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Literature 6C: An Introduction to Anglo-American Film, 1939-1990



We will explore the breadth of mid-twentieth-century film, following transformations within the cinematic experience, as well as examining the relationship between the cinema and other modes of performance, whether in the theatre, radio or television. We shall investigate the opportunities provided by these other performance media and assess their impact on the cinematic experience. We shall consider these works of art in their cultural context, and scrutinize the ways in which popular film expressed, critiqued or questioned developments within American society.

Teaching method

Two hour seminar per week.

Course objectives

This course will extend and deepen the power of students’ critical analysis through in-depth consideration of texts. Students will explore critical debates surrounding British and American film. 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’. 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. Students will be encouraged to share analytical and critical views on the texts ascribed in class discussion, including short presentations, and will focus research skills in the writing of a final research paper. This paper will be on a relevant subject of their own choice within the parameters of the course.

Required reading

  • Leo Braudy and Marshall Cohen (editors), Film Theory and Criticism (Sixth Edition) (Oxford University Press, 2004).

Test method

Two essays of 2500-3000 words (50% each); or, one longer essay on a comparative subject (dealing with at least two texts featured on the syllabus) of 5000-6000 words (100%).
The first shorter essay (if the student decides to do this) is due on the Tuesday of the week following the last teaching week (week 14); the long essay and the second shorter essay are due in during the exam period.

Time table

The timetable will be available from June 1st on the Internet.


English Department, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 102c. Phone: 071 527 2144, or by mail:


Students can register through U-twist before 15 July. After 15 July students can only register through the Departmental Office.


A Blackboard site will be made available, to which all students should sign up before the beginning of the semester.


Week 1: Victor Fleming (director), The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Week 2: George Cukor (direcotr), The Philadelphia Story (1940)
Week 3: Billy Wilder (director), Sunset Boulevard (1950)
Week 4: Alfred Hitchcock (director), Rear Window (1954)
Week 5: Orson Welles (director), Touch of Evil (1958)
Week 6: Stanley Kubrick (director), Dr Strangelove (1964)
Week 7: Walt Disney (studio head), Pinocchio (1940) / The Jungle Book (1967)
Week 8: Robert Algman (director), McCabe and Mrs Miller (1971)
Week 9: Francis Ford Coppola (director), The Godfather (1972)
Week 10: Woody Allen (director), Annie Hall (1977)
Week 11: Martin Scorsese (director), Raging Bull (1980)
Week 12: Ridley Scott (director), Blade Runner [director’s cut] (1982)
Week 13: David Lynch (director), Blue Velvet (1986)

It is planned that, as often as possible, films will be screened before the class.