Seeing the Big Picture: A Cinematic Approach to Understanding Cultures in America


Seeing the Big Picture: A Cinematic Approach to Understanding Cultures in America



Seeing the Big Picture, Revised Edition, is designed to broaden students' awareness, understanding, and appreciation of the many cultures and subcultures in the United States. The authors have chosen popular films as tools for exposing students to aspects of cultures, including those of African Americans, Chinese Americans, Mexican Americans, and Muslim Americans. Writing and discussion activities will help students explore the cultural points of view portrayed in each of the films. Students are also advised to keep a film journal that will allow them to observe how their reactions and observations develop through the course of the class.

In addition to increasing students' knowledge and understanding of cultural differences, Seeing the Big Picture will help students develop strong critical-thinking and analytic abilities as they learn to recognize and question messages inherent in the films' portrayals of different populations. A unique feature of the text are the Points of View segments from directors, insiders, and students that appear throughout the text, provoking perspectives students might not otherwise encounter.

This text is the ideal coursebook for undergraduate diversity electives and other multicultural awareness courses. It includes no ESL activities and is not sampled for ESL courses.



Publication Date



University of Michigan Press


Ann Arbor


African American Studies | Asian American Studies | Chicana/o Studies | Film and Media Studies | Native American Studies


Description and cover image provided courtesy of The University of Michigan Press.

Subject Areas

Minorities in motion pictures; Motion pictures -- United States -- History

Author/Editor Bio

Ellen Summerfield is president of the Give A Little Foundation. She was formerly the Director of International Programs at Linfield College.

Sandra Lee is Professor of Intercultural Communication. She holds an M.A. in Teaching English from UCLA, a Diploma in Teaching English Overseas from Manchester University, UK, and a B.A. in French Studies from Portsmouth Polytechnic, UK.