FLMS2100: Approaches to Film, Part 2



Module Code: FLMS2100


Module Title: Approaches to Film – Politics – Aesthetics – Ethics


Module Outline


Seminars: Friday 2:15 – 5:15


Module Tutor: Dr. Paul Elliott




Module Description:

 This module will guide students through many of the most pertinent and important critical frameworks within film studies. The first semester looks at the basic building blocks of contemporary film theory (psychoanalysis, Marxism, semiotics and so on) and relates them to a series of canonical films. The second semester looks at how film relates to politics, aesthetics, and ethics and explores a range of different debates from Third Cinema to censorship. The module as a whole encourages students to engage with large discourses on a personal level and to appreciate how popular culture can be used as a point of moral, political and ethical negotiation for audiences around the world. This module aims to assert the importance of film in political and ethical debates and explores the vitality of a range of film production processes.

Intended Learning Outcomes:

On successful completion of the module, students should be able to:

  1. identify a wide range of theoretical paradigms within Film Studies;
  2. discuss the major areas of film theory in the context of specific film texts;
  3. recognize how various theoretical approaches create a film’s meaning;
  4. apply theoretical paradigms from film studies to a variety of film texts;
  5. demonstrate how theories can be transformed into methodologies for further inquiry.

Attendance Policy:

It is expected that you will attend all taught sessions, in the same way that attendance is expected in the workplace. Indeed regular attendance has a significant impact on student engagement, understanding and successful completion of University courses. Furthermore non-attendance will significantly affect your ability successfully to complete a module and may jeopardise your ability to undertake re-assessment in the event of failing a module.

It is your responsibility as a student, just as it would be if you were an employee, to ensure that you are punctual and that your attendance has been recorded on the register each week.

Should you, for some unavoidable reason, be unable to attend a scheduled session (for example if you are ill) then you must send an email to ihcastudentabsence@worc.ac.uk . Please include in your email  your name and student number, the module code and name, the date of the missed session, and your reason for missing it. You should make sure that you copy the module tutor into the email and also contact your module tutor to make arrangements to catch up on any work you have missed.

Notification must be received within 6 days of the date of the missed session.

Alternatively you can inform IHCA of your absence via the telephone. Please ring 01905 542015 with the required details.

Students with two or more unexplained absences may be required to attend a tutorial/ interview with the module leader, course leader or head of division to discuss their progress.

Learning Contract:

On this module you are expected to be courteous and attentive to your fellow classmates and to the module tutor. You are also expected to undertake the required reading each week and to view the film or films under question. Failure to do either of these things will severely impede your success on the module.

The use of mobile phones will not be tolerated in classes, lectures or screenings. Please turn off all phones before the lesson starts.

Please feel free to email me with any queries you have regarding the module, I will try to reply within 3 working days. My office hours will be posted on the door of my office, however I am always open to seeing students at other times if you make an appointment.   


There will be a reader that will contain all the main readings for the module, however you should also purchase the following:

Set Texts (You should purchase these books):

Braudy, L. & Cohen, M. (eds.) (2009) Film Theory & Criticism, 7th edition. Oxford, Oxford University Press.


Essential Reading (You will need to photocopy or read sections of these books):

Lapsley, R. & Westlake, M. (2006) Film Theory: An Introduction. 2nd edition. Manchester, Manchester University Press.


Further Reading (You will find these books useful):

Andrew, J. D. (1976) The Major Film Theories. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Ayers, D. (2008) Literary Theory: A Reintroduction. Oxford, Blackwell.

Bordwell, D. & Carroll, N. (eds.) (1996) Post-Theory: Reconstructing Film Studies. Milwaukee WI, University of Wisconsin Press.

Bordwell, D. (1991) Making Meaning: Interference and Rhetoric in the Interpretation of Cinema. Cambridge, Harvard University Press.

Buckland, W. (ed.) (2009) Film Theory and Contemporary Hollywood Movies. London, Routledge.

Cook, P. (ed.) (2007) The Cinema Book. 3rd edition. London, British Film Institute.

Habib, M.A. R. (2008) Modern Literary Criticism and Theory: A History. Oxford, Blackwell.

Jones, W.E &, Vice, S. (eds) (2011) Ethics and Cinema. Oxford, OUP.

Rivkin, J. & Ryan, M. (eds.) (2004) Literary Theory: An Introduction. 2nd edition. Oxford, Blackwell.

Rushton, R. & Bettinson, G. (2010) What is Film Theory? Maidenhead, Open University Press.

Stam, R. & Miller, T. (2000) Film Theory: An Introduction. Oxford, Blackwell.

