Please note that information may be subject to change.

In the Michaelmas (autumn) term students follow a two-part core course that offers a series of rigorous and innovative encounters with major theoretical and methodological debates.

Strand 1: Theorising Moving Images

Michaelmas Term, Thursdays 2-3pm (lectures) and Mondays 10am-noon or 1-3pm (seminars), weeks 1-8 (unless otherwise stated).

1. Ways of Seeing

Kareem Estefan (ke335@cam.ac.uk) and Xin Peng (xp226@cam.ac.uk)

Reading

  • Laura Mulvey, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” Screen 16, no. 3 (Autumn 1975): 6-18.
  • bell hooks, “The Oppositional Gaze: Black Female Spectators.” In Black Looks: Race and Representation (Boston: South End Press, 1992), 115-152.
  • Ariella Azoulay, “What Is Photography?”, Civil Imagination: A Political Ontology of Photography. London: Verso Books, 2012. pp. 11-27.

Further reading

  • Judith Butler, “Torture and the Ethics of Photography: Thinking with Sontag,” Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable? (Verso, 2009), 63-100.
  • Jonathan Crary, Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the Nineteenth Century. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1990.
  • Teju Cole, “What Does It Mean to Look at This?” The New York Times Magazine, May 24, 2018: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/24/magazine/what-does-it-mean-to-look-at-this.html
  • Gilles Deleuze, ‘Having an Idea in Cinema’, G. Deleuze & F. Guattari,  New Mappings in Politics, Philosophy and Culture, Eleanor Kaufman and Kevin Jon Heller, eds. (Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 1994), pp. 14-19.
  • Mary Ann Doane, “Dark Continents: Epistemologies of Racial and Sexual Difference in Psychoanalysis and the Cinema,” in Visual Culture: The Reader (ed. Jessica Evans and Stuart Hall), London: SAGE Publications, 2002, 448-456.
  • Timothy Mitchell, Colonising Egypt (University of California Press, 1991)
  • Nicholas Mirzoeff, The Right to Look: A Counterhistory of Visuality (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011).
  • Jacques Rancière, The Politics of Aesthetics, tr. Gabriell Rockhill (London: Continuum, 2004).
  • Fatimah Tobing Rony, The Third Eye: Race, Cinema, and Ethnographic Spectacle (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1996).
  • Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others (Picador, 2004)
  • Paul Virilio, War and Cinema: The Logistics of Perception, tr. Patrick Camiller (Verso, 1986).

Screening

  • Oraib Toukan, When Things Occur (2016, 28 minutes)
  • Vertigo (dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1958, 128 minutes)
2. What Is Cinema?

Xin Peng

Reading

  • Dziga Vertov, “WE: Variant of a Manifesto,” “The Council of Three,” “The Man with a Movie Camera,” In Kino-Eye: The Writings of Dziga Vertov (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984).
  • André Bazin, “The Ontology of the Photographic Image,” In What is Cinema?. Volume I. Hugh Gray, ed. and trans (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967), 9-16.
  • Matilde Nardelli, “The Sprawl of Entropy’: Cinema, waste, and obsolescence in the 1960s and 1970s,” NECSUS 2, no. 2 (2013): 431-445.

Further reading

  • Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility (Third Version),” Walter Benjamin: Selected Writing Vol. 4, 1938-1940 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006).
  • Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography, Richard Howard, trans. (London: Vintage, 2000 [1980]).
  • Stanley Cavell, The World Viewed: Reflections on the Ontology of Film (Harvard University Press, 1979).
  • Dudley Andrew, ed. Opening Bazin: Postwar Film Theory and Its Afterlife (Oxford University Press, 2011).

Screening

Man with a Movie Camera (dir. Dziga Vertov, 1929, 68 minutes)

Further viewing

Holy Motors (dir. Leos Carax, 2012)

Decasia (dir. Bill Morrison, 2002)

3. History

Xin Peng

Reading

  • Eric Smoodin, “The History of Film History,” In Looking Past the Screen: Case Studies in American Film History and Method (Duke University Press, 2007).
  • Thomas Elsaesser, “The New Film History as Media Archaeology,” Cinémas 14, no. 2-3 (2004): 75-117.
  • Patrice Petro, “Feminism and Film History,” Aftershocks of the New: Feminism and Film History (Rutgers University Press, 2002).

Further reading

  • Philip Rosen, Change Mummified: Cinema, Historicity, Theory (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001).
  • Jacqueline N. Stewart, Migrating to the Movies: Cinema and Black Urban Modernity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005).
  • Katherine Groo, Bad Film Histories: Ethnography and the Early Archive (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2019).
  • James Tweedie, Moving Pictures, Still Lives: Film, New Media, and the Late Twentieth Century (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018).

