Syllabus for FIL-110



For over a century, audiences around the world have learned about America by watching American motion pictures. American Cinema is an introduction to the history and language of this most influential art form. Filmmaking involves both art and craft (industry), and a deeper understanding of each creates a more critical viewer. Films, as with any artistic creation, are reflections of the culture in which they are created;  they are also a reaction to change and an expression of people’s relationship to the world around them. In this course, you will study the significance of the invention of the motion picture camera, the rise of the studio system, the Hollywood Style, and the production of popular genres such as  the Western, the comedy, the combat film, and horror films/science fiction. Even a casual moviegoer’s experience is deepened by a greater understanding of and appreciation for the technical and social makeup of American cinema.


By successfully completing the learning activities of the course, you should be able to:

  1. Discuss key developments of American film history from the silent cinema to present day.
  2. Apply the basic technical and critical language of motion pictures.
  3. Identify the relationship between film technology and art.
  4. Describe the role Hollywood plays in American popular culture.
  5. Explain the fundamental economics of the film industry.
  6. Discuss the role of genre in American film history, and recognize the connection between some of the most popular genres and American cultural and social tensions.
  7. Discuss assigned viewing using appropriate film terminology.


You will need the following materials to do the work of the course. The required textbook is available from the University's textbook supplier, MBS Direct.

Required Textbooks

Students please note: The publisher of these texts has provided a special package price to Thomas Edison students.

The title and ISBN for this package are:

ISBN-13: 9780393612721.

Web Resources


American Cinema is a three-credit, online course consisting of six modules. Modules include objectives, study materials and activities.  Module titles are listed below.


For your formal work in the course, you are required to participate in online discussion forums, complete written assignments, take six quizzes, and complete a final project. You are also required to view and write about various films as assigned. See below for more details.

Consult the Course Calendar for assignment due dates.

Discussion Forums

American Cinema requires six graded online discussions, each focusing on a different topic. There is also an ungraded but required discussion in Module 1 titled "Introductions."

Communication among fellow students and with the mentor is a critical component of online learning. Participation in online discussions involves two distinct activities: an initial response to a posted question (discussion thread) and subsequent comments on classmates' responses. Meaningful participation is relevant to the content, adds value, and advances the discussion. Comments such as "I agree" and "ditto" are not considered value-adding participation. Therefore, when you agree or disagree with a classmate, the reading, or your mentor, state and support your agreement or disagreement. You will be evaluated on the quality and quantity of your participation. Responses and comments should be properly proofread and edited, professional, and respectful.

For posting guidelines and help with discussion forums, please see the Student Handbook located within the General Information area of the course Web site.

Written Assignments

American Cinema requires you to submit nine written assignments. Each written assignment consists of one essay question.

For help regarding preparing and submitting assignments, see the Student Handbook located within the General Information area of the course Web site.


You are required to take six quizzes, one in each module. Each quiz consists of 20 multiple-choice items.

Final Project

American Cinema requires you to produce a final project due at the end of the semester. For details about this requirement, see the Final Project area of the course Web site. The project is a film reaction paper on a film you have chosen to view from a list provided in the course. See the next section of the syllabus for information about access to films.


American Cinema requires that you view and comment on films in modules 2 through 5 and that you view and write about a different film for your final project.

The required screenings are listed below, followed by the list of films from which you will choose to complete your final project.

Screenings, Modules 2 Through 5

Final Project Film List (choose one)

The films that you are required to screen in this course are widely available. You may want to explore services such as: Can I Stream It?

This is a free service that allows you to search across the most popular streaming, rental, and purchase services to find where a movie or television show is available The service will also tell you if it is available through subscription services.

Most or all of these films may also be available at no charge from a public library.


Your grade in the course will be determined as follows:

All activities will receive a numerical grade of 0–100. You will receive a score of 0 for any work not submitted. Your final grade in the course will be a letter grade. Letter grade equivalents for numerical grades are as follows:






























Below 60

To receive credit for the course, you must earn a letter grade of C or better (for an area of study course) or D or better (for a course not in your area of study), based on the weighted average of all assigned course work (e.g., exams, assignments, discussion postings, etc.).


