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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : European Languages and Cultures - French

Undergraduate Course: The Cinema of Chantal Akerman: Memory, History, Desire (ELCF10065)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryChantal Akerman is one of the most diverse and cutting-edge directors working in France today. Highly influential in the domain of independent cinema, she has authored some forty films to date, the single most important and coherent body of work by a woman director. Extremely diverse in her use of genre, "her films range from feminist pamphlet and ethnographic documentary to musical comedy and literary adaptation", she incessantly reworks questions that are at the very heart of post-war cultural debates: the female condition, sexuality and lesbian identity; marginality and alterity; power relations between men and women; displacement, loss and memory; racism, anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. Based on a selection of her most representative films, this course will examine the key themes of her work, assess the defining features of her film aesthetics and situate her oeuvre in the wider context of modern French cinema, especially the Nouvelle Vague and post Nouvelle Vague. Parallels will be drawn between her work and the radical developments in literature, theatre and the visual arts that have shaped French culture over the last forty years. No prior knowledge of film studies is necessary in order to take this course.
Course description Not entered
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: French 2 (ELCF08001)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Entry to Honours in French
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. To demonstrate an advanced knowledge of a range of sources in their socio-historical and cultural contexts as well as a good understanding of the theoretical and conceptual frameworks needed to analyse them
  2. To select and apply relevant theoretical and methodological approaches in their critical evaluation of film and to demonstrate mastery of relevant technical terminology and research methods
  3. To assess and synthesise primary and secondary sources and to engage critically with these sources, showing awareness of nuance and accommodating ambiguities
  4. To construct coherent arguments which engage effectively with the sources and the relevant contexts and to present them with a high level of clarity in both oral and written form
  5. To demonstrate autonomy and initiative in their activities, carry out independent research under the guidance of the tutor, and to show awareness of their own and others¿ roles and responsibilities as part of a team
Reading List
Films for Study
Saute ma ville (1968)
Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975)
Les Rendez-vous d'Anna (1978)
Golden Eighties (1985)
Histoires d'Amérique (1988)
Nuit et jour (1991)
La Captive (1999)
Demain on déménage (2004)

Akerman, Chantal, Chantal Akerman: Autoportrait en cinéaste (Paris: Editions du Centre Georges Pompidou/ Editions Cahiers du cinéma, 2004)
Bergstrom, Janet, 'Keeping a Distance (The Innovators 1970-1980, Chantal Akerman), Sight & Sound, November 1999 (available online on
Bergstrom, Janet, 'Invented Memories', in Foster, ed., Identity and Memory: The Films of Chantal Akerman (Trowbridge: Flicks Books, 1996), pp. 94-11
Beugnet, Martine and Marion Schmid, Proust at the Movies (London: Ashgate, 2005), chapter 5, 'Filming Obsession: Chantal Akerman's La Captive'
Foster, Gwendolyn Audrey, ed., Identity and Memory: The Films of Chantal Akerman (Trowbridge: Flicks Books, 1996)
Fowler, Cathy, 'Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles', in Ernest Mathijs, ed., The Cinema of the Low Countries (London: Wallflower, 2004), pp. 131-9.
Fowler, Cathy, 'Harnessing Visibility: The Attractions of Chantal Akerman, Golden Eighties', in Bill Marshall and Robynn J. Stilwell, eds., Musicals: Hollywood and Beyond (Exeter: Intellect, 2000), 107-16
Kinder, Marsha, 'The Meetings of Anna', Film Quarterly, 33-1 (1979), 40-46 (available online on
Kuhn, Annette, Women's Pictures: Feminism and Cinema (London: Verso, 1994), chapter 8, 'Textual Politics'
Margulies, Yvone, Nothing Happens : Chantal Akerman's Hyperrealist Everyday (London: Duke UP, 1996)
Schmid, Marion, Chantal Akerman (Manchester: Manchester UP, 2010)
Vincendeau, Ginette, 'Night and Day: a Parisian Fairy Tale', in Foster, ed., Identity and Memory: The Films of Chantal Akerman (Trowbridge: Flicks Books, 1996), pp. 117-31.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills By the end of the course, students will have further developed their skills in the areas of research and enquiry, personal and intellectual autonomy, communication, and personal effectiveness. For further specification of these skills see the university¿s graduate and employability skills framework at
KeywordsFrench cinema
Course organiserProf Marion Schmid
Tel: (0131 6)50 8409
Course secretaryMrs Elsie Gach
Tel: (0131 6)50 8421
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