MA Film Studies

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Queer Cinema and Beyond

Course unit fact file
Unit code ENGL60152
Credit rating 30
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course unit focuses on debates within queer film studies over the last thirty years and situates them within the much longer history of contested representations of lesbian and gay sexuality in mainstream and independent cinema. There is now a substantial body of literature concerned with queer cinema and the course will introduce students to the intellectual, political and social contexts of its emergence and development. It will cover three aspects in particular: a) queer readings of popular cinema; b) queer independent film; and c) queer film theory in dialogue with feminist and with lesbian and gay film-making and scholarship that preceded the queer move in the early 1990s. Film to be screened and discussed will include: Swoon; Bound; Far From Heaven; Brokeback Mountain, Tangerine, Circumstance; Looking for Langston; Sea in the Blood.
Throughout the course, students will be encouraged to consider the primary texts in relation to broader critical frameworks, with particular emphasis on the complex interface between aesthetic, political and social evaluations and assessments.


Pre/Co/Antirequisite units 

Some knowledge of either film studies or feminist and queer debates 


1. To introduce students to key films in debates about queer cinema
2. To bring together debates in queer theory with concepts in film studies addressing the representation of sexuality on the cinema screen.
3. To situate queer cinema within the historical context of debates about the history of lesbian and gay filmic representations.
4. To equip students with a theoretical and conceptual language that enables them to evaluate the aesthetic and the political issues at stake in queer cinema.
5. To analyse the interconnections between the theory and history of feminist film criticism and of lesbian, gay and queer cinema.
6. To enable students to conduct advanced research in this field through a rigorous understanding of its conceptual complexity.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students should be able to demonstrate:
1. A sound knowledge of queer films and how they have been read by scholars in the context of queer theory and of film theory.
2. An informed grasp of the conceptual issues in debates about queer cinema.
3. A critical appreciation of the historical context of the development of lesbian, gay and queer film studies.
4. A thorough understanding of the intersection between aesthetic and political evaluations of queer cinema.
5. An informed awareness of the relationship between feminist film criticism and debates in queer cinema.
6. Effective oral (tested by seminar presentations), written (tested by assessed essay) and research skills (including the use of electronic databases and library catalogues) at a level appropriate to postgraduate study and research.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written assignment (inc essay) 80%
Oral assessment/presentation 20%

Feedback methods

Written and verbal 


Recommended reading

Aaron, Michele (ed.), New Queer Cinema, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 2004.
Benshoff, Harry and Sean Griffin (eds), Queer Cinema: The Film Reader, London and New York, Routledge, 2004.
Berlant, Lauren and Michael Warner 'Sex in Public', Special Issue on Intimacy, Critical Inquiry, 24 (2): 547-566, 1998.
De Lauretis,Teresa 'Film and the Visible' in Bad Object-Choices (eds) How Do I Look? Queer Film and Video, Seattle, Bay Press, 1991.
Doty, Alexander Making Things Perfectly Queer: Interpreting Mass Culture, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1993.
Dyer, Richard (ed.), Gays and Film London, British Film Institute, 1977.
--------------------- Now You See It: Studies in Lesbian and Gay Film, London, Routledge, 1990.
--------------------- Brief Encounter, London, British Film Institute, 1993.
-------------------- The Culture of Queers, London, Routledge, 2002.
Hanson, Ellis, 'Technology, paranoia and the queer voice', Screen, 34 (2):137-161, Summer, 1993.
Jagose Annmarie, Queer Theory: An Introduction, New York: New York University Press, 1996.
Medhurst, Andy 'That Special Thrill: Brief Encounter, Homosexuality and Authorship', Screen, 32 (2): 197-208, 1991.
-------------------- 'It's as a Man that You've Failed: Masculinity and Forbidden Desire in The Spanish Gardener', in Pat Kirkham and Janet Thumim (eds), You Tarzan: Masculinity, Movies and Men, London, Lawrence and Wishart, 1993.
Merck, Mandy In Your Face: 9 Sexual Subjects, New York, NYU Press, 2000.
Munoz, Jose Disidentifications: Queers of Colour and the Performance of Politics, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1999.
Rich, B. Ruby, 'A Queer Sensation: New Gay Film', Village Voice, 24 March, 1992; reprinted and expanded as 'The New Queer Cinema', Sight and Sound, 2 (5): 30-34, 1992.
---------------------- 'Queer and Present Danger', Sight and Sound, 10 (2):22-24, 2000.
Russo, Vito The Celluloid Closet: Homosexuality in the Movies, New York, Harper & Row, 1981.
Stacey, Jackie and Sarah Street (eds) Queer Screen: A Screen Reader, London, Routledge, 2007.
Straayer, Chris Deviant Eyes, Deviant Bodies: Sexual Re-orientations in Film and Video, New York, Columbia University Press, 1996.
Wallace, Lee, 'Continuous sex', Screen, 41 (4): 369-387, 2000.
Warner, Michael The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 2000.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Practical classes & workshops 33
Independent study hours
Independent study 245

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Jacqueline Stacey Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Please Note: The practical classes and workshops refer to 33 hours of film screenings.

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