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Imagining UC Students: The Blot (1921)

by Curtis Marez

The Blot (1921) is partly a campus problem film made at the Southern Branch of the University of California, the precursor to UCLA.  It focuses on the family of hard working but poorly paid Professor Griggs, who teaches at a school seemingly populated exclusively by privileged young white men, the spoiled sons of the wealthy and powerful.  Given the Professor’s meager salary his daughter, Amelia, helps support the family by working in the public library. In this scene, filmed in a UC classroom, Griggs lectures to his oblivious students, including Phil West, who ultimately falls in love with Amelia and convinces his trustee-father to better compensate the school’s professors. What kinds of ideas about education are suggested by the lecture hall setting for this clip? What is the significance of the way the film represents public university students, and how does it compare with what you may know about the historic demographics of University of California students? 

Imagining UC Students: The Blot (1921)

A silent film depiction of University of California student demographics.

from The Blot (1921)
Creator: Lois Weber
Distributor: Image Entertainment
Posted by Curtis Marez