Semester: Whole year
This dissertation offers students the possibility of personal advanced study on a topic in Film Studies on which they already have adequate basic knowledge and for which a suitable supervisor can be found. Guidance will be offered on research methods and on presentation. The dissertation will, as a rule, consist of a study of a given body of primary material in a defined perspective. Its length should be 10,000 words maximum. It should be submitted in accordance with guidelines and deadlines, and be written in English. The topic must be agreed in advance by the Chairman of Department following a favourable report from the Supervisor, whom students should contact in the first instance. (Guidelines for printing and binding dissertations can be found at: http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/printanddesign/dissertation/)
Recent dissertation topics include:
Aestheticising Disruption and Finding Home: Style, Gender, and Cultural Appropriation in the Hip Hop Videos of MIA
The Intention of Feeling: An Examination of Texture and Generic Affect in Film
Speaking the Way to New Genre Identities: a Critical Study of Dialogue in 1930s Hollywood Cinema
Everything to Lose but their Chains: Class Oppression, Patriarchy, and Masculinity, as Represented in the Films of Ken Loach
The Remediation of Cinematic Codes in Virtual Reality
If the Glass Slipper Fits: Examining the Disney Princesses as Models of Womanhood
A History of the Female Android in Science Fiction Film
They Grow Up So Fast: Drag Performance, Abjection, and the Subversion of the Shōjo in Hayao Miyazaki’s Films
Making the Impossible: Special Effects from Méliès to del Toro
The Outsider as Protagonist: The Parodic Lens of Mel Brooks in The Producers, Blazing Saddles, and Young Frankenstein
When in Hollywood do as the Romans did: Building an Empire through Cultural Appropriation
Dreams of Waking: Satoshi Kon’s Anti-Escapist Animations
How Does the Changing Tone of the James Bond Films Affect its Portrayals of Gender?
Contemporary Women in New Mexican Cinema: Three Case Studies
Professor Robert Burgoyne (Co-ordinator)
The war film is one of the great modes of cinematic expression, with outstanding examples of the genre stretching from the early silent period to the contemporary era. In this module, we will explore the chronological history of the War Film, beginning with reenactments and actualities from the Spanish-American War, proceeding through treatments of World War I such as All Quiet on the Western Front, and continuing with films such as Apocalypse Now, Waltz with Bashir, and The Hurt Locker. Students will gain knowledge and awareness of the links between the history of cinema and the development of optical weaponry, the different ways the body of the soldier has been represented in war, and the shaping of cultural memory in film.
Dr Leshu Torchin (Co-ordinator)
Screen media, whether broadcast news, commercials, documentaries or docudramas, or even mass entertainment, are presumed to act as agents of social change. They inform us about the world around us and encourage our views and responses. This module investigates the relationship between visual media – specifically film and video – and action from historical, practical and theoretical perspectives. Examining styles and content alongside strategies of distribution and exhibition, we will explore the ways in which various producers (for instance, governmental and nongovernmental organisations, marginalised communities, social movements, and ‘culture jammers’) have used screen media for political and social purposes.
Film Genres will re-examine, and problematise, film genre today by exploring the topic in a variety of contexts. The module will incorporate a combination of approaches (theoretical, industrial and textual) and, in its assessments, will encourage students to think innovatively about, amongst other things, genre markers, global industry practice and exhibition culture. The module will ordinarily be organised in three related clusters. These clusters may include, but will not be limited to: Genre studies in Classical Hollywood; Genre and authorship (e.g. Hitchcock, Ford, Miike, Woo); Genre and Stars (eg. Clint Eastwood, Jackie Chan, Hugh Grant); Historicising Genre; Global genres; Genre and adaptation; Genre hybrids; Genre and blockbusters; Film Noir as a genre, cycle or mood; Genre and violence; Asian Genres; Genre and studios.
Dr Michael Cowan (Co-ordinator)
Our understanding of cinema’s emergence and institutionalisation in the early twentieth century has undergone a complete transformation in recent decades. On the one hand, early cinema (1895-1910) is no longer seen as a ‘primitive’ precursor to a more perfect narrative art, but as part of a much broader visual culture stretching back into the 19th century. On the other, the ‘golden age’ of silent film in the 1920s has itself been opened up to approaches going far beyond traditional auteurist studies. In both cases, some of the most productive research has examined film as a key component of broader currents that were central to industrial modernity as a whole. This module examines early film cultures in relation to modern life in the areas of art, industry, media, technology, knowledge and governmentality.
Professor Dina Iordanova (Co-ordinator)
The module explores two aspects of the interaction between film and fashion: On the one hand, it looks at the ways fashion intersects with film in the area of costume design and general approaches to style. On the other, it surveys the variety of representations that the fashion world has enjoyed in global cinema. It looks at matters of taste, style, glamour, creativity, celebrity, global fashion hubs and gurus, consumerism, but also at the way fashion is produced, managed, and sold, from glossy magazines and advertising through to luxury brands and sweat-shops. Students will have the opportunity to view and discuss documentary and feature films made by a host of important international directors (including, but not limited to Wim Wenders, Albert Maysles, Jun Ichikawa, Bertrand Bonello, Tom Ford, Ben Stiller, Robert Altman, Nora Ephron, and Gillian Armstrong), as well as to research and write on these matters. The discussions will also touch on matters of fashion photography and film.
Dr Dennis Hanlon (Co-ordinator)
This module will go beyond Bollywood and survey the extraordinary range of cinematic production in India since Independence. In addition to classic and contemporary examples of Popular Hindi Cinema (“Bollywood”), we will also study films from other major industries, such as Tamil and Bengali, as well as a range of cinematic practices, such as documentary, avant-garde and state-funded realist cinema. The module will also allow students to explore the various methodologies currently used to study this hugely important cinema (e.g. auteurist, transnational, ethnographic, sociological).
Dr Elisabetta Girelli (Co-ordinator)
This module approaches British cinema as a site of cultural and formal multiplicity, focusing on its shifting balance between tradition and rebellion, belonging and alienation. The module raises questions about representation and inclusion, as well about formal and narrative strategies. Students will have the opportunity for independent research, by writing a case study of their chosen British star. Weekly topics may include the problematic emergence of queer identities (The Killing of Sister George, Robert Aldrich, 1968), the ambivalent portrayal of British spies and defectors (Another Country, Marek Kanievska, 1984), British filmmaking outside Britain (The Third Man, Carol Reed, 1949), the modernist mockery of British tradition (The Draughtsman’s Contract, Peter Greenaway, 1982), and a British star case study.
Dr Lucy Fife Donaldson (Co-ordinator)
Film Sound challenges our critical focus on the film image and explores the expressive contribution of sound to film. Sound has the capacity to shape environment, mood and ultimately the ways in which we engage with film, thus making it a vital consideration in critical and aesthetic approaches. The module engages with central critical topics representation, aesthetics, affect and technology – and with the production of sound (through case studies of selected practitioners). The module utilises innovative ways of thinking about sound to help students gain a detailed understanding of the different elements of sound in film. The topic is explored through a range of case studies and draws on a diverse mix of sources, including production materials and interviews with industry personnel. The emphasis on the work of practitioners will help confront and nuance assumptions about watching and making film.