Film as History (HIST*2020) | College of Arts

Film as History (HIST*2020)

Code and section: HIST*2020*01

Term: Winter 2021

Instructor: Karen Racine


Method of Delivery:

Following the University of Guelph’s guidelines, the class will be conducted in a remote format via Zoom. The course will be delivered in a combination of asynchronous and synchronous formats.

Viewing guides and related academic articles will be posted. Films will be available to view independently (asynchronous); class will meet once per week (synchronous) for a fun and challenging discussion in small group breakout rooms and then as a larger group.

Course Synopsis and Goals:

Film has become an increasingly important medium for the dissemination of historical knowledge.  Though filmed history represents an exciting development that can offer many advantages over a printed text, writers and directors also face significant pressures when attempting to tell a true story both artfully and accurately.  This course is intended to give the beginning student an introduction to the challenges of bringing real people and events to life on film using British history as the case study.  We will evaluate each film for its accuracy and also will practise decoding the director’s ideological outlook or argument or the comment it may be making on present day. Students can expect to acquire some knowledge of the genre’s technical aspects and vocabulary so that they can become more critical consumers of media messages.  

  1. To gain a broader awareness of people and issues in British history
  2. To gain an introduction to the study of history on film (and a more sophisticated awareness of the both the benefits and limitations of the visual representation of history versus stories told with the written word)
  3. To become more conscious of the way public perception of past events is distorted, controlled, enhanced and augmented by mass media
  4. To practise oral and written communication skills

Method of Evaluation and Weights:

4 film reviews (x 20% each) - 80%
Final Exam (take-home format) - 20%

 Required Book:

No required text; will use various academic articles available from the library.

*NOTE: This is a preliminary website description only. The department reserves the right to change without notice any information in this description. The final, binding course outline will be distributed during the first class session of the semester

The University of Guelph resides on the land of the Between the Lakes Treaty No. 3, the territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit. This land is part of the Dish with One Spoon, a covenant between Indigenous nations to live peaceably on the territories of the Great Lakes region. We recognize that today this gathering place is home to many First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples and acknowledging them reminds us of our collective responsibility to the land where we learn, live and work.