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Understanding England through Popular Film

Photo of DeSantis Alan

Dr. Alan DeSantis has been a professor at the University of Kentucky in the Department of Communication since 1993. In his capacity as a teacher, Alan has received numerous teaching awards, including being voted the University’s “Best Professor” by the student body 10 times. Alan’s academic research can be divided into two areas of interest. The first has explored issues of identity and at-risk behavior on college campuses. His book, “Inside Greek U: Fraternities, Sororities, and the Pursuit of Pleasure, Power, and Prestige,” investigated the power of social organizations in America. In 2010, DeSantis began investigating the illegal use of ADHD stimulants by college students. His drug-abuse research was featured on CBS’s “60 Minutes.” Most recently, DeSantis has been analyzing the content, form, and effects of English-speaking films. Along with teaching his courses on film criticism and film & culture, Alan is currently writing a new book that analyzes how the last 100 years of film have depicted “college life” for American audiences. Specific interest is given to the representations of college students, professors, Greek organizations, and NCAA athletics.

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Understanding England through Popular Film


Program Dates:

Honors Credit:

WKU Course:

Communication , Film And Media Studies

Course Description:
Gain an appreciation of the magic of English cinema. Our journey begins with the Beatles’ Hard Day’s Night and Monty Python’s Holy Grail. We conclude our cultural trek through contemporary England with James Bond, Harry Potter, and Bilbo Baggins. Our appreciation of English film will also come from touring London’s iconic “film locations,” including Harry’s Platform 9¾, Captain America’s Trafalgar Square, Jason Bourne’s Charing Cross, and Bond’s Skyfall Skyline. And outside of London, we will study script writing at Shakespeare’s Stratford Upon Avon and observe the filmmaking process at Warner Brother’s Harry Potter Studio in Leavesden.


Physical Activity Requirements:
will be a significant amount of walking around both London and locations connected to our planned field trips outside of the city limits (e.g., Stratford and Leavesden)

Course Highlights:
1) Understanding England through Popular Film will celebrate England’s classic cinema, including the Beatles’ Hard Days Night, Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia and Monty Python's Life of Brian. 2) We will analyze the impact and evolution of 3 of the world’s most beloved film franchises: a) James Bond, b) Harry Potter, and c) Jackson’s Lord-of-the-Rings and Hobbit trilogies. 3) We will celebrate England’s unparalleled directors, including “The 6 Giants”: Charlie Chaplin (City Lights), The Archers, Powell & Pressburger (Colonel Blimp & Red Shoes), Alfred Hitchcock (Psycho), Stanley Kubrick (Clockwork Orange & 2001), Ridley Scott (Gladiator & Blade Runner), and Danny Boyle (Trainspotting & Slumdog). 4) We will tour many of London’s iconic “film locations,” including Harry’s Platform 9 ¾, Captain America’s Trafalgar Square, Julia Robert’s Notting Hill, Jason Bourne’s Charing Cross, James Bond’s Skyfall Skyline, and The Queen’s Palace of Westminster. 5) In exploring England and the art of story telling, we will study script writing at Shakespeare’s Stratford Upon Avon 6) Traveling to Warner Brother’s Harry Potter Studio in Leavesden, we will celebrate the imagination of Art Director and Production Designer, Stuart Craig.