Hollywood in the 1970s


ENGLISH 5050 – section 001

Fall 2021

Steven Shaviro (shaviro@shaviro.com or shaviro@wayne.edu)


This class offers an intensive look at Hollywood film from the 1970s: the decade commonly known as The New Hollywood. By the late 1960s, the traditional Hollywood studio system had fallen apart. Economic and social changes (the Black liberation, women’s liberation, and anti-war movements; new attitudes towards sex and drugs; economic displacements in all the entertainment industries; the end of the movie industry’s self-imposed censorship) led to massive displacements. Old genres were no longer popular. A new generation of filmmakers emerged, who knew film history thoroughly, and thought of themselves as artists and creators. Both new sorts of art films, and new sorts of blockbusters, needed to be invented. The 1970s in Hollywood were a time of massive upheavals, and the decade is still regarded as one of the most vital and exciting in Hollywood history. This class will introduce students to the range of Hollywood filmmaking (plus a few American films beyond Hollywood) in the decade.


By the end of the course, successful students will have learned about the history of Hollywood filmmaking in the 1970s.

In addition, by the end of the course successful students should be able to:


This class will not meet in person, but will be conducted entirely online. I believe that the best way to get a sense of this segment of film history is through immersion. Therefore I will ask you to watch an average of two movies each week, for a total of 28 movies. (There are fifteen weeks in the semester, but two of them have days off, for Labor Day and for Thanksgiving. So I will only assign one movie for each of the shorter weeks).

There will also be lists of additional movies to watch at your discretion (you will need to watch at least a few of them to write your two research papers). You are responsible for finding and watching the movies on your own; most of them are available for rent or purchase on the major online streaming services (Amazon, Apple, Google Pay, YouTube, etc.). A good way to find which services have which films is to use one of the streaming movie search engines, such as JustWatch. I will indicate links for movies that can only be accessed in a few places).

Most of the streaming movie rentals for older movies like the ones we are watching this semester come out to $3.99 or less; the cost of renting movies for the entire semester should still be far less than purchasing a textbook in an ordinary class.

A note about the choice of movies: I have not included several of the most famous movies of the decade (such as the first Star Wars and the first two Godfather movies), because they are so famous that many people have already seen them. I prefer to show lesser-known films that are not as well known. (Thus, for Francis Ford Coppola, I am showing The Conversation; and for George Lucas, I am showing THX-1138). Also, I am only showing one movie by each director (with the exception of Robert Altman, two of whose movies are on the syllabus). This, again, is to allow us to see a wider variety of movies.

There will be discussion boards in Canvas for all of the movies on the syllabus. I will lead with introductory comments on each movie (in lieu of the lectures that I would give if we were meeting in a classroom). Each discussion board is then open for your responses, comments, and discussion.

Class requirements include participation in the discussion boards on Canvas, and writing two research papers. On the discussion boards, you should post a minimum of 300 words or so for each of the twenty-eight movies covered in the course of the semester. The research papers should be approximately 1500 words each; for both papers, I will ask you to watch additional films from the period, and relate them to the films watched and discussed in class. The papers will be due on October 25 and on December 17.

September 1-3

September 7-10

September 13-17

September 20-24

September 27-October 1

October 4-8

October 11-15

October 18-22

October 25-29

November 1-5

November 8-12

November 15-19

November 22-23

November 29-December 3

December 6-10

Grade Appeals:
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences stipulates that course grade appeals must be initiated within 30 days from the time the grade is posted. The English Grade Appeal Form can be obtained at the English Main Office on the 9th Floor of 5057 Woodward or by emailing Royanne Smith at ad2073@wayne.edu. More information on this process, including the limited grounds for appeal, can be found at http://clasweb.clas.wayne.edu/Multimedia/CLAS/files/Students/Grade_Appeal_process.pdf.

Plagiarism is a very serious matter and should be recognized as such. The University has a very strict policy on plagiarism. Always refer to your sources when quoting, paraphrasing, or using the ideas ofother writers. When paraphrasing, place in quotes any phrase of four words or more that comes directly from the source being used.