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The Hollywood Curriculum

Teachers in the Movies – Third Revised Edition


Mary M. Dalton

The third edition of this book analyzes over 165 films distributed throughout the United States over the last 80 years to construct a theory of curriculum in the movies that is grounded in cultural studies and critical pedagogy. The portrayal of teachers in popular motion pictures is based on individual efforts rather than collective action and relies on codes established by stock characters and predictable plots, which precludes meaningful struggle. These conventions ensure the ultimate outcome of the screen narratives and almost always leave the educational institutions – which represent the larger status quo – intact and dominant. To interrogate "the Hollywood curriculum" is to ask what it means as a culture to be responsive to films at both social and personal levels and to engage these films as both entertaining and potentially transforming.

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The idea for this book originated in conversation with Kathleen Casey. I owe an enormous debt to her and to Svi Shapiro, both of whom followed this work in the first edition page by page, contributing countless useful comments and challenging me to interrogate my own assumptions about the movies and culture. Likewise, Fritz Mengert and Hephzi Roskelly generously provided their own insights and suggestions about the Hollywood Curriculum. On this most recent edition, Chad E. Harris and Laura R. Linder were immeasurably helpful. A special thanks goes to my friends and colleagues at Wake Forest University and to David Solomon, whose daily encouragement coached me through the revision process.

For their more directed contributions through engaging conversation, with technical support, or by suggesting a book or movie title, I would like to thank the following people: Karen Anijar, Jackie Bach, Brooke Barnett, Pearl Berlin, Danny Borrell, Susan Borwick, Terry Bowers, Anne Boyle, John Bruns, Mark Burger, Carrie Buse, Linda Cabiness, Dawne Clark, Naeemah Clark, Rebecca Clark, Matt Clarke, Pam Cook, Elizabeth Currin, Steve Dalton, Eddy Daniel, Mary DeShazer, Ryan Eanes, Emily Edwards, Kirsten Fatzinger, Susan Faust, Denise Franklin, Adam Friedman, Candice Funderburk, Mary Gerardy, Ellen “Lennie” Gerber, Mary Ellis Gibson, Rebecca Goodrich, Ellen Hendrix, Woody Hood, Michael Hyde, Brett Ingram, Jennifer Jackson, Renata Jackson, ← xv | xvi → Steve Jarrett, Nick Johnson, Robert Johnson, Sherwood Jones, Mark Joyner, Melanie Joyner, Susan Joyner, Bill Kane, Karen Kantziper, Molly Keener, Carol Keesee, Doug Kellner, Brenda Knox, Candyce Leonard, Allan...

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