Screening

Illusions (dir. Julie Dash, 1982, 34 minutes)

Further Viewing

Center Stage (dir. Stanley Kwan, 1991)

4. Time

Kareem Estefan

Reading

  • Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2: The Time-Image (Ch. 4 section 2, pp. 78-83)
  • Mary Ann Doane, The Emergence of Cinematic Time (pp. 1-32)
  • Bliss Cua Lim, Translating Time: Cinema, The Fantastic, and Temporal Critique (pp. 1-33)

Further reading

  • Chris Darke, La Jetée. London: British Film Institute, 2016.
  • Patrick Ffrench, “The Memory of the Image in Chris Marker’s La Jetée,” French Studies, Volume 59, Issue 1, January 2005, pp. 31-37
  • Laura Mulvey, Death 24x a Second (Ch. 1 “Passing Time”, pp. 17-32)
  • James Quandt, “Apichatpong Weerasethakul,” Artforum, March 2011: https://www.artforum.com/print/201103/apichatpong-weerasethakul-27580
  • D.N. Rodowick, Gilles Deleuze’s Time Machine (Ch. 1 “A Short History of Cinema”, pp. 4-17)
  • Sukhdev Sandhu, ‘“Slow Cinema” Fights Back Against Bourne’s Supremacy,’ The Guardian, 9 March 2012: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2012/mar/09/slow-cinema-fights-bournes-supremacy
  • Adam Szymanski, “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives and the Ecosophic Aesthetics of Peace,” Nocturnal Fabulations (Open Humanities Press, 2017), pp. 48-78.

Screening

  • La Jetée (dir. Chris Marker, 1962, 28 mins)
  • Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2010, 114 mins)
5. Storytelling, Worldbuilding

Kareem Estefan

Reading

  • Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 2: The Time-Image (Ch 6 ‘Powers of the False’, pp. 126-155)
  • Saidiya Hartman, “Venus in Two Acts,” small axe 26 (12:2), June 2008, 1-14.
  • Toby Lee, “The Radical Unreal: Fabulation and Fantasy in Speculative Documentary” Film Quarterly (2021) 74 (4): 9–18.

Further reading

  • Alain Boillat, Cinema as a Worldbuilding Machine in the Digital Era (New Barnet, UK: John Libbey Publishing, 2022).
  • Kay Dickinson, ‘“Make It What You Want It to Be”: Logistics, Labor, and Land Financialization via the Globalized Free Zone Studio’, In the Studio : Visual Creation and Its Material Environments (ed. Brian Jacobson), University of California Press, 2020, pp. 261-280.
  • Kodwo Eshun, ‘Further Reflections on Afrofuturism’, CR: The New Centennial Review, Volume 3, Number 2, Summer 2003, 287-302.
  • Grace Dillon, “Imagining Indigenous Futurisms,” Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction, University of Arizona Press, 2012. Pp. 1-12
  • Tavia Ny’ongo, Afro-Fabulations: The Queer Drama of Black Life, NYU Press, 2018.
  • Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Dancing on Our Turtle’s Back: Stories of Nishnaabeg Re-Creation, Resurgence, and a New Emergence (ARP Books, 2011), pp. 65-100

Screening

  • INAATE/SE (dir. Adam Khalil & Zach Khalil, 2016, 68 mins)
  • The Watermelon Woman (dir. Cheryl Dunye, 1996, 90 mins)

Further Viewing

  • Born in Flames (dir. Lizzie Borden, 1983)
  • Last Angel of History (dir. John Akomfrah, 1996)
  • Pumzi (dir. Wanuri Kahiu, 2009)
  • Black Panther (dir. Ryan Coogler, 2018)
6. Screens

Kareem Estefan

Reading

  • Vivian Sobchack, ‘The Scene of the Screen’, Carnal Thoughts, 135-164
  • Hugh Manon, “Comment ca, rien?: Screening the Gaze in Caché” in On Michael Haneke, ed. Brian Price and John David Rhodes, Wayne State UP, 2010, pp. 105-125.

Further reading

  • Erika Balsom, Exhibiting Cinema in Contemporary Art (Amsterdam University Press, 2013)
  • Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, Programmed Visions: Software and Memory. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011.
  • Patrick Crowley, “When Forgetting Is Remembering: On the Events of October 17, 1961,” in On Michael Haneke, ed. Price and Rhodes, Wayne State UP, 2010, pp. 267-279.
  • Anne Friedberg, The Virtual Window: From Alberti to Microsoft. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2006.
  • Paul Gilroy, “Shooting crabs in a barrel,” Screen, Volume 48, Issue 2, Summer 2007, pp. 233–235
  • Rosalind Krauss, “Video: The Aesthetics of Narcissism.” October, vol. 1, 1976, pp. 51–64.
  • Laura U. Marks, The Skin of the Film: Intercultural Cinema, Embodiment, and the Senses, Duke UP, 2000. 153-193.
  • Kate Mondloch, Screens: Viewing Media Installation Art. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010.
  • Lisa Nakamura, Digitizing Race: Visual Cultures of the Internet. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008.
  • Kris Paulsen, Here/There: Telepresence, Touch, and Art at the Interface. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2017.
  • Danny Snelson, “Reveal Source Code: The Thousand Platforms of Dr. Mabuse”, undated: https://aphasic-letters.com/mabuse/essay.html
  • Hito Steyerl, The Wretched of the Screen. Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2012.
  • Andrew Uroskie, Between the Black Box and the White Cube (University of Chicago Press, 2014)

