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Centre for Film and Screen


Core course - Strand 2: Topics in Film and Screen Studies

Please note that information may be subject to minor changes 

Strand 2: Topics in Film and Screen Studies

Michaelmas term, Tuesdays, 2-4pm, weeks 1-8 (unless otherwise stated)

1. Early Cinema

2. Media Archaeology

3. Documentary

4. Melodrama and Classical Hollywood Cinema

5. Screening Queerness (Gender and Sexuality)

6. Cinema and Decolonization

7. Race, Ideology, History

8. Sound in Cinema, Radio, and Beyond


1. Early Cinema

Xin Peng (

In this seminar, we will explore the "birth" of the cinema as a medium: the debate around its multivalent historical emergence, the myth of the "firsts", and the conceptualization of "early cinema" as an alterity to the so-called "classical paradigm" and an inspiration to experimental and avant-garde filmmaking. Apart from studying the different approaches to historical writing, we will also read primary materials from the period in question. Of special interests are the role of women in the early film industry, immigrant audience and Progressivism, and racism and race films.

Required viewing

Films from the Edison Company:

Short Films from the U.S., U.K., and France:

Story Films:


Further viewing


Required reading

  • Maxim Gorky, “Lumière review, July 1896,” in Colin Harding and Simon Popple, eds. In the Kingdom of Shadows: A Companion to Early Cinema
  • Antonia Dickson, “Wonders of the Kinetoscope” (1895), and Lucy France Pierce, “The Nickelodeon” (1908), in Antonia Lant and Ingrid Periz, eds. Red Velvet Seat: Women’s Writings on the First Fifty Years of Cinema
  • Charles Musser, “At the Beginning: Motion Picture Production, Representation, and Ideology at the Edison and Lumière Companies,” The Silent Cinema Reader
  • Tom Gunning, “The Cinema of Attractions: Early Film, its Spectator and the Avant-Garde,”  in Thomas Elsaesser, ed. Early Cinema: Space, Frame, Narrative
  • Tom Gunning, “Now You See It, Now You Don’t: The Temporality of the Cinema of Attractions,” The Velvet Light Trap 32 (Fall 1993): 3-12.
  • Tom Gunning, “An Aesthetic of Astonishment: Early Film and the (In)credulous Spectator,” Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory Readings
  • Wanda Strauven, The Cinema of Attractions Reloaded
  • Jennifer M. Bean, “Towards a Feminist Historiography of Early Cinema,” A Feminist Reader in Early Cinema
  • Miriam Hansen, Babel and Babylon: Spectatorship in American Silent Film
  • Jacqueline N. Stewart, Migrating to the Movies: Cinema and Black Urban Modernity
  • Kim Fahlstedt, Chinatown Film Culture: The Appearance of Cinema in San Francisco’s Chinese Neighborhood
  • Emilie Yueh-yu Yeh, Early Film Culture in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Republican China: Kaleidoscopic Histories
  • Jane Gaines, Fire and Desire: Mixed-Race Movies in the Silent Era


2. Media Archaeology

Caroline Bassett (

This seminar will explore Media Archaeology, understood as a theoretical intervention into media history and as a methodology for undertaking research into contemporary techno-cultural forms and practices. Media archaeology has taken a distinct form in film studies, notably via the work of Thomas Elsaesser. But it has also developed in expansive ways in associated fields, becoming increasingly influential in software studies, critical medium theory, and code studies. This session explores the claims of media archaeology through a consideration of Kittler as a representative of early German medium theory, through an engagement with contemporary media archaeology drawing on Wolfgang Ernst and Jussi Parikka’s definitional work, and by exploring intersections between media archaeological approaches and critical digital and code studies (via the work of Wendy Chun). Finally, we will consider what these medium specific approaches enable – and what they foreclose on. Does the focus on the materiality of media systems and the claim to provide a form of post-ideological analysis found in some of this work mean matters of race, class, and gender bias, are systematically excluded from consideration?

Required reading

  • Wolfgang Ernst, Digital Memory and the Archive, Jussi Parikka, ed. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2013). Read: ‘Introduction’ (by Jussi Parikka) and Chapter 5, ‘Between Real Time and Memory on Demand’
  • Kittler Friedrich, ‘Thinking Colours and/or Machines’, Theory, Culture & Society, Vol 23 (7-8): 39 – 50 (2006).
  • Thomas Elsaesser, ‘Media Archaeology as Symptom’, New Review of Film and Television Studies, Vol 14, 2016, issue 2.
  • Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, ‘On Sourcery or Code as Fetish’, Configurations, Volume 16, Number 3, Fall, (2008), pp. 299-324.


