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Introduction to film studies

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Department of Film and Television

Options in Film Studies 2014/15
FI101 Spring Term


Module Tutors: Louis Bayman (Rm A0.15 Millburn House)

Owen Weetch (Rm A0.25 Millburn House)


SEE ALSO: Film and Television Studies Options Handbook (Online)
FIRST MEETING: Week 1 Spring Term 2014/15,

Tuesday 06 Jan at 12.00 in A0.28


  1. This module aims to introduce you to the close analysis of film texts.

It will also ask you to consider a number of key developments in film history and some of the different examples of film internationally.

2. You will explore some of the main critical debates that have shaped Film Studies as an academic discipline.

3. It aims to progress from examining the formal properties of film to considering its cultural importance and artistic relevance. It will introduce questions regarding the political and social functions of cinema and the intellectual frameworks that have been used to explain it.

By the end of the module:

  1. You will be required to show you are able to analyse and critically discuss a range of

contemporary and older films according to its formal properties, and how they construct emotion and meaning in films.

  1. You will be expected to be able to demonstrate an informed understanding of and

engagement with the critical and historical debates that are the focus of the module.

  1. And (very importantly) you will be able to demonstrate that, having attended the

required screenings, lectures and seminars, you have developed your own independent reading, viewing and critical research beyond the basic starting points provided by the module.
In Term 1, we will begin with the analysis of film form and concentrate on the basic question of how film texts work, of how to analyse a film according to its formal properties ----- how moving images and sound combine to make meanings, guide our expectations/trigger our responses and create the experience we have of the films we watch.
We will focus first on the workings of the feature film, analysing the various formal properties of film to examine various ways they have been used in cinematic storytelling for over a century. In the second half of the term we will consider how different kinds of film negotiate the relationship between storytelling (or narrative) and spectacle. To conclude this first block of work, we will consider different ways in which cinema can address questions of art and entertainment, and with what results for the viewer, with examples from classical and contemporary Hollywood, musical cinema and Iranian art cinema.
In Term 2, the module will continue to explore the ways in which cinema creates meanings and appeals to the senses with respect to a range of film texts and theoretical approaches to film history such as genre, gender, emotion and postcolonialism. Underlying the course will be an examination of ways of understanding film’s relationship to reality, from the basis of cinema in a photographic record of reality, to questions of fantasy, documentary, parody, art and political cinema. It will seek to strengthen your understanding of the development of film styles and movements and of the global dimensions of film history, and will include examples of German Expressionism, Italian neorealism, Third Cinema and Avant-garde cinema. In addition to understanding cinema’s social function it will address the various ways these aspects impact on our understanding of and engagement with cinema at a sensory and emotional level.
In the opening weeks of Term 3, we will review the work we have done for the module.

The module is taught in the Autumn and Spring terms and there will be a short period of teaching and revision in the Summer Term.

You are required to attend the lecture, one seminar and at least ONE of the film screenings each week. In planning your work load, you should take account of the fact it is important you know the films for our seminar discussions and have seen them on a large screen.
*** NOTE: The Film and Television Studies Department has penalties for non-attendance at seminars without good reason. This involves a marks penalty plus extra written work. You should check the Options Handbook (online) to make sure you are aware of the Department’s attendance regulations.
Monday 9.45-12 Film Screening 1 A1.25 Millburn House

Tuesday 12-1 Lecture A0.28 Millburn House

1-3 Film Screening 2 A0.28 Millburn House

Wednesday 11-12 Seminars A1.24/A1.28 Millburn House

12-1. (Attend ONE)

1 - 2

* Seminar groups will be organised during the Introductory Session in Week 1. Whether ALL 4 seminars listed above will run will be decided at that point on the basis of numbers.

ASSESSMENT (for the year)
Two Essays of 1500 words each (10% of the total mark each)
One essay of 3000 words (20% of the total mark)

Summer Examination (2 hours unseen/2 Questions) (60% of the total mark)


Each of the essays MUST be handed in by the time/date specified below to the Film and Television Studies Office (Room A0.12 Millburn House). In preparing your essay you should refer to the Department of Film and Television Studies online Handbook (Options) to make sure you are aware of the conventions of essay presentation (referencing etc) required by the Department.

