Aliens, anxiety and the bomb: 1950s science fiction cinema
Time: 10:30 - 13:00
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Course Code: HF035
Duration: 2 sessions (over 2 weeks)
What is the course about?
This online film studies course explores American SF cinema of the 1950s and the ways in which it has been understood both as genre and in figurative terms. In doing so, it will consider Hollywood cinema of the 1950s as a context for the production of these films and their marketing and exhibition, along with a range of critical accounts of the films. The following are some of the films that will feature on the course though no prior viewing is required: The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), The Thing from Another World (1951), The War of the Worlds (1953), It Came from Outer Space (1953), Them! (1954), The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957). A full list of films will be provided at the start of the course.
No prior reading is required but you may wish consider:
Seeing is Believing - How Hollywood Taught Us to Stop Worrying and Love the Fifties by Peter Biskind (Bloomsbury, 2001).
This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
• Science fiction as a major genre in American cinema of the 1950s
• Sub-genres in American science fiction cinema of the 1950s
• Themes in American 1950s science fiction cinema
• Hollywood in the 1950s as production context (production, distribution, marketing and exhibition)
• Critical accounts of science fiction cinema of the 1950s.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
• Identify an assess SF as a major genre in American cinema of the 1950s
• Identify and assess a range of sub-genres in American science fiction cinema of the 1950s
• Identify and assess a range of themes in American science fiction cinema of the 1950s
• Describe the organisation of Hollywood in the period as a production context for these films
• Evaluate a range of critical accounts of 1950s American SF cinema.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
The course is suitable for all levels and you do not require any particular skills - just an enthusiasm for film and discussing film. The course will provide an introduction to the subject but will also be useful for those wishing to build on existing knowledge in the subject area.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Screenings of extracts from films, talks by the tutor, reading materials, small and large group discussions. It might also be a good idea to see what you can find out about the subject in advance of the class (see the reading and films mentioned above) but this is not essential.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
You will require a pen and paper (or laptop/device) but the tutor will provide all other materials such as handouts. The tutor will show extracts from films and you do not have to obtain them.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Please look for other film studies courses at www.citylit.ac.uk/History, Culture and Writing/film studies.
Jon Wisbey teaches film at City Lit and Morley College. He was for many years a committee member and vice-chair of Chelmsford Film Club, screening contemporary and classic world cinema releases. He has an MA in Film Studies from the University of East Anglia. His teaching focuses on classical and post-classical Hollywood, European cinema, British cinema, film noir and horror cinema.
Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.