American Studies and Film Studies (with a study abroad year) BA

American Studies

Key information

Duration:
4 years full time
Typical A-level offer:
AAB-ABB
UCAS code:
TP73
Start date:
September 2018

By combining American Studies and Film Studies, you link together a wide range of interesting topics – from the birth of celebrity culture to Hollywood as an industry.

You’ll benefit from specialised resources including our expansive film library and the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts. And you learn from leading experts about challenging works ranging from DW Griffiths's Birth of a Nation to Andy Warhol's Blow Job.

Plus, by spending a year abroad, you not only study America, but you experience it too.

I chose Sussex so that I could learn from academics who have made groundbreaking contributions to their fields.”Oliver Hypolite-Bishop
American Studies BA 

Entry requirements

A-level

Typical offer

AAB-ABB

GCSEs

You should have a broad range of GCSEs (A*-C), including good grades in relevant subjects.

Extended Project Qualification

We take the EPQ into account when considering your application and it can be useful in the summer when your results are released if you have narrowly missed the conditions of your offer. We do not routinely include the EPQ in the conditions of your offer but we sometimes offer alternative conditions that include the EPQ. If you wish to discuss this further please contact Admissions at ug.enquiries@sussex.ac.uk

Other UK qualifications

Access to HE Diploma

Typical offer

Pass the Access to HE Diploma with 45 level 3 credits at Merit or above, including 24 at Distinction.

Subjects

The Access programme should be in the humanities or social sciences.

International Baccalaureate

Typical offer

32 points overall from the full IB Diploma.

Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma (formerly BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma)

Typical offer

DDD

GCSEs

You should have a broad range of GCSEs (A*-C), including good grades in relevant subjects.

Scottish Highers

Typical offer

AABBB

Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced

Typical offer

Grade B and AB in two A-levels.

GCSEs

You should have a broad range of GCSEs (A*-C), including good grades in relevant subjects.

International baccalaureate

Typical offer

32 points overall from the full IB Diploma.

European baccalaureate

Typical offer

Overall result of at least 77%

Other international qualifications

Australia

Typical offer

Relevant state (Year 12) High School Certificate, and over 85% in the ATAR or UAI/TER/ENTER. Or a Queensland OP of 5 or below.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Austria

Typical offer

Reifeprüfung or Matura with an overall result of 2.2 or better for first-year entry. A result of 2.5 or better would be considered for Foundation Year entry.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Belgium

Typical offer

Certificat d'Enseignement Secondaire Supérieur (CESS) or Diploma van Hoger Secundair Onderwijs with a good overall average. 

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Bulgaria

Typical offer

Diploma za Sredno Obrazovanie with excellent final-year scores (normally 5.5 overall with 6 in key subjects).

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Canada

Typical offer

High School Graduation Diploma. Specific requirements vary between provinces.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

China

Typical offer

We usually do not accept Senior High School Graduation for direct entry to our undergraduate courses. However, we do consider applicants who have studied 1 or more years of Higher Education in China at a recognised degree awarding institution or who are following a recognised International Foundation Year.

If you are interested in applying for a business related course which requires an academic ability in Mathematics, you will normally also need a grade B in Mathematics from the Huikao or a score of 90 in Mathematics from the Gaokao.

Applicants who have the Senior High School Graduation may be eligible to apply to our International Foundation Year, which if you complete successfully you can progress on to a relevant undergraduate course at Sussex. You can find more information about the qualifications which are accepted by our International Study Centre at  http://isc.sussex.ac.uk/entry-requirements/international-foundation-year .

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Croatia

Typical offer

Maturatna Svjedodžba with an overall score of at least 4-5 depending on your degree choice.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Cyprus

Typical offer

Apolytirion of Lykeion with an overall average of at least 18 or 19/20 will be considered for first-year entry.

A score of 15/20 in the Apolytirion would be suitable for Foundation Year entry. Find out more about Foundation Years.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Czech Republic

Typical offer

Maturita with a good overall average.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Denmark

Typical offer

Højere Forberedelseseksamen (HF) or studentereksamen with an overall average of at least 7 on the new grading scale.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Finland

Typical offer

Finnish Ylioppilastutkinto with an overall average result in the final matriculation examinations of at least 6.0.

France

Typical offer

French Baccalauréat with an overall average result of at least 13/20.

Germany

Typical offer

German Abitur with an overall result of 2.0 or better.

Greece

Typical offer

Apolytirion with an overall average of at least 18 or 19/20 will be considered for first-year entry.

A score of 15/20 in the Apolytirion would be suitable for Foundation Year entry. Find out more about Foundation Years.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Hong Kong

Typical offer

Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) with grades of 5, 4, 4 from three subjects including two electives. 

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Hungary

Typical offer

Erettsegi/Matura with a good average.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

India

Typical offer

Standard XII results from Central and Metro Boards with an overall average of 75-80%. 

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Iran

Typical offer

High School Diploma and Pre-University Certificate.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Ireland

Typical offer

Irish Leaving Certificate (Higher Level) at H1,H2,H2,H3,H3.

Israel

Typical offer

Bagrut, with at least 8/10 in at least six subjects, including one five-unit subject.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Italy

Typical offer

Italian Diploma di Maturità or Diploma Pass di Esame di Stato with a Final Diploma mark of at least 81/100.

Japan

Typical offer

Upper Secondary Leaving Certificate is suitable for entry to our Foundation Years. Find out more about Foundation Years.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Latvia

Typical offer

Atestats par Visparejo videjo Izglitibu with very good grades in state exams.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Lithuania

Typical offer

Brandos Atestatas including scores of 80-90% in at least three state examinations (other than English).

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Luxembourg

Typical offer

Diplôme de Fin d'Etudes Secondaires.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Malaysia

Typical offer

Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM). As well as various two or three-year college or polytechnic certificates and diplomas.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Netherlands

Typical offer

Voorereidend Wetenschappelijk Onderwijs (VWO), normally with an average of at least 7.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Nigeria

Typical offer

You are expected to have one of the following:

  • Higher National Diploma
  • One year at a recognised Nigerian University
  • Professional Diploma (Part IV) from the Institute of Medical Laboratory Technology of Nigeria
  • Advanced Diploma

You must also have a score of C6 or above in WAEC/SSC English.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Norway

Typical offer

Norwegian Vitnemal Fra Den Videregaende Skole - Pass with an overall average of 4.

