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Film and Philosophy

  • Module code: FM7009
  • Year: 2018/9
  • Level: 7
  • Credits: 30
  • Pre-requisites: None
  • Co-requisites: None

Summary

Film and Philosophy explores the many ways in which philosophy and film can form a productive relationship. Beginning in TB1 with a set of preliminary discussions of film aesthetics, it then looks at how cinema can be used to teach philosophy, to reflect philosophy, and to create philosophy. In teaching philosophy (weeks 3-4), we will look at recent 'high-concept' cinema as a teaching tool for philosophy. The films chosen will be mostly mainstream ones such as The Matrix, Memento, Total Recall, AI, Crimes and Misdemeanours, and Gattaca, and will look at the efficacy of film to teach topics such as time, personal identity, freedom, reality and appearance, the existence of God, and good and evil. Weeks 5 to 9 move beyond the mode of illustrating traditional philosophical arguments to examining some philosophical interpretations of filmic representation itself, be it as a physical medium (Deleuze), a metaphysical narrative (Cavell) or an unconscious symbol (Žižek). We subsequently look at the way in which film can be placed within the context of philosophical aesthetics, forming a conceptual bridge with the philosophy lectures on the Philosophy of Art History and the film studies lectures on the Avant Garde.

The lectures in TB2 will focus on how film-art can create philosophy through its narrative, visual, and auditory structure: here we will discuss whether film itself can philosophise about the world without reducing itself to extant textual forms of philosophy. Concepts discussed include film ethics, phenomenological film of the body, gender and feminism, adaptation, Freudianism, and Comedy. We will also have lectures that build conceptual bridges with lectures ongoing in philosophy (Art Theory, Recent French Philosophy).

Aims

  • To introduce students to recent 'philosophical' cinema
  • To encourage students to work with that cinema in a critical relation to philosophy
  • To introduce students critically to film-philosophical discussions on time, personal identity, freedom, reality and appearance, good and evil.
  • To give students a sophisticated knowledge of the critical debates in philosophy and film around pertinent topics
  • To allow students to move beyond the mode of illustrating traditional philosophical arguments to examining some philosophical interpretations of filmic representation itself;
  • To develop high-level critical and presentational skills in approaching both film and texts on film;
  • To develop conceptual bridges between work undertaken in non-core lectures in film and philosophy.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an advanced understanding of the importance of careful interpretation of a variety of texts and media
  • Demonstrate familiarity with some crucial theories and arguments in philosophy and film studies
  • Employ cinema to illuminate contemporary philosophical debates
  • Apply a wide range of philosophical concepts to film
  • Situate this knowledge within a broader conceptual framework;
  • Apply complex theoretical concepts critically to the analysis of film and philosophy.

Curriculum content

Module content includes: discussions of film aesthetics; the pedagogical use of 'high-concept' cinema; various philosophical interpretations of filmic representation taken from a host of different standpoints; cinema's position within aesthetical discourse (especially concerning the Avant Garde); various models by which film can create philosophy through its specific form; and the relationship of film-philosophy to text-based.

Teaching and learning strategy

Teaching will be comprised of a combination of weekly 2 HOUR lecture/seminars, with group discussions and formative presentations. Independent learning skills will be developed throughout the module by a combination of directed reading/viewings and self-initiated research to supplement formal teaching and will be necessary to achieve the learning outcomes.

The module will make use of the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) Canvas for communication and dissemination of information between students and staff as well as making online learning materials available to all. Students should check this site on a daily basis for module information, timetables, sign-ups, updates and additional information and teaching materials.

All courses based in the Kingston School of Art offer students free access to the online video tutorial platform Lynda.com. This provides a wide range of subjects to choose from, many with downloadable exercise files, including software tutorials covering photography, graphics, web design, audio and music, CAD and Microsoft Office software, as well as courses on Business and Management skills. Some of these are embedded in the curriculum and offer additional self-paced learning, others may be taken at will by students wishing to broaden their employability skills in other areas.

Breakdown of Teaching and Learning Hours

Definitive UNISTATS Category Indicative Description Hours
Scheduled learning and teaching Weekly taught lectures/seminars 48
Independent study 252
Total (number of credits x 10) 300

Assessment strategy

Assessment is through two essays, the first, 3000 word essay coming earlier in the module (and worth 40% of the final grade) and playing a summative role as well as offering an indication of the progression of the student (and where it might be enhanced). The second 3000 word essay is solely summative and represents the students' more advanced work on the module.

