New Penn Online Course Features ‘Hollywood: History, Industry, Art’

Jill DiSanto | jdisanto@upenn.edu | 215-898-4820
Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Peter Decherney, a professor of cinema and media studies and English in the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Arts & Sciences, shines a spotlight on the history of Hollywood with a free online class. 

Offered by Penn’s Online Learning Initiative via the EdX platform, “Hollywood: History, Industry, Art” chronicles Hollywood’s growth and global reach, starting with the pre-Hollywood days of Thomas Edison and continuing through the rise of the internet. 

Decherney, who holds a secondary appointment in Penn’s Annenberg School for Communication and an affiliation with the Center for Technology, Innovation and Competition at Penn’s Law School, is the author or editor of five books including Hollywood’s Copyright Wars: From Edison to the Internet, Hollywood and the Culture Elite: How the Movies Became American and Hollywood: A Very Short Introduction

As a researcher, Decherney focuses on media law and policy, particularly as it pertains to the regulation of Hollywood. As an educator, he is an advocate of educational fair use and has incorporated many film clips and interviews to demonstrate Hollywood’s complex history in the massive open online course

“MOOCs are one of a number of exciting changes that are encouraging us to rethink the way that we teach,” Decherney said. “Like writing a textbook, they allow us to make elements of our teaching available publicly,” which directly supports the Penn Compact 2020’s goal of increasing access

Using interviews with a wide array of Hollywood leaders, including Academy Award winners, noted directors and studio heads, among others, in “Hollywood: History, Industry, Art,” Decherney delves into how business and politics translate into the art of film, TV and new media. 

The self-paced online class covers topics such as genres, stars, well-known studios and filmmakers, censorship and piracy. Dechereny illustrates these and other themes like Hollywood during wartime and Hollywood’s response to crises and countercultural movements as well as new technologies including synchronized sound and computer-generated images with an in-depth analyses of classic movies such as “Meet Me in St. Louis,” “Casablanca” and “King Kong.”

Peter Decherney, Photo: Lisa Godfrey

Peter Decherney, Photo: Lisa Godfrey