Screening

  • Measures of Distance (Mona Hatoum, 1988, 15 mins)
  • Caché (Michel Haneke, 2005, 118 minutes)

Further Viewing

  • The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse (dir. Fritz Lang, 1960)
  • Videodrome (dir. David Cronenberg, 1984)
  • Vito Acconci, Centers (1971)
  • Sara Cwynar, Glass Life (2021)
7. Bodies

Xin Peng

Reading

  • Linda Wiliams, “Film Bodies: Gender, Genre, and Excess,” Film Quarterly 44, no. 4 (1991): 2-13.
  • Jennifer Bean, “Technologies of Early Stardom and the Extraordinary Body,” Camera Obscura 16, no. 3 (2001): 9-57.
  • Steven Shaviro. The Cinematic Body. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993. (Preface & Chpt 1)

Further Reading 

  • Susan Buck-Morss, “Aesthetics and Anaesthetics: Walter Benjamin’s Artwork Essay Reconsidered,” October, vol. 62 (1992): 3–41.
  • Miriam Hansen, “The Mass Production of the Senses: Classical Cinema as Vernacular Modernism,” Modernism/Modernity 6:2 (April 1999): 59-77.
  • Elizabeth A. Grosz, Volatile Bodies: Toward a Corporeal Feminism (Indiana University Press, 1994).
  • Jack Halberstam, Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters (Duke University Press, 1995).
  • Jennifer Barker, The Tactile Eye: Touch and the Cinematic Experience (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009).  
  • Karl Schoonover, Brutal Vision: The Neorealist Body in Postwar Italian Cinema (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2012).
  • Laura McMahon, Cinema and Contact: The Withdrawal of Touch in Nancy, Bresson, Duras and Denis (Routledge, 2017).

Screening

The River (dir. Tsai Ming-liang, 1997, 115 minutes)

8. Post-

Kareem Estefan and Xin Peng

Reading

  • Donna Haraway, “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century,” Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (New York: Routledge, 1991), pp. 149-181.
  • Christina Sharpe, “The Wake,” In the Wake: On Blackness and Being (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016), pp. 1-22.
  • Yasmina Price, ‘Wake Work: Spectral Poetics and Haunted Revenge in Mati Diop’s Atlantique(s)’, Film Quarterly, Vol. 76, No. 3, pp. 55–62.

Further reading

  • Erika Balsom, “The Reality-Based Community”, e-flux journal #83, June 2017: https://www.e-flux.com/journal/83/142332/the-reality-based-community/
  • Rosi Braidotti, “Post-Humanism: Life beyond the Self.” The Posthuman (Cambridge: Polity, 2013): 13-54.
  • Fredric Jameson, “The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism,” In Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (Duke University Press, 1992).
  • Bruno Latour, “Has Critique Run Out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern” Critical Inquiry 30:2, 2004, pp. 225-248
  • Jasbir K. Puar, ‘“I Would Rather Be a Cyborg than a Goddess”: Becoming-Intersectional in Assemblage Theory,” philoSOPHIA 2, issue 1, 2012, pp. 49-66.
  • N. Rodowick, The Virtual Life of Film. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007.
  • Steven Shaviro, Post-Cinematic Affect (Winchester: Zero Books, 2009)
  • Sylvia Wynter, “Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/Power/Truth/Freedom: Towards the Human, After Man, Its Overrepresentation—An Argument,” CR: The New Centennial Review , fall 2003, Vol. 3, No. 3, pp. 257-337.

Screening

Atlantique (dir. Mati Diop, 2019, 104 mins)

Corporate Cannibal (Grace Jones [performer] and Nick Hooker [director], 2008, 6 minutes)

 

 

Strand 2: Topics in Film and Screen Studies

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

1. Early Cinema

Maite Conde (mc534@cam.ac.uk)

This seminar examines theoretical reconceptualizations of early cinema that have emerged in film studies since the 1980s, which treat silent films not as primitive texts but as a complex. Crucial here is exploring how such theory has underscored early cinema as a critical category that highlights film’s inextricable relationship to the ‘invention of modern life.’ In doing so the seminar addresses issues of both context (cinema audiences and exhibition venues) and text (stylistic and aesthetic questions relating to time, space, narration and intermediality). We also consider historiographic questions relating to periodization, the archive, the recent rise in the availability of primary materials due to digital technologies, developments in New Cinema History, and the persistence of some conceptualizations as key incentives for rethinking early cinema in theoretical and methodological terms. The seminar engages early cinema across the globe, exploring the early era in non-western cultures, and taking into account questions of race as well as gender.

