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:  Ecology, Economics, & Culture

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

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

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 Monopsonies and Feudal Economic Relationships

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

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

November 2:  The first film discussed in Part VI is Wall Street.  

Insider Trading: Wall Street

The Big Short

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

Introduction to a Post-structuralist View of the Firm

Profile of Erin Brockovich from the Law Offices of Masry & Vititoe
Erin Brockovich Speech to Commonwealth Club


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