BA Film Studies and Russian / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Social Lives of Cinema

Course unit fact file
Unit code DRAM30842
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course examines the uses and the social lives of cinema by considering the ways in which cinema has been circulated, exhibited, and received by different groups of people all over the world, from the mid-twentieth century onwards. The first part of the module explores the discourses around film exhibition, distribution and reception. Then, building on these ideas, the second part of the module surveys the ways in which cinema has been used to build and reify different kinds of communities, from empires and colonies to subcultures and movements of resistance. Distribution, exhibition and reception practices that will be explored include dementia-friendly screenings, midnight movies, and film festivals. Films that we will study include Crazy Rich Asians, The Rocky Picture Horror Show, and Atlantiques.


Pre/Co/Antirequisite units

DRAM10031: The Art of Film AND any L2 core Theatre or Film module


  • To explore the different modes of film spectatorship and reception in the context of their particular social, political and economic histories
  • To develop an understanding of the social and civic uses of cinema by different institutions, filmmakers and audiences
  • To encourage students to think about cinema beyond the film text by critically examining different distribution, exhibition and reception approaches

Teaching and learning methods

1 h per week of lectures

2 h per week of seminars

1 weekly screening (duration variable)

Knowledge and understanding

  • Distinguish key theories of film spectatorship and reception
  • Demonstrate and apply a working knowledge of issues around processes of film distribution, exhibition and reception from across a world of cinemas
  • Apply a range of significant theories and approaches to the independent analyses of cinema and film

Intellectual skills

  • Use appropriate theory and methodology to analyse cinema beyond the filmic text
  • Identify the social, political or ethical issues raised by different distribution, exhibition and reception strategies and practices
  • Effectively use primary and secondary sources, including in contexts where data is incomplete and where careful interpretive work is required

Practical skills

  • Research academic and non-academic materials, and evaluate sources
  • Plan, undertake and evaluate independent critical projects
  • Communicate research material and ideas clearly both verbally and in writing

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Ability to analyse concepts, techniques, methods, study materials (et cetera) independently and with others
  • Communicate effectively through discussion, presentation and in writing, including when discussing complex and controversial subject matter
  • A willingness to ascertain the ethical implications of proposed courses of actions or situations and to take the necessary steps to ensure that result from this analysis

Employability skills

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

Assessment methods

Assessment Task

Formative or Summative


Seminar Presentation






Final Essay or Creative Project



Consultation on Final Essay or Creative Project



Feedback methods

Feedback Method

Formative or Summative

Seminar Presentation – oral


Essay – written


Final Essay or Creative Project – written


Consultation on Essay or Project – oral


Recommended reading

Indicative bibliography:

Klinger, Barbara, 1997. ‘Film History Terminable and Interminable: Recovering the Past in Reception Studies’, in Screen 38: 2, pp. 107 – 128.

Willemen, Paul, 2006. ‘For a Comparative Film Studies’, in Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 6: 1, pp. 98 – 112.

Taylor-Jones, Kate, 2017. Divine Work, Japanese Colonial Cinema and Its Legacy, London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Dovey, Lindiwe, 2014. Curating Africa in the Age of Film Festivals, New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Dudrah, Rajinder, 2012. Bollywood Travels: Culture, Diaspora and Border Crossings in Popular Hindi Cinema, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Vélez-Serna, Maria, 2020. Ephemeral Cinema Spaces: Stories of Reinvention, Resistance and Community, Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.


Indicative filmography:

A Separation (2011, Asghar Farhadi)

The Farewell (2019, Lulu Wang)

Crazy Rich Asians (2018, Jon M. Chu)

Momotaro’s Sea Eagles (1942, Mitsuyo Seo)

Atlantiques (2019, Mati Diop)

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975, Jim Sharman)

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 33
Supervised time in studio/wksp 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 145

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Maohui Deng Unit coordinator

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