During the 1930s and 1940s, hundreds of German-speaking
writers and film professionals lived and worked in Hollywood. While
some were émigrés who came to better their lot and
further their professional careers, the majority of them were Jewish
refugees who escaped the threat of Nazi death camps. This course will
study the role of prominent exiles such as Fritz Lang, Billy Wilder,
Robert Siodmak, Bertolt Brecht, Salka Viertel, Fred Zinnemann and Klaus
Mann within the US film industry. On a historical level, we will focus
on the continuties and ruptures between Weimar cinema and Hollywood.
Thus we will study how the exiles' sense of (Jewish) identity in the
United States was shaped not only by the experience of displacement and
the fight against fascism, but also by the political climate of
war-time United States and the film industry's war efforts. On a
conceptual level, we need to question such terms as national cinema and
cultural identity. Here, recent discussions of postcolonial theory,
exile and diaspora, hybridity, and cultural mimicry will be examined.
On a political level, we will investigate how these films intervene in
public debates, and how they reframe political issues in terms of
narrative and images. This will also involve a comparative study of the
culture industries of wartime Hollywood and Nazi Germany.
Hamid Naficy, ed., Home, Exile,
Homeland (New York: Routledge, 1999)
John Russel Taylor, Strangers in
Paradise: The Hollywood Émigrés (London: Faber and
Both texts available at Wheelock Books. All other texts
are available through the website.
Most films are
available at Jones Media Center. All films are also available on
format through the server of Humanities Computing; however, the quality
of the image is vastly superior on DVD. For all films that are not
screened in class, please make sure to have posted
your response on the course website by noon of the day the class meets.
Class preparation, attendance, and participation are
required. There will be weekly commentary on screenings; one or two
short presentations in class; an open-book midterm; two sequence
analyses; and one final research paper. Students will develop their
topics in consultation with the instructor. Students taking the class
for major credit in German are required to do the literary readings in
German and write their final paper in German.
We encourage students with disabilities, including
"invisible" disablities like chronic diseases, learning disabilities,
and psychiatric disabilities to discuss with us after class or during
our office hours appropriate accommodations that might be helpful to