Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
From Babylon Berlin to Hollywood: movies as sources for cultural history
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Project  4,000 word project  80%
Semester Assessment Assignment 1  1,000 word assignment  20%
Supplementary Assessment Assignment 1  1,000 word assignment  20%
Supplementary Assessment Project  4,000 word project  80%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

Demonstrate an understanding of movies as primary historical sources, including the ability to contextualise them with other primary sources.

Demonstrate an understanding of transnational history, particularly of concepts such as: diaspora, migration, and cultural transfer.

Demonstrate the ability to apply methods for analysing visual sources (movies) to different contexts, particularly of mobility, social and political change.

Brief description

This module provides methodological and practical approaches to movies as primary sources for cultural history. It will specifically address the ‘migration’ of the ‘criminal movies’ from Weimar Germany to Hollywood through the diaspora of actors, directors, and technicians either opposing National Socialism or fleeing from potential persecution.

The module will explore the birth of the ‘noir’ genre in the 1950s Hollywood as the ‘collateral effect’ of a broad diaspora of movie makers. Through this example it will provide case studies to use movies as primary source, and to analyse processes of transnational cultural transfers.


This module aims to expand students’ awareness on the use of visual sources in history, through a selection of very specific case studies. It also aims to provide the tools to analyse movies historically, and to be able to identify relevant contextual sources.


The module will be taught through 10 x 2-hour seminars, exploring the following themes:

From ‘Caligari’ to ‘M’: crime in Weimar movies
Tabloids, trials, and Berlin’s criminal underground
The diaspora movies: ‘Ministry of Fear’
War and spy stories: ‘Cloak and Dagger’
The origin of noir: ‘Scarlett Street’ and ‘The Big Heat’

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Professional communication Oral and written communication skills will be developed through seminars and feedback on written work. Written skills will be assessed through assignments.


This module is at CQFW Level 5