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6AAQT320 Film Theory II

Module convenor: Professor Sarah Cooper

Credits: 15

Pre-requisite: 4AAQS100 Introduction to Film Studies: Forms

Module description: The dates of 1945 and 1968 mark major turning points in the history of film theory, as indeed they do in broader socio-historical and political terms in the modern and contemporary world. In conjunction with, and sometimes in response to, cataclysmic changes in global and local politics, film theory produced around these watersheds is characterized in the former case by a search for structure, rigour, and stability, and in the latter by revolution, deconstruction, and proliferation. The module will pivot on these two dates and take us through to current, cutting edge theoretical debates. We begin with a thorough examination of the influential theories of structuralism, semiology, and narratology before moving on to consider the post-structuralist era of film theory. We will explore how critics address questions of form, structure and narrative in film and photography, mainly using examples from France and Italy. Readings will include work by Christian Metz, Umberto Eco, and Pier Paolo Pasolini. Then, as we move to the late 1960s, the grand narratives of ‘Theory’ in the two preceding decades are suddenly viewed with intense suspicion and are thrown into question in favour of multiple different ‘theories’, many of which can be characterized by a challenge to positions of mastery, albeit in their separate, highly nuanced ways. Following the legacy of structuralist theories, the course will progress through Lacanian psychoanalytic film theory and Derridean deconstruction, through feminist, queer and postcolonial theory, taking on board the work of Gilles Deleuze, in addition to recent developments in phenomenology, before considering current debates that claim that we have moved into a post-theoretical age within film discourse.  

Assessment pattern: Participation (15%), 1 x 2500-word essay (35%), Exam (50%)

Reassessment method: Period 3 reassessment is a 3000-word essay.

Teaching pattern: Ten one-hour lectures, ten three-hour screenings and ten one-hour seminars.

Core reading: Core course readings will be provided.

The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.

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