First Steps to Success

To succeed in this course, take the following first steps:

Study Tips

Consider the following study tips for success:


Thomas Edison State University is committed to maintaining academic quality, excellence, and honesty. The University expects all members of its community to share the commitment to academic integrity, an essential component of a quality academic experience.

Students at Thomas Edison State University are expected to exhibit the highest level of academic citizenship. In particular, students are expected to read and follow all policies, procedures, and program information guidelines contained in publications; pursue their learning goals with honesty and integrity; demonstrate that they are progressing satisfactorily and in a timely fashion by meeting course deadlines and following outlined procedures; observe a code of mutual respect in dealing with mentors, staff, and other students; behave in a manner consistent with the standards and codes of the profession in which they are practicing; keep official records updated regarding changes in name, address, telephone number, or e-mail address; and meet financial obligations in a timely manner. Students not practicing good academic citizenship may be subject to disciplinary action including suspension, dismissal, or financial holds on records.

All members of the University community are responsible for reviewing the Academic Code of Conduct Policy in the University Catalog and online at

Academic Dishonesty

Thomas Edison State University expects all of its students to approach their education with academic integrity—the pursuit of scholarly activity free from fraud and deception. All mentors and administrative staff members at the University insist on strict standards of academic honesty in all courses. Academic dishonesty undermines this objective. Academic dishonesty can take the following forms:


Thomas Edison State University is committed to helping students understand the seriousness of plagiarism, which is defined as using the work and ideas of others without proper citation. The University takes a strong stance against plagiarism, and students found to be plagiarizing are subject to discipline under the academic code of conduct policy.

If you copy phrases, sentences, paragraphs, or whole documents word-for-word—or if you paraphrase by changing a word here and there—without identifying the author, or without identifying it as a direct quote, then you are plagiarizing. Please keep in mind that this type of identification applies to Internet sources as well as to print-based sources. Copying and pasting from the Internet, without using quotation marks and without acknowledging sources, constitutes plagiarism. (For information about how to cite Internet sources, see Online Student Handbook > Academic Standards > “Citing Sources.”)

Accidentally copying the words and ideas of another writer does not excuse the charge of plagiarism. It is easy to jot down notes and ideas from many sources and then write your own paper without knowing which words are your own and which are someone else’s. It is more difficult to keep track of each and every source. However, the conscientious writer who wishes to avoid plagiarizing never fails to keep careful track of sources.

Always be aware that if you write without acknowledging the sources of your ideas, you run the risk of being charged with plagiarism.

Clearly, plagiarism, no matter the degree of intent to deceive, defeats the purpose of education. If you plagiarize deliberately, you are not educating yourself, and you are wasting your time on courses meant to improve your skills. If you plagiarize through carelessness, you are deceiving yourself.

For examples of unintentional plagiarism, advice on when to quote and when to paraphrase, and information about writing assistance, click the links provided below.

Examples of Unintentional Plagiarism

When to Quote and When to Paraphrase

Writing Assistance at Smarthinking

Disciplinary Process for Plagiarism

Acts of both intentional and unintentional plagiarism violate the Academic Code of Conduct.

If an incident of plagiarism is an isolated minor oversight or an obvious result of ignorance of proper citation requirements, the mentor may handle the matter as a learning exercise. Appropriate consequences may include the completion of tutorials, assignment rewrites, or any other reasonable learning tool in addition to a lower grade for the assignment or course. The mentor will notify the student and appropriate dean of the consequence by e-mail.

If the plagiarism appears intentional and/or is more than an isolated incident, the mentor will refer the matter to the appropriate dean, who will gather information about the violation(s) from the mentor and student, as necessary. The dean will review the matter and notify the student in writing of the specifics of the charge and the sanction to be imposed.

Possible sanctions include:

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