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Unit information: Gender, Sexuality and Cinema in 2020/21

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Unit name Gender, Sexuality and Cinema
Unit code MODL30018
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. O'Rawe
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Modern Languages
Faculty Faculty of Arts


The unit Gender, Sexuality and Cinema explores screen representations of gender and sexuality focusing specifically on a range of contemporary film texts. The unit is designed to enable students to analyse cinema’s role in shaping and framing cultural understandings of both gender and sexuality across a range of different global and linguistic contexts. Students will explore definitions and notions of gender/sexuality through diverse theoretical perspectives, including notably feminist film criticism and queer theory. The unit will explore a number of key concepts (such as identity/subjectivity, discourse/language, performance/performativity, transgression/subversion, form/style, spectatorship/reception, place/space, race/ethnicity) through a broad range of international films taken from across the globe. The unit will place a particular emphasis on the linguistic provenance and cultural specificity of the films covered to encourage students to develop a comparative analytical framework for the study of a key strand of contemporary critical theory in the context of cinema studies.

All films studied will be sub-titled and students are not expected to study secondary criticism in the target language given the comparative nature of the unit.

Films studied will include a number of the following: City of God (Mereilles/Lund, 2002), Goodfellas (Scorsese, 1990), Infernal Affairs (Lau/Mak, 2002), A Prophet (Audiard, 2009), All About My Mother (Almodóvar, 1999), Bad Education (Almodóvar, 2004) Paris is Burning (Livingston, 1990), Far From Heaven (Haynes, 2002), Tomboy (Sciamma, 2011), Blue is the Warmest Colour (Kechiche, 2013), Happy Together (Wong, 1997), Tom At The Farm (Dolan, 2013), Beau Travail (Denis, 1999), Water Lilies (Sciamma, 2007).

Unit aims:

  • To provide a thorough coverage of contemporary theoretical approaches to the study of gender and sexuality in the context of cinema
  • To expose students to a broad range of visual representations of gender/sexuality through textual analysis and close reading of 8-10 key films.
  • To explore the theoretical writings in English on gender/sexuality and to establish a conversation between theories of film form, style, spectatorship and reception and social questions relating to gendered and sexual identities.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the key issues arising from their study of gender/sexuality in film history/theory
  2. Respond in a rigorous and analytical manner to the issues/debates raised by the unit and be capable of critically interrogating them.
  3. Demonstrate critical awareness of theoretical scholarship in the field of study and to be able to express this in both oral and written.
  4. Carry out independent research inquiry appropriate to this level of study and with a sense of the consolidation of skills between levels of study in the building of the degree programme
  5. Compare and contrast the construction of gender/sexuality in a wide range of film, cultural and historical contexts
  6. Engage in close analysis of the film texts

Teaching details

Teaching will be delivered through a combination of synchronous sessions and asynchronous activities, including seminars, lectures, formative tasks and collaborative as well as self-directed learning opportunities supported by tutor consultation

Assessment Details

1 x sequence analysis , 1500 words (25%), testing ILOs 1-4 and 6

1 x 3500-word essay (75%), testing ILOs 1-6

Reading and References

Teresa de Lauretis, Technologies of Gender: Essays on Theory, Film and Fiction (Macmillan, 1988)

Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (any edition)

Richard Dyer, The Matter of Images: Essays on Representation (Routledge, 2002)

B. Ruby Rich, New Queer Cinema (Duke University Press, 2013)

Thomas Elsaesser and Malte Hagener, Film Theory: An Introduction Through the Senses (Routledge, 2009)

Judith Kegan Gardiner, Masculinity Studies and Feminist Theory (Columbia University Press, 2002)