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JEWISHST 112: Passing: Hidden Identities Onscreen (CSRE 113, FEMGEN 112)

Characters who are Jewish, Black, Latinx, women, and LGBTQ often conceal their identities - or "pass" - in Hollywood film. Our course will trace how Hollywood has depicted"passing" from the early 20th century to the present. Just a few of our films will include Gentleman's Agreement (1947), Imitation of Life (1959), School Ties (1992), White Chicks (2004), and Blackkklansman (2018). Through these films, we will explore the overlaps and differences between antisemitism, racism, misogyny, and queerphobia, both onscreen and in real life. In turn, we will also study the ideological role of passing films: how they thrill audiences by challenging social boundaries and hierarchies, only to reestablish familiar boundaries by the end. With this contradiction, passing films often help audiences to feel enlightened without actually challenging the oppressive status quo. Thus, we will not treat films as accurate depictions of real-world passing, but rather as cultural tools that help audiences to manage ideological contradictions about race, gender, sexuality, and class. Students will finish the course by creating their own short films about passing.
Terms: Aut | Units: 3-5 | UG Reqs: WAY-A-II, WAY-EDP
Instructors: Branfman, J. (PI)
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