Film Theory and Criticism
  I: Administrative Information   II: Course Details   III: Topical Outline(s)  Printable Version
Section I: Administrative Information
  Total hours: 42.0
Credit Value: 3.0
Credit Value Notes: N/A
Effective: Winter 2020
Prerequisites: HIST13431
Corequisites: N/A
Equivalents: N/A
Pre/Co/Equiv Notes: N/A

Program(s): Bach of Film and Television
Program Coordinator(s): Kathleen Cummins, Randall Kapuscinski
Course Leader or Contact: N/A
Version: 20200106_01
Status: Approved (APPR)

Section I Notes: A key priority in the Bachelor of Film and Television Program is the safety of students, staff, and faculty while participating in teaching and learning activities. Therefore, participants are expected to reference and adhere to provincial and federal law, established film industry standards, and Sheridan College's Occupational Health and Safety Policy to ensure a safe working environment for all. See link for additional information:­at­sheridan/human­resources/occupational­health­and­ safety.aspx

Section II: Course Details

Detailed Description
Students develop an advanced understanding of key theoretical and critical approaches and the ways in which these approaches explore the ethical, cultural and historical implications of specific film practices, with a special emphasis on the Canadian context, inclusive of Indigenous Peoples. Topics include early theoretical responses to cinema; debates about realism and film aesthetics; the impact of structuralism; feminist film theory; cultural ideology; theories of race and representation; and postmodern theory. Students work with primary texts - both films and theoretical writings - and have the opportunity to explore responses to film theories in classroom screenings, debates, discussions, presentations, as well as their written work.

Program Context

Bach of Film and Television Program Coordinator(s): Kathleen Cummins, Randall Kapuscinski
This is an upper-level, year four course in the Bachelor of Film and Television Degree. The course draws on fundamental skills in film analysis and research to achieve more complex research and analytical skills.

Course Critical Performance and Learning Outcomes

  Critical Performance:
By the end of this course students will have demonstrated the ability to defend a critical position in relation to the ethical, cultural, political and/or historical implications of specific film practices by synthesizing a variety of theoretical and critical approaches.
Learning Outcomes:

To achieve the critical performance, students will have demonstrated the ability to:

  1. Summarize critically dense and seminal theoretical readings.
  2. Summarize the major developments in film and media theory.
  3. Explain differences and similarities between a variety of theories and approaches to film analysis.
  4. Apply a variety of theoretical approaches in analyzing films.
  5. Construct an argument in critical writing.
  6. Write a major research paper that integrates critical theory.

Evaluation Plan
Students demonstrate their learning in the following ways:

 Evaluation Plan: IN-CLASS
 In-Class Quizes (4x5%)20.0%
 Final Exam20.0%
 Major Critical Theory Paper (2500-3500 word)s30.0%
 Seminar Presentation (Group)20.0%

Evaluation Notes and Academic Missed Work Procedure:
All assignments must be submitted by the deadline specified by the professor. All assignments must be delivered in the format and via the delivery method specified by the professor. Any request for an extension must be made prior to the deadline day. Any assignments submitted after the deadline will be penalized 10% each day thereafter. Assignments not delivered 7 calendar days (1 week) after the due date will receive a zero. Exceptions may be made with a medical note or at the professor's discretion. Unless otherwise specified, students must complete every assignment as an individual effort

Provincial Context
The course meets the following Ministry of Colleges and Universities requirements:


Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition
PLAR Contact (if course is PLAR-eligible) - Office of the Registrar

  • Not Eligible for PLAR

Section III: Topical Outline
Some details of this outline may change as a result of circumstances such as weather cancellations, College and student activities, and class timetabling.
Instruction Mode: In-Class
Professor: Multiple Professors
RequiredTextbookFilm Theory and Criticism: Introductory readings, Selected readings from Braudy, L., & Cohen, M., New York;Oxford;: Oxford University Press, Eighth ed., 2016, Electronic Course Pack available on SLATE
OptionalTextbookFilm Theory: Rational Reconstructions, Warren Buckland, London and New York: Routledge, 2012
OptionalTextbookThomas Elsaesser and Malte Hagener, Film Theory: an Introduction through the Senses, New York: Routledge, 2010
OptionalTextbookAgainst Interpretation and Other Essays, Susan Sontag, New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1966
OptionalTextbookWriting About Movies (Latest Edition), Karen Gocsik, Richard Barsam, and Dave Monahan, New York: W.W. Norton & Company

Applicable student group(s): Bachelor of Film and Television
Course Details:

Module 1: What is Cinema?  

