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This occurrence is not offered in 2021
This course studies the essay film, a hybrid genre which troubles conventional distinctions between documentary and fiction, as the model for a new mode of critical practice.
Dr Johnson described the essay as “as a loose sally of the mind.” This course explores the essay film, a hybrid genre situated at the crossroads of literary and cinematic “writing”. The essay film rejects the familiar techniques of narrative continuity and argumentative consistency associated with documentary filmmaking; rather, it adopts a variety of methods and modes of address that blur the distinction between fiction and non-fiction, politics and aesthetics, personal voice and public discourse, poetic image and conceptual thought. Honours students with no background in film studies are encouraged to enrol.Topics will include:• literary antecedents for the essay film• cinematic antecedents for the essay film• fiction and non-fiction in the essay film• le camera stylo and ciné-écriture• theoretical approaches to the essay as method (Benjamin and Adorno)• personal voice and public discourse• history, time and memory in the essay film• politics and aesthetics of the essay film• the essay film and the postcolonial subject• women and the essay film• the city in the essay film
Learning Outcomes:Advanced ability to interpret and critically analyse filmsAbility to evaluate and critique selected concepts and methods of the discipline Advanced ability to analyse the relationship between films and their social, cultural and historical contextsIndependence and confidence in formulating ideas and presenting a critical position, both in oral and written communicationAdvanced ability to produce a detailed, coherent and persuasive argument in the form of an academic essayConsistent application of standard academic research practices regarding quotations, references and bibliographyEnhanced self-confidence deriving from extensive familiarity with film and other cultural traditions and forms of expressionInitiative and pleasurable engagement in research, viewing, reading and writingPrecision, persuasiveness and autonomy in critical thinkingHigh level of spoken and written expressionIntellectual versatility and independenceAble to collaborate and participate effectively in group work
Subject to approval of the Head of Department.
Please note: this course does not have a final exam.
Films include: • Cane Toads (Lewis, 1988)• Marlene (Schell, 1984)• F for Fake (Welles, 1973)• Bright Leaves (McElwee, 2003)• The Gleaners and I (Varda, 2001)• A Spy in the House that Ruth Built (Green, 1986)• The House is Black (Forough Farokhzad, 1962)• Reconstruction, (Lusztig, 2001)• The Case of the Grinning Cat (Marker, 2004)• London (Keiller, 1992)• Vertigo Sea (John Akomfrah, 2015)• Perfumed Nightmare (Tahihmik, 1986)• Nostalgia for the Light (Guzmán, 2012) Texts: Course Readings(Image: "Orson Welles, en F for Fake, 1973" by La Veu del País Valencià, licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.)
Domestic fee $1,905.00
International Postgraduate fees
* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.
For further information see
Humanities and Creative Arts