Modern Languages

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18-19 ML1101: International Film: Contexts and Practices

This course runs in Term 1 and introduces you to key moments and innovations in the history of film via a number of significant films representing various film styles and genres, and important individual filmmakers. It assumes no previous experience of studying film, and will acquaint you with the fundamentals of classical film theory and their application. The course encourages critical thinking both about the medium of film, and the problematics of regional or national cinemas. Films studied include classic European films from the last one hundred years, including The Blue Angel, Citizen Kane, Bicycle Thieves and Psycho as well as more recent, much discussed films such as Volver and Pan's Labyrinth.

18-19 ML1102:The Birth of Film

The purpose of this course is to provide participants with an introduction to the early phase in the history of narrative film, which after its invention in the 19th century quickly established itself as one of the most influential and globally significant media. The course is concerned with the period between 1895 and 1932. During this phase, film-making was largely national but the absence of the spoken word gave film a truly cosmopolitan dimension, with directors, actors and technical personnel moving freely across national boundaries. Nonetheless distinctive national film cultures emerged, with American film in Hollywood creating the conventions of dramatic film that are still familiar to us today, Italy specialising in dramas set in the ancient world, France making ample use of theatre and popular literature, the Soviets developing a highly innovative theory of montage editing, and Germany developing the new medium within the broader artistic phenomenon of Expressionism. The course will be concerned with film as art (and with its links to the Avantgarde) but it will also examine cinema as an entertainment industry, technological innovations, and the transition from silent to sound film. It covers landmark films by such as D.W. Griffith, Fritz Lang, Luis Bunuel and Alfred Hitchcock.

18-19 ML1203: Reading Texts: Criticism for Comparative Literature

Learning Outcomes

After successful completion of this course, students are expected to be able to:
• Combine techniques of textual analysis and personal judgment to form clearly
expressed critical examinations of literary passages which exhibit a combination of critical reading, independent thought, and a capacity to construct a persuasive argument in appropriate scholarly form. 
• Identify the key critical issues raised by different approaches to reading.
• Identify the key critical issues surrounding comparative practice, including questions of global literature, transationalism and translation, and learn how to deploy different approaches to comparatism.
• Assess the ways in which critical and theoretical texts enhance literary reading.  
• Employ both literary and theoretical texts to address issues in critical practice.
• Isolate and comment upon the most interesting stylistic, thematic, rhetorical and related features of previously unseen texts and compare texts in a mutually illuminating fashion.

18-19 ML1204: Tales of the City: Introduction to Thematic Analysis

Society and culture in the last century have been decisively shaped by the city and by the experience of the urban. By examining this fascinating location, its geography and topography, its traffic and networks, its development, changes and expansions, its practical and symbolic functions, we begin to ask larger questions about modernity and culture in general. This course introduces students to this topic through a range of literary, filmic and theoretical texts responding to aspects of the city. Participants will develop skills of comparison and analysis, and reflect on important themes such as money/poverty, technology, gender/sexuality, crime and migration.


18-19 ML2101: International Film II: Readings and Representations

This course is designed to follow on from your first-year core courses. You will study a range of innovative European and non-European films that will help to define the nature and meaning of ‘international cinema’ while deepening your understanding of key aspects of film theory. The course explores in particular the notion of ‘European’ and ‘non-European’ film (eg Hollywood, Latin American) within a more general discussion of European, American/Latin American history and culture. The course also encourages critical thinking and articulate analysis of aspects of film style, genre and context through close textual reading.

18-19 ML2205: A Special Theme in the Novel: Transgression

This course studies six iconic nineteenth- and twentieth-century narratives which are about the experience and impact of overwhelming sexual desire. Desire in these texts is always transgressive. But how is such transgression presented? Is it liberating or destructive? Can it be both? How does the reader relate to the protagonists and their illicit desires? Are we invited to take sides, apportion blame or sit in judgement? These are just some of the questions which will be explored in this revealing and risqué course.

18-19 ML2302: Visual Arts 2: Genres and Movements

What characterises genres such as Landscape Art, Portraiture, History Painting, Religious Art, Satire and Caricature, or Abstraction? By studying a selection of particular movements students explore key phases in the development of European visual culture and analyse the artists’ principal stylistic and theoretical concerns, their interaction and development, and their significance within a variety of cultural contexts.


18-19 ML2305: Deviance, Defiance and Disorder in Early Modern Spanish and French Literature

This course introduces students to a range of important texts and authors, both canonical and non-canonical, from early modern Spain and France. Yet it does so through a selection of outsider figures – characters whose aberrant or idiosyncratic identity, outlook, or behaviour sets them at odds with their society. The characters on this course thus challenge some of society’s most deeply entrenched but often unwritten codes – of reason, gender, decorum, sexuality, class, and religion – and can thus offer important insights into the workings and values of the society whose norms they transgress. As we shall see, though, the treatment of such figures can vary widely. Whereas the outsider’s departure from the norm is often apparently ridiculed or censured, it can sometimes be celebrated or rehabilitated – whether by other characters within the fiction or by the literary work itself. Indeed, the period’s fascination with marginal or transgressive characters and behaviour betrays throughout a deep unease about the validity of its own norms and standards.


Teacher (Course Author): Joseph Harris, Arantza Mayo

18-19 ML2403: Gender and Clothing in Twentieth-Century Literature and Culture

'Gender and Clothing' will involve an examination of gender as it is expressed, maintained, or challenged by clothing. You will investigate a variety of Anglophone, Francophone, and German-language twentieth-century texts, including novels, poetry, fine art, and film, in which clothing and gender are closely linked. You will develop your analytical skills, and be encouraged to think critically and comparatively about texts and images. The course will further your academic skills, and sharpen your theoretical awareness.

18-19 ML3204: The Gothic Mode in Spanish and English Fiction

What is the Gothic? This course uses a range of primary and secondary texts from France, Spain and England to discuss two important aspects of the literary Gothic: vampires and madness.
Teacher (Course Author): Joseph Harris, Abigail Lee Six, Thea Pitman