HI5052 - History/Film: Using Popular Film as Historical Evidence

What will I learn on this module?

We know you like films, and we know that you like using them as historical evidence. But are you aware that you need a very particular skill set in order to analyse and write about films properly? If you weren’t but are interested in finding out more, and particularly if you are thinking of using film in your final-year dissertation, then this is the module for you.

This team-taught module invites you to consider a variety of popular film genres, with a specific view towards considering their value to the historian, both as sources about the past AND sources from the past. Key genres that we’ll examine include documentaries, historical dramas, biopics, science fiction, and more. The module tutors will provide you with leading-edge theoretical and methodological approaches through which you will learn how to analyse cinema as a historian.

Learning about the ways in which we might dissect a film will provide you with a range of tools that you can bring to bear on the world around you. For example, you will be able to demonstrate how popular film reflects and attempts to shape popular opinion about key political issues of the time, and how the semiotics of film enable us to move beyond simply responding to film’s plot or its cast.

As this suggests, the module requires you to develop additional analytic skills to those that you would wield when analysing textual documents. It will enable you to move beyond issues pertaining to a film’s factual accuracy (or lack thereof) to consider its emotional truths, its ideological standpoints, the ways in which the filmmakers attempt to convey and disguise political messages, and the way in which audiences are able to absorb, reject, or transform these messages as they see fit. Naturally, it will encourage you to consider the complicated relationship between the past, film, history, Film Studies, and the discipline of History itself. It might even do more…

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn on this module by attending lectures that present core themes, a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches to studying popular film as a historical source, and key debates in the academic field. You will be expected to prepare for the weekly seminars by undertaking essential and recommended reading and viewing, and you should build on your independent reading by presenting your ideas and arguments in seminar discussions with your peers. Learning materials, tasks and readings will be posted on the eLP (Blackboard) to enable participation within the seminar programme. You will participate in formative assessment activities, receive feedback, and will be responsible for your own guided and independent learning. Summative assessment matches your learning against the learning outcomes for the module.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Your academic development will be supported through engagement with your peers, academic tutors, and programme leaders. Academic support is provided through group/individual tutorials which allow specific issues to be addressed and to promote progress in academic development. The module tutor will be accessible within publicised Feedback and Consultation hours and via email. Your peers will provide you will a collaborative learning environment, and your programme leader will guide you through the requirements and expectations of your course. You will also be supported through individual engagement with the academic literature, lectures, and resources available on the eLearning Portal. Formative feedback will be on-going throughout seminar activities and through assessment tasks

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
1. An ability to critically evaluate key themes, concepts, and issues in the historical study of popular film.
2. Critical evaluation of conflicting positions in significant debates or controversies concerning particular films, film genres, and theoretical approaches to films.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
3. Demonstrate an advanced ability to consider the importance of debate and interdisciplinary discussion within the study of popular film in written form.
4. Demonstrate the acquisition of numerous skills including the ability to make independent critical judgments, handle a variety of theories and apply various concepts and disciplinary approaches when appropriate.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
5. Cultural awareness and sensitivity towards different places, cultures, societies; curiosity about places both in specific and abstract contexts.

How will I be assessed?

The summative assessment will be made up of a portfolio, containing the following components, each designed to assess different skills.

1) Using a particular scene from one fact-based film, discuss its value as a historical source
Length: 1,000 words (20% of final mark) MLO: 1, 3, 4, 5
2) Using a particular scene from a fictional film, discuss its value as a historical source about the time in which the film was made. Length: 1,500 words (30% of final mark). MLO: 1, 3, 4, 5

3) Discuss the importance of ONE of the following keywords, using at least two films as examples.
Essay length: 2,500 words (50% of final mark) MLO: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Pre-requisite(s)

N/A

Co-requisite(s)

N/A

Module abstract

We know you like films, and we know that you like using them as historical evidence. But are you aware that you need a very particular skill set in order to analyse and write about films properly? If you weren’t but are interested in finding out more, and particularly if you are thinking of using film in your final-year dissertation, then this is the module for you. You’ll be introduced to a number of popular film genres, and using specific examples, be given the critical skills necessary to analyse these films from a historical perspective. As this suggest, the module will do far more than simply encourage you to think about whether a film offers an ‘accurate’ representation of the past (or, indeed, the present). So, you might be asked to consider how a romantic comedy represents gender relations in a certain time, or how a war film misrepresents the experience of soldiers on the front, but then think more deeply about how these films are related to the time in which they were made, to the people who made them, and how the experience of viewing them also changes according to context.

Learning about the ways in which we might dissect a film will provide you with a range of tools that you can bring to bear on the world around you. For example, you will be able to demonstrate how popular film reflects and attempts to shape popular opinion about key political issues of the time, and how the semiotics of film enable us to move beyond simply responding to film’s plot or its cast and think more deeply about the nature of historical evidence.

Course info

UCAS Code LV21

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Humanities

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2023

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing.

Full time Courses starting in 2023 are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but may include elements of online learning. We continue to monitor government and local authority guidance in relation to Covid-19 and we are ready and able to flex accordingly to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff.

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with additional restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors, potentially to a full online offer, should further restrictions be deemed necessary in future. Our online activity will be delivered through Blackboard Ultra, enabling collaboration, connection and engagement with materials and people.

 

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