The readings for this course will be posted on Moodle, on my homepage (, and/or distributed as attachments in emails. Ignore any references to texts below as this syllabus is being actively revised.  

  Course Calendar:


Please note that classes are scheduled for Skinner 102

Part I:  Culture, Ecology, & Culture

Milagro Beanfield War and Promised Land

September 7 (Wed):  Water Rights, Property Development, and Self-employment (film: The Milagro Beanfield War will be available via streaming from LITS.)

Discussion Questions

Reading from Economics in Popular Film

Read Chapter 1 of Boundary.

Readings will be posted on Moodle.

  September 7 will include a short lecture and discussion on identifying economic and political processes in film (and real life)

September 12 (Mon) Discussion of Milagro Beanfield War which is streaming from LITS 

September 14 (Wed) Discussion of Promised Land which is streaming from LITS.

Focus Question on Self-employment:   What are the distinguishing characteristics of self-employment?

Read chapters 2, 3, and 4 of Boundary

Part II:  Race Myths, Economic Independence & Love

Mississippi Masala and The Hundred Foot Journey

September 19 No Class Today

September 21 (Wed):  Beyond the Rational: Self-employment, Racism, Sexism, Finance, and Love: (film:  A discussion of Mississippi Masala streaming from LITS)

September 26 (Mon):  A continuation of "beyond the rational" with a discussion of One Hundred Foot Journey streaming from LITS

September 28 (Wed): Discussion of behavioral economics, Mississippi Masala, and The Hundred Foot Journey: How does psychology impact economic, political, and cultural relationships?

Part III:  Free Market Slavery: The Origins of American-style Racism

Twelve Years a Slave

October 3 (Mon) The economic, political, cultural, and environmental consequences of slavery. Twelve Years a Slave is streaming from LITS.

October 10 (Mon) October Break

October 12 (Wed) Class cancelled

Part IV:  Natural Resource Monopolies, Feudalized Workers, and Union Resistance

Matewan and Norma Rae

October 17 (Mon): Discussion of natural resource monopolies, struggles over culture and politics, and the economic and political conditions underpinning feudal relationships: Matewan will be streamed by LITS.

The Battle of Matewan

Read chapter 3 of Resnick and Wolff, Knowledge and Class posted on Moodle.

Matewan Essay by Bernice Clark

Matewan and Norma Rae---Feudalism and Capitalism: Examined
by Heather Warner

List of Past Student Essays on Matewan

October 19 (Wed):  Matewan addressed the historical conflict between mine operators and their hired security and miners working with a union organizer. Norma Rae has a similar theme where a union organizer works with a textile worker. Both films depict the conflicting interests of managers and workers. In the case of the former, the goal is to reduce variable labor costs while increasing productivity. The latter has the objective of reducing health and safty risks and improving wages and benefits. Today we will discuss the second of those films, Norma Rae.

NB: Please watch Erin Brokovich and A Civil Action before Monday, October 24th (streamed by LITS) and prepare questions for class discussion. You may be called upon to pose your questions to the class, so be prepared.

Part V:  Ecology, Economics & Culture

Erin Brockovich and A Civil Action

October 24 (Mon):  Externalities:
This week will focus on externalities. The first film we will discuss is Erin Brokovich.

October 26 (Wed):  The discussion of externalities continues with a discussion of A Civil Action. The events depicted in A Civil Action occurred in Massachusetts.  A Civil Action will be streamed by LITS.

Capitalism and the Environment

From Hierarchical Dualism to Integrative Liberation: Thoughts on a Possible Non-Racist Non-Classist Feminist Future by Julie Matthaei and Barbara Brant

Norma Rae Essay by Sarah Cumbie

Second Essay Due at the start of class on Wednesday, November 2nd.

Second Paper Due on Wednesday, November 2nd at the beginning of class.

Part VI:  Finance

Wall Street and The Big Short

October 31-November 7:  Wall Street and the related reading by Larry E. Ribstein will be discussed during the week from October 31 thru November 2. The second film The Big Short will be discussed the following week, from November 7 to November 9.

Oliver Stone's Wall Street and the Market for Corporate Control

Insider Trading: Wall Street
See readings on Moodle.

Introduction to a Post-structuralist View of the Firm

Part VII:  Corporate Restructuring

Up in the Air and The Company Men

The first film discussed in Part VII is Up in the Air (Nov. 14-16) and the second film The Company Men will be discussed next week (Nov. 21). If a substantial number of students in the course are scheduled to go home early for Thanksgiving, then we can vote to postpone the discussion of The Company Men until after the holiday break.


Part VIII:  Globalization -- Outsourcing

Outsourced and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The first film discussed in Part VIII is Outsourced (Nov. 28) and the second is The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Nov. 30)

Part IX:  Globalization -- International Trade in Human Organs

Dirty Pretty Things -- December 5th

Part X:  Globalization -- World Trade Organization

The Girl in the Cafe -- December 7th

Third Essay Due on December 12 (Mon) at 11 a.m.


Please note that the professor reserves the right to alter the above film schedule, upon discussion with the students in the course.



Copyright 1999-2005, 2016 Satya J. Gabriel, Mt. Holyoke College