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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Politics

Undergraduate Course: Critical Theory and Cinema (PLIT10108)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe course uses a mix of texts and films to introduce students to themes and concepts central to a critical engagement with contemporary politics. We will begin with an investigation of what critical thought is - broadly understood - and then reflect on the role of cinema as a medium for the study of politics. We will continue by exploring a series of topics of relevance to our societies: power, oppression, resistance, class, gender, racialization, colonialism, disability, violence. The course includes texts and films from a global variety of traditions. Gramsci, Fanon, Said, Foucault, de Beauvoir, hooks, Butler, Freire, Crenshaw, Moraga and Anzaldua are just some of the thinkers we will discuss. Lectures, seminars and film projections will help students understand and think through some of the most pressing political injustices of our times.
Course description Classic texts in social and political theory will be used in tandem with films in order to problematise the ways in which class, gender, racialisation, embodiment structure our world along lines of oppression and privilege. The relationship between texts and films will be one of mutual enlightenment - they will be selected for their complementarity. Films will illustrate concepts in critical theory, but also reveal the tensions between theoretical approaches and everyday politics, thus highlighting the limits of theory and the need to cultivate an ethos of humility as scholars of politics.

Course structure: The course is structured in 4 blocks of equal weight, each spanning across two weeks - except block IV, which covers 3 weeks. A first, administrative lecture, opens the course.

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 4 Politics/International Relations courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  33
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 10, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 30, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 156 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 40 %, Practical Exam 10 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Critical film review: 40%
Seminar and discussion board participation: 10%
Exam: 50%
Feedback Students will be offered advice and feed-forward on all the components of the assessment for this course: in the seminars preceding deadlines, during the F and G hours, and by appointment. In relations to the critical film review, students will be given detailed instructions and feed-forward (via LEARN, in the seminar preceding the deadline and in the instructor's F and G hours). The critical film review will be due in week 7 and students will have the option to submit outlines 1-2 weeks in advance of the deadline. The instructor will supply comments on the outlines. As for the exam, the instructor will provide generic feedback via LEARN and individualised comments in the exam forms. Feedback on tutorial participation will be provided through an individual Tutorial Participation feedback sheet, which will be given to the students after the final tutorial.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Critically engage with the main concepts and the variety of positions under the broad umbrella of critical theory
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of cinema's role both in politics and theoretical reflection about politics
  3. Use the theoretical tools acquired in the course to analyse cinematic representations of pressing political events
  4. Critically evaluate theoretical assumptions and cinematographic representations of the themes covered in the course
  5. Command a range of research skills to plan and execute a theoretically rich film review
Reading List
Preliminary reading:

Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality (Penguin 1984-1988). Vol. I, Part 4, Section 3
Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (Penguin, 2001)
Audre Lorde, Sister Citizen (Crossing Press, 1984)
Judith Butler, Bodies that Matter (Routledge 1993)
Mohanty, Chandra Talpade, Feminism Without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity (Duke University Press Books, 2003)
Dipesh Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe (Princeton University press 2007)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills By the end of the course students should have strengthened their skills in:

- developing a core knowledge base in politics enhanced by exposure to cutting edge research in critical thought
- taking personal responsibility and grasping the available opportunities for self-development, i.e. grow as independent researchers and communicators
- recognise and value communication as the tool for negotiating and creating new understanding, collaborating with others, and furthering their own learning
- being able to effect change and be responsive to the situations and environments in which they operate

Additional Class Delivery Information Weekly lectures, seminars and film projections
Keywordscritical theory,oppression,resistance,gender,racialisation,class,violence,disability
Course organiserDr Mihaela Mihai
Tel: (0131 6)51 3060
Course secretaryMr Colin Arthur
Tel: (01316)51 3162
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