Abraham Lincoln in Hollywood Film: The Union's Savior, Self-Made Man, and Political Genius | Newberry

Abraham Lincoln in Hollywood Film: The Union's Savior, Self-Made Man, and Political Genius

Led by Mark Pohlad
Saturday, October 30, 2021
Four sessions. Saturdays, October 30-November 20.



For the Fall 2021 term, we’re offering a mix of virtual and in-person classes. Although we are still primarily virtual, you will find a smaller selection of in-person seminars in the schedule. For more information about the Newberry’s virtual seminars, including a Zoom tutorial, please see our Virtual Seminars FAQ page. Registration opens on September 1st at 9am (Central time). Registration will take place through our online platform, Learning Stream.

Seminar Description

This course examines how Abraham Lincoln has been represented in American films (rather than documentaries or television productions) through in-class viewing of select scenes and informed discussion. After observing how the sixteenth President is treated in early silent films, the course focuses on the three major productions of Golden Age Hollywood: D. W. Griffith’s Abraham Lincoln (1930), John Ford’s Young Mr. Lincoln (1939), and John Cromwell’s Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1940). We will also devote considerable time to recent Lincoln films, especially Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln (2012). Throughout, we shall discuss how all aspects of these productions—their direction, actors, costumes, musical scores, etc.—contribute to the treatment of Lincoln. Participants will leave the course with an understanding of how Lincoln was featured in the twentieth century’s most vital medium and a deeper knowledge of film production, criticism, and reception.

Four sessions. Registration – $195

Mark Pohlad, PhD, is associate professor in the Department of History of Art and Architecture at DePaul University. He has published and lectured widely on the visual culture of Abraham Lincoln and has taught a “Lincoln in Film” course for several years.

Materials List


  • Instructor-Distributed Materials.

First Reading:

  • There is no first reading assignment..

Cost and Registration Information 

Registration Information

Registration opens at 9 am (CST) on Wednesday, September 1st . Newberry Associates members at the Literati level and above will have access to early registration beginning August 25th at 10am. Learn more about membership benefits and becoming a Newberry Associate.

Please note: The Newberry is moving to a new registration system called Learning Stream. This will simplify the registration process for participants, instructors, and staff. For more information about registration, including a guide to online registration, see our Registration Information page. Questions? Please contact seminars program staff via email at seminars@newberry.org.

We offer a 10% discount to members, seniors, and students.

This seminar is part of the Newberry’s Adult Education Seminars Program. Learn more about registering for a seminar, program policies, or teaching a seminar.