Please explore any or all of the below (via YouTube etc):

  • The Clock (Christian Marclay, installation, 2010)  


  • 24 Hour Psycho (Douglas Gordon, 1993) 
  • The Clock of the Long Now (project) (
  • Powers of Ten (Charles and Ray Eames, 1977) 

Further reading

  • Caroline Bassett, ‘Not now?: Feminism, Technology, Post-digital’, in Berry and Dieter (eds), Postdigital Aesthetics: Art, Computation and Design (London: Macmillan, 2015).
  • Caroline Bassett, ‘After Images of Cinema: Kittler and the Mobile Screen’, chapter in Kittler Now: Current Perspectives in Kittler Studies. Eds. Stephen Sale and Laura Salisbury (London: Polity, 2015).
  • Walter Benjamin, ‘On the Concept of History’, in Selected Writings, 4: 1938-1940 (London: Harvard UP, 2006) (also found in Illuminations [London, Fontana, 1992]).   
  • Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, ‘Programmability’, in Matt Fuller (ed), Software Studies: A Lexicon (London: MIT, 2008), pp.224-228.
  • Thomas Elsaesser, Film History as Media Archaeology (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2017).
  • Martin Eve, Close Reading with Computers (London: Stanford UP, 2019).
  • Michel Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge (London: Routledge, 1972).
  • Alex Galloway and Thacker Eugene, The Exploit: A Theory of Networks (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007).
  • Lisa Gitelman, Always Already New: Media, History and the Data of Culture (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2007).
  • Mark Goodall and Ben Roberts,eds., New Media Archaeologies (London: Amsterdam University Press 2019).
  • Erkki Huhtamo, Illusions in Motion: Media Archaeology of the Moving Panorama and Related Spectacles (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2013).
  • Jussi Parikka, What is Media Archaeology? (London: Polity Press, 2012). 
  • Kara Keeling, ‘Queer OS’, Cinema Journal, Volume 53, No 2, Winter (2014), pp 152-157.
  • Friedrich Kittler, ‘Code (or, How You Can Write Something Differently)’, in Matt Fuller (ed), Software Studies: A Lexicon (London: MIT, 2008).
  • Friedrich Kittler, Literature, Media, Information Systems (London: Routledge, 1997).  
  • Rita Raley, Tactical Media (London: Minnesota UP, 2009).
  • Siegfried Zielinksi, The Deep Time of the Media (London: MIT Press, 2008).


3. Documentary

Kareem Estefan (

Writing about Robert J. Flaherty’s Moana upon its release in 1926, the Scottish nonfiction filmmaker John Grierson coined the term ‘documentary,’ a cinematic mode he would later characterise as the ‘creative treatment of actuality.’ The tension inherent to this capacious definition of documentary—suggesting its duality as record of reality and as poetic construction—continues to animate documentary studies debates a century on. This seminar will examine the consequences of this dialectic as it manifests in what may be the genre’s central, vexed imperative: to bear witness (to injustice). What politics of looking adhere to this aim? What ways of seeing are embedded in, and constructed through, encounters with the subjects of documentary? How do we conceptualise the ‘visible evidence’ produced by documentary films beyond a paradigm of indexicality, or a faith in exposure? How does documentary interrogate the ‘frames’ through which political realities are constructed and historical memory reproduced? Focusing on The Look of Silence (2014), the second of Joshua Oppenheimer’s pair of extraordinary documentaries on the 1965-66 Indonesian genocide, we will explore such questions by considering a spectrum of ‘documentary modes’—e.g. observational, expository, poetic, reflexive, per Bill Nichols—to analyse how various ‘documentary gazes’ mediate and circulate the act of witnessing. 