Stam, R. & Miller, T. (eds.) (2000) Film and Theory: An Anthology. Oxford, Blackwell.

Teays, W. (2012). Seeing the Light: Exploring Ethics Through Movies. London; Wiley Blackwell.

Module Calendar (please note, subject to change):

Week Date Film
1. Introduction: Film as a Subversive Art 3rd February 2017 No Film
Required Reading Mackenzie, S. 2014.”Introduction” in Film Manifestos and Global Cultures: A Critical Anthology. California: University of California Press.
Supplementary Reading and Viewing First Statement of the New American Cinema Group (Various, 1961)

The Dogme Vow of Chastity – 1995

The Minnesota Declaration – 1999

The Oberhausen Manifesto (Various, 1962)

The Remodernist Manifesto –  2008

Danchev, A. 2011. 100 Artist’s Manifestos. London: Penguin.

MacDonald, S. 2002. Cinema 16: Documents Toward a History of the Film Society. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

MacDonald, S. 2008. Canyon Cinema: The Life and Times of an Independent Film Distributor. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Mackenzie, S. 2014. Film Manifestos and Global Cultures: A Critical Anthology. California: University of California Press.

Reekie, D. 2007. Subversion: The Definitive History of Underground Cinema. New York: Columbia University Press.

Suarez, J. 1996. Bike Boys, Drag Queens and Superstars. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Brutality in Stone (Alexander Kluge, 1960)

Guns of the Trees (Jonas Mekas, 1962)

The Connection (Shirley Clarke, 1962)

Kommunication (Edgar Reitz, 1962)

Week Date Film
2. Politics: Counter


10th February 2017 Tout va Bien (Jean Luc Godard, 1972)

[Death May Be Your Santa Claus (Frankie Dymon Jnr, 1969)]

Required Reading Wollen, P. [1972]. “Godard and Counter Cinema: Vent d’Est”, in Braudy, L. and M. Cohen (eds), Film Theory and Criticism, Oxford: OUP, pp. 499-508.
Supplementary Reading and Viewing Bickerton. E. 2011. A Short History of Cahiers du Cinema. London; Verso Books.

Brecht, B. 1993. Brecht on Theatre. London: Methuen.

Brecht, B. Brecht on Film and Radio. London: Methuen.

Brody, R. 2008. Everything is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean Luc Godard. London: Faber and Faber.

Comolli, J. L. 2014. Cinema Against Spectacle: Technique and Ideology Revisited. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

Cowie, P. 2006. Revolution! The Explosion of World Cinema in the ‘60s. London: Faber and Faber.

Godard, J. L. 1986.Godard on Godard. London: DeCapo Press.

Landy, M. 1994. Film, Politics and Gramsci. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota.

MacCabe, C. 1975. “The Politics of Separation” in Screen, Winter, 1975/6, Volume 16, Number 4, pp. 46-61.

Marwick, A. 1998. The Sixties. Oxford: OUP.

Pettifer, J. 1975. “The Limits of Naturalism” in Screen, Winter, 1975/6, Volume 16, Number 4, pp.

Walsh, M. 1981. “The Complex Seer: Brecht and the Film”, in The Brechtian Aspects of Radical Cinema. London: BFI, pp. 5 -21.

Wollen, P. 1982. Readings and Writings: Semiotic Counter-Strategies. London: Verso.

Kuhle Wampe (Slatan Dudow, 1932)

Chelsea Girls (Andy Warhol, 1966)

Weekend (Jean Luc Godard, 1967)

Vent d’Est (Jean Luc Godard, 1970)

Week Date Film
3. Politics: Third Cinema 17th February 2017 The Battle of Algiers (Gillo Pontecorvo, 1966)

 [The Hour of the Furnaces (Octavio Getino and Fernando Solanas, 1968)]

Required Reading Solanas, F and O. Getino. 1985. “Towards a Third Cinema” in Nichols, B. (ed), Movies and Methods vol. I. Berkeley. University of California, pp.44-64.
Supplementary Reading and Viewing Burton, J. 1985. “Marginal Cinemas and Mainstream Critical Theory” in Screen, Volume 26, Numbers 3-4, May-August, pp. 2-22.

Chaudhuri, S. 2005. Contemporary World Cinema. Edinburgh. Edinburgh University Press.

Eshun, K. 2007. The Ghosts of Songs: The Art of The Black Audio Film Collective. Chicago: University Detroit.

Fanon, F. 2001. The Wretched of the Earth. London. Penguin.

Guneratne, A. R. and W. Dissanayake (eds). 2003. Rethinking Third Cinema. London. Routledge.

