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Lecture Library

The University of California in Popular Media
by Curtis Marez

Films and TV shows representing different UC campuses

This collection of clips and commentary, from the silent era to the present, focuses on works largely filmed at UC campuses (and in two cases at California State Colleges).  Each clip and commentary raises questions about the popular dreams, desires and fears associated with public universities and their incorporation of various kinds of difference.

Public Universities Make Dreams of the Future Concrete: Conquest of the Planet of the Apes by J. Lee Thompson (1972) The opening credits for the SF film Conquest of the Planet of the Apes was filmed at UC Irvine and represents a revealing interpretation of dreams for public education embedded in the school's architecture.
A College Student Presents a Theory of Power: Higher Learning by John Singleton (1995) A student presents a theory of power at a dorm party.
Feminist Detection at UCSD: Veronica Mars by Rob Thomas (2006) Veronica Mars brings her detective skills to bear on campus crimes.
Students and a Professor Discuss How to Use Education by John Singleton (1996) Two students and a professor have a philosophical and practical discussion of the value of college education.
Imagining UC Students: The Blot (1921) by Lois Weber (1921) A silent film depiction of University of California student demographics.
Representing Professors: Junior by Ivan Reitman (1994) After losing their federal research grant, two university scientists discuss their future in ways that project an image of professors as coldly rational and machine like.
Professor Hesse Defends his “Research”: Junior by Ivan Reitman (1994) Dr. Hesse wrestles with a grasping dean in ways that reflect differences over the meaning and value of university research.
A Dream about Public Education: Junior by Ivan Reitman (1994) The opening credits for Junior, filmed at UC Berkeley and reflecting on the significance of public education.
Writing a College Paper: Higher Learning by John Singleton (1996) Students discuss their papers with each other and a professor.