6AAGB411 Brechtian Cinema and Political Modernism
Credit value: 15 credits
Module tutor: Dr Martin Brady
Assessment: One 2,000-word essay (45%), one two-hour examination (40%) and a class presentation (15%)
Teaching pattern: One 2 hour-screening and one 2-hour seminar per week.
This module will examine one of the great strengths of German Cinema – its political aesthetic radicalism. It will trace the dynamic history of militant and avant-garde filmmaking from the Weimar Republic through to the aftermath of German reunification in 1989. It will also look at the theoretical underpinning of modernist political cinema which has accompanied the filmmakers' practice. We will begin with a general introduction to modernism and the avant-garde, focusing on Expressionist and Dada cinema as a revolutionary response to World War One, before turning to Brecht's own principal contribution to political modernism, Kuhle Wampe (1932). Brecht's theory and practice will be assessed in the context of Weimar film theory (Benjamin, Kracauer, and Arnheim) and photography. We will then turn to ‘Brechtian’ and ‘post-Brechtian’ cinema after 1945, focusing on the New German Cinema. Alongside more mainstream examples – Alexander Kluge, Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, Hans Jürgen Syberberg, Michael Verhoeven – the course will touch on experimental strategies which adopt non-realist programmes, including feminist and structural film. The module will conclude by tackling the de-politicising of Brecht in Postmodernism and attempt to identify the legacy of Brecht for cinema and television today.
Gersch, Wolfgang, Film bei Brecht: Bertolt Brechts praktische und theoretische Auseinandersetzung mit Film (Berlin: Henschel, 1975)
Rodowick, David, The Crisis of Political Modernism: Criticism and Ideology in Contemporary Film Theory (Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 1994)
Thomson, Peter and Glendyr Sacks, The Cambridge Companion to Brecht, 2nd edition (Cambridge: CUP, 2006), Part III (175-317)
Walsh, Martin, The Brechtian Aspect of Radical Cinema: Essays by Martin Walsh (London: BFI Publishing, 1981)
Wollen, Peter, Signs and Meaning in the Cinema (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1972)
A coursepack has been created for this module and will cost £3.50.
Coursepacks are a vital part of your learning at King's and normally contain extracts from books and other useful documents that will inform your study. You will be expected to pay a modest charge for hard copies of these coursepacks and this will save you the extra expense of buying all the books recommended for this module.