Jan 23, 2020  
2017-2018 Undergraduate Catalog 
2017-2018 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

ENG 3640 - The Eighties: Literature, Film, and Culture in the Blockbuster Era

Credits: 4

The 1980s saw the beginning of a new kind of culture in America - what might be termed the “blockbuster era.” It was an era of big things: big movies, events, crazes, hair. Some historians have described it as the height of the monoculture: the last decade when nearly everyone experienced a cultural event together, whether the final episode of M.A.S.H., the premiere of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, or the phenomenon of E.T. While the decade is often characterized as the Reagan Era due to the undeniable influence of the two-term president, pop culture ruled the world. It was the decade of MTV and VHS home videos, Apple computers and Nintendo, Sony Walkmans and synthesizers. It has often been labeled an era of greed, conspicuous consumption, and obsession with image; yet this only tells part of the story. This course offers an in-depth exploration of the cross-currents and competing narratives of the Blockbuster Era. Taking cues from its period of study, the course is interdisciplinary in nature, looking at a wide range of “texts,” including novels, films, music videos, commercials, short stories, articles, and song lyrics. Drawing on such sources we will investigate a number of issues against the landscape of the Eighties, including nostalgia, identity, the cold war, urban decay, the AIDS crisis, gender bending, and futurism. These topics will not only allow us to better understand one of the most influential decades of the 20th century, but also to draw connections to the world we live in today.


Prerequisite(s): FYW1050
Fulfills: AL in LS Core