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

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Sadie Wearing, Pankhurst House.11.01C


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

This course will be limited to 30 places.



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.  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, environmental degradation and protest, sexuality and representation. 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), Black Skin White Mask (dir. Isaac Julien), Waltz with Bashir (dir. Ari Folman), Cache (dir. Michael Haneke), The Road to Guantanamo (dir. Michael Winterbottom), Parasite (dir. Bong Joon-Ho), Portrait of a Lady on Fire (dir.Celine Sciamma, Dark Waters (dir. Todd Haynes).


This course runs in LT.  It will be delivered using both asynchronous and interactuve teaching and learning elements.

There is a compulsory weekly film screening.

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6, in line with departmental policy.


Formative coursework

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


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%, 3000 words) in the ST.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Gender Studies

Total students 2020/21: Unavailable

Average class size 2020/21: Unavailable

Controlled access 2020/21: 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