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European New Cinema - ENG00123I

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  • Department: English and Related Literature
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Erica Sheen
  • Credit value: 30 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22
    • See module specification for other years: 2022-23

Module summary

This module offers you the opportunity to experience and respond to the innovative filmmaking of post-war Europe. We will study a programme of French, Italian, German and Spanish films from the late 1940s to the mid 1970s, paying particular attention to the countercultural 1960s. We will consider the way these films break the formal conventions of mainstream entertainment cinema (‘Hollywood’), and the artistic and political values they set up in the process. We will read theories of film and the image that arose from this turbulent period of European history.

The module offers a screening programme of one film per week, drawn chronologically from Italian, French, German and Spanish postwar cinemas. We will study these films alongside political and theoretical writing of the period, together with contemporary historical and critical commentary. Each seminar will include training in film close reading, critical and theoretical analysis, and commentary on relevant aspects of language and translation.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Spring Term 2021-22 to Summer Term 2021-22

Module aims

The aims of this module are to familiarise you with the formal and artistic techniques of directors such as Rossellini, Visconti, Antonioni, Varda, Godard, Truffaut, Pontecorvo, Bertolucci, Fassbinder, Schlöndorff, Erice and Saura; to encourage an understanding of the cultural and intellectual backgrounds within which they worked; and to promote a critical response to the social and political debates in which they were engaged.

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, you should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an informed understanding of and engagement with a range of post-war European films and filmmakers.
  2. Demonstrate an informed understanding of and engagement with the historical, political and aesthetic context of their work.
  3. Demonstrate the capacity to close-read film and the film image, and to use appropriate terminology when doing so
  4. Examine key debates and relevant critical, technical and theoretical approaches.
  5. Develop arguments and ideas which demonstrate a proficiency in critical thinking, research, and writing skills.


Task Length % of module mark
2500 word Essay
N/A 70
Online Exam - 24 hrs (Centrally scheduled)
European New Cinema exam
8 hours 30

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

You will be given the opportunity to hand in a 1000 word formative essay in week 1 of the summer term. Material from this essay may be re-visited in your summative essay and it is therefore an early chance to work through material that might be used in assessed work.

This essay will be submitted in hard copy and your tutor will annotate it and return it two weeks later (usually in your week 3 seminar). Summary feedback will be uploaded to your eVision account.


Task Length % of module mark
2500 word Essay
N/A 70
Online Exam - 24 hrs (Centrally scheduled)
European New Cinema exam
8 hours 30

Module feedback

  • You will receive feedback on all assessed work within the University deadline, and will often receive it more quickly. The purpose of feedback is to inform your future work; it is designed to help you to improve your work, and the Department also offers you help in learning from your feedback. If you do not understand your feedback or want to talk about your ideas further you can discuss it with your tutor or your supervisor, during their Open Office Hours
  • For more information about the feedback you will receive for your work, see the department's Guide to Assessment

Indicative reading

Texts may include:

  • Vittorio de Sica Ladri di biciclette [Bicycle Thieves] (1948) ;
  • Agnès Varda, Cléo de 5 à 7 [Cleo from 5 to 7] ( 1961);
  • François Truffaut, Les 400 coups [The 400 Blows] (1959);
  • Jean-Luc Godard,Alphaville (1966);
  • Michelangelo Antonioni, L’avventura [The Adventure] (1960);
  • Bernardo Bertolucci, Il conformista [The Conformist] (1970);
  • Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Angst essen Seele auf [Fear Eats the Soul] (1974);
  • Victor Erice, El espirítu de la colmena [The Spirit of the Beehive] (1973).

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.