|Course Type||Course Code||No. Of Credits|
Semester and Year Offered: Monsoon
Course Coordinator and Team: Dr Vebhuti Duggal and team
Email of course coordinator: vebhuti[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in
Pre-requisites: No special requirements, however, students crediting this course from outside MA Film Studies will be required to familiarise themselves with some texts in classical film theory that are part of the Evolution of Cinema as Art I and II (MA Film Studies, I semester).
This course aims to introduce students to some of the key readings in Film Theory and its various topics as have been established within canonical film writing. It aims to survey some of the core schools of thought in film theory. It works through the canon of writing within film studies (specifically, post-classical film theory) covering areas such as psychoanalytic readings of film, apparatus theory, cognitivism as well as later approaches that have developed in Film Studies including questions of history, culture, and media.The course further tries to make the limits of the theorisation evident through its ability speak to the contexts of Indian and other South Asian cinematic examples through screenings, discussions and some readings.
For students to (a) gain familiarity with debates on film theory (b) to be able to deploy these debates through the course of their research, particularly as they build towards the MA dissertation requirement in the fourth semester. Thus, it hopes to also impart research-related skills and the ability to communicate ideas that inhere in cinematic expression effectively. It is also important for students to be able to develop ideas on Indian cinema in relationship to a broader field of film studies concepts.
Brief description of modules/ Main modules:
The course does not have modules, rather the week-by-week readings take students through different key debates. See below.
Assessment Details with weights:
Note: ** indicates page numbers to be confirmed. In no week is a complete book assigned, these are only excerpts from various books or single book chapters or essays that the students are expected to read.
Screenings are in-class, collective exercises that are necessary along with readings and discussions. Individual films may as listed here may be changed by the course instructor, if necessary so long as they speak to the key concerns that each week highlights/engages with.
Reading List, week-wise
Week I / Course overview and Introduction or, why film theory
Screening: Hugo (dir. Scorsese, 2011)
Week II/ Early debates on the medium
Hugo Munsterberg, Photoplay: A Psychological Study. New York/London: D. Appleton and Company, 1916, **.
Screening: The Passion of the Joan of Arc (dir. Dreyer, 1928)
[Already read in ECA I] Selections from Bela Balazs, Sergei Eisenstein, Andre Bazin, Siegfried Kracauer, Walter Benjamin.
Week III/ The non-fiction film theories
John Grierson, “The Documentary Producer” in Cinema Quarterly, vol. 2, no. 1, 1993, pp. 7 - 9.
Bill Nichols, Introduction to Documentary. Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2001, **.
Screening: Supermen of Malegaon (dir. Khan, 2008)
Weeks IV and V/ Structuralism and Semiotics
Christian Metz, “Some points in the Semiotics of the Cinema” in Leo Brody and Marshall Cohen (eds) Film Theory and Criticism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009, pp 68 - 75.
Roland Barthes, Mythologies. London: Vintage Classics, 2000, pp. 56 - 57.
Robert Stam et al. New Vocabularies in Film Semiotics: Structuralism, post-structuralism and beyond. London/New York: Routledge, 1992, pp. 29 - 69.
Screening: Bhuvan Shome (dir. Sen, 1969)
Week VI/ Apparatus Theory
Jean-Louis Comolli, Cinema against spectacle: Technology and ideology revisited. Trans. Daniel Fairfax. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2015, **.
Screening: La Regle du Jeu (dir. Renoir, 1939)
Week VII and VIII/ Psychoanalysis and feminist film theory
Christian Metz, “Identification, Mirror” and “The Passion for Perceiving” in in Leo Brody and Marshall Cohen (eds) Film Theory and Criticism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009, pp. 800 - 813.
Laura Mulvey, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” in Leo Brody and Marshall Cohen (eds) Film Theory and Criticism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009, pp. 833 - 844.
Screening: Sancharram (dir. Pullappally, 2004)
Stephen Heath, Questions of Cinema. London: MacMillian, 1981, pp. 76 - 112.
Week IX/Sound theory
Mary Ann Doane, “The voice in cinema: The articulation of body and space” in Leo Brody and Marshall Cohen (eds) Film Theory and Criticism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009, pp. 318 - 330.
Rick Altman, “Moving Lips: Cinema as Ventriloquism” in Yale French Studies, No. 60, Cinema/Sound (1980), pp. 67-79.
Screening: A Quiet Place (dir. Krasinski, 2018)
[Already read in ECA I] Michel Chion, The Voice in Cinema. Trans. Claudia Gorbman. Columbia: Columbia University Press, 1993, pp. 1 - 13.
Week X/ Cognitivist film theory
Gregory Currie, “Cognitivism” in Robert Stam and Toby Miller (Eds) A Companion to Film Theory. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 1999, 105 - 122.
Screening: Meghe Dhaka Tara (dir. Ghatak, 1960)
Ira Bhaskar, “Historical Poetics: Narrative and Interpretation” in Robert Stam and Toby Miller (Eds) A Companion to Film Theory. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 1999, 387 - 412.
Week XI/ Cinema and the virtual
Gilles Deleuze, Cinema-1: The Movement-Image. Trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986, pp. 1 - 11.
Screening: Om-Dar-Ba-dar (dir. Swaroop, 1988)
Week XII/ Embodiment, Affect, and the Spectator
Vivian Sobchack, Carnal Thoughts: Embodiment and Moving Image Culture. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004, **.
Screening: Shirin (dir. Kiarostami, 2008)
Laura U. Marks, Touch: Sensuous theory and multisensory media. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002.
Week XIII/ Cinema and/as media
Seung-hoon Jeong, Cinematic Interfaces: Film Theory after New Media. New York/ London: Routledge, 2013, pp. 1 - 18.
Screening: Love, Sex aur Dhoka (dir. Banerjee, 2010)
DN Rodowick, The Virtual Life of Film. Harvard: Harvard University Press, 2007.
Week XIV/ Conclusion
No readings, wrap-up discussions in class.