Required Viewing

(all available on YouTube)

Demolition of a Wall 1896

The May Irwin Kiss 1896

Un Homme de Têtes (Melies, 1898)

The Terrible Turkish Executioner 1904

Tom Tom The Piper’s Son 1905

The Sprinkler Sprinkled 1895

The Big Swallow 1901

That Fatal Sneeze 1907

Leonard-Cushing Fight 1894

The Electric Hotel (Segundo de Chomon, 1908)

What Happened in the Tunnel 1903

Gay Shoe Clerk 1903

Grandma’s Reading Glass 1900

Os oculos de vovo (Grandpa’s Glasses), 1913

Required Reading

  • Paolo Cherchi Usai, “Early Films in the Age of Content; or Cinema of Attractions Pursued by Digital Means” in A Companion to Early Cinema, eds. André Gaudrealt, Nicolas Dulac and Santiago Hidalgo (Wiley Blackwell, 2012), pp. 527-550.
  • Tom Gunning, “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), pp. 56-65.
  • Miriam Hansen, “Early Silent Cinema. Whose Public Sphere?”, New German Critique No. 29 [The Origins of Mass Culture: The Case of Imperial Germany (1871-1918)] (Spring – Summer, 1983), pp. 147-184.
  • Ana M. López, “Early Cinema and Modernity in Latin America,” Cinema Journal, Vol. 40, No. 1 (Fall 2000), pp. 48-78.

Further Reading

  • Richard Abel, Silent Film (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1996).
  • Constance Balides, “Scenarios of exposure in the practice of everyday life: women in the cinema of attractions,” Screen Volume 34, Issue 1 (Spring 1993), pp. 19–37.
  • Jennifer M. Bean and Diane Negra, A Feminist Reader in Early Cinema (Durham: Duke University Press, 2002), pp. 1-29.
  • Leo Charney and Vanessa R. Schwartz, Cinema and the Invention of Modern Life (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), pp. 1-15.
  • Thomas Elsaesser and Adam Barker,Early Cinema: Space, Frame, Narrative (London: BFI, 1990).
  • Lee Grieveson and Peter Kramer,The Silent Cinema Reader (London: Routledge, 2003).
  • Katherine Groo and Paul Flaig (eds.), New Silent Cinema (London and New York: Routledge/AFI Series, 2015)
  • Miriam Hansen, Babel and Babylon: Spectatorship in American Silent Film (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991).
  • Colin Harding and Simon Popple, ‘Early responses to cinema’, in In the Kingdom of Shadows: A Companion to Early Cinema (London; Madison, NJ: Cygnus Arts; Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1996), pp. 5-17.
  • Yuri Tsivian, Early Cinema in Russia and its Cultural Reception. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994).
2. Difficult Viewing: Art Cinema and Avant-Garde

John David Rhodes (jdr42@cam.ac.uk)

In this session we will consider two of the major modes of filmmaking that depart from and to some degree frustrate the pleasures and plenitude of the “classical” narrative fiction feature film. These modes are (1) “art cinema” and (2) avant-garde (or experimental) cinema, both of which rose to prominence during the post-war period (but have their precursors in interwar cinema); reached a kind of peak in the late 1960s and early tomid-1970s; and persist to this day (albeit under changed historical, economic, political, institutional, and technological contexts). We will look at a handful of defining theoretical statements on the theatrically-exhibited art cinema (which has sometimes been considered a fussy, bourgeois testing of the norms of classic cinema) and its more “radical” counterpart, the experimental film, which has tended to be produced and exhibited in non-industrial and poorly capitalised contexts. While it is somewhat provocative to take up these modes together in the same session, doing so, it is hoped, will help to see them as potentially porous categories. We will also be looking at some canonical and less canonical examples of these modes, produced across several decades and in a variety of different contexts.

We will consider some of the following questions: what connects and separates these modes?; what ambitions (aesthetic, political, etc.) are invested in them by theorists?; what are the ways in which they ask us to consider the ontology of film?; what sort of (differing or similar) spectator do these modes seem to imagine or call into being?; what is the value of modes of cinema that seem to make demands of us or frustrate our desires for easy or pleasurable comprehension?; do these cinemas ask us to reframe our basic understandings of cinematic pleasure?

