Philosophy of Film - PHI00082H

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  • Department: Philosophy
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Panos Paris
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2018-19
    • See module specification for other years: 2016-17

Module summary

This module examines some of the key issues, claims and assumptions involved in various philosophical approaches to narrative films and film-making.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2018-19

Module aims

This module examines some of the key issues, claims and assumptions involved in various philosophical approaches to narrative films and film-making. Questions for investigation and assessment include:

  • What sorts of ideas can film express or represent and, what does this tell us about the nature of films?
  • How should we understand viewers' engagement with narratives and characters in film? Why do we enjoy being frightened by horror films, relish crying at melodramas and tragedies, and choose to struggle with difficult or challenging films?
  • Whose film is it anyway? Who, and what, are cinematic authors, narrators, and characters, and performers?
  • How should we describe the experience of film? Does film watching provide a unique experience and, if so, in what ways does it differ from that of other, closely related art forms?
  • Are films of value? Is a film’s aesthetic, artistic or cognitive worth at risk from morally abhorrent content or production methods? If so, why? If not, should it be?

This module involves close attention to, and analysis and understanding of, a broad range of classic and contemporary films and philosophical texts. Examples will be drawn from classic and popular narrative films from Hollywood and UK cinema as well as less main-stream work from such directors as Satyajit Ray, Agnes Varda and Jean-Luc Goddard.

 

Module learning outcomes

Students should develop a critical understanding of contemporary debates, and their historical contexts, on the following topics:

  • The nature of the film medium
  • Film-makers, narrators and viewers
  • Technique, style and genre
  • Cinematic realism
  • Film Genres
  • The moral and epistemic value of film

Academic and graduate skills

This module is designed to develop students’ analytic skills in the understanding, appreciation and critical discussion of narrative films.

Assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
4000 word essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules

None

Reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
4000 word essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Students will receive written feedback on their summative assessment within 4 weeks of submission.

A formative essay (of 1200 words) will be due on Friday of Week 5. Written feedback will be returned no later than 3 weeks after submission.

Students will have individual tutorials during Week 9 or 10 to discuss the written feedback on their formative essays as well as their summative assessment plans.

Indicative reading

  • Currie, Gregory (1995) Image and Mind: Film, Philosophy, and Cognitive Science Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • Gaut, Berys (2010) The Philosophy of Cinematic Art Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • Thomson-Jones, Katherine (2008) Aesthetics and Film London: Continuum



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.