Pakistan

Typical offer

Bachelor (Pass) degree in arts, commerce or science.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Poland

Typical offer

Matura with three extended-level written examinations, normally scored within the 7th stanine.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Portugal

Typical offer

Diploma de Ensino Secundario normally with an overall mark of at least 16/20. 

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Romania

Typical offer

Diploma de Bacalaureat with an overall average of 8.5-9.5 depending on your degree choice.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Singapore

Typical offer

A-levels, as well as certain certificates and diplomas.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Slovakia

Typical offer

Maturitna Skuska or Maturita with honours, normally including scores of 1 in at least three subjects.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Slovenia

Typical offer

Secondary School Leaving Diploma or Matura with at least 23 points overall.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

South Africa

Typical offer

National Senior Certificate with very good grades. 

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Spain

Typical offer

Spanish Título de Bachillerato (LOGSE) with an overall average result of at least 8.0.

Sri Lanka

Typical offer

Sri Lankan A-levels.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Sweden

Typical offer

Fullstandigt Slutbetyg with good grades.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Switzerland

Typical offer

Federal Maturity Certificate.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

Turkey

Typical offer

Devlet Lise Diplomasi or Lise Bitirme is normally only suitable for Foundation Years, but very strong applicants may be considered for first year entry. Find out more about Foundation Years.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

USA

Typical offer

We look at your full profile taking into account everything you are studying. You must have your high school graduation diploma and we will be interested in your Grade 12 GPA. However, we will also want to see evidence of the external tests you have taken. Each application is looked at individually, but you should normally have one or two of the following:

  • APs (where we would expect at least three subject with 4/5 in each)
  • SAT Reasoning Tests (normally with a combined score of 1300) or ACT grades
  • and/or SAT Subject Tests (where generally we expect you to have scores of 600 or higher). 

We would normally require APs or SAT Subject Tests in areas relevant to your chosen degree course.

Please note

Our entry requirements are guidelines and we assess all applications on a case-by-case basis.

My country is not listed

If your qualifications aren’t listed or you have a question about entry requirements, email ug.enquiries@sussex.ac.uk.

English language requirements

IELTS (Academic)

6.5 overall, including at least 6.0 in each component

IELTS scores are valid for two years from the test date. Your score must be valid when you begin your Sussex course. You cannot combine scores from more than one sitting of the test.

If you are applying for degree-level study we can consider your IELTS test from any test centre, but if you require a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) for an English language or pre-sessional English course (not combined with a degree) the test must be taken at a UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI)-approved IELTS test centre.

Find out more about IELTS.

Other English language requirements

Proficiency tests

Cambridge Advanced Certificate in English (CAE)

For tests taken before January 2015: Grade B or above

For tests taken after January 2015: 176 overall, including at least 169 in each skill

We would normally expect the CAE test to have been taken within two years before the start of your course.

You cannot combine scores from more than one sitting of the test. Find out more about Cambridge English: Advanced.

Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE)

For tests taken before January 2015: grade C or above

For tests taken after January 2015: 176 overall, including at least 169 in each skill

We would normally expect the CPE test to have been taken within two years before the start of your course.

You cannot combine scores from more than one sitting of the test. Find out more about Cambridge English: Proficiency.

Pearson (PTE Academic)

62 overall, including at least 56 in all four skills.

PTE (Academic) scores are valid for two years from the test date. Your score must be valid when you begin your Sussex course. You cannot combine scores from more than one sitting of the test. Find out more about Pearson (PTE Academic).

TOEFL (iBT)

88 overall, including at least 20 in Listening, 19 in Reading, 21 in Speaking, 23 in Writing.

TOEFL (iBT) scores are valid for two years from the test date. Your score must be valid when you begin your Sussex course. You cannot combine scores from more than one sitting of the test. Find out more about TOEFL (iBT).

The TOEFL Institution Code for the University of Sussex is 9166.

English language qualifications

AS/A-level (GCE)

Grade C or above in English Language.

Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination (HKALE)/ AS or A Level: grade C or above in Use of English

French Baccalaureat

A score of 12 or above in English.

GCE O-level

Grade C or above in English.

Brunei/Cambridge GCE O-level in English: grades 1-6.

Singapore/Cambridge GCE O-level in English: grades 1-6.

GCSE or IGCSE

Grade C or above in English as a First Language.

Grade B or above in English as a Second Language

German Abitur

A score of 12 or above in English.

Ghana Senior Secondary School Certificate

If awarded before 1993: grades 1-6 in English language.

If awarded between 1993 and 2005: grades A-D in English language.

Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE)

 Level 4, including at least 3 in each component in English Language.

Indian School Certificate (Standard XII)

The Indian School Certificate is accepted at the grades below when awarded by the following examination boards:

Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) – English Core only: 70%

Council for Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) - English: 70% 

International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB)

English A or English B at grade 5 or above.

Malaysian Certificate of Education (SPM) 119/GCE O-level

If taken before the end of 2008: grades 1-5 in English Language.

If taken from 2009 onwards: grade C or above in English Language.

The qualification must be jointly awarded by the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES).

West African Senior School Certificate

Grades 1-6 in English language when awarded by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) or the National Examinations Council (NECO).

Country exceptions

Select to see the list of exempt English-speaking countries

If you are a national of one of the countries below, or if you have recently completed a qualification equivalent to a UK Bachelors degree or higher in one of these countries, you will normally meet our English requirements. Note that qualifications obtained by distance learning or awarded by studying outside these countries cannot be accepted for English language purposes.

You will normally be expected to have completed the qualification within two years before starting your course at Sussex. If the qualification was obtained earlier than this we would expect you to be able to demonstrate that you have maintained a good level of English, for example by living in an English-speaking country or working in an occupation that required you to use English regularly and to a high level.

Please note that this list is determined by the UK’s Home Office, not by the University of Sussex.

List of exempt countries

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Canada**
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Ireland
  • Jamaica
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • United Kingdom
  • USA

** Canada: you must be a national of Canada; other nationals not on this list who have a degree from a Canadian institution will not normally be exempt from needing to provide evidence of English.

Admissions information for applicants

Transfers into Year 2

No

If your qualifications aren’t listed or you have a question about entry requirements, email ug.enquiries@sussex.ac.uk.

Why choose this course?

