Ways into advanced film studies: film theory

Course Dates: 04/06/24 - 09/07/24
Time: 18:00 - 19:30
Location: Keeley Street
This advanced level film studies course will introduce you to a range of theoretical approaches to the study of film. It will consider some of the earliest attempts to think about film, studies that borrowed methodologies from other disciplines. As early as 1915, for example, writers were applying psychology to film analysis, exploring the emotional responses of audiences to this still new medium. Early theorists argued for film as a distinct art form, and we will examine a number of their key texts. In the 1960s, film studies began to develop as a specific subject of study in universities in the US and the UK, once again deploying perspectives from other subject areas. We will examine a number of these theories and consider their continued importance for the analysis and understanding of film today.
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Ways into advanced film studies: film theory
  • Course Code: HF332
  • Dates: 04/06/24 - 09/07/24
  • Time: 18:00 - 19:30
  • Taught: Tue, Evening
  • Duration: 6 sessions (over 6 weeks)
  • Location: Keeley Street
  • Tutor: Paul Sutton

Course Code: HF332

Tue, eve, 04 Jun - 09 Jul '24

Duration: 6 sessions (over 6 weeks)

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Centre for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

This advanced film studies course will introduce you to some of the most important ideas that have been developed in film theory, since critics and writers first began to think analytically about the cinema. Commentators on film have long wondered why it is able to exert such a powerful effect on its audiences, just as they have tried to understand how it is exactly that it communicates its stories to its viewers. Early writers wondered whether it could legitimately be seen as an art form or whether it was simply popular entertainment; they weren’t sure that it could be both. We will consider some of these questions and we look at a number of key texts that sought to respond to some of these same concerns. As film studies developed in universities in the 1960s, in part an effect of the writings (and teachings) of the celebrated French film critic and theorist André Bazin, so film theory began to evolve, drawing on disciplines such as literature and history, but also on areas such as psychoanalysis, Marxist theory, Structuralist theory and others. The latter part of this course will consider these theoretical developments, exploring some of the most significant of them, and looking at how they have evolved to produce newer theoretical approaches, while often remaining as relevant as ever themselves. As with many things, film theory has its own history and its own ‘fashions’, with some theoretical approaches appearing less popular today than others. It is important to note, also, that while theory can often appear off-putting and jargon laden, this course will endeavour to make this, admittedly sometimes complex material, accessible. We will illustrate the theories considered with clips from appropriate films and explain them in language that is readily understood.

What will we cover?

• Early film ‘theories’, including Hugo Munsterberg’s writings on cinema
• Writings that attempt to legitimise film as a distinct art form
• André Bazin
• The emergence and development of academic film theory
• Psychoanalytic film theory
• Marxist film theory
• Feminist film theory
• Questions of nation and race
• Film spectatorship
• Recent developments in film theory.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

• Demonstrate familiarity with a range of early film ‘theories’
• Show an awareness and understanding of early attempts to delineate film as a distinct art form
• Describe the emergence of film theory in an academic context
• Recognise and deploy critically certain key theoretical terms when analysing film
• Demonstrate familiarity with, and a basic understanding of, a range of more ‘contemporary’ film theories.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

The course is designed for those wishing to expand upon their existing knowledge of film studies. It does presuppose some previous familiarity with film studies and as such is not aimed at beginners. The course will be useful for those considering further study, possibly at university level.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

Screenings of extracts from films, talks by the tutor, reading materials, small and large group discussions. Some directed reading and viewing outside of the class will also be required.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

You will require a pen and paper (or laptop/device) but the tutor will provide all other materials such as handouts. The tutor will show extracts from films and you do not have to obtain them.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

Look for other Film Studies courses under History Culture and Writing/Film Studies at www.citylit.ac.uk.

Paul Sutton

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.