Required viewing

  • The Look of Silence (dir. Joshua Oppenheimer, 2014)

Required reading 


Further viewing

  • The Act of Killing (dir. Joshua Oppenheimer, 2012) 
  • Standard Operating Procedure (dir. Errol Morris, 2008)
  • Waltz with Bashir (dir. Ari Folman, 2008)
  • The Gleaners & I (dir. Agnes Varda, 2000)
  • Close-Up (dir. Abbas Kiarostami, 1990)
  • Tongues Untied (dir. Marlon Riggs, 1989)
  • Titicut Follies (dir. Frederick Wiseman, 1967)
  • The House Is Black (dir. Forough Farrokhzad, 1963)
  • Chronicle of a Summer (dir. Jean Rouch & Edgar Morin, 1961)
  • Man with a Movie Camera (dir. Dziga Vertov, 1929)


Further reading

  • Michael Renov, “Towards a Poetics of Documentary,” in Theorising Documentary, ed. Michael Renov (Routledge, 1993): pp. 12-36.
  • Elizabeth Cowie, Recording Reality, Desiring the Real (University of Minnesota Press, 2011).
  • Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others (Picador, 2003).
  • Judith Butler, “Torture and the Ethics of Photography: Thinking with Sontag,” in Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable? (Verso Books, 2009): pp. 63-100.
  • Linda Williams, “Mirrors without Memories: Truth, History, and the New Documentary,” Film Quarterly Volume 46, Number 3 (Spring 1993): pp. 9-21.
  • Linda Williams, “Cluster Fuck: The Forcible Frame in Errol Morris’s Standard Operating Procedure,” Camera Obscura 73, Volume 25, Number 1 (2010): pp. 29-67.
  • Hito Steyerl, “Documentary Uncertainty,” Re-Visiones, no. 1 (2011). 
  • Erika Balsom and Hila Peleg, “Introduction: The Documentary Attitude,” in Documentary Across Disciplines, eds. Erika Balsom and Hila Peleg (MIT Press, 2016), pp. 10-19.
  • Leshu Torchin, “Introduction: Screen Media and Witnessing Publics,” in Creating the Witness: Documenting Genocide on Film, Video, and the Internet (University of Minnesota Press, 2012): pp. 1-20.
  • Mohammad Ali Atassi, “The Digital Syrian Archive Between Videos and Documentary Cinema,” in The Arab Archive: Mediated Memories and Digital Flows, eds. Donatella Della Ratta, Kay Dickinson, Sune Haugbolle (Institute of Network Cultures, 2020): pp. 60-68.
  • Trinh T. Minh-Ha, “Documentary Is/Not a Name,” October Volume 52 (Spring 1990), pp. 76-98.
  • Fatimah Tobing Rony, “Taxidermy and Romantic Ethnography: Robert Flaherty’s Nanook of the North,” in The Third Eye: Race, Cinema, and Ethnographic Spectacle (Duke University Press, 1996): pp. 99-126. 
  • Annabel Honess Roe, “Absence, Excess and Epistemological Expansion: Towards a Framework for the Study of Animated Documentary,” Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal Volume 6, Number 3 (2011), pp. 215-230.
  • Tess Takahashi, “Experiments in Documentary Animation: Anxious Borders, Speculative Media,” Animation: An Interdisciplinary Journal Volume 6, Number 3 (2011), pp. 1-15.


    4. Melodrama and Classical Hollywood Cinema

    Joseph Bitney (

    For the past half-century the concept of ‘melodrama’ has been at the center of key debates within film studies in general and scholarship on Hollywood cinema in particular. Indeed, some recent critics have even proposed that melodrama defines popular American cinema, a claim which is often posed—as it is in the work of Linda Williams—as an explicit counter to the theoretical construct of ‘the classical Hollywood cinema’. This session introduces classical Hollywood aesthetics by focusing on this problem of ‘melodrama’ and the various ways it has been conceptualized (as mode, genre, style, affect, etc.). Is melodrama the basis of the Hollywood movie, or does it represent a stylized, ‘excessive’ deviation from classical norms? What role did genres like ‘the woman’s film’ and ‘the family melodrama’ play in both the classical Hollywood studio system and the development of film criticism and theory? Looking closely at the films Mildred Pierce and All That Heaven Allows—as well as at seminal work on melodrama by theorists like Thomas Elsaesser and Peter Brooks—we will consider the connections between melodrama and mise en scène, the role of women and the nuclear family in the Hollywood melodrama, and the extent to which what scholars have called ‘the melodramatic imagination’ is a central facet of modern American filmmaking.