  • Ranked 1st in the UK for American Studies (The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018).
  • More prestigious American partner institutions – including UC Berkeley and Georgetown – than any other programme in England.
  • Access to dedicated media laboratories, film and sound studios, and an in-house DVD library of over 5,000 films and TV programmes.

Course information

How will I study?

You learn through a combination of lectures, seminars, film screenings and individual tutorial sessions.

American Studies modules introduce you to the history, politics, visual culture and literature of the Americas. Your studies traverse America from Columbus’ encounter of the ‘New World’ in 1492 to the counterculture of the 1960s to 9/11.

In Film Studies, you gain core skills and learn key critical approaches to cinema, including the use of the video essay as a tool of audiovisual analysis.

Modules

These are the modules running in the academic year 2017. Modules running in 2018 may be subject to change.

Core modules

Options


Customise your course

Our courses are designed to broaden your horizons and give you the skills and experience necessary to have the sort of career that has an impact.

Gain programming skills and apply them to areas such as digital media, business and interactive design. Find out about our Year in Computing

How will I study?

You choose from a range of modules. Some focus on New Orleans, where you explore the roots of jazz music. Others focus on New York City, where you will analyse the long, rich, transnational history of this centre of immigration, business, entertainment and culture.

You analyse significant texts by writers including Gertrude Stein and Zora Neale Hurston, and learn about American modernity and postmodernist aesthetics. American history modules include a survey of the black freedom struggle, and a study of how the American Civil War has been remembered since 1865.

You extend your core knowledge of Film Studies. You study the major traditions in film theory and explore the workings of Hollywood. Options include practical modules.

Modules

These are the modules running in the academic year 2017. Modules running in 2018 may be subject to change.

Core modules

Options


Customise your course

Our courses are designed to broaden your horizons and give you the skills and experience necessary to have the sort of career that has an impact.

Gain programming skills and apply them to areas such as digital media, business and interactive design. Find out about our Year in Computing

You spend your third year studying at one of our US or Canadian partners’ campuses. Our range of partner institutions represents every facet of the American experience, and includes:

  • UC Berkeley and UCLA
  • Tulane University in New Orleans and the University of North Carolina
  • Georgetown University and George Washington University, Washington, DC.

Whether you are interested in Native American culture, the Civil Rights movement, or American modernist poetry, Sussex offers you a unique experience while studying in North America.

Please note

Programs with a study abroad year are not eligible for USA federal Direct Loan funds. Find out more about American Student Loans and Federal Student Aid

How will I study?

You write a dissertation on a topic of your choice, with one-to-one supervision.

Your American Studies dissertation can be on topics as varied as gun control, the 60s counterculture, Black Lives Matter, trans rights issues or the musical Hamilton.

In Film Studies, you have the flexibility to shape your year based on what you enjoy most, whether that’s Hollywood cinema or activist filmmaking.

Modules

These are the modules running in the academic year 2017. Modules running in 2018 may be subject to change.

Options

Find out about American Studies at the University of Sussex

Our options reflect the diverse interests and expertise of the faculty, allowing you to explore various genres, topics and national cinemas.”Dr Michael Lawrence
Lecturer in Media and Film 

Fees

UK/EU students:
Fees are not yet set for entry in the academic year 2018. The University intends to set fees at the maximum permitted by the UK Government (subject to continued satisfaction of the Teaching Excellence Framework). For the academic year 2017, fees were £9,250 per year.

The UK Government has confirmed that if you’re an EU student applying for entry in September 2018, you’ll pay the same fee rate as UK students for the duration of your course, even if the UK leaves the EU before the end of your course. You’ll also continue to have access to student loans and grants. Find out more on the UK Government website

Channel Islands and Isle of Man students:
The University aligns fees for Channel Islands and Isle of Man students with fees for UK/EU students. These fees are not yet set for entry in the academic year 2018. We intend to set fees at the maximum permitted by the UK Government (subject to continued satisfaction of the Teaching Excellence Framework). For the academic year 2017, fees were £9,250 per year.
International students:
£15,500 per year
Study abroad:
Find out about grants and funding, tuition fees and insurance costs for studying abroad

Note that your fees may be subject to an increase on an annual basis.

Find out about typical living costs for studying at Sussex

Scholarships

Our focus is personal development and social mobility. To help you meet your ambitions to study at Sussex, we deliver one of the most generous scholarship programmes of any UK university.

Careers

Graduate destinations

American Studies at Sussex is ranked 1st in the UK for career prospects (The Guardian University Guide 2018). Recent American Studies and Film Studies (with a study abroad year) graduates have taken up a wide range of posts, including:

  • media assistant, Filmworks Consultancy
  • video production assistant, MBM Productions
  • programming intern, NBCUniversal.

(Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education Survey 2015)

Your future career

Our graduates are intellectually agile, highly skilled communicators who think critically across disciplines. Your year abroad enhances these skills with invaluable cultural and social perspectives.

Working while you study

Our Careers and Employability Centre can help you find part-time work while you study. Find out more about career development and part-time work

Film Analysis: Hollywood Narrative and Style

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 1

This module explores the diverse ways that filmmakers use key techniques of cinematic expression, such as narrative, cinematography, mise-en-scene, editing, sound, performance and special effects.

You explore how such techniques are accomplished (i.e. the creative choices available to filmmakers) but also the potential they have for generating meaning and pleasure when combined together to produce filmic texts.

The module is based around a series of reading assignments, which will be discussed in seminars along with the week's set film and extracts from other films. In particular, we examine one of the most influential and most pervasive models of cinema: the classical narrative film produced during the era of the Hollywood studio system (from approximately 1915 to 1960).

You will consider several films from this era, as well as films produced subsequently, in the light of influential propositions by David Bordwell and other film scholars regarding the systematic organisation of stylistic and narrative norms within classical Hollywood storytelling.

Introduction to American Studies

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 1

What is American Studies? What makes what we do American Studies as opposed to just plain historical or literary studies? This module will examine the history and development of the discipline and will explore key debates using an archive of seminal essays by leading figures that highlight key problems and developments in the field. Issues to be discussed may include:

  • an American 'tradition'
  • interdisciplinarity
  • popular culture
  • American ethnicity and race
  • masculinity and gender
  • media
  • environment
  • America as 'global village'.

