set pattern for these kinds of responses to articles or books.  There are, however, a few things I would like to see in each review.

1. A brief summary of the primary arguments of the article to set up your response.

2. An ability to place the article within the historiography it is addressing.  This will mean going through the footnotes and taking a look at the literature that the article seeks to address.  (See examples in the Forum examples posted on Scholar).

3. The majority of the paper should be your response to the article.

So this assignment basically asks you to do three things:

1. summarize

2. be able to place an argument in its historiography

3. evaluate the article: critique and offer alternatives.

The paper should be 7-10 pages and include proper Chicago Manual of Style footnotes.

After you complete the paper, you’ll need to prepare a 10-minute presentation for the class.  You can only cover about 4 pages in 10 minutes.  You should actively prepare to formally present this in class.  This means not only writing down what you are going to say, but also being familiar enough with it that you can present it professionally, not simply read it to the audience.

After the presentations, you will all answer questions from the rest of the class.

You will receive a grade for the written work and a separate grade for the presentation.

If you have any questions, I’d be happy to talk to you outside of class.  Just send me an email to set up an appointment.

 

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Modernism vs. Postmodernism

A visual representation of the problem at hand.

Susannah asked a really good question that  took me down the rabbit hole.  “What’s the difference between modernism and postmodernism?”  This is a really big question that scholars have shed copious ink and at least a little bit of blood over.  And into this complicated question, I have to throw in another dyadic pair: modernity and postmodernity.

On modernism and modernity, cultural studies folks often have the tendency to point to this guy:

Charles Baudelaire, Poet Maudit
(creative commons image)

In particular, they tend to point to his essay “The Painter of Modern Life” (1863).  Walter Benjamin, one of the great critical theorists of the twentieth century, was particularly influential in promoting Baudelaire as a primordial source of modernity.  For a sense of Benjamin’s ideas about modernity, you should see, in particular, the Harvard UP collection, The Writer of Modern Life (2006) and his unfinished magnum opus The Arcades Project (1999).

Let me pause and regroup, this intervention is meant to answer a specific question, not to become a syllabus for an entire course on cultural theory (I do teach that on occasion, though).

So to get back to the question, which I’ve for simplicity’s sake divided into two; this makes it simpler and more complicated at the same time.  I guess this isn’t surprising.

For our purposes, I want to make a distinction between modernism/postmoderism on the one hand, and modernity/postmodernity on the other.

The modernism vs. postmodernism debate has been going on for at least a half century.  It is a complex debate but began its life as a conversation about aesthetics, in general, and architecture, in particular.  I think the best introduction to this debate, though not the easiest is Fredric Jameson’s Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism.

Jameson put it this way:

It is in the realm of architecture, however, that modifications in aesthetic production are most dramatically visible, and that their theoretical problems have been most centrally raised and articulated; it was indeed from architectural debates that my own conception of postmodernism – as it will be outlined in the following pages – initially began to emerge. More decisively than in the other arts or media, postmodernist positions in architecture have been inseparable from an implacable critique of architectural high modernism and of Frank Lloyd Wright or the so-called international style (Le Corbusier, Mies, etc), where formal criticism and analysis (of the high-modernist transformation of the building into a virtual sculpture, or monumental “duck,” as Robert Venturi puts it), are at one with reconsiderations on the level of urbanism and of the aesthetic institution. High modernism is thus credited with the destruction of the fabric of the traditional city and its older neighbourhood culture (by way of the radical disjunction of the new Utopian high-modernist building from its surrounding context), while the prophetic elitism and authoritarianism of the modern movement are remorselessly identified in the imperious gesture of the charismatic Master.

Postmodernism in architecture will then logically enough stage itself as a kind of aesthetic populism, as the very title of Venturi’s influential manifesto, Learning from Las Vegas, suggests. However we may ultimately wish to evaluate this populist rhetoric, it has at least the merit of drawing our attention to one fundamental feature of all the postmodernisms enumerated above: namely, the effacement in them of the older (essentially high-modernist) frontier between high culture and so-called mass or commercial culture, and the emergence of new kinds of texts infused with the forms, categories, and contents of that very culture industry so passionately denounced by all the ideologues of the modern, from Leavis and the American New Criticism all the way to Adorno and the Frankfurt School. The postmodernisms have, in fact, been fascinated precisely by this whole “degraded” landscape of schlock and kitsch, of TV series and Reader’s Digest culture, of advertising and motels, of the late show and the grade-B Hollywood film, of so-called paraliterature, with its airport paperback categories of the gothic and the romance, the popular biography, the murder mystery, and the science fiction or fantasy novel: materials they no longer simply “quote” as a Joyce or a Mahler might have done, but incorporate into their very substance.

Jameson saw cultural, aesthetic production as having undergone some fundamental shift, but, being a good Marxist, he saw this as tied to shifting modes of production, or, as he put it, the transition to “late capitalism.”

So if postmodernism is a statement about cultural manifestations and aesthetics (super-structure as an earlier generation of Marxists would have termed it), the modernity/postmodernity debate is a properly historical debate about periodization.  The basic question is when did “the modern” begin and end.  This is an even larger debate that brings in far more scholars and thinkers of various persuasions.  I’ll point briefly to two.

Daniel Bell, one of the most important sociologists of the postwar period, didn’t use the phrase postmodernity.  He preferred post-industrial.  His 1973 book The Coming of Post-Industrial Society proved to be influential.  He foresaw a transition in capitalism taking place that many of us would recognize now and suggested we were moving into a new age.

On the other side of the Atlantic, Jean-Francios Lyotard in 1979 published what would become an important book, which would help shape the debate.  The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge pushed the debate away from economics and social structure and toward epistemology, language, and technology.  Lyotard saw the transition to an information society as central and argued forcefully that the abandonment of the Grand Narratives we have been talking about was both a cause an effect of this transition to postmodernity.  Here is a nice excerpt of The Postmodern Condition.  And to help make sense of it, here is an discussion of postmodernism from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

This was a pretty long and involved answer to the question Susannah posed, but I hope it helps.  I also hopes it shows you how I think blogs can be really helpful for our shared learning.  It gives us a space to work through ideas in a collective manner.  I do hope you’ll join the conversation about this important topic.

Posted in HIST 5104, Historiography, Postmodernism | 1 Comment

Assignment 3

And class happens when some men, as a result of common experiences (inherited or shared), feel and articulate the identity of their interests as between themselves, and as against other men whose interests are different from (and usually opposed to) theirs.

 

 

 

Social History is a diverse collection of methodologies that rose to prominence in the 1960s and had become hegemonic by the 1970s.  Please synthesize the first five articles (minus Stone) and answer the question: What was new about social history and social historians’ approach? Keep in mind the mental constellation we’ve been talking about for the last two weeks and feel free to bring in Iggers and the AHR forum.

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