Film and Modernity (Paris) - FILM8210

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Spring Term 7 30 (15) Frances Guerin checkmark-circle


The module is conceived as open to all Humanities MA students in Paris. It examines the medium of film, considering its specific qualities as an art and industrial form and the particular ways in which it is influenced by and influences other artistic and cultural forms in turn of the 20th century Paris. 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, technological developments, and historical change, particularly as they are developed in the growth of Paris as a city. The course also addresses the strategies used by the cinema to communicate with its historical audience. The course explores both the historical place of the cinema within the development of twentieth-century urban culture in Paris as well as how this historical definition informs the development of the cinema.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 60
Private Study Hours: 240
Total Study Hours: 300

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:

Seminar Exercise (2,000 words) – 30%
Essay (4,000 words) – 60%
Seminar Participation – 10%

Reassessment methods:

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List:

Andrew, Dudley (ed., preface, and intro.) and Shafto, Sally (assistant ed.) (1997), TheImage in Dispute: Art and Cinema in the Age of Photography. University of Texas Press, Austin.
Baudelaire, Charles, [1970, c1965], The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays, Translated and edited by Jonathan Mayne, Phaidon, London, New York,
Benjamin, Walter, "Paris, the Capital of the Nineteenth Century (Exposé of 1935)," in 1999, The Arcades Project, trans. Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin, Harvard University Press, Cambridge Massachusetts, pp. 3-13.
Donald James et. al. (eds.), (1998), Close Up. Cinema and Modernism, Cassell, London.
Phillips, Christopher (ed.) (1989), Photography in the Modern Era: European Documents and Critical Writings, 1913-1940, Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Rifkin, Adrian, (1993), Street Noises: Parisian Pleasure, 1900-1940, Manchester University Press, Manchester and New York.
Simmel, Georg, (1950), “The Metropolis and Mental Life,” in Kurt Wolff (ed. And trans.), The Sociology of Georg Simmel, Free Press, Illinois, pp. 409-424.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Reflect upon the specificity of pre-WWII film and/or the cinema, and display an awareness of its distinguishing features;
2 Explore the aesthetic strategies of pre-WWII French films in terms of their relationship with the broader cultural and historical milieu in which they were produced;
3 Demonstrate understanding of the details of a particular cultural/historical framework as a context to interpret film/cinema;
4 Explore and demonstrate understanding of the interdependence between development of cinema as an art form and Paris as city in modernity;
5 Evaluate the potential and limitations of that cultural/historical framework in elucidating the particularity of film/cinema;
6 Demonstrate their skills in researching and analysing films in the context of other related visual forms, the modern city, and historical debates specific to given case studies;
7 Demonstrate understanding of the historical significance of film as a culturally influenced medium.

9. The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Critically analyse and make use of reading material and cultural/historical frameworks.
2 Give sustained attention and concentration to examination of the details of visual and written material.
3 Demonstrate advanced skills of cogency, structure and presentation of arguments.
4 Write and talk appropriately according to purpose; use wide vocabulary; use correct spelling, syntax and punctuation; express complex ideas, arguments and subtleties of meaning; select and shape language to achieve sophisticated effects.


  1. Credit level 7. Undergraduate or postgraduate masters level module.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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