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Literature 5D: Introduction to American film


Admission requirements

Successful completion of Literature 1A, 1B, 2 and 3 or 4, or equivalent.


We will explore the breadth of mid-twentieth-century film, following transformations within the cinematic experience, as well as examining the relationship between the cinema and other modes of performance, whether in the theatre, radio or television. We shall investigate the opportunities provided by these other performance media and assess their impact on the cinematic experience. We shall consider these works of art in their cultural context, and scrutinize the ways in which popular film expressed, critiqued or questioned developments within American society.

Course objectives

  • This course will extend and deepen the power of students’ critical analysis through in-depth consideration of texts.

  • Students will explore critical debates surrounding American film.

  • The course will aim to provide for literature students the critical skills necessary for the analysis of visual texts.


  • This will involve an understanding of: basic film theory; the uses of the frame and editing; the place of the ‘star’; the nature of genre; and the ‘auteur theory’.

  • Regarding both literary and cinematic art works, it will also aim to extend the students’ skills in the reading of narrative and the understanding of the relationship of a text to its cultural/social context. Students will be encouraged to share analytical and critical views on the texts ascribed in class discussion, including short presentations, and will focus research skills in the writing of a final research paper. This paper will be on a relevant subject of their own choice within the parameters of the course.


The timetable is available on the BA English website

Provisionally: WEEK ONE: Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, Singin’ In The Rain // Damien Chazelle, La La Land; WEEK TWO: Howard Hawks, Rio Bravo; WEEK THREE: Alfred Hitchcock, Vertigo; WEEK FOUR: Billy Wilder, Some Like It Hot; WEEK FIVE: Douglas Sirk, Imitation of Life // Todd Haynes, Far From Heaven WEEK SIX: Mike Nichols, The Graduate WEEK SEVEN: study week WEEK EIGHT: Stanley Kubrick, 2001, A Space Odyssey WEEK NINE: Francis Ford Coppola, The Godfather WEEK TEN: Martin Scorsese, Raging Bull // Craig Gillespie, I, Tonya WEEK ELEVEN: Ridley Scott, Blade Runner WEEK TWELVE: George Lucas, Star Wars // Rian Johnson, Star Wars: The Last Jedi WEEK THIRTEEN: Richard Linklater, Boyhood // Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

  • Research

Course Load

The course load of this course is 280 hours.

  • 24 hours spent on attending lectures and seminars: 24

  • time for studying the compulsory literature: 126

  • time to prepare for the exam and/or write a paper (including reading / research): 130

Assessment method


  • Essay(s) (50%):
    Two essays of 1200 words (25% each); or, one longer essay on a comparative subject (dealing with at least two texts featured on the syllabus) of 2500 words (50%).
    Both essays are due on the Wednesday following the last class.

  • Final Exam (50%)
    This exam will feature questions about the films on the syllabus. The questions are designed to allow students to formulate informative answers based on critical insight into American film and knowledge of the various important contexts gained during the tutorial discussion and individual study.


  • Essay(s) (50%):
    Two essays of 1200 words (25% each); or, one longer essay on a comparative subject (dealing with at least two texts featured on the syllabus) of 2500 words (50%).

  • Final Exam (50%)

The final grade is determined by calculating the average grade for the above-mentioned assignment(s) and exam, which is rounded to the nearest half. A final grade below 5,5 (also 5,49) is insufficient.


Students must retake those parts of the course they fail or that are incomplete.
Only when the final grade is insufficient can students resit exam(s) and/or assignments that received below 5,5. The resit grade will replace the original grade.

Exam review

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.


Attendance is compulsory. Missing more than two tutorials means that students will be excluded from the tutorials. Unauthorized absence also applies to being unprepared, not participating and/or not bringing the relevant course materials to class.


Blackboard]( will be used for:

  • information

  • communication

  • submission of essays to turnitin to check for plagiarism

Reading list

There is no set reading for the course; however, students are expected to undertake significant research into film for their essay and exams.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Students other than from the BA English Language and Culture studies need permission from the coordinator of studies before enrolling.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte

Registration Contractonderwijs


Please contact Student administration van Eyckhof for questions.


You must watch Singing In the Rain and La La Land for the first class.