Studies in Film History: Hollywood Stardom

English 3850
Hollywood Stardom
Section 01
Nancy West
Tate 215

Mandatory screenings on Tuesdays 6:00-8:30pm in Tate 215

This course offers a history of the Hollywood star system, spanning the 1920s to the present. Individual performers make a course like this, so we will spend much time focusing on the career output and cultural image of some of Hollywood’s biggest stars: Clara Bow, Rudolph Valentino, Greta Garbo, Fred Astaire, Cary Grant, Bette Davis, James Stewart, Joan Crawford, Humphrey Bogart, Grace Kelly, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Sidney Poitier, Paul Newman, Johnny Depp, Tom Hanks, Robert Downey Jr., Halle Berry, and George Clooney. We will look at the films in which they starred but also attend to the vast network of cultural forms—publicity, biographies, promotional materials, public appearances—that have helped construct their star images. Just as importantly, we will study how the star system worked—and why it declined in the 1950s never to recover its power again. Assignments include a range of possible projects, including video essays, films, and a class book.