PLEASE NOTE : Extensions will normally only be given on production of a medical certificate. According to university regulations, when an essay is submitted late without a formal extension having been granted, there will be a penalty of a 5% reduction of the mark per day.

Autumn Term First short essay (Sequence analysis/1500 words)

(Week 7) To be submitted with:

1. Your Screening Notes on ONE film screened

In Weeks 1-5

2. Your Notes on ONE Lecture from Weeks 1-5

Hand in to the Film Studies Office (latest) before 12.00 on Monday November 10 2014
Spring Term Second short essay (1500 words)

(Week 2) Hand in by 12.00, Monday January 12 2015
Summer Term Long Essay (3000 words)

(Week 1) Hand in by 12.00, Monday April 20 2015





PLEASE NOTE: The module requires you to attend the screenings, lectures and seminars and do some critical reading each week in preparation for the weekly seminar. This is NOT an option. Obviously, keeping up with the screenings and readings will help you personally to get the most out of the seminars. Importantly too, it will put you in a position to contribute actively and in an informed way to seminar discussions.
Online Seminar Readings: All of the main weekly readings can be accessed online through the Main Library system. So long as you are registered for this module, you should be able to reach the website either directly through the Main Library Catalogue or by using the following link:



You will help yourself if you start reading around as quickly as possible to develop your awareness of the film history and Film Studies critical debates we will cover.
The Main Library is particularly well stocked for Film Studies in terms of books, DVDs/videos and journals. In addition, you (really) should make yourself aware of the very extensive online film resources by exploring the online facilities available to you through the Main Library Catalogue ---- that gives you direct access to journals like Film Index International and International Film Archive as well Screen, Wide Angle, Cineaste and a host of others.
The Department of Film and Television Studies web site also provides you with easy access to a mass of information, journals and a range of links. It is very well worth looking at immediately.
You will also help yourself if you make yourself familiar with the Film section in the Library as soon as possible (PN3220-3279) and also film making/photography (TR15-1045).
Remember: Many of the books you will need will be in heavy demand so organise your work and reading accordingly. Make reservations early and return books quickly.

Key Books

There are a few key books for you to track down and look at regularly. A number of the weekly required readings are taken from them and you will find copies in the Short Loan Collection as well as in the Stacks.

They are:

Pam Cook ed The Cinema Book (London : BFI 1985 and 1999)

***David Bordwell and ***Film Art : An Introduction (New York : McGraw

Kristin Thompson Hill, 1990, 1993, 1997, 2001, 2003 etc.)

Richard Maltby Hollywood Cinema : An Introduction (Oxford :

Blackwell, 1995)

John Hill and The Oxford Guide to Film Studies (Oxford, OUP,

Pamela Church Gibson 1998)


As noted above, the main screenings are required viewing. The "Further Viewings" listed below are suggestions only ---- to help your work. See the Library Catalogue and SLC in the Main Library for copies of the seminar films.
IMPORTANT: ONLINE SEMINAR READINGS. The required weekly readings have been scanned into the main library system so they can be accessed online. So long as you are registered for this module, you should be able to access them directly through the Main Library Catalogue or through the following link:


Week 1 Medium Specificity: What is cinema (and does it matter)?

Screening Spoorloos/The Vanishing (George Sluizer, Netherlands/France, 1988)

Lecture Medium specificity and the cinematic: What is it? What is film, and what can it do that other media cannot?

Reading Francesco Casetti (2008) ‘The Gaze of its Age’ in Eye of the Century: Film, Experience, Modernity, New York, Columbia University Press, p.7-27.
Additional: Carroll, N (1985) ‘The Specificity of Media in the Arts’ in Journal of

Aesthetic Education, Vol. 19, No. 4, p. 5–20.

Seymour Chatman (1980) ‘What Novels Can Do that Films Can’t (and Vice Versa)’ in Critical Inquiry 7:1 (Autumn 1980) p.121-40.

