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The University of Southampton

FILM8006 Screen Stars in Context (iPhD)

Module Overview

The module explores issues of stardom in relation to debates on star persona, performance, iconography and cinematography as well issues of gender and ethnicity. The emphasis will be on historical context throughout, highlighting within each case study and through the module as a whole, the ways in which stars and their contexts relate to each other. A linking strand of the module is provided by various concepts of the ‘classical’ in constructing star iconographies along with the relationship between stars and the representation of history itself.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

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

  • theoretical debates on the subject of stars by critics such as Richard Dyer
  • the role of cinematography in star production
  • the nature of star performance, work and the cross-media articulation of stardom
  • the importance of stardom to the concept of national cinema
  • the relationship between stars and audiences and the role of film-fan magazines in constructing the ‘vernacular’ of stardom
  • a series of historically-based case studies, showing an informed sensitivity to the issues of gender, ethnicity and sexuality
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • discuss the star ‘persona’ of a particular star and make connections across different historical and cultural contexts
  • recognise methods by which a film text and intertexts of different kinds can be analysed
  • integrate close textual analysis and contextual research
  • demonstrate confidence and independence of thought
  • synthesise and evaluate complex material
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • demonstrate originality and confidence in the scholarly application of knowledge, and the ability to advance that knowledge through research informed by the work of others
  • work independently and effectively using library, archival and internet resources and demonstrate efficient time management


The module begins by attempting to theorise our existing knowledge and preconceptions about the nature of stars, examining star images and exploring the value of fan-magazines and other publicity material when researching context. You will consider the way stardom developed in tandem with the visual and narrative characteristics of cinema itself. Typically the syllabus will include discussion of the silent era of stardom with figures such as Greta Garbo, and move on to consider the performance and work of stars in later eras, in America and Europe in particular. Throughout, you are encouraged to make reference to the wider international context, as well as issues of sexuality and ethnicity in contemporary Hollywood and beyond.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: • Seminars • Independent study and research • Tutorials Learning activities include: - Active participation in seminars - Individual study, viewing and research - Sharing work-in-progress online and in class - Individual and group presentations

Independent Study117
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Richard Dyer (2003). Heavenly Bodies: Film Stars and Society. 

Sean Redmond and Su Holmes eds. (2007). Stardom and Celebrity: A Reader. 


Assessment Strategy

Assessments designed to provide informal, on-module feedback - tutor-supported workshops - peer discussion/support - consultation with your tutor in preparation for the formal assessments At doctoral level, you are expected to demonstrate a higher degree of critical and intellectual sophistication in your work than those taking a version of this module at MA level. Hence the pass mark for the final essay is 60.




MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (4000 words) 100%
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