The University of Southampton
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FILM1037 What is Cinema? Film, Art, Technology 2

Module Overview

This module addresses the question ‘What is Cinema?’ through an exploration of how cinema has converged with art and technology from its earliest manifestations to the digital forms of the present day. It traces film’s emergence and continued development through a culture of sensation and the commodification of art, leisure and entertainment in Europe and the United States. You will be introduced to key methods of understanding these developments that will deepen your knowledge of the history of cinema as an art and as an entertainment culture. Film Studies is an interdisciplinary subject, and this module seeks to develop cinema’s productive interconnection with the disciplines of literature, history, music, theatre studies, visual culture as well as the sciences. In most cases, examples of contemporary film and television will be used to deconstruct this fascinating genealogy of influence and reinvention. Through researching and examining a range of specific historical case-studies you will gain a broad understanding of the constellation of developments and discourses as well as the technologies and aesthetic practices that have helped fashion what cinema is today.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• develop your understanding of the importance of history and social context in the study of film’s relationship to art and technology in Europe and the United States • enable you to make informed connections between technological developments, aesthetic practices and contemporary discourse concerning sensation and everyday life.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between technology, art and film across specific historical contexts.
  • Understand critical methods of analysis of film texts and their connections with the other arts.
  • Use selected research techniques which will allow you to develop your understanding of a range of historical contexts where cinema has converged with or emerged from art forms and technological developments.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Communicate effectively in writing and speech
  • Independently research appropriate resources
  • Critical analysis
  • Organise time effectively
  • You will be introduced to research techniques which will allow you to develop your understanding of a range of historical contexts where cinema has converged with, or emerged from, art forms and technological developments and innovations.
  • You will learn to write in three distinct registers, a research report, an analytical essay and a
  • comparative essay on secondary sources.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Engage critically with a range of theoretical materials, films, and cultural products
  • Apply this knowledge to specific moments of technological and/or aesthetic innovation
  • Critically research and analyse film in academic writing and oral presentations

Syllabus

The module introduces you to approaches to understanding the impact that technology and the arts have had on moving image entertainment forms from magic lanterns to digital streaming on smartphones and tablets. The syllabus will highlight specific narrative films that will encourage you to understand the connections these have with other art forms and technologies. The module explores the interactions between film and art forms such as painting, sculpture, literature, theatre, music and architecture. Running concurrently with this emphasis on aesthetics will be the impact of technologies that have characterised and expanded the definition of what cinema is. These could include examples ranging from panoramas, magic lanterns and optical toys to digital formats of image and sound, interactive video games, 3D and IMAX. Throughout the module the emphasis will be on developing ways of understanding the links between technologies and the arts that have informed cinema and proto-cinematic forms over the last two hundred years.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • lectures • seminars • screenings, • specific films and fictional texts form the basis of seminars each week. Learning activities include • unassessed group presentations (usually in twos) in seminar. • a specific workshop to introduce research through on-line archives and databases.

TypeHours
Revision110
Practical classes and workshops30
Lecture20
Seminar20
Wider reading or practice60
Preparation for scheduled sessions60
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

Oliver Twist. David Lean. Independent Producers. UK. 1948.. 

Inception (Christopher Nolan, 2010). 

Smith, Grahame (2001). Dickens and the Dream of Cinema. 

Brooks, Peter (1995). The Melodramatic Imagination: Balzac, Henry James, Melodrama and the Mode of Excess. 

The Conversation. Franicis Ford Coppola. Zoetrope Studios. USA. 1974.. 

Henry Jenkins (2006). Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. 

Zielinski, Siegfried (1999). Audiovisions: Cinema and Television as Entr’actes in History, trans. Gloria Custance. 

Strangers on a Train. Alfred Hitchcock. Warner. USA. 1951. 

Se7en. David Fincher. New Line. USA. 1995.. 

Sterne, Jonathan (2012). MP3: The Meaning of a Format. 

Duel. Steven Spielberg. USA. Universal. 1971. 

Letter From an Unknown Woman. Max Ophuls. Rampart. USA. 1948.. 

Brewster, Ben and Jacobs, Lea (1998). From Theatre to Cinema: Stage Pictorialism and Early Cinema. 

The Others. Alejandro Amenábar. 2001. 

Friedberg, Anne (2006). The Virtual Window: From Alberti to Microsoft. 

Kittler, Friedrich (1999). Gramophone, Film, Typewriter, trans. Geoffrey Winthrop-Young and Michael Wultz. 

Chun, Wendy Hui Kyong and Thomas Keenan, eds. (2006). New Media, Old Media: A History and Theory Reader. 

Sconce, Jeffrey (2000). Haunted Media: Electronic Presence from Telegraphy to Television. 

Collateral. Michael Mann. Dreamworks. USA. 2004.. 

Nead, Lynda (2000). Victorian Babylon: People, Streets and Images in 19th Century London. 

Gitelman, Lisa (2006). Always Already New: Media, History, and the Data of Culture. 

Waxworks/Das Wachsfigurenkabinet. Paul Leni. Neptun-Film. Ger. 1924. 

Malin, Brenton J (2014). Feeling Mediated: A History of Media Technology and Emotion in America. 

Musser, Charles (1994). The Emergence of Cinema: The American Screen to 1907. 

Her. Spike Jonze, 2013. 

Mood Indigo. Michel Gondry, 2013. 

Assessment

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (3000 words) 40%
Essay  (1500 words) 40%
Report  (1500 words) 20%

Referral

MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (3000 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal

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