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Literature 6C: Anglo-American Film


Admission requirements

Successful completion of Literature 1A, 1B, 2 and 3 or equivalent.


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.

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 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.


The timetable will be available by June 1st on the website

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar (two hours per week)

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.
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.



Yes, see Blackboard

Reading list

Provisionally list of films:
WEEK ONE: Charlies Chaplin, Modern Times;
WEEK TWO: Preston Sturges, The Lady Eve;
WEEK THREE: Walt Disney, Pinocchio and The Jungle Book.;
WEEK FOUR: Howard Hawks, Red River;
WEEK FIVE: Billy Wilder, _Sunset Boulevard;
WEEK SIX: Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, Singin’ in the Rain;
WEEK SEVEN: Alfred Hitchcock, Psycho;
WEEK EIGHT: Stanley Kubrick, 2001, A Space Odyssey;
WEEK NINE: Roman Polanski, Chinatown;
WEEK TEN: Martin Scorsese, The King of Comedy;
WEEK ELEVEN: Whit Stillman, Metropolitan;
WEEK TWELVE: Terrence Malick, The Thin Red Line.


Students should register through uSis. Exchange students cannot register through uSis, but must see the director of studies and register with her. If you have any questions, please contact the departmental office, tel. 071 5272144 or mail:
Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte
Registration Contractonderwijs


Departmental Office English Language and Culture, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 102C. Tel. 071 5272144; mail:
Co-ordinator of Studies: Ms T.D. Obbens, MA, P.N. van Eyckhof 4, room 103C.


The film for week one is: Charlie Chaplin, Modern Times (1936).