HIST 381

Film and History: Latin America

In 1915 filmmaker D.W. Griffith predicted that "moving pictures" would soon replace book writing as the principal way to communicate knowledge about the past. Both historical writing and movies have at various times made parallel promises to objectively convey past realities. But just as historians have questioned the objectivity of the written word, one might also ask "how real is reel?" This course explores the relationship between film and historical interpretation and understanding. It considers how films produced in the U.S. and Latin America interpret Latin American history, and how they can be used to understand Latin America's past. Besides viewing and discussing around ten films throughout the semester, the class also reads a series of related historical texts, both as a point of interpretive comparison for the films, and as a point of reflection on the possibilities and limits of the academia-bound historian's primary medium.