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History and Film: The Past Rehearsed on Page and Screen

Course Code: HIST 1180
Faculty: Humanities & Social Sciences
Department: History
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15 weeks
Learning Format: Lecture, Seminar
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

HIST 1180 introduces students to the study of history and debates about history and historiography (the “history of History”) through the depictions of the past in primary documents, scholarly texts, films, novels, games and other media. Weekly case studies explore major historical movements and people (e.g. Joan of Arc, the US Civil War; the Russian Revolution), and consider the challenges of popular depictions of historical events. Major themes include: what are the differences and similarities between history, legend, myth, propaganda, nostalgia, journalism and other forms of rehearsing the past; the “history of History” and approaches to understanding the past; methods of historical analysis; historians and accountability; challenges to traditional academic history and claims to truth; film and history; the history of film.

Course Content

A sample course outline may include the following topics.

Note: Content may vary according to the instructor’s selection of topics.

  1. Introductions to History and Film
  2. Enlightened History? Defining “the Modern”
  3. A Quick History of Film: From Magic Lanterns to the Digital Age
  4. Facts and Footnotes: Historical Methodology
  5. Classical History: The Greek Fathers of History
  6. Sacred History: Church Scholars and the Reformation
  7. Political History: Docudramas of Dead White Men?
  8. Social History: Everyday Life as Storytelling?
  9. Marxist History: The Proletariat as Movie Star?
  10. Postmodern History? Killing Cats and the Panopticon
  11. Edifying Entertainment: Documentary Films and History
  12. Holocaust History: Moral Truth Beyond the Facts?
  13. The Filmmaker as Historian? From DW Griffiths to Oliver Stone
  14. History by Hollywood: Historical Film as Genre?

Methods of Instruction

Classroom instruction will include both lectures and seminar discussions. Lectures will provide instruction on weekly topics with opportunities for student inquiry and discussion. Seminars will encourage active class participation in the analysis of assigned primary and secondary readings. Classroom instruction may also include facilitation of student-led projects, student presentations on specific readings and/or topics, and other types of student-led activities. Classroom instruction may also include tutorials and workshops on transferrable skills, including research methods, academic citation practice, and presentation skills.

Means of Assessment

Assessment will be in accordance with the Douglas College student evaluation policy. Students may conduct research with human participants as part of their coursework in this class. Instructors for the course are responsible for ensuring that student research projects comply with College policies on ethical conduct for research involving humans.

Students will have opportunities to build and refine their research capacity and historical thinking skills through assessments appropriate to the level of the course. There will be at least three separate assessments, which may include a combination of midterm and final exams; research essays; primary document analysis assignments and essays; quizzes; map tests; in-class and online written assignments; seminar presentations; student assignment portfolios; group projects; creative projects; class participation.

The value of each assessment and evaluation, expressed as a percentage of the final grade, will be listed in the course outline distributed to students at the beginning of the term. Specific evaluation criteria will vary according to the instructor’s assessment of appropriate evaluation methods.

An example of one evaluation scheme:

Class Participation (Quizzes, presentations, discussion) 20%

Abstracts (2x5%) 10%

Historiographic Essay 30%

Analytic Essay 10%

Midterm 15%

Final Exam 15%

Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of the course, successful students will be able to demonstrate historical thinking skills, research skills, critical thinking skills and communication skills appropriate to the level of the course by:

  1. Locating, examining, assessing, and evaluating a range of primary sources and secondary scholarly literature critically and analytically (reading history).
  2. Constructing historical arguments, taking historical perspectives, and interpreting historical problems through different types of writing assignments of varying lengths (writing history).
  3. Participating in active and informed historical debate independently and cooperatively through classroom discussion and presentation (discussing history).
  4. Independently and cooperatively investigating the ways that history is created, preserved and disseminated through public memory and commemoration, oral history, community engagement, and other forms of popular visual and written expressions about the past (applying history)

course prerequisites






curriculum guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester/year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

course schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.