Skip to main content
KBS_Icon_questionmark link-ico

Cinema And Spectatorship

Key information

  • Module code:


  • Level:


  • Semester:


  • Credit value:


Module description

Recent articulations of spectatorship studies have questioned a historical focus on vision, the visual, and viewing, opening out to broader discussion of sense, the senses and spectatorship. Through a range of theoretical texts and in conjunction with detailed analysis of select films, this module examines and debates the various, competing accounts of the viewer's contribution to meaning-making in the cinema. How do we understand film? Why does it have the power to move, bore, excite or irritate us? What is our responsibility to the image, if any? These are some of the questions we will address as we chart the history of spectatorship theory from apparatus theory in the 1970s-which understands the viewer as passive, voyeuristic and even sadistic-through to contemporary theories of cognitive response and haptics. We will also examine changes to the material aspect of film and its theorisation, as film moves beyond the cinema and thus problematises conceptions of spectatorship based on the darkened auditorium and the apparatus. Taking on board new media debates with regard to the image, spectatorship as a concept will be examined alongside questions of interactivity, and the screen itself will be explored in its varied guises, from the cinema auditorium, through the television set, to the computer monitor, and the mobile phone.


Assessment details

  • Participation - preparation of seminar discussion questions (10%)
  • 1000 word close analysis (30%)
  • 2000 word essay (60%)