Sense, Sensation and Cinema (EAFM088)

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

Module aims

The module aims to consider cinema’s relationship to its audiences and to their changing modes of perception. Students will gain a sophisticated knowledge of a wide body of films from the 20th and 21st centuries, and will be enabled to make connections between these films, 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 appreciation of the critical debates around issues of sensation, narrative, and media technologies;
  • 3. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of issues of spectatorship and interaction with media forms;
  • 4. Demonstrate an advanced capacity to connect the formal analysis of film to the broader conceptual questions raised by the module;

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 5. 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;
  • 6. Demonstrate an advanced and autonomous proficiency in the close formal, thematic, and generic analysis of different kinds of films;
  • 7. Demonstrate advanced and autonomous skills in the research and evaluation of relevant critical and historical materials for the study of film;
  • 8. 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

  • 9. Through seminar work, demonstrate advanced communication skills, and an ability to articulate their views convincingly both individually and in groups.
  • 10. 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.
  • 11. Through research, seminar discussion, and essay writing demonstrate an advanced and intellectually mature capacity to question assumptions, to distinguish between fact and opinion, and to critically reflect on their own learning process.
  • 12. Through the planning and organisation of research projects, demonstrate independence of thought and confidence in developing ideas and formulating questions.
  • 13. Through the writing of research projects, demonstrate an ability to construct work of substantial length, detail, and some originality.
  • 14. Through responses to constructive feedback, demonstrate an advanced and intellectually mature ability to reflect upon and strengthen written and other work.

Syllabus plan

 Case studies to be covered will vary depending on the teaching team, but will typically include some of the following:


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

  1. Introduction: Performance, empathy, and spectatorship
  2. Realisms in the City: Empathy and the endangered body
  3. Theorising Affect 1: Moving viewers
  4. Theorising Affect 2: Cognition, emotion, and character


Pt 2: Case Studies

  1. The face and the screen in late silent cinema                  
  2. Performance and gender in Italian film
  3. Cult Film, Disgust, and the body
  4. Surrealist films and affect
  5. Film Sound and emotion
  6. Fandom/participatory culture
  7. 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 teaching activities22Seminars
Scheduled learning and teaching activities66Film Screening
Guided Independent Learning70Seminar preparation (independent
Guided Independent Learning142Reading, 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
Research Report252500 words1-8, 10-14Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up
Essay755000 words1-8, 10-14Feedback 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
Research ReportResearch Report1-8, 10-14Referral/Deferral Period
EssayEssay1-8, 10-14Referral/Deferral Period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Core Reading:

Leo Braudy and Marshall Cohen (eds), Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory Readings (OUP Press, 2004).

Warren Buckland, The Film Spectator: From Sign to Mind (Amssterdam UP, 1995)

Francesco Casetti, Eye of the Century: Film, Experience, Modernity (Columbia UP, 2008)

Michel Chion, The Voice in the Cinema (Columbia UP, 1982)

Gregory Currie, Image and Mind: Film, Philosophy, and Cognitive Science (Cambridge UP, 1995)

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 Practices (London: Intellect, 2011).

Karl Schoonover, Brutal Vision: The Neorealist Body in Postwar Italian Cinema (London: University of Minnesota Press, 2012),

Murray Smith, Engaging Characters: Fiction, Emotion, and the Cinema (Clarendon Press, 1995)

Vivian Sobchack, Carnal Thoughts: Embodiment and Moving Image Culture (University of California, 2004).


Core Viewing:

Cloverfield (Matt Reeves, 2008)

The Passion of Joan of Arc (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1928)

Freaks (Tod Browning, 1932)

Selected abstract and surrealist  films of the 1920s and 1930s

City Lights (Chaplin,1931)

A Man Escaped (Bresson, 1956)

Rome, Open City (Rossellini, 1945)

The Piano (Campion, 1993)

V for Vendetta (McTeigue, 2005)

The Man Who Knew too Much (Hitchcock, 1956)

My Neighbour Totoro (Miyazaki, 1988)

The Strong Man (Capra, 1926)

Module has an active ELE page?


Available as distance learning?


Origin date

May 2013

Last revision date


Key words search

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