Syllabus – Pop Culture and History Through Cinema

Pop Culture and History through Cinema Intermediate 2, 3, Advanced 1, 2, 3 and 4
Office Hours
Tuesdays and Thursdays 2:50-4pm or appointment

Forum C2


Required and Recommended Textbooks:

No textbook required!

Course Description and Goals:

This course is a survey of American culture and history through American movies and a chronological overview. Movies aren’t just stories: they are faces, names, music, images, events, places, quotes and cultural references. This course aims at providing you a basic knowledge of western references to improve your communication skills as well as understanding of American culture.

You will gain knowledge and understanding of American culture through movies.

1) You will become familiar with American history, and cultural references such as faces, names, music, images, events, places and quotes, through movies.

2) You will discuss the depiction of events and different perspectives through the lenses of different periods of time.

3) You will be exposed to various movie genres that constitute pillars of American movie culture(s).

4) You will know how to make connections among apparently disparate forms of knowledge.


Student Learning Outcomes:

  • You will be able to distinguish and identify various movie genres.
  • You will be able to list major historical events in the US or involving the US and locate them geographically.
  • You will be able to build a timeline including events, actors, movies, summarizing your own understanding of the topics discussed in class.
  • You will be able to identify visual and oral intertextuality (allusions) and references through movies, pictures, songs, idioms and memes.


Course Assessment:

You must pass the level advancement test with a score of 70% or higher in order to progress to the next level. Your grades in this class will be based on the following activities and assignments: oral participation, various in-class assignments, daily homework and poster timeline. Grades will be recorded on If you do not understand something, it is important to ask questions about it. I am here to help you!

In-Class Discussions and Assignments 50% These discussions will be student-led and will improve not only your ability to communicate but also your reading/listening comprehension. Class discussions are part of the grade because learning to discuss issues with colleagues in an academic setting is VITAL for successful study in U.S universities. Students will earn a participation grade. In-class assignments help you practice your new skills before you are expected to do homework on your own. They can be group activities or individual activities, such as making posters about a sequence, exercises, or (pop) quizzes about events, people, concepts or vocabulary.

Homework 20% Homework activities may consist of a variety of academic assignments, readings, listening assignments, to help you understand concepts discussed in class as well as motivate you to integrate new English skills into your everyday language use and academic studies. BEFORE the beginning of each unit, you will make a research of all the words and concepts listed in the schedule. You will take notes. You will also watch one extra movie according to the list provided and write a short summary and a paragraph explaining why you like or dislike this movie, or what your favorite scene is, BEFORE the beginning of a new unit. Try to find the extra movies before the due date. They are available for rent, on Netflix, at the campus library or at the public library. If you cannot find one from the list but would like to watch one that is related to the unit, talk with me before. CESL owns DVDs of extra movies approved for each unit and you may watch them in Cross D on Fridays if you need to. If so, please contact me early enough so that we can reserve a room for you or make other arrangements. DURING the unit, after each class, you will write a blog post (journal writing) and ask questions and respond to classmates’ posts based on the daily or weekly theme assigned. Additionally, you will write a reflection paper AT THE END of the unit.

Before the beginning of the unit During the unit At the end of the unit
Vocab + extra movie Blog posts Reflection paper

Completion of timeline 10% All along the session, you will complete a poster timeline to summarize all the events you believe are central in American history. You will receive a large sheet of cardboard.

If you miss class, you can make up the assignment(s). Please communicate with me for arrangements.

Special Websites or Resources for students: Check out for information about the movies, actors, etc.

Grade Evaluation:


  • Class Discussions and participation 25%
  • Homework 20%
  • Journal Writing 10%
  • In-Class Assignments 20%
  • Completion of timeline 25%

Earning an A shows excellent skills.

Earning a B shows acceptable skills.

Earning a C shows skills are approaching acceptability.

Earning a D or an F shows skills that are still developing at that level.

*Failing two CESL courses = Student must leave CESL*

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