Film Spectatorship: from Plato’s Myth of the Cave to the Present Day
Time: 10:30 - 12:00
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Course Code: HF251
Duration: 1 session
What is the course about?
This onlilne course will explore the continued relevance of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave (The Republic, 360 BC) in which he formulates a distinction between knowledge and belief that has proved especially enduring for articulations
of film spectatorship. The structure outlined in Plato’s allegory bears a striking resemblance to the experience of
cinema and as such has prompted a number of theories seeking to explore the spectatorial encounter. This
course will explore these approaches but also articulate, in brief, some of the key theories of film spectatorship
that have been developed since the birth of cinema in 1895.
The course will be illustrated with film clips from films such as Il Conformista/The Conformist (Bernardo
Bertolucci 1970 Italy), The Truman Show (Peter Weir 1998 US), Cinema Paradiso (Giuseppe Tornatore 1998
Italy), The Matrix (Wachowskis 1999 US) and others. There will be opportunities to analyse short film sequences
as well as to engage in discussion.
This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
The course will cover, in brief, some of the key theories of film spectatorship that have been articulated since
the emergence of cinema in 1895. It will look at a range of different approaches to spectatorship, including the
philosophical, the psychoanalytic, and the feminist among others.
The course will consider the historical development of theoretical approaches to film spectatorship and explain
the contexts for their emergence.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
• Describe the development of theories of film spectatorship that have emerged since cinema’s inception
• Evaluate a range of ways of thinking about film spectatorship
• Demonstrate a critical appreciation of theories of spectatorship and their possible application to the analysis of
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This course is designed for those who have a passion for film and would like to deepen their knowledge of film theory and film history. It will provide a brief introduction to the subject but will also be useful for those wishing to build on existing knowledge.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
The course will be delivered by the tutor with small and large group discussions. Short film extracts will be screened
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
You will require a pen and paper (or laptop/device). The tutor will provide handouts or links to online resources.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Look for other film studies courses on our website at www.citylit.ac.uk under History, Culture and Writing/Film Studies.
Dr. Paul Sutton is an independent film scholar who has taught Film Studies in UK higher education for over 25 years. His research covers psychoanalytic and film theory as well as Italian and French cinema and critical theory. He has published articles in journals such as Screen, French Studies and the Journal for Cultural Research. He is currently writing a psychoanalytic book on film spectatorship, Afterwardsness in Film, and has recently published work on television as a form of palliative care, and an assessment of the films of the Italian experimental filmmaker Ugo Nespolo.
Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.