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Unit information: Contemporary Hollywood Cinema in 2020/21

Unit name Contemporary Hollywood Cinema
Unit code FATV30011
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Pete Falconer
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Film and Television
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit will examine key trends and changes in contemporary Hollywood cinema. This includes the exploration of contemporary genres and narrative forms, along with the impact of new technologies and aesthetic approaches, and changing industrial contexts. The unit will also explore broader theoretical ways of understanding contemporary cinema, such as its relation to modernity/postmodernity, globalization and the place of film in contemporary media culture. Students will explore recent popular films in relation to key ways of understanding Contemporary Hollywood, developing a specific area of focus in an individual presentation and combining multiple perspectives in a research essay.

Unit aims:

  • To examine trends and changes in the uses of genre, narrative and aesthetics in contemporary Hollywood film;
  • To examine changing formations of cinema as a medium and popular form;
  • To explore the relationship between popular cinema and society and ideology;
  • To deepen conceptual vocabularies and theoretical frameworks for the analysis of contemporary film.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

(1) Identify and critically respond to central and emerging trends in contemporary popular cinema;

(2) analyse film narrative, genre and aesthetics at an advanced level;

(3) identify and apply key methodological approaches in the study of contemporary film, and respond to the complexities of these approaches;

(4) identify and evaluate pertinent evidence in order to support a cogent argument;

(5) develop an advanced independent research project.

Teaching details

Lecture seminar-sessions, weekly tutorials, supported by self-directed assessment preparation activity.

Assessment Details

100% 5000-word essay

Reading and References

  • Bordwell, D. (2006) The Way Hollywood Tells It: Story and Style in Modern Movies, Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Buktaman, S. (2003) Matters of Gravity: Special Effects and Supermen in the 20th Century, Durham: Duke University Press.
  • Jameson, F. (1991) Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, Durham: Duke University Press.
  • Jenkins, H. (2006) Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, New York: New York University Press.
  • Purse, L. (2013), Digital Imaging in Popular Cinema, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press