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MPhil

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 2021, Tuesdays, 2-4pm, weeks 1-8 (unless otherwise stated)

 

1. Early Cinema

Dr Marco Ladd (mal55@cam.ac.uk)

This seminar will investigate early cinema from a range of perspectives. First, we’ll consider the multiple and overlapping ways in which nineteenth century culture (popular or scientific, technological or spectacular, visual or sonic, and so on) shaped the forms and functions of the new medium. We’ll then examine Tom Gunning’s well-known concept of the “cinema of attractions” in some depth, thinking through its utility in analysing a range of films from the period 1895–1910: what are the stakes in placing the birth of narrative cinema earlier or later? Finally, we’ll turn to certain genres and exhibition practices—principally the illustrated song and film lecturing—that force us to engage with both the alterity of the early film culture and the importance of considering sound as a significant component of early film aesthetics, even from the very beginnings of “silent” cinema.

 

Screening

All films available on YouTube. 

 

Reading

Altman, Rick. Silent Film Sound (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004):

  • “Lecture Logic”, 55–72
  • “The Nickelodeon Program”, 181–201.

Charney, Leo, and Vanessa R. Schwartz. “Introduction,” in Cinema and the Invention of Modern Life, ed. Leo Charney, Vanessa R. Schwartz (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), 1–15.

Lastra, James. Sound Technology and the American Cinema: Perception, Representation, Modernity (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000), 61–91.

Gunning, Tom. ‘The Cinema of Attractions: Early Film, its Spectator and the Avant-Garde’, in Early Cinema: Space, Frame, Narrative, ed. Thomas Elsaesser (London: BFI Publishing, 1990), 56–65.

––––. ‘“Now you See It, Now You Don’t”: The Temporality of the Cinema of Attractions’, in Silent Film, ed. Richard Abel (London: The Athlone Press, 1996), 71–84.

Musser, Charles. ‘A Cinema of Contemplation, A Cinema of Discernment: Spectatorship, Intertextuality and Attractions in the 1890s’, in The Cinema of Attractions Reloaded, ed. Wanda Strauven (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2006), 159–79.

 

Further reading

Abel, Richard. ‘That Most American of Attractions, the Illustrated Song’, in The Sounds of Early Cinema, ed. Richard Abel and Rick Altman (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2001), 143–54.

Garncarz, Joseph. ‘The European Fairground Cinema: (Re)defining and (Re)contextualizing the “Cinema of Attractions”’, in A Companion to Early Cinema, ed. André Gaudreault, Nicolas Dulac, and Santiago Hidalgo (London: Wiley Blackwell, 2012), 317–33.

Hansen, Miriam. Babel and Babylon: Spectatorship in American Silent Film (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991).

Kember, Joe. Marketing Modernity: Victorian Popular Shows and Early Cinema (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2009).

Singer, Ben. Melodrama and Modernity: Early Sensational Cinema and Its Contexts (New York: Columbia University Press, 2001).

Waller, Gregory. ‘Another Audience: Black Moviegoing from 1907 to 1916,’ in Exhibition, The Film Reader, ed. Ina Rae Hark (London and New York: Routledge, 2002), 31–40.

 

2. Media Archaeology

Caroline Bassett (cab238@cam.ac.uk)

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?

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.

Objects

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

  • The Clock (Christian Marclay, installation, 2010)  

(e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQ_wKD6XQTM)

  • 24 Hour Psycho (Douglas Gordon, 1993) 
  • The Clock of the Long Now (project) (http://longnow.org/clock/)
  • 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.  Cinema and Decolonization

Joanna Page (jep29@cam.ac.uk

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 the final part of the seminar, we will trace the relationship between these theories and practices, arising in the 1960s, with more contemporary decolonial thought emerging from /on Latin America, and with more recent productions such as Estrellas/Stars (Argentina, 2007).

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).

http://documentaryisneverneutral.com/words/camasgun.html

  • 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. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13698010701618638

Screening

  • 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. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09528829808576731
  • 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. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.0261-3050.2006.00153.x/full
  • Jonathan Buchsbaum, ‘A Closer Look at Third Cinema’, in Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, 21:2 (2001): 153-66. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01439680120051497
  • Ella Shohat and Robert Stam, Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multiculturalism and the Media (London and New York: Routledge, 1994), especially pp. 248-91.