Robert B. Ray (1998) ‘Impressionism, Surrealism, and Film Theory’ in Hill and Church Gibson (eds) Oxford Guide to Film Studies, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

André Bazin (2005), ‘The Ontology of the Photographic Image’, ‘The Myth of Total Cinema’, ‘The Evolution of the Language of Cinema’ and ‘Painting and Cinema’ in What is Cinema? Vol. I Berkeley, University of California Press.

Further Viewing: The Smiling Madame Beudet/La Souriante Madame Beudet (Germaine Dulac, France, 1923), The Scarlet Empress (Josef Von Sternberg, USA, 1934), Le beau Serge (Claud Chabrol, France, 1958), 8 1/2/Otto e mezzo (Federico Fellini, Italy/France, 1963).

WEEK 2 Realism

Screening Ladri di biciclette/Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio De Sica, Italy, 1948)

Lecture Realist movements and Italian neorealism

Reading Siegfried Kracauer (1965) ‘Basic Concepts’ in Theory of Film: the Redemption of Physical Reality, Oxford University Press, p.27-41

Millicent Marcus (1986) ‘De Sica’s Bicycle Thief: Casting Shadows on the Visionary City’ in Italian Film in the Light of Neorealism, New Jersey, Princeton University Press, p.54-76

Additional: André Bazin (2005), ‘An Aesthetic of Reality: Neorealism’ and ‘ Bicycle Thief’ in What is Cinema? Vol. 2 Berkeley, University of California Press.

Millicent Marcus (1986) ‘Introduction’ to Italian Film in the Light of Neorealism, New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 3-31.

David Overbey (1979) ‘Introduction’ plus writings by Zavattini, De Santis, De Sica, Visconti in Springtime in Italy: A Reader on Italian Neo-Realism, Hamden Connecticut, Archon Books.

Christopher Williams (1980) Realism and the Cinema: A Reader, London, Routledge and Keegan Paul.

Further viewing Ossessione (Luchino Visconti, Italy, 1943), Rome, Open City/Roma città aperta (Roberto Rossellini, Italy, 1945), La terra trema (Luchino Visconti, Italy, 1948), Bitter Rice/Riso amaro (Giuseppe De Santis, Italy, 1949), Umberto D. (Vittorio de Sica, Italy, 1952), Journey to Italy/Viaggio in Italia (Roberto Rossellini, Italy/France, 1954).

WEEK 3 Fantasy

Screening Nosferatu/Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (F.W. Murnau, Germany, 1922)

Lecture Fantasy, horror and German Expressionism

Reading Thomas Elsaesser (1996) ‘Germany: the Weimar Years’ in Geoffrey Nowell-Smith (ed.) The Oxford History of World Cinema, Oxford University Press, p.136-150.

Sobchack, Vivien (1982) ‘Genre Film: Myth, Ritual and Sociodrama’ in Thomas, Sari (ed) Film/Culture: Explorations of Cinema in Its Social Context, Metuchen, N.J.; London: Scarecrow Press, p. 147 – 165.

Additional: Lotte Eisner (1969) The Haunted Screen: Expressionism in the German

Cinema and the Influence of Max Reinhardt, Berkeley, University of California Press.

Thomas Elsaesser (2000) Weimar Cinema and After: Germany’s Historical Imaginary,

London, Routledge.

Siegfried Kracauer (2004) From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological History of the

German Film, Princeton, Princeton University Press.

Patrice Petro (1989), ‘Melodrama and Expressionism: The Conventions of Pathos’ in Joyless Streets: Women and Melodramatic Representation in Weimar Germany, Princeton, Princeton University Press, p.25-39.

Maria Tatar (1995) ‘Crime, Contagion and Containment: Sexual Murder in the Weimar Republic’ in Lustmord: Sexual Murder in Weimar Germany, Princeton, Princeton University Press, p.41-66.

