ENGL329F - Special Topics in Film Studies: Silent Film

This course provides an introductory survey of world film history from the medium’s emergence in 1895 up to the transition to sound in the late 1920s and early 1930s. We will examine a wide range of filmmaking practices, beginning with the earliest single-shotfilms of the Lumières and Thomas Edison, moving through silent comedy and the films of D. W. Griffith, to German Expressionism, French Impressionism, Soviet montage, silent Japanese cinema, and the first decades of Hollywood’s classical studio era. The goal of the course is to acquaint you with the broad contours of the first three decades of film history. We will explore such questions as: How did film narrative develop? What were the major film movements of the silent era? Where were these films seen, and who was their audience? We will work to position these films within their historical and cultural context while also remaining attentive to how they speak to film viewers today.


Two lower-level English courses, at least one in literature; or permission of department.