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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh College of Art : History of Art

Undergraduate Course: Sexuality, Space and the Cinema (HIAR10139)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh College of Art CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryHow has cinema used space ¿ the space of the city, the space of of architecture ¿ to represent sexuality? The twentieth century bore witness to profound changes in the understanding, reception and representation of sex, sexuality and gender in the West, from the sexual revolution and second-wave feminism of the 1960s to the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. This history is thoroughly intertwined with developments in the field of cinema, which has consistently served to both document and to reproduce sexual politics. This course surveys the visual representation of sex and sexuality in cinema, with a focus on how it has used urban and architectural settings to explore these themes. The focus is (mainly) film produced in the USA and in this period. The first half of the course has a particular emphasis on Hollywood production in the 1950s, especially Hitchcock and Wilder. The material will be viewed through a variety of feminist, Marxist, queer and psychoanalytic theoretical lenses, as well as the ways architectural theory has dealt with sexuality and space.
Course description Indicative topics and films.
1. Introduction to theories of film, sexuality and space. Introduction to course and key topics.
2. Cinematic city: the city, architectural space, and the construction of sexuality. Los Angeles as case study. Films include Sunset Boulevard (dir. Billy Wilder, 1950)
3. Melodrama. Films include Mildred Pierce (dir. Michael Curtiz, 1945)
4. The male gaze. Films include Rear Window (dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1954) 5. Femme fatale. Films include Vertigo (dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1954), Basic Instinct (dir. Paul Verhoeven, 1992)
6. Domesticity under attack. Films include The Birds (dir. Alfred Hitchcock 1963)
7. Domestic space. Films include Jeanne Dielman (dir. Chantal Akerman, 1975)
8. Sex work. Films include Midnight Cowboy (dir. John Schlesinger, 1969) 9. Black Masculinity. Films include: She's Gotta Have It (dir. Spike Lee, 1986), Moonlight (dir. Barry Jenkins, 2016)
10. Queer space. Films include: Paris Is Burning
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: History of Art 2 (HIAR08012) OR Architectural History 2a: Order & the City (ARHI08006) AND Architectural History 2b: Culture & the City (ARHI08007)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2020/21, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  22
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Formative Assessment Hours 1, Summative Assessment Hours 24, Revision Session Hours 1, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 150 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Formative Assessment:

For this course there is one piece of formative assessment. All students are asked to write an essay plan. This should be submitted via the Formative Feedback folder on Learn. Formative Assessment does not count to your final grade/mark but is used to support your learning. Feedback on formative assessment is designed to help you learn more effectively by giving you feedback on your performance and on how it can be improved and/or maintained.

Summative Assessment:

For this course there are two pieces of summative assessment, equally weighted: 1. 2500-word Essay (50%) 2. 24 hour online Exam (50%) Summative Assessment counts to your final grade/mark. It evaluates your learning.
Feedback Feedback is given on all formative and summative in-course assessment within 15 working days of submission, or in time to be of use in subsequent assessments within the course, whichever is sooner.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)24 hour online examination paper0:05
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate a good understanding of key developments in cinema since the mid-20th Century, particularly as pertaining to sex and sexuality.
  2. use contemporary theories of sexuality with confidence in relation to the topic.
  3. think critically about cinema, and its depictions of sex and sexuality, and to analyse and assess films verbally and in writing.
  4. analyse, read and critique cinema, and to adapt art-historical methods to the study of film.
  5. show the capacity to research, structure and present their own arguments and methodological positions independently.
Reading List
Buscombe, Edward. The Sexual Subject: A Screen Reader in Sexuality. New York: Routledge, 1992.

Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge, Mulvey, Laura. ¿Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema¿. Screen 16, no. 3 (1975): 6¿18.

Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality. New York: Pantheon Books, 1978.

hooks, bell. Reel to Real: Race, Class and Sex at the Movies. New York: Routledge, 2009.

Nelmes, Jill, ed. Introduction to Film Studies. 5th ed. New York: Routledge, 2012.

Tasker, Yvonne. Working Girls: Gender and Sexuality in Popular Cinema. New York: Routledge, 1998.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information The class will be taught through weekly 2-hour seminars, accompanied by a screening programme, showing key films from the course.
Course organiserProf Richard Williams
Tel: (0131 6)51 6792
Course secretaryMrs Sue Cavanagh
Tel: (0131 6)51 1460
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