Issues in European Cinema B

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 1

This module explores key critical inquiries which have become central to Film Studies as a discipline (realism, national cinema, popular genres, authorship, and ‘alternative’ or experimental film styles), through an engagement with examples of European cinema from the 1920s to the early 1960s. Using a series of case studies, you will learn to situate film texts according to their historical, cultural, and social contexts, in addition to relevant theoretical debates. Topics may include: German expressionism, surrealism, Soviet montage, the ‘enhanced’ realisms of Italian and British film movements in the post-war years, the French New Wave, and popular genres in European cinema.

Issues in Global Cinema A

  • 30 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 1

Issues in Global Cinemas extends your understanding of critical issues associated with the study of film. We will introduce you to the global history of the medium from the 1950s to the present.

The module focuses on critical analysis of distinct modes of global film culture, from the emergence of "world cinema" as a category of “foreign” cinema in the 1950s to today’s global blockbusters.

We examine the ways films relate to social and political change, including struggles associated with post-colonialism. And study the ways popular modes – such as melodrama – explore the relationship between gender, national history and identity. We will also look at how films function as commodities in a global marketplace.

The module introduces you to a broad range of cinema, and we cover films from India, Brazil, Senegal, Argentina, Tunisia, Iran, China, South Korea and Australia.

Modern America

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 1

The early years of the twenty-first century have witnessed the United States achieve unsurpassed global economic and cultural power. This module assesses the dramatic developments that have shaped the U.S. during the twentieth century, often described as the 'American century'.

We will explore the transformations in American political and social life as the U.S. achieved economic supremacy, and extended this power on the world stage. As the nation increased its influence abroad, of module, it underwent a parallel series of turbulent changes at home. Hence we will also consider an America seen through the critical (and sometimes not-so-critical) lenses of writers, artists, commentators and filmmakers as they articulate the tensions and anxieties of modern U.S. life.

The module addresses many social contradictions. The `Roaring Twenties, for example, was a period of consumerism and cultural experimentation that also gave rise to religious fundamentalism and Prohibition. Similarly, while the United States government in the 1950s was trying to `keep the world safe for democracy' in the face of communist expansion, it abused the constitutional liberties of its own citizens during the McCarthy witch-hunts. Although the country as a whole attained unprecedented levels of affluence in these years, poverty remained a persistent problem, and Americans continued to struggle with the repression of women, political dissidents and racial minorities. A crisis in American liberalism accompanied this proliferation of social and political protest, primarily due to American involvement in the Vietnam War. We will seek to understand how this war shaped protest politics, altered the relationship between Americans and the liberal state, and led to the Conservative resurgence in the 1980s. These events shattered the consensus belief in a modern America. We will evaluate what it then meant to live in a post-modern America, and how people adapted the conditions of post-modernity to cope with new and recurrent crises of difference, inequality, and insecurity. Through lectures that focus on the historical, literary and more broadly cultural aspects of the modern United States, students will learn to recognise the importance of cross- and inter-disciplinary work as they pursue the dynamic relationship between cultural forms and social, political and economic realities.

American Identities

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 1

In this module you study how Americans in different periods and different regions have thought, written, debated and talked about themselves in relation to their country in autobiography, poetry, fiction, and film.

You examine how race, gender, and sexuality impact on notions of American citizenship, and you discover how to become an American.

You explore American identity and stereotypes and look at:

  • optimism
  • individualism
  • the right to bear arms.

American Literature to 1890: Part I

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 1

This module will introduce you to the major trends and texts of colonial America from the Iroquois Indians and Christopher Columbus through to Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine. These are not simply 'authors,' in the modern sense, writing 'great books' but diverse voices whose class, gender, race, nationality and religious persuasion influence the sense they make of America, and of themselves, in their writing. For example, some texts articulate ancient native traditions and myths without the benefit of a written tradition, while others are trying to come to terms in literary ways with experiences of migration to an unknown and wild place, captivity by the Indians, conflict, and slavery. Questions of national identity and the role that literature plays in constructing and communicating an 'American experience' are therefore central to the module.

We will look at the writing of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, beginning with Native American accounts of creation, the travel journals of Columbus, and an account of the conquest of the Aztec empire. American literature in this early period does not come in the usual forms of fiction, poetry, and drama that we are used to studying in European literature, nor is all of it written in English. We will be reading a variety of forms, such as Native American stories, accounts of conquest in South America and settlement in the English colonies, Puritan sermons, autobiography, political tracts, captivity narratives, poetry, and letterssome in translation, others in their original English. While these texts are not all recognisably what you might think of as 'literature,' they are the founding documents and genres of the Americas and their influence is felt in American culture to the present day.

Roots of America: From Colonial Settlement to the Civil War and Reconstruction

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 1

This module provides a foundational survey of the history, literature, and culture of the United States (and the colonies which preceded it) to 1900. It begins with the Columbian encounter in 1492, when two worlds were brought into sharp conflict with each other and continues through English settlement and colonisation in the 17th century to growth, expansion and the articulation of a specific American identity by the middle of the 18th century. It assesses the creation of the American nation through war with Britain and through the imaginative construction of a new political relationship between people and government.

We will then proceeed to political and cultural formations in the 19th-century republic. You will focus on why the newly formed nation should ultimately falter on the issue of slavery and why the concept of the United States and the 'Union' became such contested terms. You will examine how contested visions of America's future and its 'manifest destiny' cohered and divided the citizenry, and ultimately ask, as Abraham Lincoln so aptly put it in 1855, 'can we, as a nation, continue together permanently--forever-half slave, and half free?'

Our attention subsequently turns to the mammoth transformations to American life unleashed by the Civil War and Reconstruction; events, historian James McPherson calls the 'Second American Revolution.' Among the many topics, we will consider the emergence of a modern activist central government committed, albeit temporarily, to constitutional protected civil rights; we will address how Americans, in both North and South, understood the meaning of Union and nation after the carnage of Civil War; and how industrialists, immigrants, and union activists attempted to shape and influence the rapid growth of American urban life in the final quarter of the 19th century. Finally, we will consider the plight of black Americans as the promises of emancipation gave way to racial segregation in the South and the rise of the urban ghetto in the North.

Students will be required to approach these topics from both a historical and a literary perspective, paying particular attention to formative texts. The writings of John Smith, John Winthrop, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, James Fenimore Cooper, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, Henry James, Edith Wharton (among others) will be examined as a distinct American literary culture evolves in the 19th century. That culture – like all social values in the years preceding Civil War – would split in the North-South divide of the 1850s, but in the final lectures of the module, students will examine how literary works would ultimately bolster resurgent American nationalism in the decades following the War. Students will also be encouraged to think about the imaginative formulation of American identity and American character through representations of such matters in film.