Lewontin, R, S.Rose and L. Kamin. 2008. “What is Race?” in M. Ryan (ed), Cultural Studies: An Anthology. London. Blackwell, pp.509-516.

Martin, M. (ed) 1995. Cinemas of the Black Diaspora: Diversity, Dependence and Oppositionality. Detroit. Wayne State University.

Pines J. and P. Willeman (eds). 1989. Questions of Third Cinema. London. BFI.

Said. E. 1991. Orientalism. London. Penguin.

Stam, R. and L. Spence. 1985. “Colonialism, Racism, and Representation: An Introduction”. in Nichols, B. (ed), Movies and Methods vol. II. Berkeley. University of California, pp.632-649.

Wayne, M. 2001. Political Film. London: Pluto Press.

A Moment of Innocence (Mohsen Makhmalbaf, 1996)

Black God/White Devil (Glauber Rocha, 1964)

The Battle of Chile (Patricio Guzmann, 1975)

Camp de Thiaroye (Ousmane Sembene, 1987)

Handsworth Songs (The Black Audio Film Collective, 1987)

Week Date Film
4. Politics: Postcolonial Cinema 24th February 2017 Moolaade (Ousmane Sembene, 2004)

[Xala (Ousmane Sembene, 1972)]

Required Reading Shohat, E. and R. Stam. 1994. “Introduction”, in Unthinking Eurocentricism: Multiculturalism and the Media. London: Routledge, pp. 1-13.

Said, E. 1995. “Orientalism” in B. Ashcroft, G. Griffiths and H. Tiffin (eds.), The Post-Colonial Studies Reader. London: Routledge, pp. 87 – 91.

Supplementary Reading and Viewing  

Armes, R. 1987. Third World Filmmaking and the West. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Ezra, E. and T. Rowden (eds). 2005. Transnational Cinema: The Film Reader. London: Routledge.

Fanon, F. 2008. Black Skin, White Masks. London: Pluto.

Fanon, F. 2011. The Wretched of the Earth. London: Penguin.

Maty Ba, S. and W. Higbee (eds). 2012. De-Westernizing Film Studies. London: Routledge.

Ponzanesi, S and M. Waller (eds). 2011. Postcolonial Cinema Studies. London: Routledge.

Rosenbaum, J. 1997. “Tribal Scars (Sembene’s Black Girl)” in Movies as Politics, Berkeley: University of California, pp. 284-288.

Spivak, G.C. 1995. “Can the Subaltern Speak?” in B. Ashcroft, G. Griffiths and H. Tiffin (eds.), The Post-Colonial Studies Reader. London: Routledge, pp. 24-28.

Stam, R. 2003. “Beyond Third Cinema: The Aesthetics of Hybridity”, in Guneratne, A. R. and W. Dissanayake (eds). 2003. Rethinking Third Cinema. London. Routledge, pp. 31 – 48.

Black Girl (Ousmane Sembene, 1966)

The Harder They Come (Perry Henzell, 1972)

Handsworth Songs (The Black Audio Film Collective, 1986)

Seven Songs for Malcolm X (The Black Audio Film Collective, 1993)

The Nine Muses (John Akomfrah, 2012)

Week Date Film
5. Politics: Women’s Cinema/ Feminist Cinema 3rd March 2017 Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (Chantal Akerman, 1975)

[Riddles of the Sphinx (Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen, 1977)]

Required Reading Johnston. C. 2000. “Women’s Cinema as Counter-Cinema” in E. Ann Kaplan (ed), Feminism and Film. Oxford: OUP, pp. 22-33.
Supplementary Reading and Viewing Bell, M and M. Williams (eds). 2009. British Women’s Cinema. London: Routledge.

Erens, P. 1991. Issues in Feminist Film Criticism. London: John Wiley and Sons.

Kaplan, E.A. 2000. Feminism and Film. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kuhn, A. 1994. Women’s Pictures: Feminism and Cinema. London: Verso.

McCabe, J. 2004. Feminist Film Studies. London: Wallflower.

Mulvey, L. 2009. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” in L. Braudy and M/ Cohen (eds). Film: Theory and Criticism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 711-722.

Penley, C. (ed). 1988. Feminism and Film Theory. London: Routledge.

Radner, H and R. Stringer (eds). Feminism at the Movies. London: Routledge.

Thornham, S. 1999. Feminist Film Theory. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Thornham, S. 2012. What If I had Been the Hero? London: BFI.