Further Viewing The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari/Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (Robert Wiene, Germany, 1920), The Golem/ Der Golem, wie er in die Welt kam (Carl Boese, Paul Wegener, Germany, 1920), Metropolis (Fritz Lang, Germany, 1927), Pandora’s Box/Die Büchse die Pandora (G.W. Pabst, Germany, 1929), Citizen Kane (Orson Welles, USA, 1941).

WEEK 4 The inter-war Avant-gardes

Screening Selected short films

Lecture Avant-garde cinema: theory and practice

Reading Murray Smith (1998), ‘Modernism and the Avant-Gardes’ in John Hill and Pamela Church Gibson (eds) Oxford Guide to Film Studies, Oxford, Oxford University Press.
Additional Reading: 'Avant-Garde and Counter Cinema' (1999) in Pam Cook (ed.) The

Cinema Book, London, BFI, p. 114-20.

Marshall Berman (2010) All that Is Solid Melts into Air: The Experience of Modernity,

London, Verso.

Peter Bürger (1984), Theory of the Avant-Garde, Manchester, Manchester University


Ian Christie, 'The Avant-Gardes and European Cinema Before 1930' in John Hill and Pamela Church Gibson (eds) Oxford Guide to Film Studies, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

A.L. Rees (1996), ‘Cinema and the Avant-Garde’ in Geoffrey Nowell-Smith (ed.) The

Oxford History of World Cinema, Oxford, Oxford University Press.
WEEK 5 Documentary

Screening Ônibus 174/Bus 174 (José Padilha and Felipe Lacerda, Brazil, 2002)

Lecture Theories of documentary

Reading Cecilia Sayad (2014), ‘Narrative, Visibility and Trauma in Bus 174’ in Vinicius Navarro and Juan Carlos Rodriguez (eds) New Documentaries in Latin American Cinema, Basingstoke, Palgrave MacMillan, p.91-105

Bill Nichols (2010), ‘Why Are Ethical Issues Central to Documentary Filmmaking?’ in Introduction to Documentary 2nd edition, Indiana University Press, p.42-67

Additional Reading: Lorraine Leu (2008), ‘Spaces of Remembrance and Representation in the City: José Padilha’s Ônibus 174’ in Luso-Brazilian Review, 45:2 p.177-89.

Bill Nichols (1991) Representing Reality: Issues and Concepts in Documentary, Bloomington, Indiana University Press.

Michael Renov (ed.) (1993) Theorizing Documentary, London, Routledge.

Amy Villarejo (2006) ‘Bus 174 and the Living Present’ in Cinema Journal 46:1 (Autumn 2006), 115-20.

Further Viewing: Nanook of the North (Robert J. Flaherty, USA/France, 1922), Night Mail (Harry Watt, Basil Wright, UK, 1936), Fires Were Started (Humphrey Jennings, UK, 1943), Chronicle of a Summer/Chronique d’un été (Edgar Morin, Jean Rouch, France, 1961), Titticut Follies (Frederick Wiseman, USA, 1967), Salesman (Albert Maysles, David Maysles, USA, 1968) The Thin Blue Line (Errol Morris, USA, 1988), Nostalgia for the Light/Nostalgia de la luz (Patricio Guzmán, France, Germany, Chile, Spain, USA, 2010), The Act of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer, Denmark, Norway, UK, 2012).


WEEK 7 Allegory

Screening Xala (Ousmane Sembene, Senegal, 1975)

Lecture Allegory and Third Cinema.

Reading Marcia Landy (1984), ‘Political Allegory and “Engaged Cinema”: Sembene’s Xala’ in Cinema Journal 23:3 (Spring 1984) pp.31-46.

Additional: Bainard Cowan (1981), ‘Walter Benjamin's Theory of Allegory’ in New German Critique 22, Special Issue on Modernism. Winter 1981: p.109-22.

Laura Mulvey (1991) ‘Xala, Ousmane Sembene 1976: The Carapace that Failed’ in Third Text, 5:16-17, p.19-37.

Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino (1976), ‘Towards a Third Cinema’ in Bill Nichols (ed.) Movies and Methods. An Anthology, Berkeley, University of California Press, p.44–64.

