Rivers have always appealed to artists, inspired by the river’s form, movement, and intimate relation with human settlement. The river was a frequent subject of the landscape painters touring the American hinterland of the 19th century, whose art served as precursor to the art of film. With the emergence of film in the early 20th century, filmmakers were quick to capture the river in its beauty and scale, as a scenic backdrop but often with additional symbolic importance. This class, scheduled for spring 2011, will explore the great symbolic value of rivers by viewing classic (and not-so-classic) films dealing with rivers, floods, and dams. Themes and topics involving rivers range from its transformative and cleansing properties, to possible roles as timekeeper, lifegiver, indicator of the authentic and “natural,” to the spiritual, or its important role in often defying modernity.