GI410      Half Unit
Screening the Present: contemporary cinema and cultural critique

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Sadie Wearing, COL.5.01H


This course is available on the MSc in Culture and Society, MSc in Gender, MSc in Gender (Research), MSc in Gender, Development and Globalisation, MSc in Gender, Media and Culture, MSc in Media and Communications and MSc in Media and Communications (Research). This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.


Students need to have an awareness of and interest in contemporary cultural theory.

Course content

The aims of the course are to offer students the opportunity to critically explore contemporary international cinema as a site for the interrogation of contested contemporary social and political processes such as migration, globalisation and conflict. The course links cinematic representations to the preoccupations of contemporary cultural theory in relation to themes such as, colonial/postcolonial memory, neo liberalism and cultural dislocations, ethics and subjectivity, gendered migration and gendered violence. The course introduces students to a range of international film and will develop the critical tools for the analysis of both mainstream and marginal (or marginalised) cultural productions. It explores  a range of critical and theoretical writing on film considering questions such as cinema as oppositional practice, the emergence of transnational cinema, questions of representation, global spectatorship and 'witnessing' and the affective dimensions of cinema. Indicative films are: Unknown Pleasures (dir. Jia Zhang-Ke), Persepolis (dir. Marjane Satrapi), Black Skin White Mask (dir. Isaac Julien), Waltz with Bashir (dir. Ari Folman), Cache (dir. Michael Haneke), The Road to Guantanamo (dir. Michael Winterberttom).


15 hours of lectures, 15 hours of seminars and 20 hours of classes in the LT.

Class is a compulsory film screening.


Lecture is directly followed by seminar and is taught in one integrated group (3 hours). We will cap at 30 students.

Formative coursework

Essay (1500 words) including an element of film analysis in the LT.

Group Presentation as part of Class Conference held at the end of course LT.  This session will take place in week 11 and will last the whole morning.


Indicative reading

  • Downing, L. and Saxton, L. (2010) Film and Ethics: foreclosed encounters.
  • Marks, L. (2000), The Skin of the Film: intercultural cinema, embodiment and the senses.
  • Wilson, R. and Dissanayake, W. (eds) (1996) Global/Local:cultural production and the transnational imaginary.
  • Appadurai, A. (1986) Modernity at Large: cultural dimensions of globalization.
  • Pines, J. and Wilemen, P. (eds) (1989) Questions of Third Cinema.
  • Hamid, Naficy (ed) (1999) Home Exile Homeland: film, media and the politics of place.
  • Sobchak, V. (1996) The Persistence of History: cinema, television and the modern event.
  • Shohat, E. and Stam, R. (2003) Multiculturalism, Postcoloniality and Transnational Media.
  • Gayatri, G. (2005) Impossible Desires: queer diasporas and South Asian public cultures.
  • Ezra, E. and Rowden, T. (eds) (2005) Transnational Cinema: the film reader.
  • Kaplan, A. (2005) Trauma Culture: the politics of terror and loss in media and literature.
  • Martin, M. (1995) Cinemas of the Black Diaspora: diversity, dependence and oppositionality.
  • Butler, J. (2009) Frames of War.
  • Imre, A., Marciniak, K. and O'Healy, A. (eds.) (2007) Transnational Feminist Encounters in Film and Media.


Essay (100%, 4000 words) in the ST.

Student performance results

(2012/13 - 2014/15 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 27.1
Merit 48.6
Pass 20
Fail 4.3

Key facts

Department: Gender Institute

Total students 2015/16: 31

Average class size 2015/16: 15

Controlled access 2015/16: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills

Course survey results

(2012/13 - 2014/15 combined)

1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 73%



Reading list (Q2.1)


Materials (Q2.3)


Course satisfied (Q2.4)


Lectures (Q2.5)


Integration (Q2.6)


Contact (Q2.7)


Feedback (Q2.8)


Recommend (Q2.9)