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Approaches to Cinema History


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 5
  • Convenor: to be confirmed
  • Assessment: an essay of 2000-2500 words (40%) and an essay of 3000-3500 words (60%)

Module description

In this module we introduce you to the study of the history of cinema, covering the period from 1890 to 1950 and focusing on the key insights of applying historical methods to the study of film.

Case studies, films and documents will be drawn from a variety of national cinemas. There will be one special screening per term and occasional guest speakers.

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

We will approach the history of cinema from a number of different angles:

  • Technological developments and their impact on the art and business of cinema
  • Economic analysis of the evolution of the film industry
  • The changing roles and working practices of the different people who contribute to the film-making community
  • The diversity of film forms and cinema's relationship to popular culture and to the arts in general
  • The range of film audiences and their experiences of spectatorship
  • Critical debates and the broad cultural reception of cinema in society

Indicative syllabus

  • The emergence of cinema at the end of the nineteenth century
  • Its establishment as a major popular art from and global cultural industry
  • The golden age of silent film in the 1920s
  • The transition to sound in the 1930s
  • The impact of competing popular media such as radio and television
  • The introduction of colour and widescreen formats