American Humour

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 1

Humour is probably among the most approachable of ways to introduce first year students to core issues in American Studies, and one of the most telling. Jewish humour, for example, which clearly informs, say, the films of the Marx Brothers, Heller's Catch-22,or the TV comedy of Seinfeld, can teach us much about the history and culture of immigration and assimilation so integral to American identity. Likewise, African-American comedians from the 70s to the 90s exemplify a particular, 'signifying' tradition, in Henry Louis Gates' phrase, as well as providing comment on the politics of the day. Or we might view the relationship between American economy and culture - a grand narrative of the twentieth century - as dramatised in the Fordist dystopias of Chaplin, the Southern Gothic of Flannery O'Connor and the acceleration from post-war boom in Thomas Pynchon to the vision of Wall Street excess in Ellis' American Psycho. In all these cases, humour provides both spectator or readerly pleasure and a form in which a more covert critique takes place, making it an invaluable mode for you to experience and consider key cultural and historical questions.

Incorporating literature, film, TV, live performance and visual art, the module will thus address the social, political and philosophical issues each topic raises and the context from which it has sprung, from the 19th century 'Connecticut wits' to more recent 'gross-out' comedy. By way of materials, an on-line module reader will be made available to YOU composed of a number of readable essays on the theory of humour as well as selected essays more directly relating to each specific topic and/or work. Interdisciplinary in nature, the module will hence encourage you to investigate how ideas about humour can work with other texts to become forms of critical thinking: Bergson's notion of comedic automatism, for example, read alongside accounts of the factory system can illuminate Keaton or Chaplin's cinematic commentary on the fate of the American industrial worker. Through such connections, you will be introduced to influential writers like Bergson and Freud in an accesible fashion and find ways to apply and adapt their ideas in the wider cultural field.

American Literature to 1890: Part II

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 1

American Literature to 1890 II introduces you to the major trends and texts of a multi-ethnic America from Washington Irving and James Fenimore Cooper to Emily Dickinson and Henry James. These are not simply 'authors', in the modern sense, writing 'great books', but diverse voices constructed by class, gender, race, nationality and religious persuasion. Some texts articulate ancient native traditions and myths, others come to terms in writing with experiences of migration, captivity, conflict, and slavery. Central to the module are questions of national identity, and the role that literature plays in both constructing and communicating an 'American experience'.

The Look of America

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 1

This module takes as its premise the notion that ever since the explosion of mass media and mass society in the industrial age, the United States has taken an increasingly dominant place in the global visual imagination. This process reached its peak at the beginning of the twentieth century, and since then America has generated for the world innumerable iconic and hegemonic visual representations of its own cultural narratives.

The task of this module will be to explore and deconstruct some of these visual representations, along with the ideologies and narratives that sustain and refract them. You will begin with an introduction to visual theory, especially as it applies to the American context, and acquire the critical tools necessary for the module. You will then locate the period under scrutiny within a broader visual and cultural 'prehistory', illuminating the roots of the modern world and its visual scene.

After this, you will concentrate on the culture of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Taking a thematic approach, you will examine the issues that emerge over the module of the twentieth century, referring forwards and backwards in order to generate connections where appropriate. The intention here is to introduce you to aspects of visual culture and its criticism, as well as to defamiliarise and explore some of the more familiar American iconography surrounding us.

Film Theory

  • 30 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 2

In this module, you examine a range of theoretical approaches that have shaped (and continue to shape) Film Studies including classical film theory, debates about realism and the cinematic apparatus, psychoanalysis, ideology, and representations of difference.

As well as providing a grounding in major theoretical debates in Film Studies, you learn how to think and write about film using sophisticated critical models.

Theoretical Concepts for American Studies

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 2

American Cinema B

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 2

An awareness of how Hollywood cinema was shaped, how it acquired its position of dominance, and the forms and aesthetic conventions that characterise it, is essential to an understanding of cinema more generally. Accordingly, this module will focus on the formation of Hollywood in the 1910s through to the post-World War 2 era, with particular emphasis placed on the development of the 'studio system' and Hollywood's 'golden age' of the 1920s to 1950. You will view a range of representative Hollywood films made during the period and analyse them in relation to the industry and its practices. You will also situate Hollywood cinema within the political and social life of the United States in the period.

American Literature Since 1890: Part I

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 2

This module will introduce significant and canonical texts by American writers produced since 1890 and throughout the first part of the twentieth century. By analysing the working of class, gender and race in these texts we will explore many of the social and cultural issues associated with the evolution of American modernity and American modernist aesthetics. We will observe the different ways in which writers tackle or avoid important economic and social questions of the period. We will examine how important socio-economic developments such as the rise of industrialisation and urbanisation, war, consumer culture, the question of women's rights and ideas of national identity shape the stylistic and thematic fabric of these works.

History Short Period: America in the 20th Century

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 2

This module probes the social, political and economic development of the United States since the end of the Reconstruction era. It is organised on a broadly chronological basis with primary stress on key topics such as:

  • the emergence of racial segregation in the south
  • the construction of a modern, industrial society
  • the emergence of the United States as a 'great power'
  • progressive reform
  • the economic crisis of the 1930s
  • the American experience in World War II and the ensuing Cold War
  • the civil rights and 'New Left' movements of the 1960s, and the concomitant rise of conservativism.

Notable themes include the growth of federal power, the steady erosion of localism, the development of a corporate-dominated consumer society, the limitations of modern liberalism and the political influence of American religion.

The module will apprise you with landmark political change, such as the failure of populism and the changing Republican party constituency in the South, as well as important legal rulings such as Brown v Board of Education, and Roe v Wade. A close analysis of the New Deal, a transformational moment in 20th-century US history, frames an extended assessment of the rise and fall of the so-called 'New Deal order'.

In addition, you will become familiarised with critical historiographical debates over the role of American labour, the impact of war on American society and culture, and the growth of the imperial presidency.

Although the focus is primarily on domestic events and structural trends, the United States' growing engagement with the wider world receives full attention.

The African American Experience

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 2

This module examines the history of African-American political, cultural, and social developments from 1863 to the present.