What is the purpose of film theory? 

The Realist/Formalist Debate and Film Aesthetics

Film and Reality

Film as Expression

Quiz #1 on selected readings from Film Theory and Criticism (5%)


Module 2: The Impact of Structuralism, Semiotics and Psychoanalysis

Semiotics and the Cinema

The Power of Psychoanalysis

Quiz #2 on selected readings from Film Theory and Criticism (5%)

Seminar Presentation (Group) (20%)


Module 3: Post-Structuralism, Postmodernism & Postcolonialism

Postcolonial and Third Cinemas

The Fourth Cinema

Race and Representation

Gender and the Frame

Quiz #3 on selected readings from Film Theory and Criticism (5%)

Proposal and Annotated Bibliography for Major Paper (10%)

Major Paper (30%)


Module 4: Globalization, Shifts in Theory and the Digital Age

From Film to Digital

Composing for the Digital Screen

Reconceptualizing National Cinema(s)

Issues in World Cinema

Quiz #4 on selected readings from Film Theory and Criticism (5%)

Final Exam (20%)

Sheridan Policies

All Sheridan policies can be viewed on the Sheridan policy website.

Academic Integrity: The principle of academic integrity requires that all work submitted for evaluation and course credit be the original, unassisted work of the student. Cheating or plagiarism including borrowing, copying, purchasing or collaborating on work, except for group projects arranged and approved by the professor, or otherwise submitting work that is not the student's own, violates this principle and will not be tolerated. Students who have any questions regarding whether or not specific circumstances involve a breach of academic integrity are advised to review the Academic Integrity Policy and procedure and/or discuss them with the professor.

Copyright: A majority of the course lectures and materials provided in class and posted in SLATE are protected by copyright. Use of these materials must comply with the Acceptable Use Policy, Use of Copyright Protected Work Policy and Student Code of Conduct. Students may use, copy and share these materials for learning and/or research purposes provided that the use complies with fair dealing or an exception in the Copyright Act. Permission from the rights holder would be necessary otherwise. Please note that it is prohibited to reproduce and/or post a work that is not your own on third-party commercial websites including but not limited to Course Hero or OneNote. It is also prohibited to reproduce and/or post a work that is not your own or your own work with the intent to assist others in cheating on third-party commercial websites including but not limited to Course Hero or OneNote.

Intellectual Property: Sheridan's Intellectual Property Policy generally applies such that students own their own work. Please be advised that students working with external research and/or industry collaborators may be asked to sign agreements that waive or modify their IP rights. Please refer to Sheridan's IP Policy and Procedure.

Respectful Behaviour: Sheridan is committed to provide a learning environment that supports academic achievement by respecting the dignity, self-esteem and fair treatment of every person engaged in the learning process. Behaviour which is inconsistent with this principle will not be tolerated. Details of Sheridan's policy on Harassment and Discrimination, Academic Integrity and other academic policies are available on the Sheridan policy website.

Accessible Learning: Accessible Learning coordinates academic accommodations for students with disabilities. For more information or to register, please see the Accessible Learning website (Statement added September 2016)

Course Outline Changes: The information contained in this Course Outline including but not limited to faculty and program information and course description is subject to change without notice. Any changes to course curriculum and/or assessment shall adhere to approved Sheridan protocol. Nothing in this Course Outline should be viewed as a representation, offer and/or warranty. Students are responsible for reading the Important Notice and Disclaimer which applies to Programs and Courses.

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