Course Description:

American cinema has continually reshaped our view of the nation’s history as well as how we think about cinema’s role in depicting that history. This course is intended to survey the ways Hollywood, independent, and experimental cinema of the last 50 years has sought to capture, anticipate, and critique the times in which they were made, and to interrogate the ways in which we understand them now. Special attention will be paid to depictions of mental instability as a way of representing the psychic health of the nation, representations of race, sexuality, and political ideology, and how changes in methods of production have recast our understanding of cinema’s past as well as its uncertain future. Students can expect a diverse array of screenings by the likes of Andy Warhol, Kenneth Anger, Bob Rafelson, John Frankenheimer, Spike Lee, David Lynch, Kimberly Pierce, Peggy Awesh, John Boorman, David Fincher, Todd Haynes, Peter Bogdanovich, and Hollis Frampton.


Gregory Zinman, PhD, is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Cinema Studies at New York University. His dissertation, “Handmade: Cinema in the Artisanal Mode,” provides a theoretical and historical framework for understanding craft-based moving image practices. He is also a curatorial consultant to the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Yale University Art Gallery, and has written on film, art, and culture for The New Yorker, American Art, and the Guggenheim Museum online.

Contact him at gzinman@mac.com, and learn more about his work at handmadecinema.com.

Office hours:

Tuesdays, 4pm-6pm, or by appointment. 721 Broadway, 6th floor, room 677.


Attendance is mandatory. Three or more unexcused absences between lecture and recitation combined will result in your grade being lowered a full letter. Please do not be late to class. Please silence your phone. Please do not text, IM, tweet, or read the internet during lectures or screenings.


In-class/online participation (20%).

You do not have to talk all of the time in recitation (nor should you), but you absolutely must speak up on a regular basis in order to receive an excellent grade. This goes for your participation online as well. Be a good colleague and engage with your fellow students—the idea is to learn from one another.

Midterm paper, 5-7 pages (15%)

2 Blog posts (25%)

You are expected to take your blog posts seriously. Pick interesting clips and topics, and be creative, insightful, nuanced, and clear in your thinking and writing. You are encouraged to post more often than is required for your grade. Such additional participation will be duly noted and factored into your final grade.

Final essay, 10-12 pages (40%)


Plagiarism, in any form, will not be tolerated, will result in an automatic failing grade, and may result in disciplinary action and/or expulsion from the university. NYU’s Academic Integrity Guide can be found here.