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Film Theory: Key Concepts and Contexts


    Module description

    This module will teach you to engage critically with the essential moments and ideas of film theory as it has developed over the last 100 years, and to apply practically your understanding of these concepts and contexts to specific theoretical texts and films. The course provides a historical overview of some of the major developments in film thinking from its earliest manifestations in the 1910s and 1920s through to the present time. In each case you learn to contextualise the key theories in relation to the intellectual history and cultural ambience of the moment in which they appeared, and in relation to films made at that time and subsequently. The principal weekly lecture will be complemented by a film screening and then followed up by a seminar in which you will scrutinise the main ideas of the lecture, bringing to life the theoretical ideas on the screen.

    Indicative module syllabus

      • Early Film Theory in France 1910s-1920s
      • Early Film Theory in the Soviet Union 1920s-1930s
      • Realism and the Bazinian Tradition 1940s-1950s
      • Psychoanalytical Approaches to Film Analysis and Spectatorship 1960s-1970s
      • Third Cinema and Challenges to Western Hegemony 1960s-1970s
      • Feminist Film Theory and Gender Perspectives 1970s-1980s
      • Queer Theory and the Politics of the Body 1980s-1990s
      • Film Philosophy from Analytical and Continental Approaches 1990s-Present
      • Cognitivist Approaches to Perception and Spectatorship 1990s-Present
      • Digital Theory and Rethinking Technological Determinism 1990s-Present

      Learning objectives

      By the end of this module, you will be able to:

      • understand and articulate the intellectual and historically specific contexts of key ideas in film theory
      • engage in close critical reading of key texts and challenge the ideas presented therein
      • understand key concepts and contexts to specific films from different periods of film history
      • understand and engage with the relations and tensions between distinct theoretical perspectives in film thinking.