Screening America: United States History Through Film Since 1900 / Edition 1

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By combining the study of films with the text-based primary sources, Screening America gives students clear guidance in studying, interpreting, and understanding the motion picture's significance as a primary source in investigating U.S. History.

Students will come to understand history as not only the record of what governments did, but also the way in which people lived their lives, experienced the wider world, and engaged in leisure pursuits, from which we can learn much about the society in which they lived.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780321143167
  • Publisher: Pearson
  • Publication date: 4/19/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 523,987
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Table of Contents

Each chapter includes sections entitled “Historical Background,” “Analyzing the Film,” and “Thinking about Primary Sources,” “Historical Perspective,” primary sources, “Follow-Up Problems,” “Further Reading” and Filmography.



Primary Sources and Critical Thinking.

The Motion Picture as Primary Source.

Reading Film: The Analytical Process.

Historical Background: The Origins of the Motion Picture Industry.


1. Social Protest: A Corner in Wheat (1909) as Muckraking Film.

Document 1. The Literary Inspiration for A Corner in Wheat.

Document 2. U.S. Senator Robert La Follette Attacks Financial Manipulators.

Document 3. The Selling of A Corner in Wheat.

Document 4. Critical Reaction to the Film.

2. Cultural History Through a Cloudy Lens: The Birth of a Nation (1915) and the Racial Climate of Progressive America.

Document 1. The NAACP Challenges Hollywood to Respect the Will of the National Board of Censorship.

Document 2. NAACP Mobilizes National Resistance to the Screening of a Racist Film.

Document 3. The Film's Producers React to the Threat of Censorship.

Document 4. NAACP Considers a Film as an Answer to The Birth of a Nation.

3. Social Change and Sexual Politics: Dancing Mothers (1926) and Moral Ambiguity in the Jazz Age.

Document 1. Elinor Glyn Describes “It.”

Document 2. A New Marriage Style Discussed by Fannie Hurst

Document 3. Suzanne La Follette Describes a New Attitude on Divorce

Document 4. Frederick Lewis Allen Assesses the Impact of the Movies and the Producers' Response to the Critics.

Document 5. The Motion Picture Code Prescribes Appropriate Treatment of Sexual Issues and Relationships.

4. The End of Romantic War: All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) and Disillusionment in the Interwar Era

Document 1. Determination to Avoid Another World War.

Document 2. The New York Times Reviewer Acknowledges Milestone's Achievement.

Document 3. Erich Maria Remarque Surveys War's Devastating Impact on Those Who Served.


5. Making It in Depression America: The Streets or the Stage as Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933)

Document 1. A Recollection of the Bonus March.

Document 2. The Exhilarating Depression of FDR.

Document 3. Director Mervyn LeRoy Assesses the Market.

Document 4. A Social Historian Recalls Avoidance of Unpleasant Realities.

6. The Resilient People: The Grapes of Wrath (1940) Exposes Poverty in the Land of Plenty.

Document 1. A Migrant Mother.

Document 2. John Steinbeck Describes the Migrant Experience.

Document 3. Californians React to Steinbeck's Portrayal of Golden California.

Document 4. An “Okie” View of the Film from Woody Guthrie.


7. Thinking of Intervention: Foreign Correspondent (1940) and the Winds of War.

Document 1. Walter Wanger Describes the Impediments to the Production of Foreign Correspondent.

Document 2. A Hollywood Executive Sees a Connection Between Good Business, Good Propaganda, and Good Policy.

Document 3. Walter Wanger and Hollywood Internationalists Endorse Roosevelt's Leadership during the Prewar Crisis.

Document 4. Senator Gerald P. Nye Speaks Out for the Isolationists against Alleged Hollywood Propaganda.

Document 5. Wanger Recalls his Objective in the Production of Foreign Correspondent.

8. Government Persuasion: Prelude to War (1943), The Negro Soldier (1944), and the Issues of the War.

Document 1. The Army States Its Objectives for the Why We Fight Series.

Document 2. An Interdeparmental Analysis of Prelude to War Prepares the Way for Widespread Civilian Distribution.

Document 3. The Office of War Information's Director Explains the Agency's Reservations about Public Distribution of Prelude to War.

Document 4. Lowell Mellett Expresses the Bureau of Motion Picture's Reasons for Limited Distribution of Army Productions.

Document 5. The Hollywood War Activities Committee Promotes The Negro Soldier.

9. Social Unity in a Nation at War: Since You Went Away (1944) and Women's Mobilization for Victory.

Document 1. OWI Outlines Hollywood's Wartime Responsibilities.

Document 2. A Recollection of Wartime Sacrifice.

Document 3. A Wartime Analysis of Selznick's Work from Time.

Document 4. Visual Images of the Women's War.


10. Hollywood's Cold War: The Suppression of Salt of the Earth (1954).

Document 1. Congressman Donald L. Jackson Sounds the Alarm.

Document 2. Roy Brewer Promises Labor Action.

Document 3. Howard Hughes Outlines a Blueprint for Suppression.

Document 4. Paul Jarrico's Chronicle of External Harassment.

11. A Cautionary Tale: Dr. Strangelove as a Vision of Nuclear Endgame.

Document 1. SANE Launches the Debate over Nuclear Proliferation.

Document 2. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara Explains Assured Destruction.

Document 3. Journalist I.F.Stone Reads the Lessons of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Document 4. Terry Southern Recalls the Origins of Dr. Strangelove.

Document 5. Ambivalence in a New York Times Review.

12. The Alienation Films of the 1960s: Alice's Restaurant (1969), The Graduate, and Social Fragmentation.

Document 1. An Account of the “Crime of the Century.”

Document 2. The Producers Are Warned Against Possible Local Resistance to Alices Restaurant.

Document 3. Mixed Reviews Reflect Historial Context.


13. Worker Solidarity and Human Dignity: Norma Rae (1979) and Southern Labor Activism.

Document 1. Crystal Lee Sutton Asserts the Need for Union Organization.

Document 2. Two Contemporary Evaluations of Norma Rae as a Depiction of Working Class Life.

Document 3. ACTWU Uses Norma Rae as an Organizing Tool.

14. Coming Home (1978): Vietnam and the Uncertain Future of American Foreign Policy.

Document 1. Jane Fonda's Radio Hanoi Broadcast

Document 2. A Reviewer's Analysis of Coming Home as a Statement on the Outcomes of the Vietnam War.

Document 3. Public Attitudes Toward the War.

Document 4. General Norman Schwartzkopf Assesses Vietnam's Impact on the Army.

Document 5. Cynicism in the Post-Vietnam Generation.

15. Unfinished Business: Do the Right Thing (1989) and the Escalation of Social Tension.

Document 1. The National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders Outlines the Problems of Urban America.

Document 2. Spike Lee Explains Violence in His Film.

Document 3. Universal Studios Promotes Do the Right Thing.

Document 4. Roger Ebert's Analysis of Do the Right Thing.

Document 5. Lee Uses the Lyrics of Public Enemy's Recording, “Fight the Power” to Set a Tone for the Violence to Come.

16. Suburban Anxiety in Modern America: American Beauty (1999) and the Pitfalls of Prosperity.

Document 1. Director Sam Mendes Describes his First Reaction to the Script.

Document 2. Two Conflicting Critical Reactions to the Film.

Epilogue: Thinking About Your Movies.



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