Professor Danny Unger††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Political Science 395

Office: 105 Zulauf††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††††††††††††††††† †††DuSable 461

Office Hours: T 3:30-6; Th 2-2:30††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††† †††††† ††††††††††T, Th 6:30-9:10




Politics and Film



This course uses film as a vehicle to analyze politics.We also will consider the techniques used in films to convey a message.There are no prerequisites for the course.The course covers a variety of topics including slavery and class conflict, totalitarian political movements, political liberties, cultural conflict, gender politics, racial politics in the United States, the impact of industrialization and urbanization on society, the threat of nuclear war and political violence, including war.Films (or parts of films) viewed in class and assigned readings will be used as the bases of discussions of these issues.While the films are old and new, spanning some 80 years, most are Hollywood productions made since 1970.The readings address issues of political film in general as well as the particular films we view in class.


In general, the Tuesday and Thursday meetings will be devoted to lectures and discussions, as well as viewing parts of films.Our Thursday meetings, however, typically will be much briefer.On average, students will have less than three-and-a-half hours of class time (including film viewing) a week.††




Undergraduate Writing Awards

The Department of Political Science will recognize, on an annual basis, outstanding undergraduate papers written in conjunction with 300-400 level political science courses or directed studies. Authors do not have to be political science majors or have a particular class standing. Winners are expected to attend the Department's spring graduation ceremony where they will receive a certificate and $50.00. Papers, which can be submitted by students or faculty, must be supplied in triplicate to a department secretary by February 28. All copies should have two cover pages - one with the student's name and one without the student's name. Only papers written in the previous calendar year can be considered for the award. However, papers completed in the current spring semester are eligible for the following year's competition even if the student has graduated.

Statement Concerning Students with Disabilities

Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, NIU is committed to making reasonable accommodations for persons with documented disabilities. Those students with disabilities that may have some impact on their coursework and for which they may require accommodations should notify the Center for Access-Ability Resources (CAAR) on the fourth floor of the Health Services Building. CAAR will assist students in making appropriate accommodations with course instructors. It is important that CAAR and instructors be informed of any disability-related needs during the first two weeks of the semester.

Department of Political Science Web Site

Undergraduates are strongly encouraged to consult the Department of Political Science web site on a regular basis. This up-to-date, central source of information will assist students in contacting faculty and staff, reviewing course requirements and syllabi, exploring graduate study, researching career options, tracking department events, and accessing important details related to undergraduate programs and activities. To reach the site, go to 



Required texts (available at the university bookstore)


Ernest Giglio, Hereís Looking at You: Hollywood, Film, and Politics

Terry Christensen and Peter Haas, Projecting Politics





-Class attendance and contributions to discussions.20%

-Notes of films viewed in class.These will be collected at the end of each class during which we view a film.20%

-One eight-page paper due at the beginning of class, Thursday, April 19th. The paper may use one or more of the films viewed in class to analyze a political issue.Alternatively, the paper can compare the treatment in two or more films, or in a novel and a film based on that novel, of a political issue.20%

-Final exam, Tuesday, May 8th, based on questions distributed in class on April 19th.40%


Rewrite policy Students may elect to resubmit their paper.However, the resubmitted papers will be graded down half a grade (five points out of 100.)


General guidance on papers Papers will be graded on the basis of the clarity and quality of their arguments, organization, presentation of relevant facts, and quality of research.All papers must include full and complete citations, including citations of required course readings and lectures.Any paper submitted with less than perfect citations will be returned for rewriting with a ten point (out of 100) penalty.Be sure you understand how to cite sources (your high school practice may not provide good guidance.)Papers also should use standard margins and fonts and have page numbers.




Schedule of lectures, readings, and films



Assigned readings should be done prior to the class meetings for which they are assigned.


Introduction to the course


January 16, Politics, and film

††††††††††† Triumph of the Will

January 18, no class

January 23, Birth of a Nation

††††††††††† Reading:

††††††††††† Christensen and Haas (CH), chapters 1-2

January 25, Bamboozled

††††††††††† Reading:

††††††††††† CH chapter 13

January 30, Modern Times


Giglio (G), chapter 2


Censorship, the Code, and the market


February 1, Animal Farm

††††††††††† Reading:

††††††††††† G, chapter 4

February 6, The Great Dictator


††††††††††† G, chapter 5

February 8, All the Kingís Men


††††††††††† G, chapter 6

February 13, Spartacus


††††††††††† CH, chapter 6

February 15, Amistad


††††††††††† CH, chapter 7


Social and political issues


February 20, The Contender


††††††††††† CH, chapter 14

February 22, The Handmaidís Tale

February 27, At Play in the Fields of the Lord


††††††††††† G, chapter 1

March 1, Lord of the Flies

March 6, Remains of the Day, The Fountainhead


††††††††††† CH, chapter 3


March 8: midterm exam


Spring Break, no classes March 13 and 15


War and apocalypse


March 20, Dr. Strangelove

†††††††††† Reading:

††††††††††† CH, chapter 8

March 22, Thirteen Days

March 27, Enemy at the Gate


††††††††††† G, chapter 8

March 29, on Stalingrad

April 3, Apocalypse Now


††††††††††† G, chapter 9

April 5, the U.S. in Vietnam

April 10, Deer Hunter


††††††††††† CH, chapter 10

April 12, Heaven and Earth

April 17, The Quiet American


††††††††††† CH, chapter 11

April 19, France and the U.S. in Vietnam

April 24, The Year of Living Dangerously


††††††††††† CH, chapter 12

April 26, political violence

††††††††††† Reading:

††††††††††† G, chapter 3

May 1, The Killing Fields


††††††††††† G, chapter 11

May 3, summing up


Tuesday, May 8:1 final exam, 6-7:50