nl en

Age of Anxiety: British Film-Makers in the 1940S


Admission requirements

A relevant BA degree and an interest in film and British history and culture.


We shall explore the breadth of 1940 British film, following transformations within the cinematic experience, as well as examining the relationship between cinema and culture. We shall consider these works of art in their cultural context, and scrutinize the ways in which films by British directors expressed, critiqued or questioned developments within American and British society. On some occasions, we shall compare the film with the book on which it is based. The course will be taught in seminars, where students are encouraged to discuss the movies (and literature) in question.

Course objectives

  • Course objective 1
    This course will extend and deepen the power of students’ critical analysis through in-depth consideration of texts.

  • Course objective 2
    Students will explore critical debates surrounding Hitchock’s films.

  • Course objective 3
    The course will aim to provide for literature students the critical skills necessary for the analysis of visual texts. This will involve an understanding of: basic film theory; the uses of the frame and editing; the place of the ‘star’; the nature of genre; and the ‘auteur theory’.

  • Course objective 4
    Regarding both literary and cinematic art works, it will also aim to extend the students’ skills in the reading of narrative and the understanding of the relationship of a text to its cultural/social context.

  • Course objective 5
    Students will be encouraged to share analytical and critical views on the texts ascribed in class discussion, perhaps including short presentations, and will focus research skills in the writing of a final research paper.

  • Course objective 6
    In their papers, the students will show that they have developed the relevant skills for researching and writing on film.



The course will probably consist of the following films:
WEEK ONE: Alfred Hitchcock, Rebecca
WEEK TWO: Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
WEEK THREE: Alfred Hitchcock, Shadow of a Doubt
WEEK FOUR: Laurence Olivier, Henry V
WEEK FIVE: Cavalcanti, Robert Hamer, and Charles Crichton, Dead of Night // Thorold Dickinson, The Queen of Spades
WEEK SIX: Alfred Hitchock, Notorious
WEEK SEVEN: Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, Black Narcissus
WEEK EIGHT: John Boulting, Brighton Rock
WEEK NINE: Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, The Red Shoes
WEEK TEN: David Lean, Oliver Twist
WEEK ELEVEN: Robert Hamer, Kind Hearts and Coronets // Alexander Mackendrick, The Ladykillers
WEEK TWELVE: Carol Reed, The Third Man

Mode of instruction

Independent reading and research

Course Load

A brief calculation of the course load, broken down by:

  • Total course load for the course (number of EC x 28 hours), 280 hours.

  • Amount of lectures: … hour (number of hours for lectures, f.i. 2 hours per week x 12 weeks = 24 hours)

  • Screenings = 30 hours

  • Reading = 116 hours

  • Essay research and writing = 110 hours

Assessment method

Two essays of 2000-2500 words (50% each); or, one longer essay on a comparative subject (dealing with at least two texts featured on the syllabus) of 4000-5000 words (100%). Both essays must contain a significant element of research.
All essays will be expected on a date (to be announced) during the exam period. Late / resit essays will be graded, but will not receive any comments.


Information will be on the Blackboard site, and I shall use Blackboard to communicate with the students.

Reading list

William Shakespeare, Henry V (ed. T. W. Craik) (Arden)
Rumer Godden, Black Narcissus (Virago Modern Classics)
Graham Greene, Brighton Rock (Vintage Classics)
Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist (ed. Philip Horne) (Penguin Classics)


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory. If you have any questions, please contact the departmental office, tel. 071 527 2251 or mail.

When registering students of the MA Literary studies take priority. The deadline for registration is August 15. All other students should contact the Coordinator of studies: Mr. J. Donkers, MA, P.N. van Eyckhof 3, room 1.01b.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte
Registration Contractonderwijs


Literary Studies student administration Van Wijkplaats 3, room 002. Tel. 071 527 2251 or

Coordinator of studies: Mr. J. Donkers, MA, P.N. van Eyckhof 3, room 1.01b.


For the first class, please watch Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca in advance. It is essential that the films we discuss are fresh in your mind; if you’ve seen them before, you must see them again before the class.