Mapping of Learning Outcomes to Assessment Strategy (Indicative)

Learning Outcome Assessment Strategy
1. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of the importance of careful interpretation of a variety of texts and media Assessed formatively through class discussion, presentations and tutorials, and summatively through individual written work.
2. Demonstrate familiarity with some crucial theories and arguments in philosophy and film studies Assessed formatively through class discussion, presentations and tutorials, and summatively through individual written work.
3. Employ cinema to illuminate contemporary philosophical debates Assessed formatively through class discussion, presentations and tutorials, and summatively through individual written work.
4. Apply a wide range of philosophical concepts to film Assessed formatively through class discussion, presentations and tutorials, and summatively through individual written work.
5. Situate this knowledge within a broader conceptual framework; Assessed formatively through class discussion, presentations and tutorials, and summatively through individual written work.
6. Apply complex theoretical concepts critically to the analysis of film and philosophy. Assessed formatively through class discussion, presentations and tutorials, and summatively through individual written work.

Elements of Assessment

Description of Assessment Definitive UNISTATS Categories Percentage
Essay 3000 words Coursework 40%
Essay 3000 words Coursework 60%
Total (to equal 100%) 100%

Achieving a pass

It is a requirement that any element of assessment is passed separately in order to achieve an overall pass for the module.

Bibliography recommended reading

Allen, Richard and Murray Smith, eds., Film Theory and Philosophy, Oxford UP, 1997.

Barker, Jennifer, The Tactile Eye: Touch and the Cinematic Experience, University of California Press, 2009.

Bolton, Lucy, Film and Female Consciousness: Irigaray, Cinema and Thinking Women, Palgrave, 2011. Bordwell, David, and Kristin Thompson, Film Art: An Introduction, Addison-Wesley Publishing co. various editions, 1979>

Brown, William, Supercinema: Film-Philosophy for the Digital Age, Berghahn, 2013. Buckland, Warren, Teach Yourself Film Studies, Hodder & Stoughton, 1998.

Carroll, Noël, and Jinhee Choi (eds.) Philosophy of Film and Motion Pictures: An Anthology, Wiley- Blackwell, 2005.

Cavell, Stanley, The World Viewed: Reflections on the Ontology of Film, Harvard University Press, 1980 Deleuze, Gilles, Cinema 1: The Movement-Image, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam Athlone, 1986.

Deleuze, Gilles, Cinema 2: The Time Image, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Robert Galeta, Athlone, 1989. Falzon, Christopher, Philosophy Goes to the Movies,  Routledge, 2002

Hayward, Susan, Key Concepts in Cinema Studies, Routledge, 1996.

Hill, John and Pamela Church Gibson (eds), The Oxford Guide to Film Studies, Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1998.

Kennedy, Barbara, Deleuze and Cinema: The Aesthetics of Sensation, Edinburgh UP, 2000. Litch, Mary, Philosophy Through Film, Routledge, 2002

Marks, Laura, U., The Skin of the Film: Intercultural Cinema, Embodiment and the Senses, Duke University Press, 1999.

Monaco, James, How to Read a Film: the Art, Technology, Language, History and Theory of Film and Media, Oxford Univ. Press, 1977 onwards.

Mulhall, Stephen, On Film, Routledge, 2015.

Mullarkey, John, Philosophy and the Moving Image: Refractions of Reality, Palgrave, 2010.

Quinlivan, Davina, The Place of Breath in Cinema, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 2012. Rodowick, D.N, The Virtual Life of Film, Harvard University Press, 2007.

Rothman, William and Marian Keane, Reading Cavell's 'The World Viewed': A Philosophical Perspective on Film, Wayne State University Press, 2000

Rowlands, Mark, The Philosopher at the End of the Universe, Ebury Press, 2003

Sobchack, Vivian, The Address of the Eye: Phenomenology and Film Experience, Princeton University Press, 1992.

Zizek, Slavoj, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Lacan (But Were Afraid to Ask Hitchcock), Verson Books, 1992

FILMOGRAPHY (INDICATIVE)

 Artificial Intelligence: A.I. (Steven Spielberg, 2001)

Being John Malkovich (Spike Jonze, 1999)

Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982)

City of God (Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund, 2002). Crimes and Misdemeanors (Woody Allen, 1989) Daughters of the Dust (Julie Dash, 1991).

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Michel Gondry, 2004)

eXistenZ (David Cronenberg, 1999)

In My Skin (Dans ma peau, Marina de Van, 2003)

Total Recall (Paul Verhoeven, 1990)

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