Topic Autumn 2018

Marriage, Love and Romance in American History and Movies

Course content

Love and romance are often portrayed as universal, unchanging truths of the human condition, with marriage defined as the essential cultural institution which must be protected by the evangelical right wing in order to prevent chaos and utter destruction of the nation. Yet contemporary debates and court rulings over gay marriage are just the most recent of a long history of sweeping changes in the purpose, politics and practice of marriage. This course will examine specific historical flashpoints in which the meaning of marriage, love and romance were widely challenged. The course begins with a case study from the revolutionary era – A Midwife’s Tale. The 19th century will be represented by competing visions of Little Women. The 20th century will use silent films, film noir, screwball, and contemporary romantic comedies. There will be an examination of how these portrayals differ by race and ethnicity. Finally, arguments and films about gay marriage will be compared to earlier films on interracial marriage.

Each case study will look in depth at a particular film – both historical docudramas and fictional films. Historical documents will be examined which highlight or expand upon aspects illustrated by the films. In addition to reading about the history of marriage, love and romance, this course will involve “hands on” historical research as well as active interaction with the films.  


Learning outcome

After completing this course you,

  • Will have experience analyzing a film from an historical perspective,
  • Have an understanding of historical changes in the purpose and practice of marriage, love and romance,
  • Demonstrate reading, writing, and communication skills in academic English,
  • know how to construct an analytical text in academic English,
  • Will demonstrate familiarity with scholarly ethics and the appropriate tools for documenting your work.
Published May 24, 2018 2:07 PM - Last modified May 24, 2018 2:07 PM