This essay considers ways of using film in the classroom to facilitate and deepen students' critical interpretations of their culture. Noting that digitalization has the effect of leveling distinctions between textual and visual media, the essay considers the pedagogical importance of understanding rather than abolishing such distinctions, because without them films might be reduced to mere illustrations of texts. The essay considers the multimedia classroom as a space of opportunity, in which teaching students to write critically about their culture becomes more challenging but also more urgently important, particularly with respect to visual representations of race in the contemporary United States. To exemplify the essay's claims for the usefulness of film in the non-film course, the essay considers the writer's experience of teaching students to critique the racial politics of two Hollywood films, Flower Drum Song and Crash.



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