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As a tool for cultural analysis, Griffith in Context encourages multiple modes of inquiry pertaining to a single historical artifact in order to develop in students a series of skills applicable to the study of cultural materials beyond those presented on the CD-ROM.

  • Through a comparison of contemporary and historical readings, students will develop the ability to recognize how the meanings of cultural artifacts are dependent on socio-historical context.

  • Through clip analyses and editing exercises that invite students to re-edit Griffith's footage, students will strengthen skills in "reading" film as an artistic and narrative medium.

  • Through an unraveling of the film's ideological work, students will develop an understanding of how articulations of national, regional, racial, and sexual identity can become "wedded" and take on the appearance of inevitability.

  • Through a study of the film's expressive power and its attempt to redefine national identity, students will develop the ability to recognize narrative displacements of political discourses onto the emotional and visually stylized terrain of filmic melodrama.

  • Through an elucidation of the racialized discourse of radicalism and its social and political consequences, students will develop a comprehension of racism as a complex discursive construct.

  • Through revealing a structure of recurrent themes within Griffith's films and Dixon's novels, students will strengthen their ability to recognize themes in an individual text and in subsequent adaptations of the text.

  • Through exposure to African American activists' and filmmakers' responses to The Birth of A Nation, students will develop an understanding of how alternative articulations of historical events may expose the ideological implications of storytelling methods.

  • Through providing a library of photographic and textual artifacts on the CD-ROM, students will better understand of the methods of historical scholarship and develop their ability to work with primary research materials.