 

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.

Screening

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

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 (be243@cam.ac.uk)

Note: This session will take place on Wednesday 10 November, 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).

 

Readings (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 Readings (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. https://www.anothergaze.com/deconstruct-reconstruct-challenge-celebrate-conversation-barbara-hammer-interview/

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) https://www.filmcomment.com/blog/queer-now-then-1950/

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. https://publish.iupress.indiana.edu/read/jean-genet-and-the-semiotics-of-performance/section/fba5c694-9b07-4856-a942-84a5f704f62d#ich4

Osterweil, Ara. “Close Up: America Year Zero.” Artforum (On Kenneth Anger’s Fireworks) https://www.artforum.com/print/201701/ara-osterweil-on-kenneth-anger-s-fireworks-1947-65390

Rhodes, John David. “This Was Not Cinema: Judgment, Action, and Barbara Hammer.” Film Criticism 39.2 (2014-15): 115-136.

 

Further Optional Reading (suggestions)

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.

 

Suggested Supplemental 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 (Urban) Space

Geoffrey Kantaris  (egk10@cam.ac.uk)  

This seminar will examine the symbiosis between film and space, with a particular focus on the urban, taken as part of a broader problematic concerned with representations of space and spaces of representation (to use the terms coined by Lefebvre). We will look at theories of urban and global/geopolitical space, from David Harvey and Ed Soja to Fredric Jameson, and consider some key moments in which the mutual constitution of cinema and city is manifest, with a major film from the silent era, a 1950s film noir parody set in Mexico, and a key example of cyberpunk from the 1980s.

 

Screening

  • Metropolis (dir. Fritz Lang, 1926 – try to watch the version restored from footage found in Buenos Aires in 2008, dated 2010)
  • The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz (dir. Luis Buñuel, 1955)
  • Blade Runner (dir. Ridley Scott, 1982/1992/2007 – watch the Final Cut version from 2007)

 

Reading

  • David Harvey, “Time-space Compression and the Rise of Modernism as a Cultural Force” and “Time-space Compression and the Postmodern Condition”, The Condition of Postmodernity (Oxford: Blackwell, 1990), pp. 260-307
  • Edward W. Soja, “Six Discourses on the Postmetropolis”, in Westwood and Williams, ed., Imagining Cities: Scripts, Signs, Memory (Routledge: London & New York, 1997) pp. 19-30.
  • Fredric Jameson, “Totality as Conspiracy”, The Geopolitical Aesthetic: Cinema and Space in the World System (London: BFI, 1992), pp. 9-82.

 

Further Reading

  • Marc Augé, Non-Places: An Introduction to Supermodernity (London: Verso, 2008 [1992])
  • Certeau, Michel de, The Practice of Everyday Life (Berkeley & Los Ángeles: University of California Press, 1984)
  • Manuel Castells, “The Space of Flows”, The Rise of the Network Society (Oxford: Blackwell, 1996)
  • David B. Clarke, ed., The Cinematic City (London: Routledge, 1997)
  • Derek Gregory, Geographical Imaginations (Oxford: Blackwell, 1994)
  • David Harvey, The Condition of Postmodernity (Oxford: Blackwell, 1990)
  • -------------------, Spaces of Capital: Towards a Critical Geography (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2001)
  • -------------------, Spaces of Hope (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2000)
  • Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space (Oxford: Blackwell, 1991 [1974])
  • Christoph Lindner, ed., Globalization, Violence, and the Visual Culture of Cities (London: Routledge, 2009)
  • Doreen Massey, Space, Place and Gender (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994)
  • -------------------, For Space (London: Sage, 2005)
  • Barbara Mennel, Cities and Cinema (London: Routledge, 2008)
  • Vincent Mosco, The Digital Sublime: Myth, Power, and Cyberspace (Cambridge MA: MIT, 2004)
  • Mark Shiel and Tony Fitzmaurice, eds., Cinema and the City: Film and Urban Societies in a Global Context (Oxford: Blackwell, 2001)
  • Neil Smith, Uneven Development: Nature, Capital and the Production of Space (Oxford: Blackwell, 1984)
  • Edward W. Soja, Postmodern Geographies: The Reassertion of Space in Critical Social Theory (London: Verso, 1989)
  • -------------------, Thirdspace: Journeys to Los Ángeles and Other Real-and-Imagined Places (Oxford: Blackwell, 1996)
  • -------------------, Postmetropolis: Critical Studies of Cities and Regions (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000)
  • Barney Warf and Santa Arias, eds., The Spatial Turn: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (New York: Routledge, 2009)
  • Sophie Watson and Katherine Gibson, eds., Postmodern Cities and Spaces (Oxford: Blackwell, 1995)

