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The University of Southampton

FILM6045 Auteur filmmakers: case studies in cinema

Module Overview

The term ‘auteur’ has been borrowed from literature, but how useful or appropriate a description is it when applied to the work of a filmmaker? In this module, we will examine this question through a study of the work of one filmmaker, locating the films in their socio-historical, political, artistic, industrial, and cinematic contexts. The relationship of the films to their national and transnational contexts will be explored, and we will consider the aesthetic traditions, influences, and innovations which have shaped them.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

- Introduce you to the key concepts and theories relating to the study of of a specific director’s work. - Introduce you to the techniques, style, and production practices of the selected director. - Introduce you to theories and methodologies relating to auteurism, world cinema, and genre studies. - Introduce you to a representative range of filmic texts. - Develop your interpretative skills regarding formal aspects of editing, cinematography, performance, and mise-en-scène.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • The industrial, socio-political and cinematic contexts in which the chosen director works;
  • The diversity and recurrence of themes and styles in the work of one director
  • Debates and tensions surrounding the relationship between auteurism and genre.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Engage critically with a range of theoretical material
  • Understand and use a range of specialised terms and concepts.
  • Apply different theoretical models and concepts to a variety of filmic texts.
  • Successfully analyse specific filmic texts, situating this analysis in aesthetic and cultural context.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Write effectively, accurately and critically in an appropriate academic style.
  • Coherently and persuasively argue your ideas, verbally and in written form.
  • Independently identify and locate appropriate critical resources.
  • Participate productively in, lead, and engage your classmates in academic discussion.
  • Organise your time successfully, respecting and meeting deadlines.


This module selects the work of one significant filmmaker to study in depth. During the module, we will examine the films in their socio-historical and cultural settings, paying close attention to their relationship with their national and transnational contexts. The module will begin with a brief examination of auteur and genre theory, during which you will be encouraged to engage with the idea of the auteur and what this means in the film industry, to probe the tensions between the two terms. We will move on to consider at greater length the role of different influences on the filmmaker, particularly in form, aesthetics and cinematography, as well as the role of his/her chosen collaborators. The industrial pressures surrounding the auteur will be investigated, in particular those of financing, distribution and exhibition.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include - Lectures, used to introduce key themes, debates, concepts and ideas. - Seminars, incorporating small group work and larger group discussion - Screenings of selected films - One-to-one consultations with tutor Learning activities include - Independent study, research, and viewing - Critical thinking, reading, and writing - Participation in seminar discussions as speaker, listener, and leader. - Preparation of written assignments

Follow-up work10
Completion of assessment task70
Practical classes and workshops20
Preparation for scheduled sessions30
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Wexman, Virginia Wright, ed (2003). Film and authorship. 

Collins, Jim (1993). Genericity in the Nineties: Eclectic Irony and the New Sincerity. Film Theory Goes to the Movies. , pp. 242-63.

Gerstner, David A. and Janet Staiger, eds (2003). Authorship and film. 

Stam, Robert (1999). Interrogating Authorship and Genre. Film Theory: An Introduction. , pp. 123-30.

Stam, Robert (2000). Part I: The Author: Introduction. Film Theory: An Anthology. .

Bordwell, David (2004). The Art Cinema as a Mode of Film Practice. Film Theory and Criticism. , pp. 774-82.



Essay proposal


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (4000 words) 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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