L&S Curricular Connections

L&S Discovery Courses

LS 40C

Hollywood: The Place, the Industry, the Fantasy

Historical Studies

This course will introduce students to the interdisciplinary field of American Studies, taking the “Hollywood Dream Factory” as its central theme. Focusing on both parts of that phrase, the course will proceed along a double path: We will examine the economic and cultural history of the geographical neighborhood in Los Angeles called “Hollywood” and we will study the development of the motion picture industry from the rise of the studio system to the “new” entertainment economy of the 1980’s. Our topics will include the founding of Los Angeles and the history of labor in the culture industry, the implications of various shifts in the spatial organization of film production, and the effects of Hollywood on the larger politics of southern California. We will also consider works by Nathanael West, Raymond Chandler and Joan Didion, and discuss the way Hollywood has framed its own history in movies it makes about the movie industry.

Students will be required to see 12 “classic” films, plus two contemporary movie about movies. Our main project will focus on helping students relate primary texts to historical arguments, social analysis and empirical data. Part of the course will be devoted to analyzing the ways that films create meaning and how the medium works to construct powerful fantasies about the boundaries between public and private, work and play, commerce and art, fantasy and reality.

Kathleen Moran faculty profile
Kathleen Moran (American Studies)

Terms Offered

  • Fall 2019
  • Fall 2017
  • Fall 2015
  • Spring 2013
  • Fall 2011
  • Spring 2011
  • Fall 2009