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projecting culture: perceptions of arab and american films

In this documentary program produced by the University of Southern California in 2008, Professor of Cinema and Television Ellen Seiter leads a discussion on “Film Viewing Across Cultures.” The project brought together a dozen undergraduate students, with participants born in the US, Egypt, Pakistan, Kuwait and South Africa. The goal was to explore how film and television portrayals shaped understandings of America, Islam, and the Muslim world. Viewing a variety of historical and contemporary media portrayals, the discussion also interrogated the extent to which studying film can deepen cross-cultural understandings.


Do film and television have a role to play in “deepening cross-cultural understandings”? Do you think contemporary media serves this function? Do some media platforms do a better job than others? If yes, in what ways? If no, why not?

Reflect on the philosophy behind this documentary project. What was its ultimate aim? Why did the producers choose a format in which diverse undergraduate students would watch films together? Do you think it achieved its goals?

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