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BA Drama and English Literature / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

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Course unit details:
Films about Film

Unit code DRAM30802
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Drama
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course will allow students, through a range of films across history, genres, and popular and world cinemas, to develop their knowledge and understanding of ‘self-reflexive cinema’, that is, cinema that foregrounds its own narrative and stylistic devices in order to reflect on its own processes of meaning making.

Students will be asked to consider critically the politics of cultural production and self-reflexivity, through theoretical debates such as that between formalism and realism in film theory; theoretical concepts such as auteurism, structuralism and intertextuality; the history of film genres and the development of cultural literacies; as well as the psycho-social functions of voyeurism, cinephilia and cultural memory.



Pre-requisite units


Any L1 Drama Study or Practical core option

Any L2 Drama Study core option - Practitioners in Context 1; Practitioners in Context 2; Screen, Culture and Society


Co-requisite units






  • to analyse films that make film-making or spectatorship the central subject of the narrative or style
  • to engage critically with how these films enable us as film scholars and students to address theoretical debates on various aspects of the medium, such as questions of form, of production and reception and wider socio-political contexts
  • to deepen the knowledge and understanding of the medium’s capacity for self-reflexivity and its implications for cultural memory and history

Learning outcomes

  • A broad understanding of the key themes and theoretical debates around self-reflexivity and film-making and film spectatorship
  • Knowledge of key concepts in film studies and film history
  • Ability to relate theory with practice


Knowledge and understanding

  • deepen their analysis of film form and aesthetics and engage critically and comprehensively with wider theoretical debates about the medium and its history
  • contextualise films and film making within broader socio-political and industrial developments and understand their various interrelationships
  • explore the relationship between the dynamics of film form and spectatorship, and psycho-social processes of meaning making


Intellectual skills

  • Critically analyse and build sophisticated arguments about films and related sources (posters, trailers, reviews and industry documents)
  • Contextualise historically films and practitioners, and to draw on contextualisation to develop understanding
  • Critically evaluate a series of films, practitioners and genres in relation to key moments of socio-political change in relevant territories
  • Synthesise theoretical terms and concepts and apply these to analysis, argument and creative practice


Practical skills

  • Research academic and non-academic materials, and evaluate the effectiveness of these materials as supporting evidence for individual essays, seminar presentations and creative projects
  • Plan, undertake and evaluate independent critical and creative work
  • Use relevant software to collect, compile and present audio-visual material for presentations
  • Communicate research material both verbally, audio-visually and in writing

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Work independently
  • Argue critically and coherently
  • Present information in a convincing and accessible manner
  • Develop an understanding of cinema as cultural production and process


Employability skills

¿ Critical thinking, problem-solving and planning skills ¿ Ability to exercise initiative and personal responsibility ¿ Productive team and independent working skills in learning environments that present complex and unpredictable challenges ¿ Ability to effectively adapt self-presentation to different audiences/contexts, especially when communicating complex topics ¿ Ability to manage, complete and evaluate a project effectively

Assessment methods

Essay 60%
Visual essay or video essay 40%
Group presentation NA (formative)


Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Verbal comments on seminar presentation


Written and, if requested, verbal comments on essay plan


Written and, if requested, verbal comments on final essay


Global verbal feedback to in-class discussions



Recommended reading

Indicative bibliography


de Valck, Marijke and Malte Hagener, eds. (2005) Cinephilia: Movies, Love and Memory. Amsterdam University Press.

Dunne, Michael (2001) Intertextual Encounters in American Fiction, Film and Popular Culture. Bowling Green State University Popular Press.

Grainge, Paul, ed. (2003) Memory and Popular Film. Manchester University Press.

Grant, Catherine (2001) ‘Secret agents: Feminist theories of women’s authorship’, Feminist Theory 2.1: 113–30.

Hall, Stuart (1985) Signification, representation, ideology: Althusser and the post¿structuralist debates, Critical Studies in Mass Communication, 2:2, 91-114.

Hozic, Aida A. (2001) Hollyworld: Space, Power and Fantasy in the American Economy. Ithaca : Cornell University Press

Keathley, Christian (2006) Cinephilia and History, or The Wind in the Trees. Indiana University Press.

Kuhn, Annette (2002) An Everyday Magic: Cinema and Cultural Memory. IB Tauris.

Pomerance, Murray, ed. (2006) Cinema and Modernity, Rutgers University Press.



Indicative filmography

After Life (Hirozaku Koreeda, Japan 1999)

Caché / Hidden (Michael Haneke, France/Austria/Italy/Germany/USA 2005)

The Camera Man (Edward Sedgwick, USA 1928) or Sherlock Jr. (Buster Keaton, USA 1924)

Cinema Paradiso (Giuseppe Tornatore, Italy/France 1988)

Day for Night / La Nuit Américaine (François Truffaut, France/Italy 1973)

Ed Wood (Tim Burton, USA 1994)

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 27.5
Independent study hours
Independent study 172.5

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Felicia Chan Unit coordinator

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