 

7. Race, Ideology, History

Martin A. Ruehl (mar23@cam.ac.uk)

To this day, ideas of race and racial difference have been the most powerful motivating force behind discrimination, persecution, and genocide across the globe. How has “race” maintained its conceptual hold on our social and political imagination? This seminar examines the role of cinema, television, and digital media in the cultural construction and perpetuation – as well as the critique and subversion – of racial stereotypes and ideologies. It considers the distinctive techniques and methods with which film has represented ethnic otherness and identity over the past hundred years, beginning with D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation (1915).

Our goal is to analyse the changing politics of these representations against the backdrop of changing historical circumstances. In particular, we will explore the cinematic creation and dissemination of racial tropes and motifs in the first half of the twentieth century and how these served segregationist, colonialist and genocidal policies, notably in Jim Crow America and Nazi Germany. We will then turn to the second half of the twentieth century and look more closely at the ways in which film buttressed the racist policies of two non-Western societies: South African apartheid (1948-94) and the mistreatment of ethnic minorities (Mongols, Tibetans, Uyghurs) in modern China. At the end of the seminar, we will consider a number of self-avowedly anti-racist films and the extent to which they re-shaped public discourse and popular perceptions.

One of the aims of the seminar is to transcend the narrow black/white binary constitutive of Hollywood cinema and the US discourse on race, and to open up more global and historically informed perspectives on the subject. Another one is to better understand the social and political significance of film. The focus, throughout, will be on the dual function of film as a passive reflection of the particular views and attitudes prevalent at a specific historical moment; and as an active agent in the formation, preservation and invalidation of such mentalities. This raises important questions about the complicity and guilt of film – but also its critical, transformative potential. 

Screening

  • The Birth of a Nation, dir. D.W. Griffith (1915)
  • Jud Süss, dir. Veit Harlan (1940)
  • Do the Right Thing, dir. Spike Lee (1989)

Further viewing

  • Katrina, dir. Jans Rautenbach (1969)
  • Walkabout, dir. Nicholas Roeg (1971)
  • Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, dir. Rainer Werner Fassbinder (1974)
  • Red Sorghum, dir. Zhang Yimou (1988)

Reading

  • Loïc Wacquant, “For an Analytic of Racial Domination”, Political Power and Social Theory 11 (1997), pp. 221-234.
  • Stuart Hall, “The Whites of Their Eyes: Racist Ideologies and the Media”, in: Bill Yousman, Lori Bindig Yousman, Gail Dines, and Jean McMahon Humez (eds), Gender, Race and Class in Media. A Text-Reader (London: Sage Publications, 2020), pp. 107-111.
  • Barbara J. Fields, “Of Rogues and Geldings”, The American Historical Review 108, 5 (December 2003), pp. 1397-1405.
  • Aliza Luft, “Dehumanization and the Normalization of Violence: It’s Not What You Think”, Social Science Research Council – Items Digital Forum (21 May 2019).