    Required viewing

    • Mildred Pierce (Michael Curtiz, 1945)
    • All That Heaven Allows (Douglas Sirk, 1955)

    Required reading

    • Thomas Elsaesser, ‘Tales of Sound and Fury: Observations on the Family Melodrama’ (1972)
    • Peter Brooks, The Melodramatic Imagination: Balzac, Henry James, Melodrama, and the Mode of Excess (1976), pp. vii-55
    • Linda Williams, ‘“Tales of Sound and Fury”... or, The Elephant of Melodrama’ in Melodrama Unbound: Across History, Media, and National Cultures (2018)


    Students with no previous experience studying classical Hollywood cinema may also wish to consult John Belton, ‘Classical Hollywood Cinema: Narration’ and ‘Classical Hollywood Cinema: Style’, in American Cinema/American Culture (1994), or to look through Part I of Bordwell, Staiger, and Thompson’s The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960 (1985).


    Further reading

    • André Bazin, ‘The Evolution of the Language of Cinema’ in What is Cinema, Vol. 1 (1958)
    • Paul Willeman, ‘Distanciation and Douglas Sirk’ (1971) and ‘Towards an Analysis of the Sirkian System’ (1972)
    • Jon Halliday, Sirk on Sirk: Conversations with Jon Halliday (1972)
    • Rainer Werner Fassbinder, ‘Six Films by Douglas Sirk’ (1975)
    • Laura Mulvey, ‘Notes on Sirk & Melodrama’ (1977)
    • Geoffrey Nowell-Smith, ‘Minnelli and Melodrama’ (1977)
    • E. Ann Kaplan (ed.), Women in Film Noir (1978)
    • Thomas Schatz, Hollywood Genres: Formulas, Filmmaking, and the Studio System (1981)
    • David Bordwell, Janet Staiger and Kristen Thompson, The Classical Hollywood Cinema (1985)
    • Christine Gledhill, ‘The Melodramatic Field: An Investigation’ (1987)
    • Mary Ann Doane, The Desire to Desire: The Woman’s Film of the 1940s (1987)
    • Thomas Schatz, The Genius of the System: Hollywood Filmmaking in the Studio Era (1988)
    • Marcia Landy (ed.), Imitations of Life: A Reader on Film and Television Melodrama (1991)
    • Stanley Cavell, Contesting Tears: The Hollywood Melodrama of the Unknown Woman (1996)
    • Linda Williams, ‘Melodrama Revised’ in Refiguring American Film Genres (1999)
    • Catherine Jurca, ‘Mildred Pierce, Warner Bros., and the Corporate Family’ (2002)
    • John Gibbs, Mise-en-Scène: Film Style and Interpretation (2002)
    • John Mercer and Martin Shingler, Melodrama: Genre, Style, Sensibility (2005)
    • Salomé Aguilera Skvirsky, ‘The Price of Heaven: Remaking Politics in All That Heaven Allows, Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, and Far From Heaven’ (2008)
    • Lauren Berlant, The Female Complaint: The Unfinished Business of Sentimentality in American Culture (2008)
    • James Chandler, An Archaeology of Sympathy: The Sentimental Mode in Literature and Cinema (2014)
    • Jonathan Goldberg, Melodrama: An Aesthetics of Impossibility (2016)


    5. Screening Queerness (Gender and Sexuality)

    Prof Brad Epps (

    Note: This session will take place online on Wednesday 9 November 2022, 2-4pm

    This interactive seminar examines eight films, some of them quite short, from three historical periods and three different geopolitical areas: 1) sexology and the rise of the homophile movement in Germany; 2) post-war gay and lesbian experimentation in France and the United States and 3) what might be called the “Queer Turn” in (mainstream) cinema, with an emphasis on trans- and intersexual representation, in Latin America. Films from other linguistic areas, especially those studied in MMLL, may also be brought into the mix. Attentive to questions of location, language, visuality and history, the seminar briefly revisits the work of Laura Mulvey and others to query theories of the gaze, desire, (dis)pleasure and spectatorship and to examine, amongst others, questions of representation, reception and embodiment; gender identity and expression; the intersections of sexuality, race, class, nationality, gender, age and ability; the insistence and insufficiency of binary thinking; the changing configurations of LGBTQI (inter)subjectivity; the politics and ethics of denunciation, (anti)-objectification and resistance; and the role of form, structure, editing, temporality, lighting, etc. in the (de)construction and (de)centring of the human. Committed to viewing cinema in a historically comparativist, cross-cultural manner, the seminar will prioritise the films themselves (though without eschewing or eliding theory) and will follow a dialogic format in which students are expected to come prepared to participate with substantive comments on at least three of the films, one from each historical and cultural section (more detailed arrangements may follow).

    Required viewing

    Content warning: some of the films include explicit depictions of the body, sexual violence, homophobia and transphobia (all in a denunciatory, pro-queer mode).


