Storytelling and the Cinema - FILM6070

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


This module examines different forms of narrative and storytelling in cinema in order to place film narration within the tradition of the 'popular' arts. Understanding a film involves making sense not only of its story, its events and actions, but also of its storytelling, of the way in which we come to learn of these events and actions. This module examines the ways in which the specific means of representation of cinema transform a showing into a telling. It looks at theories of narrative in literature and film in relation to the different forms of narration and storytelling in cinema, focusing on questions of structure, reliability and temporality. The psychological and aesthetic role of narrative may be explored through a range of theories and analyses from within film studies and from other disciplines such as anthropology, literary studies, psychology and philosophy. The course will be taught through a series of case-studies using a wide range of films within American and world cinema.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 60
Private study hours: 240
Total study hours: 300

Method of assessment

Essay 1 (2000 words) (35%)
Essay 2 (3000 words) (45%)
Seminar presentation plus student-led discussion (20%)

Indicative reading

Branigan, E. (1992) Narrative Comprehension and Film, London: Routledge
Chatman, S. (1978) Story and Discourse, Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film, Ithaca: Cornell University Press
Bordwell, D. (1985) Narration and the Fiction Film, London: Methuen
Wilson, G. (1986) Narration in Light: Studies in Cinematic Point of View, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University
Kozloff, S. (1988), Invisible Storytellers Voiceover Narration in American Fiction Film, Berkeley: University of California Press
Horton, A. (1999), Writing the Character-Centered Screenplay, Berkeley: University of California Press

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:
- demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of the different forms of storytelling and narrative in cinema;
- demonstrate knowledge of and complex understanding of the use of key theoretical approaches to the analysis of narrative forms;
- understand how images and sounds in film are organised in time and space as narrative forms;
- critically deploy different accounts of narrative and narration and their relation to the non-narrative.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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