Riddles of the Sphinx (Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen, 1977)

Orlando (Sally Potter, 1992)

Ratcatcher (Lynne Ramsay, 1999)

The Apple (Samira Makhmalbaf, 1998)

Wuthering Heights (Andrea Arnold, 2011)

Week Date Film
6. Aesthetics: The Essay Film 10th March 2017 I am Belfast (Mark Cousins, 2015)

[Of Time and the City (Terence Davies, 2008)]

Required Reading Corrigan, T. 2011. “Of the History of the Essay Film: Vertov to Varda” in The Essay Film. Oxford: OUP, pp.50-78.
Supplementary Reading and Viewing Barnuw, E. 1993. Documentary: A History of the Non-Fiction Film. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Curran Bernard, S. 2009. Archival Storytelling. London: Focal Press.

Everett, W. 2004. Terence Davies. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Layda, J. 1964. Films Beget Films. London: Allen Unwin.

Lebow, A. (ed). 2012. The Cinema of Me: the Self and Subjectivity in First Person Documentary. London: Wallflower.

Lopate, P. 1995. “In Search of the Centaur: The Essay Film”, in C. Warren (ed). Beyond Document: Essays on Non-Fiction. Conneticut: Wesleyan University Press, pp. 243 – 270.

Renov, M. 2013. “Art, Documentary as Art”, in B. Winston (ed). The  Documentary Film Book. London; BFI, pp. 345-354.

Vertov, D. 2006. “Man With a Movie Camera”, in Cousins, M and K. MacDonald (eds), Imagining Reality. London: Faber and Faber, pp.50-56.

Sans Soleil (Chris Marker, 1983)

Handsworth Songs (The Black Audio Film Collective, 1986)

Gallivant (Andrew Kotting, 1996)

London (Patrick Keiller, 1994)

The Gleaners and I (Agnes Varda, 2000)

Week Date Film
7.  Aesthetics: Structural Film    17th March 2017 Various Films by Andy Warhol, Peter Gidal, The London Filmmaker’s Workshop
Required Reading Gidal, P. 1975. “Structural/Materialist Film” in Studio International, November/December, 1975.
Supplementary Reading and Viewing Adams Sitney, P. 2002. Visionary Films: The American Avant Garde 1943 – 2000. Oxford: OUP.

Berger, P. 1984. A Theory of the Avant Garde. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota.

Brakhage, S. 2001. Essential Brakhage: Selected Writings. McPherson and Co.

Deren, M. 2005. Essential Deren: Collected Writings. McPherson and Co.

Gaal Holmes, P.2015. A History of 1970s Experimental Film. London: Palgrave.

Gunning, T. “The Cinema of Attractions: Early Film, Its Spectator, and the Avant Garde” in T. Elsaesser and A. Barker (eds.), Early Cinema: Space, Frame, Narrative. London: BFI, pp.

Hamlyn, N. 2009. Film Art Phenomenon. London: BFI.

O’Pray, M. 2012. Avant Garde: Forms, Themes, and Passions. London: Wallflower.

Rees, A.L. 2011. A History of Experimental Film and Video. London; BFI.

Wees, W. 1992. Light Moving in Time. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Un Chien Andalou (Luis Bunuel and Salvado Dali, 1929)

Neighbours (Norman Mclaren, 1952)

Wavelength (Michael Snow, 1967)

Invocation of My Demon Brother (Kenneth Anger, 1969)

Berlin Horse (Malcolm Le Grice, 1970)

Week Date Film
8. Ethics – Morality 24th March 2017 The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Julien Schnabel, 2007)
Required Reading Derse, A.R. 2011. “The Ethics of Self-Determination” in H. Colt, S. Quadrelli and L. Freidman (eds), The Picture of Health: Medical Ethics at the Movies. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 49-54
Supplementary Reading and Viewing  Shaw, D. 2012. “Active Euthanasia in The Sea Inside” in Morality and the Movies. London; Continuum, pp. 99-108.

Rachels, J. 2012. “Active and Passive Euthanasia”, in S. Cahn and p. Markie (eds). Ethics: History, Theory and Contemporary Issues. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 863-866.

Foot, P. 2012. “Killing and Letting Die”, in S. Cahn and p. Markie (eds). Ethics: History, Theory and Contemporary Issues. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 8867-872.

Pence, G. 1997. “Why Physicians Should Aid the Dying”, in LaFolette, H (ed). 1997. Ethics in Practice: An Anthology. London; Blackwell, pp. 22-32.