    Required reading (Theory)

    • Butler, Judith. “Critically Queer.” GLQ 1.1 (1993): 17-32.
    • Fausto-Sterling, Anne.  “Dueling Dualisms” and “Should There Be Only Two Sexes?” Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality.  New York: Basic Books, 2000, pp. 1-29, 78-114.
    • Halberstam, Jack. “‘Trans* - Gender Transitivity and New Configurations of Body, History, Memory and Kinship’.” Parallax 22:3 (2016): 366–375.
    • Prosser, Jay. “Judith Butler: Queer Feminism, Transgender, and the Transubstantiation of Sex.” The Transgender Studies Reader. Eds. Susan Stryker and Stephen Whittle. New York: Routledge, 2006: 257-280.
    • Rodowick, David. “The Difficulty of Difference”. In The Difficulty of Difference: Psychoanalysis, Sexual Difference and Film Theory. New York: Routledge, 1991. 1-17.


    Optional reading (on the required films)

    • Brook, Vincent. “Puce Modern Moment: Camp, Postmodernism, and the Films of Kenneth Anger.” Journal of Film and Video 58.4 (2006): 3- 15.
    • Dyer, Richard. “Less and More than Women and Men: Lesbian and Gay Cinema in Weimar Germany.” New German Critique 51 (1990): 5-60. (On Different from the Others and Mädchen in Uniform).
    • Enguix Grau, Begonya. “XXY: Representing Intersex”. In Gendered Transformations: Theory and Practices on Gender and Media. Eds. Tonny Krijnen, Claudia Alvares and Sofie Van Bauwel. Bristol: Intellect. (2011): 115–31.
    • Gillam, Reighan. “All Tangled Up: Intersecting Stigmas of Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Mariana Rondón's Bad Hair.” Black Camera 9.1 (2017):47-61.
    • Gleghorn, Charlotte E. “Myth and the Monster of Intersex: Narrative Strategies of Otherness in Lucía Puenzo’s XXY”. In Latin American Cinemas: Local Views and Transnational Connections. Ed. Nayibe Bermúdez Barrios. Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2011: 147–72.
    • Hammer, Barbara. “‘Deconstruct, Reconstruct, Challenge, Celebrate:' In Conversation With Barbara Hammer.” Another Gaze, Portrait of a Filmmaker, March 17, 2019.
    • Hutchison, Alice L. “Courting Anger.” Afterall: A Journal of Art, Context and Enquiry 7 (2003): 56-71.
    • Koresky, Michael. “Queer & Now & Then”. Film Comment. 24 April 2019. (On Genet’s Un chant d’amour)
    • Linge, Ina. “Sexology, Popular Science and Queer History in Anders als die Andern (Different from the Others).” Gender & History 30.3 (2018): 1–16.
    • Martin, Deborah. “Growing Sideways in Argentine Cinema: Lucía Puenzo’s XXY and Julia Solomonoff’s El último verano de la boyita”. Journal of Romance Studies 13.1 (2013): 34-48.
    • Oswald, Laura. “The Perversion of I/Eye in Un chant d’amour.” In Jean Genet and the Semiotics of Performance. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1989.
    • Osterweil, Ara. “Close Up: America Year Zero.” Artforum (On Kenneth Anger’s Fireworks)
    • Rhodes, John David. “This Was Not Cinema: Judgment, Action, and Barbara Hammer.” Film Criticism 39.2 (2014-15): 115-136.