Required Viewing

  • Dresden Dynamo (Lis Rhodes, 1971-72, 5 minutes)
  • Tout va bien (Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin, 1972, 95 minutes)
  • Quality Control (Kevin Jerome Everson, 2011, 71 minutes)

Required Reading

  • Annette Michelson, ‘Film and the Radical Aspiration’, in Gerald Mast and Stanley Cohen, eds. Film Theory and Criticism, 2nd Edition (NY: Oxford UP, 1979), pp. 617-35.
  • Stephen Heath, ‘Repetition Time: Notes around Structural/Materialist Film’, in Questions of Cinema (Bloomington, IN: Indiana UP, 1981), pp. 165-175.
  • David Bordwell, ‘The Art Cinema as a Mode of Film Practice’, Film Criticism 4:1 (1979), pp. 56-63.

Further Viewing

  • Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren, 1943, 14 minutes)
  • Eye Myth (Stan Brakhage, 1967, 9 seconds)
  • (nostalgia) (Hollis Frampton, 1971, 38 minutes)
  • Jollies (Sadie Benning, 1990, 11 minutes)

Further Reading

  • Peter Bürger, Theory of the Avant-Garde, Michael Shaw, trans. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984)
  • Adams Sitney, Visionary Film (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2002)
  • Stan Brakhage, Essential Brakhage, Bruce R. McPherson, ed. (Kingston, NY: Documentext, 2001)
  • Maya Deren, Essential Deren, Bruce R. McPherson, ed. (Kingston, NY: Documentext, 2005)
  • David E. James, Allegories of Cinema (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1989)
  • Robin Blaetz, Women’s Experimental Cinema: Critical Frameworks (Durham: Duke UP, 2007)
  • Pier Paolo Pasolini, ‘“The ‘Cinema of Poetry’”, in Heretical Empiricism, ed. Louise K. Barnett, trans. Ben Lawton and Barnett (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988), pp. 167-186.
  • Hal Foster, ‘Who’s Afraid of the Neo-Avant Garde?’, in Foster, Return of the Real (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996), 1-33
  • Peter Wollen, ‘The Two Avant-Gardes’, in Readings and Writings (London: Verso 1982), 92-104.
  • Peter Wollen, ‘“Ontology” and “Materialism” in Film’, in Readings and Writings (London:Verson 1982), 189-207.
  • Farber, Manny. ‘White Elephant Art vs. Termite Art’. Negative Space: Manny Farber on the Movies (New York: Praeger, 1971), 134-144.
  • Galt, Rosalind and Karl Schoonover, 2010, ‘Introduction: The Impurity of Art Cinema’, in Global Art Cinema: New Theories and Histories, Galt and Schoonover (eds.) (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 1-27
  • John David Rhodes, ‘Art Cinema’s Immaterial Labors’. Diacritics 46, no. 4, (2018): 96-116.

 

 

3. Classical Cinema

Xin Peng 

What is “classical” about “classical Hollywood cinema”? This seminar contextualizes the emergence of “classical Hollywood cinema” as a theoretical construct and probes its tenacity amid ongoing challenges over the decades. We will examine the notion of “classicism” in relation to a filmmaking tradition perceived as the norm, where the “world’s mainstream film style” and the mode of film production, i.e. the studio system, seemed to reinforce each other (Bordwell, 4, xiv). Situating the construction of a “cinematic classicism” in the history of the discipline, we then examine two important intellectual traditions: vernacular modernism and studies of melodrama. Analysing the debates in these fields prompts us to rethink the relevance of the very concept of “classical cinema.”

Required Viewing

The Lady from Shanghai (Orson Welles, 1947)

Reading

  • David Bordwell, Janet Staiger, and Kristin Thompson, “Preface” and Chapter 1 “An Excessively Obvious Cinema,” The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style & Mode of Production to 1960 (London: Routledge & Keagan Paul, 1985).
  • Miriam Hansen, “The Mass Production of the Senses: Classical Cinema as Vernacular Modernism,” Modernism/Modernity 6:2 (April 1999): 59-77.
  • Linda Williams, “‘Tales of Sound and Fury…’ or, The Elephant of Melodrama,” in Melodrama Unbound: Across History, Media, and National Cultures eds. Christine Gledhill and Linda Williams (Columbia University Press, 2018).

Further Reading

  • Thomas Schatz, The Genius of the System: Hollywood Filmmaking in the Studio Era (University of Minnesota Press, 2010 [1988]).
  • Daniel Bernardi, ed., Classical Hollywood, Classical Whiteness (University of Minnesota Press, 2002).

Michael Williams, Film Stardom, Myth and Classicism: The Rise of Hollywood’s Gods (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).

