Media and film studies

First Person Film (MA)

Module code: 878P4
Level 7 (Masters)
30 credits in spring teaching
Teaching method: Film, Seminar
Assessment modes: Coursework

First Person Film examines the ways in which film can be used as a personal, subjective medium, whether in fiction or documentary. Autobiographical or analytical, abstract or essayistic, professional or amateur, the first-person modality is increasingly present in all filmmaking practices. This module seeks to introduce you to theories of subjectivity whether from psychoanalysis, post-structuralism and/or literary theory considering the multiple theoretical incursions on the unity of the subject from Lacan to Butler and Nancy, and even the outright denial of the author (Barthes). We will explore questions of subjectivity such as: what constitutes a subject? from what position does s/he speak? and what or who is the 'I' that speaks? From this will arise further questions regarding the address: to whom does s/he speak and to what avail? who is being interpellated as audience? and how is identification constructed? The module will survey a range of first-person filmmaking, including the fictional autobiography, artist's experimental films, first-person documentary, the essay film, the home movie and the proliferation of YouTube direct address.

Module learning outcomes

  • Identify and deploy critical discourses relevant to the study of first person film, including theories of subjectivity.
  • Analyze films of the first person modality in a manner that demonstrates advanced understanding of their forms and contexts.
  • Demonstrate the ability to work effectively, both independently and collaboratively, at an advanced level appropriate to postgraduate study.
  • Integrate a range of pertinent critical sources in the construction and development of analysis and argument.
  • Demonstrate the ability to apply the critical approaches encountered on the module to original case study material.