FILM 290 Topics in Digital Cinema (Formerly DC 270)

Raphael Nash

Office: STDC 332
Fall 2019-2020
Class number: 15952
Section number: 401
Tu 1:30PM - 4:45PM
14EAS 00801 Loop Campus


Since the birth of cinema, films have assisted in how we as viewers understand race and ethnicity. As a late-19th century invention, American Cinema's development occurred during a time prone to racial intolerance, ignorance, exploitation, and fear. We will explore Hollywood's representation of African-American, Latino, and Asian-American groups, and more importantly, explore the habits of racial misrepresentation that have sustained across time. We will also examine films, filmmakers, critics, and institutions that seek to bring balance to this discrepancy.

It is assumed that a goal of American Cinema is to reflect American Society. If true, American Cinema has been misrepresenting its nation. We will inherently engage in discussions of race, racism, stereotypes, and bigotry. The dialogue this course creates should be one of understanding, fairness, and ultimately, unity.


Required: Media & Minorities: The Politics of Race in News and Entertainment, Stephanie Greco Larson
ISBN: 9780847694532

Online reading material & printed resources will be given throughout the course.


Writing Assignments: 25%
Quizzes: 30%
Mid-Term: 10%
Final: 25%
Participation: 10%



Course Work

Homework will consist of written responses to articles, films, television programs, and online material. Completed assignments will be posted to our class dropbox/submissions area in D2L.

Quizzes will cover terminology and historical facts related to our topics.

Mid-term will be an outline of your research paper's topic.

Final Research Paper will consist of extensive research on a particular mode of misrepresentation in film, supported by the analysis of 3 films within this scope.

Course Policies

Course Policies

- Attendance and class participation is mandatory
- Late assignments will not be accepted without permission

Changes to Syllabus
This syllabus is subject to change as necessary during the quarter. If a change occurs, it will be thoroughly addressed during class, posted under Announcements in D2L and sent via email.

Week 1: The Birth of Misrepresentation
Class overview, student introductions, and history of US entertainment.

Screening and discussion, clips from:
- The Birth of a Nation and Broken Blossoms, D.W. Griffith

? Read: Media and Minorities, pages 13-21
? Writing Assignment #1

Week 2: Holly-wouldnt
Writing Assignment review, Black American representation in Cinema.

Screening and discussion:
- Classified X, Melvin Van Peebles

- Writing Assignment #2
- Read: Media and Minorites, Chapter 3
Week 3: Holly-wouldnt pt. 2
Writing Assignment review, Blaxploitation and beyond.
Screening and discussion, clips from:
- Select Blaxploitation-era films
- Coolie High, Michael Schultz

Quiz #1

- Read: Media and Minorities Chapter 5.
Week 4: Welcome to the Border
Mexican representation in Cinema, TV, and Animation

Screening and discussion, clips from:
- Selected Looney Tunes Cartoons
- Tony the Greaser, William Haddock
- Girl of the Rio, Thornton Freeland
- Zoot Suit, Luis Valdez
- Colors, Dennis Hopper
- Magnificent Seven, John Sturges

Schedule Mid-term Check-Ins.

- Read: Media and Minorities, Chapter 4.
- Writing Assignment #3
Week 5: Discovering the Native
Native Communities, and Native American representation in Cinema, Mid-Term Check-In.

Screening and discussion, clips from:
- Peter Pan Jackson, Luske, Geronimi, Kinney
- The Man Who Would Be King, John Huston
- Last of the Mohicans, Michael Mann
- Avatar, James Cameron

- Read: Media and Minorities, Chapter 6
Week 6: Fu Manchu to Apu
Middle Eastern, South and East Asian representation in Cinema, TV, and Animation.

Screening and discussion, clips from:
- Breakfast at Tiffany's, Blake Edwards
- The Simpsons, Matt Groening

Quiz #2

- Writing Assignment #4
Week 7: Fu Manchu to Apu pt. 2
Middle Eastern, South and East Asian representation in Cinema, TV, and Animation.

Screening and discussion, clips from:
- Short Circuit, John Badham
- Bloodsport, Newt Arnold
Week 8: The White Savior Film
Representations of White Heroes saving Tragic Non-Whites

Screening and discussion, clips from:
- Dangerous Minds, John N. Smith
- The Blind Side, John Lee Hancock
- The Help, Tate Taylor

Homework: Writing Assignment #5
Week 9: Satire Saves the Day
Investigating the use of Satire to explore discrepancies in racial & ethnic representations in Cinema and TV.

Screening and discussion, clips from:
- Blazing Saddles, Mel Brooks
- Hollywood Shuffle, Robert Townsend
- Key and Peele, Key and Peele
- The Boondocks, Aaron McGruder
Week 10: All-American Cinema & TV
Screening and discussion:
- Fresh Off The Boat, Nahnatchka Kahn
- Master of None, Aziz Ansari
- Black-ish, Kenya Barris
- Crash, Paul Haggis

Quiz #3

School policies:

Changes to Syllabus

This syllabus is subject to change as necessary during the quarter. If a change occurs, it will be thoroughly addressed during class, posted under Announcements in D2L and sent via email.

Online Course Evaluations

Evaluations are a way for students to provide valuable feedback regarding their instructor and the course. Detailed feedback will enable the instructor to continuously tailor teaching methods and course content to meet the learning goals of the course and the academic needs of the students. They are a requirement of the course and are key to continue to provide you with the highest quality of teaching. The evaluations are anonymous; the instructor and administration do not track who entered what responses. A program is used to check if the student completed the evaluations, but the evaluation is completely separate from the student’s identity. Since 100% participation is our goal, students are sent periodic reminders over three weeks. Students do not receive reminders once they complete the evaluation. Students complete the evaluation online in CampusConnect.

Academic Integrity and Plagiarism

This course will be subject to the university's academic integrity policy. More information can be found at If you have any questions be sure to consult with your professor.

Academic Policies

All students are required to manage their class schedules each term in accordance with the deadlines for enrolling and withdrawing as indicated in the University Academic Calendar. Information on enrollment, withdrawal, grading and incompletes can be found at

Students with Disabilities

Students who feel they may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the instructor privately to discuss their specific needs. All discussions will remain confidential.
To ensure that you receive the most appropriate accommodation based on your needs, contact the instructor as early as possible in the quarter (preferably within the first week of class), and make sure that you have contacted the Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD) at:
Lewis Center 1420, 25 East Jackson Blvd.
Phone number: (312)362-8002
Fax: (312)362-6544
TTY: (773)325.7296