Its principal goal is to familiarise you with the debates that African Americans have had among themselves between emancipation and the present day, thus establishing a deep historical understanding of the ongoing freedom struggle in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

It assesses intraracial arguments over the relationship of blacks to the US government in war and peace, over racial and class identities, and over diverse tactics and strategies for the advancement of the race.

Although particular attention is given to the longrunning campaign to destroy de jure segregation in the southern states (culminating in the successful nonviolent direct action campaigns of the 1960s), the module is predicated on the demonstrable fact that racial prejudice was a national, not a regional, phenomenon.

Lectures and seminars analyse the connections between African American history and culture. Emphasis is given to well-known black leaders like Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey, and Martin Luther King Jr., but female activists and the unsung black masses themselves also receive close attention.

Women in America

  • 15 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 2

In this module, you explore the changing experiences of women in America as recorded in history and represented in literature and film.

You also look at the relationship between gender, race, class, and ethnicity and how this is reflected in politics, economics and social developments in the United States.

You'll study historical and political debates about women's work, family life and citzenship and the different ways women have challenged gender oppression through social movements and creative arts activism.

In your lectures, you'll learn about women's history and gender relations in America from the pre-Colonial period to the present day. And in your seminars you'll study individual women's lives and artistic productions in relation to the weekly lecture topic.

American Cities: New Orleans

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 2

The Big Easy evokes dozens of images from Spanish moss draped buildings, mint juleps by the Mississippi, Mardi Gras parades and Louis Armstrong's horn, to desperate crowds in Hurricane Katrina. Some of the images are based in reality, others in fantasy and others form part of a constructed narrative. In this module you will contextualise the city's place in French and Spanish colonisation and we will consider the growth and expansion of the city, considering New Orleans' pivotal role in the slave trade and the regional cotton economy. You will examine the environmental history of the city, assess the importance of the Mississippi to its growth and consider its liminal position between the Caribbean and America.

Turning to the 20th century you will assess why New Orleans was among the first cities to institute racial segregation and how its black population resisted those efforts in politics, writing and of course in jazz music. You will also assess the rich literary tradition of New Orleans' writers from George Washington Cable to Kate Chopin, William Faulkner and to more contemporary writers in south Louisiana such as Earnest Gaines. You will explore why the city became America's notorious center of vice (long before Las Vegas) and we discuss why Americans have long considered the city a den of iniquity, mired in gothic exceptionalism, somehow removed from the national story, but so representative of it. Finally we take our story to the present and unpack why in a land of exceptional plenty there should be such urban poverty exposed for the world to see during Hurricane Katrina.

American Cities: New York

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 2

From New Amsterdam to 9/11 and beyond, New York has always been iconic. We experience the Big Apple through the sounds and sights that came before us: the movies, the music, the literature, the songs. But what goes on behind these images of ceaseless activity and glamour? Now the hub of global finace, New York was also a haven for immigrants, with Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty sitting right there in its harbour. Because of its diversity of population and ever-changing urban development, we will in this module be looking at the city from many perspectives, and find that to study its history and culture is to discover that the city that never sleeps never ceases to pose questions either.

American Drama

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 2

American Literature Since 1890: Part II

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 2

This module will introduce significant and canonical texts by American writers produced since 1945. By analysing the working of class, gender and race in these texts we will explore many of the social and cultural issues associated with the American modernity and American post-modernist aesthetics. We will observe the different ways in which writers tackle or avoid important economic and social questions of the period.

American Popular Music

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 2

This module examines the historical, social and cultural contexts of American popular music, focussing predominantly on the USA. Emphasis is placed on popular genres and styles of the twentieth century, the period in which the USA took on a dominant role in the creation and spread of popular culture across the globe.

As well as charting this growth in dominance, the module analyses popular music as representative ‘people’s music’. Genres and styles – including the blues, jazz, country, soul, funk, punk, disco, hip hop and grunge – are used to read aspects of change and continuity in the American twentieth century. Rather than providing a simple chronological history of musical styles in the USA, the module uses the music to examine concepts of race, place, tradition, commerce and authenticity. The music industry is analysed in terms of American business models, and recording and revival are explored as ways of thinking about representation, commercialization and exceptionalism.

Vital socio-historical moments, such as the emergence of rock and roll and the use of music in the civil rights era, are studied alongside the ‘invention’ of the teenager and the rise of a counterculture. The module concludes with a series of reflections on the various soundscapes associated with America and with the notion of multiple Americas audible through the myriad of non-Anglophone genres that exist within North America.

British Cinema A

  • 30 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 2

This module provides a historical survey of British cinema as well as an introduction to critical and theoretical debates associated with national cinema. Specifically, we cover the relationship between British cinema and British culture, history and identity.

 You examine how British cinema has represented other dimensions of identity such as class, ethnicity and sexuality. You consider a range of films in order to explore how British cinema:

  • responded to the Second World War and the decline of the British Empire
  • has reflected transformations of society associated with multiculturalism
  • functions in a transnational or even post-national era
  • and how specific genres such as the crime film and the period drama have functioned in the national and international marketplace.

 Films to be studied include Submarine, Brief Encounter, Fires Were Started, Black Narcissus, Performance, A Room With A View, Bend It Like Beckham and Red Road.

British Cinema B

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 2

The module begins by examining critical approaches to a history of British cinema and the dominant ways this cinema and its characteristics have been understood. We then examine British cinema from the 1920s to the contemporary era beginning with the factors which shaped it, in particular the debates about the social and cultural importance of a specific British cinema against the background of the massive influence of Hollywood, and the representations of ‘Britishness’ this produced. The later weeks of the module examine in more detail British cinema’s attempts to deal with the various forms of ‘otherness’, which it has sought both to define and to contain in the changing cultural and political climate of the post-war years and with the different ‘British cinemas’ this produced.

Chinese Cinema B

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 2

This module looks at Chinese-language film from the PRC, Hong Kong, Taiwan and beyond. Since 1949, China has been divided between two competing centres of ideological and cultural legitimation: the People’s Republic of China, and the Republic of China on Taiwan. This division, combined with the influence of Hong Kong and diaspora cultural production, means that Chinese-language cinema is an excellent case study through which to explore the limits of the ‘national cinema’ model of Film Studies.

This module does so by considering how Chinese cinemas have responded to social, political and industrial change across and between their three key sites of production, in ways that both intersect with, and often complicate, the concerns of ‘national cinema’ studies. A variety of material will be covered, both historical and contemporary, potentially touching on issues of representation, genre, form and style, and industrial and policy challenges.

