2016 Alumni Exclusive Online Course

January 2018 New Alumni Exclusive Coursera!

Details will be available soon.

An Exclusive Opportunity for Penn Alumni

Penn is a recognized leader in massive, open, online courses with millions of people around the world having registered for Penn’s Online Learning Initiative. This fall, for the third time, we’ll launch a course designed exclusively for Penn alumni.

We invite you to join Professor Peter Decherney from Penn’s Cinema and Media Studies and English departments for a four-week, alumni-only version of his “Hollywood: History, Industry, Art” course. Beginning October 20,2016, view fascinating lectures and learn with Professor Decherney and other intellectually curious alumni through interactive discussion forums and a screen side chat. In this course you will learn about Hollywood and how it came to be the global powerhouse of today. 

About the Course

We will discuss the complex Hollywood Industry and how business and politics translate into the art of film, TV, and new media. This course will chronicle Hollywood's growth and global reach since the 1920s, looking at:

  • How Hollywood has responded to new technologies such as synchronized sound, color cinematography, TV, home video, computer graphics, and the Internet
  • How the global spread of Hollywood since the 1920s changed the film industry
  • The relationship between Hollywood and independent film
  • Hollywood's responses to crises in American politics (e.g. World Wars, the Cold War, the 1960s counterculture, 9/11)
  • We will look closely at representative studios (Paramount, Disney, Fox, and others) and representative filmmakers (Mary Pickford, Charles Chaplin, Frank Capra, George  Lucas, Spike Lee, among many others).

  • Oct. 20 - Nov. 17, 2016
    We're sorry, the course has reached capacity and registration for this event is now closed.

    Peter Decherney

    Professor of English and Cinema and Media Studies

    Omnia Magazine Article

    Pennsylvania Gazette Article

    Teaching Assistants

    Course Syllabus

    WEEK 1

    1. Before Hollywood and the Birth of Film
    2. Designing the Studio System

    WEEK 2

    1. Sound and the Production Code
    2. Hollywood at War

    WEEK 3

    1. The Blacklist and Cold War
    2. The New Hollywood

    WEEK 4

    1. Home Video and Independent Film
    2. Digital Cinema and the Internet



    How do I register for this course?
    The course has reached capacity and registration is closed. Keep an eye on your e-mail for information on our 2017 course.

    What resources will I need for this class?
    All you need is an Internet connection and the time to read, watch lectures, and participate in online discussions about the history of Hollywood. A copy of Professor Decherney's book, Hollywood: A Very Short Introduction, will be mailed to you for this course. 

    Do I have to be a Penn alumnus/a to participate in this course?
    Yes, this course is for Penn alumni only. Others interested in Hollywood: History, Industry, Art or other Penn online courses may visit http://onlinelearning.upenn.edu/ to review and register for upcoming offerings.

    When does the class meet?
    The course site opens to participants at 12:01 a.m. on October 20th, but when you "attend" class is entirely up to you. Our online course is without set class meetings. Instead, "class" is really the collection of video lectures that are available on-demand with new lectures released each week. After you've studied the readings and watched the video lectures, you'll head over to the course forums to respond to the weekly discussion questions and interact with the professor, teaching assistants, and your classmates.

    How does this offering differ from the course offered by edX?
    This offering was designed specifically for Penn alumni. The course contains exclusive content, including video interviews with Penn alumni in the industry, that have not yet been made available to the general public. Course assignments have been modified to require weekly posting to the discussion forum only. Faculty members note that the most learning often happens in these forums and, because they will be populated by a diverse group of intellectually curious Penn alumni with a similar ethos towards learning and exploration, we expect these discussions to be robust.

    Additionally, as this course is limited to 500 participants, a sharp contrast to the tens of thousands enrolled in a traditional online learning course, Penn alumni can expect greater interaction with Professor Decherney and his teaching assistants. In fact, Professor Decherney will be offering a special screenside chat for alumni during the third week of the course and an in-person, on-campus event during Homecoming 2016.

    Will there be an opportunity to interact offline?

    Yes! Return to campus for Homecoming and meet the Teaching Assistants, fellow participants, and Professor Decherney, during a special Q&A session on Saturday, October 29, 2016.

    Can I earn credit for completing the course?
    Course credit is not offered for the completion of these online learning courses. Those participants who fulfill the requirement of posting answers to the required discussion questions will be e-mailed a certificate following the conclusion of the course.