Advanced Film Theory - FI812

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2018-19 2019-20
(version 2)
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7 30 (15) DR MB Vaage
(version 2)
View Timetable
7 30 (15)




This module is not available as a wild module



This course examines the medium of film, considering its specific qualities as an art form and the particular ways in which it engages its audience. The emphasis of the course varies from year to year, responding to current research and scholarship, but it maintains as its focus the aesthetic strategies of film in contrast with other arts, film's relationship with reality, the interdisciplinary reach of Film Studies, the particular kinds of engagement into which cinema invites its audience and/or French film theory. Students studying at the Paris campus will benefit from having access to relevant institutions in Paris, such as the Cinémathèque Française, the Bibliothèque Nationale, the American Library in Paris and the Paris Diderot library. The course explores both the historical trajectory of the theory of film as well as how these conceptual frameworks inform contemporary scholarship.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

3 hours lecture-seminar per week and 3 hours screening

Method of assessment

100% coursework: 6000 word essay (90%); Seminar participation (10%)

Preliminary reading

Allen, Richard and Murray Smith, Film Theory and Philosophy, Oxford University Press, 1997
Arnheim, Rudolf, Film as Art, University of California Press, 1983 (2nd edition)
Balázs, Béla, Theory of the Film, trans. Edith Bone, New York: Dover, 1970
Bazin, André, What is Cinema? Vol. I & II, trans. Hugh Gray, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967
Carroll, Noel, Theorizing the Moving Image, Cambridge University Press, 1996
Eisenstein, Sergei, Film Form, trans. Jay Leyda, Harcourt, 1949
Kracauer, Siegfried, The Mass Ornament, trans. Thomas Y. Levin, Harvard University Press, 1995
Mast, Gerald and Marshall Cohen, Film Theory and Criticism, 2004 (5th edition)
Metz, Christian, The Imaginary Signifier, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1977
Mulvey, Laura, Visual and Other Pleasures, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009 (2nd edition)
-----------------, Death 24 X a Second, London: Reaktion Books, 2006
Münsterberg, Hugo, The Photoplay: A Psychological Study, New York: Dover, 1970
Sobchack, Vivian, Carnal Thoughts: embodiment and moving-image culture, Berkeley & London: University of California Press, 2004
Turvey, Malcolm, Doubting Vision: Film and the Revelationist Tradition, New York: Oxford University Press, 2008

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, students will have:
a) reflected upon the specificity of film and/or the cinema, displaying an awareness of its distinguishing features
b) explored the aesthetic strategies of particular films in terms of their relationship with film's/cinema’s specific and distinguishing features
c) understood the details of a particular conceptual framework as applied to film/cinema
d) evaluated the potential and limitations of that conceptual framework in elucidating the particularity of film/cinema
e) developed their skills in researching and analyzing films in the context of other related forms of and theoretical debates about appropriate case studies
f) understood the historical trajectory of the theory of film including French film theory.

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