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Sense, Sensation and Cinema (EAFM088)

StaffProfessor Joe Kember - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level7
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

To consider cinema’s relationship to its audiences and to changing modes of perception, engagement, empathy, and affect. You will gain a sophisticated knowledge of a wide body of films and other media from the 20th and 21st centuries, and will be enabled to make connections between these texts, the historical, cultural, and technological contexts associated with each, and relevant theories of spectatorship. The course will be structured around case studies ordered by theme rather than chronology, allowing for the development of a sophisticated, historically detailed understanding of moving pictures in relation to key models of spectatorship.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate an advanced ability to analyse film texts using appropriate formal and critical terminologies
  • 2. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of issues of spectatorship and interaction with media forms
  • 3. Demonstrate an advanced capacity to connect the formal analysis of film to the broader conceptual questions raised by the module;

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Demonstrate a sophisticated and intellectually mature ability to analyse films of different periods and to relate their concerns and their modes of expression to their historical context
  • 5. Demonstrate an advanced and autonomous proficiency in the close formal, thematic, and generic analysis of different kinds of films
  • 6. Demonstrate an advanced and precise ability to understand and analyse relevant theoretical ideas, and to apply these ideas to films

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. Through essay-writing and other assignments, demonstrate advanced research and bibliographic skills, an advanced and intellectually mature capacity to construct a coherent, substantiated argument and to write clear and correct prose
  • 8. Through the planning and organisation of research projects, demonstrate independence of thought and confidence in developing ideas and formulating questions
  • 9. Through the writing of research projects, demonstrate an ability to construct work of substantial length, detail, and some originality

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

Pt 1: Recent approaches to sensation, emotion and empathy in cinema

This section of the module will introduce you to some of the most significant interventions in film studies debates in the past twenty years, dealing especially with aspects of performance studies, affect theory, cognitive studies, and modern understanding of empathy in media forms.

Pt 2: Case Studies

The second section will introduce you to a series of approaches to specific films and other texts that have been informed by the ideas outlined in pt 1. Delivery will vary each year, but will include topics such as the following:

  • Cult Film, Disgust, and the body
  • Surrealist films and affect
  • Film Sound and emotion
  • Gaming, warfare and affect
  • Performance and audience on TV

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching22Seminars
Guided Independent Study136Seminar preparation (independent)
Guided Independent Study142Reading, research and essay preparation

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Literature review252500 words1-9Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up
Essay755000 words1-9Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Literature reviewLiterature review (2500 words)1-9Referral/Deferral period
EssayEssay (5000 words)1-9Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 50%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will be capped at 50%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading


  • Warren Buckland, The Film Spectator: From Sign to Mind (Amsterdam UP, 1995)
  • Francesco Casetti, Eye of the Century: Film, Experience, Modernity (Columbia UP, 2008)
  • Brian Massumi, Politics of Affect (Oxford: Polity Press, 2015)
  • Torben Grodal, Embodied Visions: Evolution, Emotion, Culture, and Film (OUP, 2009)
  • Thomas Elsaesser and Malte Hagener, Film Theory: An Introduction through the Senses (Routledge, 2010).
  • Reynolds, Dee and Matthew Reason (eds), Kinesthetic Empathy in Creative and Cultural ractices (London: Intellect, 2011).
  • Murray Smith, Film, Art, and the Third Culture: A Naturalized Aesthetics of Film (Oxford: OUP, 2017)
  • Vivian Sobchack, Carnal Thoughts: Embodiment and Moving Image Culture (University of California, 2004).


  • The Passion of Joan of Arc (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1928)
  • A Man Escaped (Bresson, 1956)
  • The Piano (Campion, 1993)
  • V for Vendetta (McTeigue, 2005)
  • The Man Who Knew too Much (Hitchcock, 1956)
  • My Neighbour Totoro (Miyazaki, 1988)

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Key words search

Cinema, Film, Emotion, Sensation, Spectacle, Theory, Cognition, the body