4. Cinema and Decolonisation

Kareem Estefan

Anticolonial movements of the mid-twentieth century were often accompanied by new forms of cinematic expression and new modes of film production and distribution. Filmmakers in the Global South, hailing from newly independent countries and/or nations struggling to overthrow neo-colonial conditions, developed cinematic practices that departed radically from Hollywood and art-house models. They sought to document revolution as it was experienced by militants and workers of the ‘Third World’—and to advance ongoing struggles by making films that would reach, and catalyse, the very people depicted. Theorized by Argentinian filmmakers Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino as ‘Third Cinema,’ this model of militant anticolonial cinema reverberated across Latin America, Africa, and Asia during the 1960s and 1970s, and its influence continues to be felt and debated today. This session will trace the historical significance of Third Cinema through two of its exemplary films, Solanas and Getino’s The Hour of the Furnaces and Gillo Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers, as well as a set of anti-colonial and decolonial texts about film, cultural production, and the political. We will also examine critiques of Third Cinema, particularly from feminist perspectives, and consider the contemporary meanings of decolonization in cinema, especially with regards to indigeneity and settler colonialism.

 

Required Viewing

  • The Battle of Algiers (Gillo Pontecorvo, Italy-Algeria, 1966, 121 mins)
  • La hora de los hornos / The Hour of the Furnaces(Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino, Argentina, 1968) – Part I only

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’, (1970): http://documentaryisneverneutral.com/words/camasgun.html.
  • Glauber Rocha, “THE AESTHETICS OF HUNGER (Brazil, 1965)”. Film Manifestos and Global Cinema Cultures: A Critical Anthology, edited by Scott MacKenzie, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2014, pp. 218-220. https://doi.org/10.1525/9780520957411-068
  • 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’, Interventions 9:3 (2007): 389-404.

Further Viewing

  • La noire de… / Black Girl (dir. Ousmane Sembene, France/Senegal, 1966)
  • Soleil Ô / Oh Sun (dir. Med Hondo, France/Mauritania, 1970)
  • Sa’at al-Tahrir Daqqat / The Hour of Liberation Has Arrived (dir. Heiny Srour, France/Lebanon, 1974)
  • They Do Not Exist (dir. Mustafa Abu Ali, Palestine, 1974)
  • La Nouba des femmes du mont Chenoua (dir. Assia Djebar, Algeria, 1977)
  • Leila w al Ziab / Leila and the Wolves (dir. Heiny Srour, Lebanon, 1984)
  • Sankofa (dir. Haile Gerima, USA/Ghana/Burkina Faso/Germany, 1993)
  • Samt al-Qusur / Silences of the Palace (dir. Moufida Tlatli, Tunisia, 1994)
  • Bamako (dir. Abderrahmane Sissako, Mali/France/USA, 2006)
  • The Violence of a Civilization Without Secrets (dir. Jackson Polys, Zach Khalil, Adam Khalil, USA, 2017)

Further reading

  • Jonathan Buchsbaum, ‘A Closer Look at Third Cinema’, in Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, 21:2 (2001): 153-66.
  • Aimé Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism, trans. Joan Pinkham. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1972.
  • Glen Sean Coulthard, Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition (Minnesota Press, 2014)
  • Julio García Espinosa, ‘For An Imperfect Cinema (Cuba, 1969),’ Film Manifestos and Global Cinema Cultures: A Critical Anthology, ed. Scott MacKenzie, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2014, pp. 220-230.
  • Frantz Fanon, ‘This is the Voice of Algeria,’ A Dying Colonialism, trans. Haakon Chevalier. New York: Grove Press, 1994.
    • ‘On Violence’, in The Wretched of the Earth, trans. Richard Philcox. New York: Grove Press, 2004.
  • Teshome H. Gabriel, “Towards a Critical Theory of Third World Films,” Black Camera: An International Film Journal 12, no. 2 (Spring 2021): 317–337.
  • Guy Hennebelle and Monique Martineau Hennebelle, ‘The Hour of Liberation [Interview with Heiny Srour],’ tr. Sis Matthé, originally published as ‘L’heure de la libération a sonné’ in Cahiers du Cinéma, 253 (October 1974): https://www.sabzian.be/text/the-hour-of-liberation.
  • Ranjana Khanna, ‘The Battle of Algiers and The Nouba of the Women of Mont Chenoua: From Third to Fourth Cinema,’ Third Text 12:43 (1998): 13-32.
  • Alan O’Leary, “The Battle of Algiers at Fifty: End of Empire Cinema and the First Banlieue Film,” Film Quarterly 70:2 (Winter 2016), 17-29
  • Viviane Saglier, ‘Decolonization, Disenchantment, and Arab Feminist Genealogies of Worldmaking’, Feminist Media Histories 8:1 (Winter 2022), 72-101.
  • Ella Shohat, ‘Post-Third Worldist Culture: Gender, Nation, and the Cinema’, in Taboo Memories, Diasporic Voices (Durham: Duke UP, 2006), pp. 290-329
  • Mike Wayne, Political Film: The Dialectics of Third Cinema (London: Pluto Press, 2001)
  • Patrick Wolfe, “Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native,” Journal of Genocide Research 8:4 (2006), 387-409.
  • Nadia Yaqub, ‘Toward a Palestinian Third Cinema’, in Palestinian Cinema in the Days of Revolution (University of Texas Press, 2018) 49-83
  • Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang, “Decolonization is not a metaphor,” Decolonization: Indigeneity, education & society, 1 (1), 2012.
5. Screening Queerness

