HS2O11-Hollywood Histories: Film and the Past

Module Provider: History
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Prof Patrick Major

Email: p.major@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:

Part 2 Options can be either chronological or thematic. Chronological Options will usually take the form of a survey of a particular geographical area or nation over a defined period of one or two centuries. These Options aim to acquaint students with the causes and consequences of continuity and change over the long term in the political, social, economic and cultural systems under study. Thematic Options take key concepts, ideas, or debates in history and study them in a number of different contexts, either geographically or across historical periods. The aim again is to acquaint students with the causes of continuity and change, but this time by a more comparative approach.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module it is expected that the student will be able to:
•identify and explain the main issues and events studied
•appraise critically the primary sources and historiographical interpretations of the subject
•think comparatively about aspects of African, American, British, European, Middle Eastern and South Asian history over a substantial period
•assess the nature of social, economic, political and cultural change and the particular methodologies associated with tracing it
•organise material and articulate arguments effectively in different kinds of written exercises and orally
•locate and assemble bibliographic and other information by independent research, using IT as appropriate
•to produce an informed film review of a film or cycle of films
•to consider the historiographical possibilities and limitations of film as a medium
•to consider how film shaped representations of national identity
•to make visual judgements on film-making technique (camera, cutting, actors)
•to compare literary antecedents with adapted screenplays
•to investigate the demands of censorship on films in different eras and political systems
•to compare historical reality with screen fictions
•to absorb the secondary literature on film, both from film studies and film history
•to make use of resources at the British Film Institute and BBC Written Archive Caversham

Additional outcomes:
The module aims to encourage the development of oral communication skills and the student’s effectiveness in group situations and team-working. Students will also develop their IT skills by use of relevant web resources and databases, where appropriate.

Outline content:

Film was the mass medium of the twentieth century, used as a tool of social advocacy, political propaganda and commercial entertainment. This module will address both the aesthetic mise-en-scène of film iconography as well as the behind-the-scenes censorship politics which accompanied film production. It will focus on films which self-consciously chose to evoke the past. Taking Hollywood production in the US as its core, it will include British and Russian examples from the silent era, concluding with blockbusters competing with television. Students of the module will become familiar with different film categories such as documentary and feature film, and with key genres such as biopics, westerns and war films. Candidates will be expected to gain a knowledge of cycles of films over time, assessing to what extent directors and screenwriters responded to each other and to governmental pressures, both nationally and internationally. A key recurring question will be: did films reflect or shape popular notions of the past? Weekly seminars: 1: What is a Historical Film? 2: Dream Factories, Codes and Audiences: Production, Censorship and Reception 3: Personalising the Past: Biopics and the Historical Costume Drama 4: Shooting the Masses: The Social Realist and Soviet Documentary 5: Recruiting the Past: Historical Film Propaganda in the Age of Total War 7: Confronting the Past: Film after Totalitarianism 8: The Past as Spectacle: The Swords and Sandals Ancient Epic 9: Past and Present: Westerns and the Myth of the Frontier 10: Radical Cinema: Film and Social Change 11: The Episodic Past: TV Docudrama 

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Seminars, requiring preparatory reading and investigation, may include informal and interactive presentations by the module teacher; structured group discussion; short seminar papers by students; occasional tutorials; team-based simulation exercises and debates; examination of primary and secondary sources, as appropriate. Staff will be available for consultation as necessary.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 10
Seminars 20
Project Supervision 1
Guided independent study 169
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 50
Written assignment including essay 50

Other information on summative assessment:
Students will write ONE essay of 2,500 words, to be handed in by 12 noon on the Monday of week 11 of term, which should be submitted electronically via Blackboard. Five marks will be deducted if the coursework essay exceeds 2,625 words (ie 5% over the word limit).

Formative assessment methods:
1,000 words or 2 pages of A4 maximum to include, at the module convenor’s discretion, an essay plan, bibliography, book review or other preparatory work towards the summative essay.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:
    One two-hour paper requiring two answers to be taken at the time of the Part 2 examinations.

    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Where a re-sit is permitted, students will be assessed on the failed element(s) only in August. Any element(s) already passed will be carried forward if it bears a confirmed mark of 40% or more. Any element which is re-sat in August is capped at 40%. Failed coursework must be re-submitted by 12 noon, on the last Friday of August.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books: Purchase of textbooks is not compulsory, but students should consider setting aside £25 per course to cover the purchase of useful books.
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 31 July 2017

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