The Sea Inside (Alejandro Amenabar, 2004)

Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012)

Vera Drake (Mike Leigh, 2004)

Sicko (Michael Moore, 2007)

Iris (Richard Eyre, 2001)

Week Date Film
9. Ethics – Cinema and Trauma 31st March 2017 Flight 93 (Paul Greengrass, 2006)
Required Reading


Blake, L. 2008. “From Vietnam to 9/11: The Orientalist Other and the American Poor White”, in The Wounds of Nations: Horror Cinema, Historical Trauma and National Identity. Manchester: Manchester University Press, pp. 123-154.
Supplementary Reading and Viewing Dixon, W.W. 2004. Film and Television After 9/11. Carbondale: Southern Illinois Press.

Guerin, F and R. Hallas (ed). 2007. The Image and the Witness: Trauma, Memory and Visual Culture. London: Wallflower.

Kear, A and D. Steinberg (ed). 1999. Mourning Diana: Nation, Culture and the Performance and Grief. London: Routledge.

Levi, N and M. Rothberg. 2003. The Holocaust: Theoretical Readings. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.

Lowenstein, A. 2005. Shocking Representation. New York: Columbia University Press.

Markert, J. 2011. Post-9/11 Cinema: Through a Lens Darkly. New York: Scarecrow press.

Walker, J. 2005. Trauma Cinema. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Wetmore, K. 2012. Post-9/11 Horror in American Cinema. London: Continuum.

11/09//01 (Various Directors, 2002)

9/11 (Jules Naudet, 2002)

World Trade Center (Oliver Stone, 2006)

Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone, 2006)

25th Hour (Spike Lee, 2002)

Week Date Film
10. Ethics – Censorship 3rd April 2017 Life of Brian (Terry Jones, 1979)
Required Reading


Dwyer, S. 2011”Censorship” in P. Livingston and C. Plantinga (eds). The Routledge Companion to Philosophy and Film. London; Routledge, pp.29-38
Supplementary Reading and Viewing Aldgate, A and J. Robertson. 2005. Censorship in Theatre and Cinema. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Aldgate, A. 1995. Censorship and the Permissive Society. London: Clarendeon Press.

Bignell, J. 2004. “Television You Can’t See” in An Introduction to Television Studies. London; Routledge, pp. 241-265.

Gruen, L. 2005. “Pornography and Censorship” in Frey, R.G and C. Heath Wellman (eds), A Companion to Applied Ethics. London: Blackwell, pp. 154-166.

Robertson, J.C. 1993. The Hidden Cinema: British Film Censorship in Action, 1913-1965. London: Routledge.

Smith, J. 2012. “Making Ben Hur Look Like an Epic: Monty Python at the Movies” in I.Q. Hunter, and L. Porter (eds). British Comedy Cinema. London: Routledge, p. 171 – 183.

The Good Son (Joseph Ruben, 1993)

Scum (Alan Parker, 1977)

Straw Dogs (Sam Peckinpah, 1971)

The Exorcist (William Friedkin, 1973)

A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick, 1973)

Easter Break 10th April 2017 to 21st April 2017
Week Date Film
11. Your Independent Study 29th April 2016 No Film
Week Date Film
11. Your Independent Study 6th May 2016 No Film



 Assignment One: Contemporary Theory Essay

 Answer ONE of the following:

  1. How does The Battle of Algiers exemplify Solanas and Getino’s notions of Third Cinema?
  2. Discuss the relationship between form and content in TWO films by Jean Luc Godard. How is his work counter-cinema?
  3. Using appropriate theory, examine how either Xala (Sembene, 1975) or Moolaade (Sembene, 2004) depict the postcolonial struggle.
  4. Is there such a thing as a feminist film? Discuss this question in relation to a film or films of your choice. Include both form and content in your discussion.
  5. Give a close textual reading (with appropriate theoretical foundation) of a film by ONE of the following:
    1. Michael Snow
    2. Liz Rhodes
    3. Andy Warhol
    4. Peter Gidal.
  6. How does the film manifesto manifest itself in the work? Answer with reference to ONE manifesto.
  7. Write a script for a film essay on a subject of your choice.

Length: 1500 words
Weighting:  25%
Due: 31st March 2017

Assignment Two: Film Blog

You should create a film blog with at least 3 entries of 500 words each. The format of your blog is up to you but it must be based around ONE of the following themes:

  1. Film and trauma
  2. Film and censorship
  3. Film and politics
  4. Film and ethics.

Length: 1500 words
Weighting:  25%
Due: 12th May 2017


 *The assignment will be graded within three weeks of submission*


You should submit your assignments online via your SOLE page. Please be sure you are familiar with the submission process.

If thought necessary, your work may be entered in the turnitin plagiarism checker.

For information regarding plagiarism, referencing, and general study skills please visit http://www.worc.ac.uk/studyskills/