Film and Modernity - FI815

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




This module is 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 is influenced by and influences other artistic and cultural forms in its historical moment. 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 to historical change, the interdisciplinary reach of Film Studies, and/or the particular strategies used by the cinema to communicate with its audience. The course explores both the historical place of the cinema within the development of twentieth-century culture as well as how this historical definition informs contemporary scholarship.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

Weekly film screening and lecture/seminar

Method of assessment

100% coursework: 6000 word essay (90%); seminar attendance and participation (10%)

Preliminary reading

Canterbury version -
Colin McCabe, Godard: a Portrait of the Artist at Seventy, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003
Michael Temple, James S. Williams and Michael Witt (eds.), For Ever Godard, London: Black Dog Publishing, 2004
Jean-Luc Godard and Youssef Ishaghpour, Cinema: The Archaeology of Film and the Memory of a Century, trans. John Howe, Oxford and New York: Berg, 2005
Roland Barthes, “The Death of the Author.” Theories of Authorship: a Reader. Ed. John Caughie. London; Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul in association with the British Film Institute, 1981. 208-213
Dudley Andrew, “The Unauthorized Auteur Today.” Film and Theory: An Anthology. Eds. Robert Stam and Toby Miller. Malden; Oxford: Blackwell, 2000. 20-9
Jean-Louis Comolli and Jean Narboni. “Cinema/Ideology/Criticism.” Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory Readings. Ed. Leo Braudy and Marshall Cohen. Trans. Gray. New York and Oxford: Oxford UP, 1999. 752-759

Paris version -
In addition to the above the following are especially recommended reading for the Paris version of this module.

L. Charney and V.R.Schwartz (eds.), Cinema and the Invention of Modern Life, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1995
T.J. Clark, The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and His Followers, Princeton University press, new Jersey, 1984
David Harvey, Paris, Capital of Modernity, Routledge, New York and London, 2003
Murray Pomerance, ed., Cinema and Modernity, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, 2006

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 the broader cultural and historical milieu in which they were produced
c) understood the details of a particular cultural/historical framework as a context to interpret film/cinema
d) evaluated the potential and limitations of that cultural/historical framework in elucidating the particularity of film/cinema
e) Developed their skills in researching and analyzing films in the context of other related visual forms and historical debates specific to given case studies
f) Understood the historical significance of film as a culturally influenced medium

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