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AIH263 - "History Written with Lightning": Film and the Past

Note: You are seeing the 2013 view of this unit information. These details may no longer be current. [Go to the current version]
Enrolment modes:(B, G, X)
Credit point(s):1

Trimester 2

EFTSL value:0.125

This unit was titled American Dreams in 2011.

Unit chair:K Beattie
Incompatible with: AIH363
Note: Online teaching methods require internet access. Please refer to the most current computer specifications.


After watching D.W. Griffith’s cinematic interpretation of the recent American past, Birth of a Nation (1915), the U.S. President Woodrow Wilson commented that the film was ‘like writing history with lightning.’ The electrifying effect of film applied to representations of the past has resulted in an innovative way of ‘writing’ history which extends and informs the so-called visual turn in historical analysis. This unit examines the representation of the past within a range of fiction and nonfiction films from the earliest days of cinema to the present. Historical events analyzed in this way may include, among others aspects, the American frontier, British society in the 1950s, the experience of women in the twentieth century, and the war in Vietnam. Topics studied include narrative or ‘story-telling’ strategies; aspects of film language, including montage; realism; film genre; and film music and the historical event. Within and through an examination of the ways in which film represents the past the unit simultaneously addresses two famous questions from the disciplines of historical studies and film studies: André Bazin’s ‘What is cinema?’ and E.H. Carr’s ‘What is history?’.


Essay 2000 words 60%, Online test 20%, Online test 20%

Unit Fee Information

Student Contribution Rate*Student Contribution Rate**Fee rate - Domestic Students Fee rate - International students

* Rate for all CSP students, except for those who commenced Education and Nursing units pre 2010
** Rate for CSP students who commenced Education and Nursing units pre 2010
Please note: Unit fees listed do not apply to Deakin Prime students.

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