Debates in Screen Documentary A

  • 30 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 2

This module will introduce you to the major debates in documentary film studies, a burgeoning field within the discipline of film studies. The documentary is notoriously difficult to categorize or define, but John Grierson’s provisional definition as ‘the creative treatment of actuality’ is as good a place as any to start the investigation of this shapeshifting form.

Gaining in popularity and expanding in form well beyond its traditional televisual format, documentary studies has become an exciting area of research with a literature that is expanding exponentially. A survey of the field will include (but is not limited to) interrogations into questions of:

  • representation of reality
  • documentary authorship
  • objectivity and subjectivity
  • the essayistic and experimental modes
  • other key themes.

Movements and trends in documentary will be covered including a range of practices that have spurred heated debate, such as the mockumentary, the interactive documentary, and the incursion of documentary into the art world. Case studies from international documentary will be integrated into the module, depending on the specialism of the convenor.

Debates in Screen Documentary B

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 2

This module will introduce you to the major debates in documentary film studies, a burgeoning field within the discipline of film studies. The documentary is notoriously difficult to categorize or define, but John Grierson’s provisional definition as ‘the creative treatment of actuality’ is as good a place as any to start the investigation of this shapeshifting form.

Gaining in popularity and expanding in form well beyond its traditional televisual format, documentary studies has become an exciting area of research with a literature that is expanding exponentially. A survey of the field will include (but is not limited to) interrogations into questions of:

  • representation of reality
  • documentary authorship
  • objectivity and subjectivity
  • the essayistic and experimental modes
  • other key themes.

Movements and trends in documentary will be covered including a range of practices that have spurred heated debate, such as the mockumentary, the interactive documentary, and the incursion of documentary into the art world. Case studies from international documentary will be integrated into the module, depending on the specialism of the convenor.

French Cinema B

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 2

This module provides a historical, critical, and theoretical survey of developments in French cinema. It focuses on key historical issues (aesthetic, social, political) that have shaped French cinema over the last century, examining the intersections of film with French politics, culture and identities. A range of directors (possible examples: Godard, Franju, Denis) and types of film (popular genres, art cinema, avant-garde) will be studied, with films ranging from the 1920s to the present day. The module will combine close attention to textual analysis with contextual study of the period in which films were produced, and with comparative readings of critical approaches to films.

Politics of Governance: USA

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 2

This module examines four approaches to understanding contemporary US politics that emphasise the role of institutions, ideas, individuals and interests. These approaches are applied to the three main institutions of the Presidency, Congress and the Supreme Court and to the nature of political parties and voting in the US.

Race and the Law in U.S. History

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 2

Time and Place: 1831: Slave Revolts

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 2

In August 1831, Nat Turner launched the most significant slave revolt in American history. Murdering 60 whites in a bloody spree, Turner's revolt convulsed the region. Seventy two hours later, militia units crushed the revolt. The backlash was frenzied with at least one hundred enslaved people executed by local militiamen. Yet despite Turner's subsequent execution, neither the rebel slave nor the insurrection he initiated could be entirely exorcized from the minds of contemporary southerners.

In December 1831, 60,000 enslaved people in western Jamaica rebelled against the island's slaveholding elite. It was the final, and one of the largest, revolts in the history of Caribbean slavery.

These revolts laid bare the revolutionary capability of enslaved people, they exposed the enmity that most slaves bore toward their masters, and they visibly revealed that enslaved people would adopt desperate means to secure their freedom. They also demonstrated how enslaved peoples utilized evangelical and small-scale trading networks to mobilize communities. And the revolts exposed how rebel leaders exploited national and transatlantic tensions over the future of slavery and harnessed direct action to the political tide of anti-slavery in Britain and America. But the frenzied backlash also revealed white anxieties over slavery, the nature of race, and the longeveity of slavery. As enslaved rebels demonstrated their rage against slaveholders and their aspirations for freedom, whites responded with fear, resentment, and paranoia to the rebel threat. Some condemned outside agitators, notably vocal abolitionists and evangelical liberals, while others redoubled their commitment to racialized slavery.

This module will address:

  1. the role of enslaved peoples (and the concept of 'agency') in shaping liberation movements in a comparative context
  2. the factors underpinning the disintegration of Jamaican slavery and its defense in America
  3. the growth of anti-slavery in the Anglophone Atlantic and the expansion of abolitionist sentiment in Britain and the USA
  4. white slaveholding identities and meanings attached to slave ownership, including anxieties surrounding the loss of white racial authority during and after the revolts
  5. the value of comparative methodologies for understanding historical change.

In short, the module examines the material, political, psychological, and gendered parameters to racial slavery and emancipation within the early nineteenth-century Atlantic world and considers the rise and fall of slavery in two key settings.

Transatlantic Rhetoric: Public Speech and Anglo-American Writing 1750-1900

  • 15 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 2

What is 'rhetoric' and why was it so important for literary life in nineteenth-century Britain and America? How can we begin to analyse public speaking as writing, and what is its relationship to literature in general?

You address these questions by exploring the cultural history of persuasive public speech between the American Revolution and the turn of the twentieth century, and the role it played in the development of literary expression.

Each week you look at a pair of one or more speeches from either side of the Atlantic, from across a range of genres including parliamentary oratory, radical political speechmaking, sermons, courtroom statements and comic lectures.

By training in the methods of rhetorical analysis you develop an understanding of how to comprehend the meanings and craft of public speech.

By placing speechmaking back into broader literary history, you begin to see rhetoric and voice as central themes in the history of Anglo-American writing.

Hollywood Industry and Imaginary

  • 30 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 4

This module examines one of the world's most commercially and culturally significant media institutions. It addresses Hollywood as a set of interconnected practices, industrial and symbolic.

 The module develops points of contact between two ways of envisaging films – as commodities within a moving image economy, and as symbolic forms – by situating film texts in historical contexts. It focuses in particular on the period from the late 1960s to the present day.

 As this is a final year module, you will draw on the range of methods, skills and approaches that you have encountered in your earlier work.

 You will also develop an account of the political economy of Hollywood. You look for ways of understanding why and how films are produced, and how these commercial imperatives shape the form and nature of Hollywood movies. Hollywood will be examined as a system of publicity encompassing marketing procedures, journalistic commentary, etc. 

