We often think of genre in terms of generic traditions, industrial conventions or audience expectations, but what can we gain by considering genre films in relation to national contexts and transnational influences? Though perceived as the most typical “American” film genre, for instance, if we follow the paths of the “Western” genre starting in the US, it would lead us to Japan, to Italy, to India, to Mexico, and to East Germany. The recent trend of remaking Asian melodramas, gangster films and horror films in Hollywood obviously reverses the presumed flow of influence from Hollywood to other national and regional cinemas.
This course will examine the transnational dissemination of genre films across nations and explores ways in which genre conventions are constituted, redefined and transformed within these processes of global exchange. Thinking transnationally expands our sense of film genres beyond the national border, and following genres across borders allows patterns to emerge between varied film aesthetics, industries and social contexts. Historical shifts in meaning, adaptations according to specific national contexts, similarities across genres and contradictory formal elements within any given genre film will allow us to note the precariousness of definitional boundaries and expand our historical understanding of transnational nature of cinema.