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Gender and Sexuality in Cinema


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 6
  • Convenors: John Airlie and Helen De Witt (subject to change)
  • Assessment: a 2000-word essay (40%) and a 3000-word essay (60%)

Module description

This module is designed to develop your critical tools for investigating and analysing the cinema’s role in the construction of gender and sexual difference. Using examples from the history of cinema, you will be introduced to the major concepts and methodologies of gender studies and their relationship to film and media studies. These will include psychoanalysis, structuralism and semiotics, feminism, lesbian and gay studies, and queer theory.

Topics under discussion will include spectatorship and the gaze, formations of masculinity, lesbian, gay and queer representation, sex and national identity, and drag and gender performance. There will be case studies of Alfred Hitchcock, and analysis of the horror and comedy genres.

Teaching and learning involve a variety of methods including presentations, pair/group work, class discussions, screenings, independent study outside of class, and individual tutorials.

Indicative syllabus

  • The representation of gender on film
  • Spectatorship and the gaze
  • Female spectatorship
  • Gender and the auteur
  • Gender and genre
  • From gay liberation to queer theory
  • Gender confusion in animation and comedy
  • Feminist film practices
  • Transforming and transcending gender