Of course, you’ll also look at the films themselves. Their narrative structures, systems of representation, cinematographic properties, thematic concerns and the pleasures they offer – all in the specific historical and institutional contexts of the 'heavy industry of dreams’.

The Film Festival Circuit

  • 30 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 4

Viewing Women

  • 30 credits
  • Autumn Teaching, Year 4

Early work on the relation of women to film considered woman's 'to-be-looked-at-ness', examining representations of women as objects of the male gaze, constructions 'cut to the measure of [male] desire' (Laura Mulvey). You will consider the female spectator, positioned by particular film and television genres (melodrama, the 'woman's film', and soap opera). More recently, attention has shifted to women as social audiences and producers of meanings, differing from one another and constructing from texts their own meanings and pleasures. This module traces these developing and interacting strands of research, considering questions around the location of meaning, the relationship between text and context, and the usefulness of different strands of feminist research in enabling us to understand film texts and their representations and positioning of women. It considers a range of popular and feminist film texts and their viewers.

Adaptation: Filming Fiction

  • 30 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 4

This module examines film adaptations of fiction from the silent period to the present day. A diverse range of film texts will be considered, along with critical and theoretical perspectives on adaptation, authorship and intertextuality.

The module focuses on film adaptations of 19th-century and 20th-century novels, short stories, picture books and graphic novels, including works by Lewis Carroll, Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Bronte, Raymond Carver, William Trevor and Maurice Sendak, and films by directors such as Roger Corman, Spike Jonze, David Cronenberg and Andrea Arnold. We will consider the significance of the idea of fidelity for the reception and theorisation of film adaptation.

The module will approach adaptation as both an industrial mode of commercial production and a creative mode of critical interpretation. Cinematic strategies deployed to reproduce literary devices will be analysed in order to think about adaptation's value for theories of medium specificity. The module will also examine the politics of crosscultural adaptation.

America in the 21st Century

  • 30 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 4

You examine the state of 21st century America and assess the challenges the country faces - evaluating how it is represented globally. You examine a wide range of texts, media, documentary film, fiction, and cultural theory. 

You look at topics including: 

  • America as a civilisation
  • how American values and concepts have shaped social and cultural formation in American life
  • 9/11 and the War on Terror
  • community and civic decline in American public life
  • the 21st century American city
  • race and ethnicity in 21st century America
  • the contemporary American novel
  • the American West
  • political activism and protest
  • consumer culture and religion in 21st century America. 

Documentary America: Non-Fiction Writing

  • 30 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 4

The study of American fiction often precludes an examination of some of the best writing and forms of self-representation produced in America: political and photo-essays, social science publications, journalism, reportage, and documentary films. This module examines the development of iconic non-fictional literature and other forms of visual representation (such as film and photography) from the 19th and 20th centuries. We will look at the style, content and circulation of non-fictional forms and examine their relationship with other aspects of cultural, social and political representation in America. We will also look at the ways that these forms intersect with the development of modernist and postmodernist literature in the US more broadly.

For this module you will have to read from a broad selection of materials that do not necessarily fit into conventional literary genres. We will analyse why writers and artists have chosen to represent events in the way that they do and the wider cultural and ethical implications of those forms.

Eastern European Cinemas: myth and memory

  • 30 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 4

This module enables you to engage with key critical debates, films and historical contexts from the cinemas of Eastern Europe, in both communist and post-communist eras.

Topics of inquiry will consider interfaces between aesthetics, politics and society, and may include such topics as:

  • socialist realism, critical realism and antirealism
  • popular genres and 'new waves'
  • history, memory and narratives of war and nation
  • representations of gender, the individual, and the collective
  • the work of auteurs (e.g., Tarkovsky, Wajda and Wolf)
  • state propaganda and censorship
  • filmmaking after the collapse of communism
  • methodological implications of a retrospective and Western perspective.

In addition to exploring such issues, you will deepen your skills in independent research and higher-level contextual and textual analysis.

Film Studies Dissertation

  • 30 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 4

The dissertation module allows you to work on a sustained Film Studies project of your choosing that builds on appropriate critical, theoretical or historical approaches encountered in your study of the subject.

It functions both as a summary experience, enabling you to draw together and reflect on skills and knowledge acquired earlier in the course, and as a self-directed project that allows you to focus on material you have chosen and planned.

Introductory lectures, tutorials, research workshops and peer review will guide you through the process of choosing the subject, devising research questions, and preparing and refining the proposal and dissertation.

Sexualities and the Cinema

  • 30 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 4

This module centres on the critical study of sexualities and how they are represented in a range of film texts. Through screenings, lectures, seminars and self-directed study, you will be introduced to the various ways in which sexualities have been both theorised and represented in a range of film texts.

Debates considered in the module may include:

  • the politics of sexual identification
  • the idea of sexual ‘perversity’
  • sexual stereotyping (especially of lesbians and gays)
  • and the critical concept of ‘queer’ in theory
  • identity politics and cinematic genre (queer cinema).

The United States in the World

  • 30 credits
  • Spring Teaching, Year 4

As the 21st century begins, the United States is still the world's only superpower: no other nation possesses comparable military and economic power or has interests that reach the entire globe. To understand the place and power of the US in the contemporary world, it is vital to understand how its geopolitical strategies function, militarily and economically. Yet because US power is also secured through cultural and discursive strategies, it is equally important to analyse how US cultural/discursive products and processes participate in the construction of the US in all the varied ways it imagines itself. The aim of this module is to analyse how US cultural/discursive strategies participate in imagining the US in the world, either by being embedded within traditional geopolitical strategies or by sitting alongside them. Rather than taking an historical approach, the module is organised around specific theoretical and cultural/discursive themes and practices.

These include:

  • architectural theory and the building of embassies abroad
  • design theory and designing the nation through everyday objects
  • film theory and screening the nation through popular film
  • remediation theory and virtually remediating the nation
  • entertainmentality theory and exhibiting the nation in museums
  • performance/performativity theory and re-enacting the nation though historical re-enactments as well as song
  • advertising theory and advertising the nation to US citizens.

Along the way, significant foreign and domestic policy debates from Cold War politics to the 'War on Terror' to the US domestic 'War on Illegal Immigration' will be considered through political, cultural and discursive theories (eg Said's notion of orientalism, Foucault's notion of governmentality, Butler's notion of performativity and Ranciere's notion of the birth of the nation). 

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