Leila Mukhida (lm783@cam.ac.uk)

‘The failure to orient oneself ‘‘toward’’ the ideal sexual object affects how we live in the world; such a failure is read as a refusal to reproduce and therefore as a threat to the social ordering of life itself’ (Ahmed, 91). Sara Ahmed uses theories of space (‘orientations’) to think through the ways that queer bodies move through the world, and how their perceived deviation from a straight line casts them as ‘deviant’, ‘out of line’, ‘bent’, or ‘crooked’. Spatiality offers a useful entry point for thinking about queer cinema and different aesthetic strategies that can be deployed when visualising queer desires on screen.
This seminar will focus on a recent German-language film called Great Freedom by Sebastian Meise, which depicts the repeated incarceration of the protagonist, Hans, throughout the twentieth century for engaging in homosexual acts. We will consider Hans’ body in relation to the spaces that constrain his movement, both narratively (the prison) and formally (the frame), as well as the possibilities for creating freedoms within these spaces. The film will serve as a case study in reading queer cinema through queer theory, and one question the seminar will address is: how does queer theory (e.g. of space, orientations, temporalities) illuminate or abstract the experiences of queer subjects on screen? To watch queer cinema is to witness protagonists whose sexualities and gender identities are often precarious and subject to violence, and whose right to exist as they choose is not taken as a given. Such identities are inextricably bound to questions of visibility and invisibility, and to regimes of surveillance and punishment. A further question to which the seminar will attend is: what kind of a spectatorial gaze and pleasure is produced when we watch queer bodies suffering violence? Seminar participants should note the content notes for the film.

Required Viewing

Great Freedom (2021), dir. Sebastian Meise

[Content notes: Sex, drug abuse, strong violence, homophobia and suicide]

Required Reading

  • Ahmed, Sara, Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2006), Chapter Two
  • Hall, Donald E., and Annamarie Jagose, The Routledge Queer Studies Reader (New York: Routledge, 2013).
  • Donald E. Hall and Annamarie Jagose, ‘Introduction’
  • Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, ‘Queer and Now’ (pp. 3-17)
  • Schoonover, Karl and Rosalind Galt. Queer Cinema in the World (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2016), ‘Introduction’

Further Reading

  • Benschoff, Harry and Sean Griffin (eds), Queer Cinema, The Film Reader (New York and London: Routledge, 2004)
  • Edelman, Lee, No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004)
  • Freeman, Elizabeth, Time Binds: Queer Temporalities, Queer Histories (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010)
  • Halberstam, Jack, In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives (New York and London: New York University Press, 2005)
  • Lefebvre, Henri, The Production of Space, translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith (London: Blackwell, 1991)
  • Muñoz, José Esteban, Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity (New York: New York University Press, 2009)
  • Ruti, Mari, The Ethics of Opting Out: Queer Theory’s Defiant Subjects (New York: Columbia University Press, 2017)

 

 

6. Horror: Genre Cinema and Gender

Daria Ezerova (de347@cam.ac.uk)

In this seminar, we will think about horror in connection with two key concepts in film studies: genre and gender. Is it as a “body genre” that horror realizes cinema’s particular power of figuring the imaginary relationship of gender? We will begin with the history of the horror genre, its tropes, sub-genres, and narrative expectations. In order to theorize the concept of genre, we will turn to Linda Williams’s work, thinking through her claim that horror is a “body genre,” scandalously contiguous with the body of the spectator, and the conclusions that she draws from this, as well as adding our own. This serves as a springboard to launch us into gender, where we’ll be thinking about classic works of feminist and psychoanalytic film theory. Might a marginalized genre change our dominant modes of thinking about spectatorship in cinema, especially given the importance of gender in those models?

Required Viewing

  • Trouble Every Day (Claire Denis, 2001)

Required Reading

  • Linda Williams, “Film Bodies: Gender, Genre, and Excess,” Film Quarterly 44, no. 4 (1991): 2-13.
  • Carol J. Clover, “Her Body, Himself” in Men, Women, and Chain Saws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992): 21-65.
  • Barbara Creed, Introduction and “Kristeva, Femininity, Abjection” in Monstrous-Feminine: Film, Feminism, and Psychoanalysis (New York: Routledge, 1993): 1-16.
  • Hilary Neroni, “Torture, Biopower, and the Desiring Subject” in The Subject of Torture: Psychoanalysis and Biopolitics in Television and Film (New York: Columbia University Press, 2015): 23-49.

