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MDST 371 American Film: Tradition and Trends

This course surveys the development and growth of American popular film from the silent movies at the turn of the century through Hollywood's studio system to the modern age of the multiplex theater, home video and cable television productions. Using a variety of feature films, historical sources and critical essays, students explore how film recreates, reflects and influences American culture. Also, students gain a basic knowledge of the technology and language of film, and critical approaches to film study.
4 Undergraduate credits

Effective August 1, 1998 to present

Meets graduation requirements for

Learning outcomes


  • Analyze how these elements contribute to a film's overarching aesthetic and thematic concerns.
  • Create informed critical analyses and personal reactions to films viewed that reflect advanced learning in the subject area
  • Evaluate the bidirectional influences of film and culture in the formation of distinct film genre and/or eras.
  • Evaluate the implications of cultural/social context, stardom, production context and media economy on the development of film in the United States
  • Know, understand and apply the language of film to various forms of film texts in the course of analysis.
  • Know, understand and appreciate differences in the spectrum of American film over time and across genre.
  • Understand the role of narrative, visual and aural elements of film at an advanced level of film appreciation.

Minnesota Transfer Curriculum

Goal 6: The Humanities and Fine Arts

  • Demonstrate awareness of the scope and variety of works in the arts and humanities.
  • Understand those works as expressions of individual and human values within a historical and social context.
  • Respond critically to works in the arts and humanities.
  • Engage in the creative process or interpretive performance.
  • Articulate an informed personal reaction to works in the arts and humanities.