This course begins at the end of the nineteenth century, when the purpose of cinema was questioned and debated, film grammar was just being invented, distribution and exhibition were haphazard, and writers internationally were registering surprise and wonder at the new medium. It ends with modernist masterpieces of the 1920s, subtle (and still relevant) critical debates about the aesthetics and politics of film, and the development of viable sound technologies. What could film have become and did not? How did storytelling come to dominate the development of the new medium? How and why did various national cinemas develop distinctive stylesâ¿¿classical Hollywood, French Impressionism, German Expressionism, Russian montageâ¿¿that shape screen arts to this day? How did influential critics understand cinema and the ways it could reflect and effect social change? To explore these questions you will work mainly with primary textsâ¿¿the films themselves, and criticism written contemporaneously with them. Lectures will help you place these filmic and critical texts within a larger narrative about the first thirty-five years of cinema.