Mike Wayne (2001), Political Film: The Dialectics of Third Cinema. Pluto Press.

Teshome Gabriel (1989), ‘Towards a Critical Theory of Third World Films’ in Jim Pines and Paul Willeman (eds), Questions of Third Cinema, London, BFI, p.30-53.

Further viewing The Battle of Algiers/La battaglia di Algeri (Gillo Pontecorvo, Italy/Algeria, 1966), The Hour of the Furnaces/La hora de los hornos (Octavo Getino, Fernando E. Solanas, Argentina, 1968), In the Year of the Pig (Emile de Antonio, USA, 1968), Blood of the Condor/Yawar mallku (Jorge Sanjiné, Bolivia, 1969), Macunaíma (Joaquim Pedro de Andrade, Brazil, 1969), Touki Bouki (Djibril Diop Mambéty, Senegal, 1973).

WEEK 8 Gender and Sexuality

Screening Some Like it Hot (Billy Wilder, USA, 1959)

Lecture The male gaze, and gender and queer readings

Reading Alexander Doty (1993), ‘Chapter one: There’s Something Queer Here’ in Making Things Perfectly Queer: Interpreting Mass Culture, University of Minnesota Press, 1993 p.1-15

Laura Mulvey (1975) ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’ in Screen, 16:3. p.6–18

Additional Reading: Terrell Carver (2009), ‘Sex, Gender and Heteronormativity: Seeing 'Some Like It Hot' as a Heterosexual Dystopia’ in Contemporary Political Theory 8:2 (May 2009), p.125-151.

Sedgwick - Axiomatics

Doty, Alexander ‘Queer Theory’, and Smelik, Anneke ‘Gay and Lesbian Criticism’ in Hill and Church Gibson (eds) Oxford Guide to Film Studies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998) pp.135-153.

Further Viewing: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Howard Hawks, USA, 1953), Vertigo

(Alfred Hitchcock, USA, 1958).

WEEK 9 Emotion and Affect

Screening All Is Lost (J.C. Chandor, USA, 2013)

Lecture Theories of emotion and affect

Reading Carl Plantinga, ‘Chapter 6: Negative Emotions and Sympathetic Narratives’ in Moving Viewers: American Film and the Spectator’s Experience, University of California Press, 2009, p.169-197
Additional Reading: Eugenie Brinkema (2014), Chapters One and Two in The Forms of the Affects, Durham and London, Duke University Press, p.1-47.

Melissa Gregg and Gregory J. Seigworth (eds) (2014), The Affect Theory Reader, Durham, Duke University Press.

Jennifer Harding and Deidre E. Pribram (2009), ‘Introduction’ to Emotions: A Cultural Studies Reader, London, Routledge, p.1-25.

Carl Plantinga and Greg M. Smith (eds) (1999) Passionate Views: Film, Cognition and Emotion, Baltimore, John Hopkins University Press.

Further Viewing: All that Heaven Allows (Douglas Sirk, USA, 1955), Daughters of the Dust (Julie Dash, USA, 1991).

WEEK 10 Parody

Screening Exit through the Gift Shop (Banksy, UK, 2010)

Lecture Postmodernism, Intertextuality and Satire

Reading Dan Harries (2000) ‘Chapter 3: Transtextual Targets’ in Film Parody, London, BFI, p. 22–42.
Additional Reading: Simon Dentith (2000), Parody (The New Critical Idiom) London, Routledge.

Dan Harries (2002) ‘Film Parody and the Resuscitation of Genre’ in Steve Neale (ed.) Genre and Contemporary Hollywood BFI, London, p.281-294.

Linda Hutcheon (1985), A Theory of Parody: The Teachings of Twentieth-Century Art Forms, New York, Methuen.

Margaret Rose (1993). Parody: Ancient, Modern and Post-Modern. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Further Viewing: Big Deal on Madonna Street/I soliti ignoti (Mario Monicelli, Italy, 1958) Airplane! (Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker, USA, 1980) Scream (Wes Craven, USA, 1996).

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