    Further optional reading 

    • Butler, Judith. “Gender is Burning: Questions of Appropriation and Subversion.” Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of ‘Sex’. New York: Routledge, 1993: 121-140.
    • Bryson, Norman. “The Gaze in the Expanded Field”. In Vision and Visuality. Ed. Hal Foster. Seattle: Bay Press, 1988. 87-113.
    • Columpar, Corinn. “The Gaze as Theoretical Touchstone: The Intersection of Film Studies, Feminist Theory, and Postcolonial Theory”. Women’s Studies Quarterly 30.1-2 (2002): 25-44.
    • Doane, Mary Ann. The Desire to Desire: The Woman's Film of the 1940s. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1987.
    • Doane, Mary Ann. The Emergence of Cinematic Time: Modernity, Contingency, the Archive. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2002.
    • Halberstam, Judith. “The Transgender Look.” In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives. New York: New York UP, 2005: 76-96.
    • hooks, bell. “The Oppositional Gaze: Black Female Spectators”. In Black Looks: Race and Representation. Boston: South End Press, 1992: 115-131.
    • Kuhn, Annette. Women's Pictures: Feminism and Cinema. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982.
    • Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire Livre XI: Les Quatre concepts fondamentaux de la psychanalyse. Paris: Seuil, 1973. Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: W. W. Norton & Co., 1998. [Chapters 6 and 7: “The Split between the Eye and the Gaze” and “Anamorphosis”]
    • Laqueur, Thomas. “Destiny is Anatomy.” Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud. Cambridge, Ma: Harvard UP, 1990: 25-62.
    • Marks, Laura. The Skin of the Film: Intercultural Cinema, Embodiment and the Senses. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2000.
    • McGowan, Todd. “Looking for the Gaze: Lacanian Film Theory and its Vicissitudes”. Cinema Journal 42.3 (2003): 27-47.
    • Merck, Mandy. “Mulvey’s Manifesto”. Camera Obscura 22.3.66 (2007): 1-23.
    • Mulvey, Laura. “Looking at the Past from the Present: Rethinking Feminist Film Theory of the 1970s”. Signs 30.1 (2004): 1286-1292.
    • Naiman, Eric. “Shklovsky’s Dog and Mulvey’s Pleasure: The Secret Life of Defamiliarization”. Comparative Literature 50.4 (1998): 333-352.
    • Saper, Craig. “A Nervous Theory: The Troubling Gaze of Psychoanalysis in Media Studies”. Diacritics 21.4 (1991): 32-52.
    • Sobchack, Vivian. Carnal Thoughts: Embodiment and Moving Image Culture. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004.
    • Stone, Sandy. “The Empire Strikes Back: A Postranssexual Manifesto.” Body Guards: The Cultural Politics of Gender Ambiguity. Eds Kristina Straub and Julia Epstein. New York: Routledge, 1991: 280-304.
    • Studlar, Gaylyn. In the Realm of Pleasure: Von Sternberg, Dietrich, and the Masochistic Aesthetic. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988.
    • Williams, Linda. Hard Core: Power, Pleasure, and the ‘Frenzy of the Visible.’ Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989.

    Additional viewing

    • Ossessione (Luchino Visconti, 1943)
    • The Children’s Hour (William Wyler, 1961)
    • My Hustler (Andy Warhol, 1965)
    • Teorema (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1968)
    • Thérèse et Isabelle (Radley Metzger, 1968)
    • In einem Jahr mit 13 Monden (In a Year of Thirteen Moons) (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1978)
    • Taxi zum Klo (Frank Ripploh, 1981)
    • La ley del deseo (The Law of Desire) (Pedro Almodóvar, 1987)
    • Paris is Burning (Jennie Livingston, 1990)
    • Fresa y chocolate (Strawberry & Chocolate) (Tomás Gutiérrez Alea & Juan Carlos Tabío, 1993)
    • Blue (Derek Jarman, 1993)
    • Todo sobre mi madre (All About My Mother) (Pedro Almodóvar, 1999)
    • Beau travail (Claire Denis, 1999)
    • Boys Don’t Cry (Kimberly Peirce, 1999)
    • Father and Son (Alexander Sokurov, 2003)
    • El último verano de la Boyita (The Last Summer of the Boyita) (Julia Solomonoff, 2009)
    • La vie d’Adèle (Blue is the Warmest Colour) Abdellatif Kechiche, 2013)
    • La partida (The Last Match) (Antonio Hens, 2013)
    • Stand (Jonathan Taieb, 2014)
    • Praia do future (Futuro Beach) (Karim Aïnouz, 2014)
    • Tangerine (Sean Baker, 2015)
    • Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016)
    • Rafiki (Wanuri Kahiu, 2018)
    • Isabel y Marcela (Isabel Coixet, 2019)


    6.  Cinema and Decolonization

    Joanna Page (

    This seminar will explore filmmaking as a tool of political revolution and liberation in colonial and neocolonial contexts. We will focus primarily on two major films of the 1960s: Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers (Italy-Algeria, 1966) and Solanas and Getino’s The Hour of the Furnaces (Argentina, 1968), widely considered to be the best example of ‘Third Cinema’, a movement that emerged in Latin America as a political and aesthetic response to neocolonialism. Drawing on the work of postcolonial thinkers such as Aimé Césaire and Frantz Fanon, we will examine the extent to which these directors succeed in producing a ‘cinema of decolonization’. Their strategies will be compared with very different ones employed in other key political films of the 1960s, by Jorge Sanjinés (Bolivia) and Glauber Rocha (Brazil), among others. These films continue to incite controversy in our own time for their depiction of political violence and its role in revolution, and/or for their representation of indigenous culture and subjectivity. In our discussion of these films, we will explore the relationship between postcolonial and decolonial thought, and the relationship of both of these with cinematic practice.

