Undergraduate - Winter - 2024

Silent Film Comedy – W24


Winter - 2024


This course examines the multi-decade film career of Charles Chaplin in relation to major artistic, cultural, and political movements during the 20th century. Topics include: new spheres of popular amusements and their relation to “high” cultural forms; changing performance styles, stars, and cultures of celebrity, spanning the silent and sound film eras; narrative and non-narrative formats for presenting physical comedy on the screen; regional developments in movie-making in California during a period of repid social and environmental change; and Chaplin’s comic and non-comic perspectives and influence on global political concerns, including the Great War, the Great Depression, the rise of fascism, World War II, and the Cold War and Red Scare. While Chaplin’s body of work as a performer and filmmaker will constitute our primary focus, conversations will open up to broader questions concerning the relation of motion picture comedy to national, international, and transnational political events and trends.