Further Viewing

  • Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960)
  • Rosemary’s Baby (Roman Polanski, 1968)
  • The Exorcist (William Friedkin, 1973)
    Carrie (Brian de Palma, 1976)
  • Halloween (John Carpenter, 1978)
  • Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979)
  • Jennifer’s Body (Karyn Kusama, 2009)
  • It Follows (David Robert Mitchell, 2014)
  • X (Ti West, 2022)

Further Reading

  • Tim Palmer, “The Cinema du Corps” in Brutal Intimacy: Analyzing Contemporary French Cinema (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2011): 57-95.
  • Vivian Sobchack, Carnal Thoughts: Embodiment and Moving Image Culture (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004)
  • Achille Mbembe, Necropolitics (Durham: Duke University Press, 2019)
  • Julia Kristeva, Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection, tr. Leon S. Roudiez (New York: Columbia University Press, 1982)

 

7. Robots, Cyborgs, and the “More than Human” Body

Julia Empey (je465@cam.ac.uk)

In Terminal Identity: The Virtual Subject in Postmodern Fiction, Scott Bukatman argues that “Under fascism the body almost explicitly becomes part of a machine, delibidinalized through the imposition of boundaries drawn from the outside by the massive deployment of disciplinary and military technologies” (303). Bukatman reads this demarcation through figures such as Robocop and the Terminator, who signal a gendered unease with the mechanization and cyborgification of the human body. The male cyborg must paradoxically be penetrated to become impenetrable.

Departing from Bukatman, this seminar will examine how the robotic and cybernetically ‘enhanced’ body has been depicted in contemporary science fiction film. Instead of focusing on the existential threat of ‘killer robots,’ this seminar is more interested in how robots and cyborgs have been utilized to naturalize and codify what Jennifer Rhee calls ‘the robotic imaginary’. This imaginary is firmly grounded not in spectacle, but in the mundane exploitation of the body through systems such as classism, racism, and misogynistic gender politics. Students are asked to consider how we use film and screen studies as analytical tools to better understand these bodies, their possibilities and limitations.

Students will be required to complete the ‘Listening Group’ materials in advance of the seminar.

Required Viewing

  • Ex Machina (dir. Alex Garland, 2014)

Required Reading

  • Bukatman, Scott, Terminal Identity: The Virtual Subject in Postmodern Fiction (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1993), pp. 1-22 and 301-320. [Introduction and “Cyborg Resistance”]
  • Hayles, N. Katherine, How We Became Posthuman, Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1999), pp. 1-24 and 50-83. [Chapters 1 and 3]

Further Viewing

  • A.I. (dir. Steven Spielberg, 2001)
  • After Yang (dir. Kogonada, 2021)
  • The Stepford Wives (dir. Bryan Forbes, 1975)

Further Reading

  • Ferrando, Francesca, “Is the post-human a post-woman? Cyborgs, robots, artificial intelligence and the futures of gender: a case study,” European Journal of Futures Research 2.43 (2014): 1-17.
    • “Of posthuman born: gender, utopia and the posthuman in films and TV.” The Palgrave Handbook of Posthumanism in Film and Television (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), pp. 269-278.
    • “Towards a posthumanist methodology. A statement.” Frame Journal For Literary Studies 25.1 (2012): 9-18.
  • French, Robert M., “The Turing Test: the first 50 years,” Trends in cognitive sciences 4.3 (2000): 115-122.
  • Haraway, Donna, “A Cyborg Manifesto,’ in The Cybercultures Reader, ed. David Bell and Barbara Kennedy (New York and London: Routledge, 2000), 291-324.
  • Puar, Jasbir K., “‘I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess’: Becoming-Intersectional in Assemblage Theory,” philoSOPHIA 2.1 (2012): 49-66.
  • Rancière, Jacques, “Who is the Subject of the Rights of Man?” The South Atlantic Quarterly, 103: 2/3 (2004), pp. 297-310.
  • Rhee, Jennifer, The Robotic Imaginary: The Human and the Price of Dehumanized Labor, (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2018), pp. 1-29 and 67-100. [“Introduction: All Too Dehumanized” and “Thinking Domestic Labor, Situated Robotics, and Closed Worlds”]
  • Rozkelly, Hephzibah, “Imagining Women as Human,” in Theoretical Perspectives on Human Rights and Literature, eds. Elizabeth Swanson Goldberg & Alexandra Schultheis Moore (New York and London: Routledge, 2012), pp. 215-230.
8. Sound in Cinema, Radio, and Beyond

Damien Pollard (dp540@cam.ac.uk)

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 Viewing

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

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.

Further Viewing

  • Berberian Sound Studio (Peter Strickland, 2012)

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) <http://site.ebrary.com/id/10218527> [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)

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