    Required reading

    • Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino, ‘Towards a Third Cinema: Notes and Experiences for the Development of a Cinema of Liberation in the Third World’, in Michael T. Martin, ed., New Latin American Cinema [Vol. One: Theory, Practices and Transcontinental Articulations] (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1997), pp. 33-58. Please bring a copy of this essay to the seminar with you (in print or on screen).

    • Robert Stam, ‘The Hour of the Furnaces and the Two Avant-Gardes’, in Julianne Burton, ed., The Social Documentary in Latin America (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1990), pp. 251-66
    • Nicholas Harrison, ‘Pontecorvo’s “Documentary” Aesthetics’, in Interventions9:3 (2007): 389-404.

    Required viewing

    • The Battle of Algiers (Gillo Pontecorvo, Italy-Algeria, 1966)
    • La hora de los hornos/The Hour of the Furnaces (Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino, Argentina, 1968) – Part I only (90 mins)

    Further reading

    • Nicholas Harrison, ‘Yesterday’s Mujahiddin: Gillo Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers (1966)’, in Rebecca Weaver-Hightower and Peter Hulme, eds, Postcolonial Film: History, Empire, Resistance (New York and London: Routledge, 2014), pp. 23-46
    • Patrick Harries, ‘The Battle of Algiers: Between Fiction, Memory and History’, in Vivian Bickford-Smith and Richard Mendelsohn, eds, Black and White in Colour: African History on Screen (Oxford: James Curry and Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2007), pp. 203-222
    • David William Foster, Latin American Documentary Filmmaking: Major Works (Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 2013) – chapter on La hora de los hornos
    • Jorge Sanjinés, ‘Problems of Form and Content in Revolutionary Cinema’, in Michael T. Martin, ed., New Latin American Cinema [Vol. One: Theory, Practices and Transcontinental Articulations] (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1997), pp. 62-70
    • Frantz Fanon, ‘On Violence’, in The Wretched of the Earth, trans. Richard Philcox. New York: Grove Press, 2004.
    • Aimé Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism, trans. Joan Pinkham (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1972)
    • Ranjana Khanna, ‘The Battle of Algiers and The Nouba of the Women of Mont Chenoua: From Third to Fourth Cinema’ in Third Text, 12:43 (1998): 13-32.
    • Mike Wayne, chapter on ‘Third Cinema as Critical Practice: A Case Study of The Battle of Algiers’, in Political Film: The Dialectics of Third Cinema (London: Pluto Press, 2001), pp. 5-24
    • David M. J. Wood, ‘Indigenismo and the Avant-garde: Jorge Sanjinés’ Early Films and the National Project’, in Bulletin of Latin American Research, vol. 25, no. 1 (2006): 63-82.
    • Jonathan Buchsbaum, ‘A Closer Look at Third Cinema’, in Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, 21:2 (2001): 153-66.
    • Ella Shohat and Robert Stam, Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multiculturalism and the Media (London and New York: Routledge, 1994), especially pp. 248-91.


      7. Race, Ideology, History

      Xin Peng (

      Instead of assuming and asking what race is (a biological category, a social construct, a marker of difference, etc.), this seminar discusses what race does and the relationship between racialization, modernity, and media technology. Viewings and readings focus on how race is evoked and erased in classical cinema, Black and queer spectatorship, and speculative approaches to the writing of history.

