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

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

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?

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): Discussion of the economic and political conditions underpinning feudal relationships, in particular local area natural resource monopolies: 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 17 (Mon):  Discussion of the characteristics distinguishing market slavery, as depicted in Twelve Years a Slave, and the market feudalism depicted in Matewan.

October 19 (Wed):  Primitive Accumulation, Business Cycles, Creative Destruction, and the Rise of Corporate Capitalism: film version of The Grapes of Wrath will be streamed by LITS.

October 26 (Wed):  The Wages of Sin: Identifying the political, cultural, and economic conditions distinguishing the corporate capitalist enterprise from slave and feudal enterprises:   Norma Rae will be streamed by LITS.

Read chapter 4 of Resnick and Wolff excerpt from Knowledge and Class (The excerpt will be posted on Moodle.)

Racism and Capitalist Accumulation

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

First Paper Due in class on Monday, October 3rd.

The Transition to Market Capitalism  Free Market Slavery, Primitive Accumulation of Capital, and Economic Hit Men

12 October-26 October (film:  The Mission will be shown at 7PM, Monday, 17 October and Men with Guns or Missing will be shown at 7PM, Monday, 24 October -- attendance at both films is mandatory) 
Read Parts I and II (pages 1-98) in John Perkins, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
Chronology of Slavery and Racism
PBS Website on Race: The Power of an Illusion
American Slave Narratives
Boundary, chapter 5

Read Marx's chapter on The Modern Theory of Colonisation

Men with Guns Essay by Kate Flewelling

Learning Guide to The Mission

Study Guide to The Mission

Second Paper Due on Thursday, October 27th by 1PM.

Part III:  The Anti-Capitalist Roots of American Culture: The Tradition of Self-employment

November 7-14:  Self-employment and the Outsider : (films:  Milagro Beanfield War will be shown at 7PM, Monday, 7 November and Mississippi Masala will be shown at 7PM, Monday, 14 November -- attendance at both films is mandatory).

Re-read chapter 3 of Resnick and Wolff, Knowledge and Class, and think about how one would need to alter the argument to fit self-employment, instead of capitalist class processes, as internal organizing relationship of the enterprise. Think about the self-employed characters in the films and what would be required in surplus product and surplus value flows to reproduce their positions as self-employed producers.

Third Essay Due on November 28th, start of class.

Part IV:  The Rationality of Environmental Destruction: Why Externalities are Integral to the Internal Dynamics of Capitalism

November 28-December 14:  Profit Maximization and Externalities  (films:  Erin Brockovich and A Civil Action)

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.



Cultural Theory and Cinema --- An ezine on Understanding Cinema

Coming Soon: Bread and Roses and Real Women Have Curves

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