Core Module Information
Module title: Modernism at the Movies

SCQF level: 08:
SCQF credit value: 20.00
ECTS credit value: 10

Module code: CLP08123
Module leader: Tara Thomson
School School of Arts and Creative Industries
Subject area group: Media and Humanities

There are no pre-requisites for this module to be added

Description of module content:

On this module, you will learn about modernism in 20th century cinema, with a focus on cinema’s two modernist periods: the silent era (up to about 1930) and the post-WWII period of new wave or art film movements (1950s-1970s). With recognition of film as an inherently modern medium, we will explore a range of cinematic responses to 20th century modernity (technological, socio-political, and aesthetic) to establish an understanding of modernism as a formal, thematic and aesthetic framework that defines particular kinds of films in particular historical and (inter)national contexts. To consider how cinema has responded to and represented modernity, and how particular films and cinematic movements have been constructed as modernist, assigned films will be paired with film criticism contemporary to their historical and aesthetic contexts, including excerpts from modernist film journals such as Close Up and Cahiers du Cinema, among others.

Indicative topics include: mass production and audience; urbanism and architecture on screen; representing interiority on screen; women working in cinema and film criticism; sexuality and modern gender politics in cinema; race and decolonisation, behind and in front of the camera; subcultures and revolutionary politics on screen; subversive comedy; auteurism; mid-century modernist responses to mainstream Hollywood; global New Wave movements as critical responses to mainstream commercial cinema; and the codification of the “art film” in relation to mainstream entertainment.

Learning Outcomes for module:

LO1: Develop insight into the meaning of the terms modernity and modernism, as they relate to 20th century cinema.
LO2: Develop insight into how film has been understood as an inherently modern medium, and various ways 20th century modernity has been both represented and constructed on screen.
LO3: Examine specific landmark films and cinematic movements that characterise 20th century modernity and modernism, to consider some of the defining formal features of modernism in film.
LO4: Explore conceptions of the modernist/art film in relation to mainstream cinema in 20th century film criticism.
LO5: Formulate arguments that place specific films in context of modernity and modernism, both in writing and in discussion.

Full Details of Teaching and Assessment
2022/3, Trimester 1, FACE-TO-FACE,
Occurrence: 001
Primary mode of delivery: FACE-TO-FACE
Location of delivery: MERCHISTON
Member of staff responsible for delivering module: Tara Thomson
Module Organiser:

Learning, Teaching and Assessment (LTA) Approach:
Learning and teaching on this module includes lectures, tutorials, independent study, peer presentations, and individual or group assessments to provide you with a variety of contexts in which to engage with the assigned films, texts, and topics. Following your independent study of assigned viewing and reading, supported by Moodle, weekly lectures will set out relevant historical, socio-cultural, aesthetic, and critical contexts to develop your knowledge of key terms, concepts, and cinematic movements, and to help frame your further engagement with the assigned films (LOs 1, 2, 3 and 4). Lectures will be content-rich and will model the kinds of analysis required for critically examining the films (LOs 3 and 4); however, they will also be interactive, featuring screening clips for discussion and a variety of opportunities for student interaction (LOs 3 and 5). In tutorials, you will have the opportunity to deploy and develop your film analysis skills in a student-centred learning environment, and to deepen your understanding of key concepts through group discussion (LO5). This module will build on content and skills learning from year 1 modules, particularly Film History and Reading Texts, and will establish some helpful foundations for your further learning on Contemporary Hollywood Cinema in Tri 2 of year 2.

The assessments are designed to help you establish your understanding of core module contexts and concepts (LOs 1 and 2), and to critically examine specific films in relation to those contexts and concepts (LOs 3, 4 and 5). This module will build on your previous experiences of written assessment from year 1 and add new types of learning and assessment, including videographic criticism (video essays), streaming recorded presentations, and peer assessment. You will be able to use and further develop these new skills in some further modules in years 2, 3 and 4.

Formative Assessment:
There are no separate formative assessment tasks on this module, but you will undertake a variety of activities that provide formative development opportunities and feedback, including: question and answer periods during lectures (LOs 1, 2, 3 and 4); oral feedback from your tutor and classmates on your responses to the tutorial discussion questions (LOs 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5); opportunities for individualised feedback on your understanding of and engagement with the module, and your assessment planning (LO5), during regularly scheduled office hours; and lecturer/tutor feedback on your first summative assessment that can help develop your work for the second summative assessment (LO5). You will also benefit from ungraded peer feedback on your first assessment, the video essay/presentation, and providing such peer feedback in turn will help you to both learn from your peers and gain further literacy in assessment criteria (LOs 3 and 5).

Summative Assessment:
On this module, you will submit two summative assessments: a sequence analysis, in the form of either a pre-recorded presentation or a short video essay, and a final written or video essay.

The sequence analysis (LOs 1, 2, 3 and 5), worth 40% of your module grade, is due in week 7, and can be done either individually or in pairs. You can choose to either record a powerpoint presentation with audio (5-6 mins) or create a short video essay (2-3 mins), in which you analyse a selected sequence of one of the assigned films to consider how the sequence responds to relevant contexts of modernity, as discussed during the first half of the module. Choosing the video essay option would provide you with an opportunity for technical learning and videographic skills development if you would like to create a video essay for the final assessment. Your presentation or video essay will be shared with the class via Moodle, and you will be asked to provide feedback online for at least two sets of your peers. A peer feedback template and guidance will be provided.

The final assessment (LOs 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5), worth 60% of your module grade, is due in week 13, and will be done individually. You can choose to either write an essay (2500 words) or create a video essay (5-7 mins). For both options, you will be expected to incorporate independent academic research, and you will be provided with a specific question to answer about modernism in cinema.

Student Activity (Notional Equivalent Study Hours (NESH))
Mode of activityLearning & Teaching ActivityNESH (Study Hours)
Face To Face Lecture 20
Face To Face Tutorial 10
Face To Face Guided independent study 170
Total Study Hours200
Expected Total Study Hours for Module200

Type of Assessment Weighting % LOs covered Week due Length in Hours/Words
Oral Presentation 40 1,2,3,5 7 HOURS= 05.00
Essay 60 1,2,3,4,5 13 HOURS= 07.00, WORDS= 2500
Component 1 subtotal: 40
Component 2 subtotal: 60
Module subtotal: 100

Indicative References and Reading List - URL:
Contact your module leader