Further Reading

  • Lola Young, Fear of the Dark: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Cinema (London: Routledge, 1996).
  • David Henry Slavin, Colonial Cinema and Imperial France, 1919-1939 (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001).
  • Barbara J. Fields, “Ideology and Race in American History”, in: Region, Race, and Reconstruction: Essays in Honor of C. Vann Woodward, ed. J. Morgan Kousser and James M. McPherson (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982), pp. 143-177.
  • Kwame Dawes, “A Story of American Racism”, London Review of Books 18, 3 (8 February 1996).
  • Susan Courtney, Hollywood Fantasies of Miscegenation: Spectacular Narratives of Gender and Race (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005).
  • Michael Boyce Gillespie, Film Blackness: American Cinema and the Idea of Black Film (Durham: Duke University Press, 2016).
  • Julie Codell (ed.), Genre, Gender, Race, and World Cinema: An Anthology (London: Wiley-Blackwell, 2006), Part III (Race), pp. 213-359.
  • Chris Berry, ‘“Race” (民 族): Chinese Film and the Politics of Nationalism’, Cinema Journal 31, 2 (Winter 1992), pp. 45-58.
  • Eva Cherniavsky, Incorporations : Race, Nation, and the Body Politics of Capital (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006).
  • Barbara J. Fields, “Whiteness, Racism, and Identity”, International Labor and Working-Class History 60 (Fall 2001), pp. 48-56.
  • Anna Anlin Cheng, The Melancholy of Race: Psychoanalysis, Assimilation, and Hidden Grief (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).
  • Vinson Cunningham, “Blacking Out”, The New Yorker (20 July 2020), pp. 17-21.
  • George Yancy, Black Bodies, White Gazes: The Continuing Significance of Race (London: Rowman & Littlefield, 2017).
  • Gerald Sim, The Subject of Film and Race: Retheorizing Politics, Ideology, and Cinema (London: Bloomsbury, 2014).
  • Keyan Tomaselli, The Cinema of Apartheid: Race and Class in South African Film (London: Routledge, 1989).
  • Sudeshna Roy, “What’s in a Name? Examining Representation of Indian Ethnicities in Bollywood Movies in the New Millennium”, in: Sudeshna Roy and Ibrahim Shaw (eds), Communicating Differences (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), pp. 87-103.
  • Angela Aleiss, Making the White Man’s Indian: Native Americans and Hollywood Movies (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2009).
  • Ella Shohat and Robert Stam, Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multiculturalism and the Media (New York: Routledge, 1994).
  • Robert M. Entman and Andrew Rojecki, The Black Image in the White Mind: Media and Race in America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001).

 

8. Sound in Cinema, Radio, and Beyond

Peter McMurray (pm638@cam.ac.uk)

Required reading:

  • Rick Altman, ‘Four and a Half Film Fallacies’ (in the Sound Studies Reader, ed. Jonathan Sterne, 2012 [1992])
  • Hannah Lewis, ‘Surrealist Sounds: Film Music and the Avant-Garde’ (Ch. 2, from French Musical Culture and the Coming of Sound Cinema, 2018)
  • Pooja Rangan, ‘The Skin of the Voice: Acousmatic Illusions, Ventriloquial Listening’ (Ch. 7, in Sound Objects, ed. James Steintrager and Rey Chow, 2018)
  • Frantz Fanon, ‘This Is the Voice of Algeria’ (in the Sound Studies Reader, ed. Jonathan Sterne, 2012  [1965])
  • Alejandra Bronfman, ‘Signal’ (Ch. 1, from Isles of Noise: Sonic Media in the Caribbean, 2016)

Required media:

  • Bruce Baillie, Castro Street (11 min, online here, starting at 37:05) (10 min)
  • Christina Kubisch, ‘Electrical Walks’ introduction (2003-2017) (11 min)
  • Beyoncé, ‘Formation’ (from Lemonade, 2016) (5 min)

Additional reading:

  • Michel Chion, Audio-vision: Sound on Screen (1990)
  • James Buehler and Hannah Lewis, eds., Voicing the Cinema: Film Music and the Integrated Soundtrack (2020)
  • Brian Larkin, ‘Techniques of Inattention: The Mediality of Loudspeakers in Nigeria’, Anthropological Quarterly 87:4 (2014)
  • Hannah Lewis, French Musical Culture and the Coming of Sound Cinema (2018)
  • W. J. T. Mitchell, ‘There Are No Visual Media’, The Journal of Visual Culture 4:2 (2005)
  • Peter McMurray, ‘Witnessing Race in the New Digital Cinema’ (in The Cambridge Companion to Digital Music, ed. Nicholas Cook, et al)
  • James Steintrager and Rey Chow, eds., Sound Objects (2018)
  • Carol Vernallis, Unruly Video: YouTube, Music Video, and the New Digital Cinema (2013)

Additional media:

  • Bill Morrison and Michael Gordon, Decasia (2003)
  • Francisco López, Buildings (NYC) (2001, online here)
  • Spike Lee, Do the Right Thing (1989)
  • Christine Sun Kim, The enchanting music of sign language (TED Talk, 2015)

 

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