Perspectives On History Fall, 2010--Research Paper


Your assignment this semester will allow you to investigate a remarkable transformation in the world of entertainment and technological history--the conversion of movies from silence to sound. While, as you will learn, this is a lengthy process, we shall focus on the years from 1926 to 1931, as discussed in Donald Crafton's book, The Talkies. Each of you will be asked to review one year of this transition in The New York Times, and discuss the artistic, technological, and economic changes that occured during that year, using the newspaper as a major (but not the only) source in this transformation.

Your first task will be to choose the year you intend to analyze for your paper.  Let me know your first and second choice by email as soon as possible—each year will have a group of four who will analyze that year.

Your second task will be to view and analyze a film from that year.  There has been a remarkable proliferation in the number of films available from that period.  One good place to look for a film is the Warner Archive.  (you can filter by year or by decade to find these films)  While You Tube has some copies of these films – or excerpts—these are usually terrible prints and hard to watch.  Once you pick a year (and it is approved), begin to focus on the film you will analyze in depth for your paper.