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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : Common Courses (School of Lit, Lang and Cult)

Postgraduate Course: Film and Existentialism (CLLC11190)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryExistentialism is a tradition in philosophy that is reflected in film and is also an important influence on the development of film theory and film-philosophy. The course will introduce students to some of the central tenets and important authors of existentialism through a consideration of some of the best of world cinema. We will also explore how cinema contributes to the issues raised by existentialism as well as the ways in which film theory has made use of existentialist ideas.
Course description Cinema and existentialism concern themselves with some of the fundamental questions of existence. What does it mean to be free? How does one make a choice in an impossible situation? How can we live in an absurd world and how can we act authentically and in good faith? How do we relate to ourselves and to others? How does our imagination define us as human? What is the duty of the individual to the collective? What does it mean for existence to precede essence?

In this course, we will introduce some important existentialist philosophers, who can include Arthur Schopenhauer, Søren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Frantz Fanon among others, and explore their thinking through a close consideration of a number of films. We will investigate how film theory has been influenced by existentialism and examine what unique insights cinema as an art form offers to the development of existentialism as a philosophy. We will see whether there is a specific aesthetics of existentialism in film.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students on LLC MSc programmes get first priority to this course. If you are not on an LLC course, please let your administrator or the course administrator know you are interested in the course. Unauthorised enrolments will be removed.
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  20
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 11, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 11, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 172 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 1 x 1000 word essay (30%)
1 x 3000 word essay (70%)
Feedback Formative feedback on presentation and comments on essay plans.

Extensive commentary on summative assessment.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand the major concepts associated with Existentialism
  2. Engage with film as a reflection of existentialist thought
  3. Understand the influence of Existentialism on film theory
Reading List
Shaw, Daniel (2017). Movies with Meaning: Existentialism Through Film. London; New York: Bloomsbury Academic.

Wartenberg, Thomas E. (2008). Existentialism: A Beginners Guide. London: Oneworld Publications.

Boulé, Jean-Pierre (ed. and introd.) (2012). Existentialism and Contemporary Cinema: A Beauvoirian Perspective. New York, NY: Berghahn.

Boulé, Jean-Pierre and Enda McCaffrey (eds. and introd.) (2011). Existentialism and Contemporary Cinema: A Sartrean Perspective. New York, NY: Berghahn.

Camus, Albert (1955) The Myth of Sisyphus. London: Hamish Hamilton.

De Beauvoir, Simone (1949/2009). The Second Sex. London: Jonathan Cape.

Sartre, Jean-Paul (1938/2004) The Imaginary: A Phenomenological Psychology of the Imagination. London: Routledge.

Sartre, Jean-Paul (1943/2003). Being and Nothingness: An Essay on Phenomenological Ontology. London: Routledge.

Sartre, Jean-Paul (1948). Existentialism and Humanism. London: Methuen.

Sobchack, Vivian (1992). The Address of the Eye: A Phenomenology of Film Experience. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Critical Thinking
Aesthetic Judgement
Academic Writing
Cultural Acuity
Philosophical Insight
KeywordsExistentialism,Cinema,Film,Ethics,Aesthetics,Film Theory,Film-Philosophy
Course organiserDr David Sorfa
Tel: (0131 6)50 3637
Course secretaryMiss Kara McCormack
Tel: (0131 6)50 3030
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