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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


FSS Labour: Cinema and Labour


Cinema is the most laborious of artistic media, but rarely is it thought from the perspective of labour itself. This module will take up the question of cinema’s representation, indexing, documenting, and contesting of the labour process and of the labouring body in cinema, both on- and off-screen. The module will be organised around six key rubrics, each designating a form of labour: industrial, artisanal, slave, domestic, immaterial, and queer. Its focus will be international, drawing on and examining labour in films from around the world. The module requires that students attend weekly screenings.

Preliminary Reading:

  • Karl Marx, Capita
  • Karl Marx, Grundrisse. Penguin, 1993
  • Silvia Federici, Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle
  • Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation
  • Michael Curtin and Kevin Sanson, eds. Precarious Creativity:Global Media, Local Labor
  • Leopoldina Fortunati,The Arcane of Reproduction: Housework, Prostitution, Labor and Capital
  • David Bordwell, Janet Staiger, Kristin Thompson. The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960
  • Maurizio Lazzarato, “Immaterial Labour,” in Radical Thought in Italy, Paolo Virno and Michael Hardt, eds. (Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 1996) 134-35.
  • Elena Gorfinkel, ed. Dossier: “The Work of The Image: Cinema, Labor, Aesthetic”, Framework 53:1 (2012)
  • Ewe Mazierska. Ed. “Introduction,” Work in Cinema. Labor and the Human Condition. NY: Palgrave Macmillan 2013.
  • Guy Standing, The Precariat. The New Dangerous Class, Bloomsbury 2011.
  • Michael T. Martin, "The Politics of Cine-Memory: Signifying Slavery in the History Film," The Blackwell Companion to Historical Film, Robert Rosenstone and C. Parvulescu, eds. Wiley-Blackwell, 2013: 445-467



  • Modern times (dir. Charlie Chaplin, 1936)
  • Metropolis (dir. Fritz Lang, 1927)
  • Twelve Years a Slave (dir. Steve McQueen 2013, USA/UK)
  • The Last Supper (dir. Tomás Gutiérrez Alea,  CUBA)
  • Hard Labour (Trabalhar Cansa, dir. Juliana Roja and Marco Dutra, 2015. Brazil)
  • Nightcrawler (dir. Dan Gilroy, 2014. USA)
  • Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (dir. Chantal Ackerman 1975)
  • Riddles of the Sphinx (dir. Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen, 1977)

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