      Required viewing

      • The Cheat (Cecil B. DeMille, 1915)
      • Nanook of the North (Robert J. Flaherty, 1922)
      • The Jazz Singer (Alan Crosland, 1927)
      • Piccadilly (Ewald André Dupont, 1929)
      • Illusions (Julie Dash, 1982)
      • The Watermelon Woman (Cherly Dunye, 1996)

      Required reading

      • James Baldwin, The Devil Finds Work  
      • José Esteban Muñoz, Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics  
      • bell hooks, Black Looks: Race and Representation   
      • Michael Rogin, Blackface, White Noise: Jewish Immigrants in the Hollywood Melting Pot  
      • Fatimah Tobing Rony, The Third Eye: Race, Cinema, and Ethnographic Spectacle  
      • Alice Maurice, Cinema and Its Shadow: Race and Technology in Early Cinema  
      • Anne Anlin Cheng, Ornamentalism  
      • Ann duCille, Technicolored: Reflections on Race in the Time of TV  

      Further reading

      • Eva Cherniavsky, Incorporations: Race, Nation, and the Body Politics of Capital
      • Xin Peng, “Colour-as-hue and colour-as-race: early Technicolor, Ornamentalism and The Toll of the Sea”  


      8. Sound in Cinema, Radio, and Beyond

      Damien Pollard (

      The birth of the sound film marked a watershed in the history of cinema as an art and an industry, but film sound itself tends to be taken for granted by film and media scholars. This session will take up the challenges of listening closely to film texts and thinking carefully about what film sound is doing at the aesthetic, material and political levels. We will look at three films that are both precise and nuanced as well as reflective in their use of sound and our discussions will consider theoretical texts that have proved foundational to the sub-field of film sound studies and to the emergence of sound studies as a distinct, interdisciplinary arena of enquiry. In the session, we will critique some of the fundamental theorisations of film sound and we will examine the interventions that sound design might make into the politics of cinematic representation. It is precisely the unnoticed subtlety of film sound that gives it its power to determine the spectator’s engagement with a film; by directly interrogating what we hear we stand to gain a much richer understanding of how film texts work and how they work on us. The session will be discussion-based and will include ample opportunity for collaborative scene analysis. Participants are asked to complete the required reading and screening, but are also encouraged to contribute thoughts and examples derived from any other screen media texts they are familiar with.


      Required reading

      • Altman, Rick, ‘Four and a Half Film Fallacies’, in Sound Theory, Sound Practice (1992), pp.35–45.
      • Chion, Michel, ‘The Acousmêtre’, in The Voice in Cinema (1999), pp.17–29.
      • Chion, Michel, ‘The Real and the Rendered’, in Audio-Vision: Sound on Screen (1994), pp.95–123.
      • Silverman, Kaja, ‘Body Talk’, in The Acoustic Mirror (1989), pp.42–71.

      Required screening

      • PlayTime (Jacques Tati, 1967)
      • The Conversation (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974)

      Further reading

      The books from which the required readings are taken are all well worth reading in their entirety!


      • Gorbman, Claudia, ‘Why Music? The Sound Film and Its Spectator’, in Unheard Melodies: Narrative Film Music (1987), pp.53–69.
      • Abel, Richard, and Rick R. Altman, eds., The Sounds of Early Cinema (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2001)
      • Altman, Rick, ‘Moving Lips: Cinema as Ventriloquism’, Yale French Studies, 60 (1980), 67–79
      • Rick Altman, ‘The Material Heterogeneity of Recorded Sound’, in Sound Theory, Sound Practice, ed. by Rick Altman (London: Routledge, 1992), pp. 15–31
      • Attali, Jacques, Noise: The Political Economy of Music, trans. by Brian Massumi, Theory and History of Literature, v. 16 (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009)
      • Barthes, Roland, ‘The Grain of the Voice’, in Image, Music, Text, by Roland Barthes, trans. by Stephen Heath (London: Fontana Press, 1977), pp. 179–89
      • Bosseaux, Charlotte, Dubbing, Film and Performance: Uncanny Encounters, New Trends in Translation Studies, Volume 16, 1st edition (Oxford ; New York: Peter Lang, 2015)
      • Connor, Steven, ‘Sounding Out Film’, in The Oxford Handbook of New Audiovisual Aesthetics, ed. by John Richardson, Claudia Gorbman, and Carol Vernallis (Oxford; New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2013), pp. 107–20
      • Dickinson, Kay, Off Key: When Film and Music Won’t Work Together (New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008) <> [accessed 16 December 2020]
      • Metz, Christian, ‘Aural Objects’, Yale French Studies, 60 (1980), 24–32
      • Sjogren, Britta, Into the Vortex: Female Voice and Paradox in Film (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2006)
      • Smith, Jacob, Vocal Tracks : Performance and Sound Media (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008)
      • Whittaker, Tom, and Sarah Wright, eds., Locating the Voice in Film: Critical Approaches and Global Practices (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017)

      Additional screening

      • Berberian Sound Studio (Peter Strickland, 2012)


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