Skip to main content Skip to navigation

FI109-15 Visual Cultures

SCAPVC - Film & Television Studies
Undergraduate Level 1
Module leader
Rachel Moseley
Credit value
100% coursework
Study location
University of Warwick main campus, Coventry
Module aims

This module aims to give first year students in Film Studies an introduction to visual cultures and, in particular, to proximate media forms and questions of medium specificity. The module aims to complement and enrich students' year one work on film and television by exploring mediums proximate to television and cinema as well as by introducing students to the analytical and historical study of specific visual cultures. The term is divided into two units, a structure that allows for short intensive studies of discrete mediums, periods, genres, technologies, artistic practices, visual regimes, or mediascapes.

Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

Unit A: Screen Media and Emerging Modernities

Week One: The Modern Experience: The City and its Crowd (Georg Simmel, Charles Baudelaire)

Week Two: The Railway Journey: Time and Vision (Wolfgang Schivelbusch)

Week Three: Mass Spectacle: Distraction and Boredom (Siegfried Kracauer)

Week Four: Forensic Photography: The Archive and the Criminal Body (Alan Sekula)

Week Five: Techniques of the Observer: Seeing Before Cinema (Jonathan Crary)

Unit B: Experimental Film and Video

Week Seven: Science and Abstraction: Painlevé and Dada Cinema

Week Eight: Structural Film: Stan Brakhage and Ken Jacobs

Week Nine: Time and Video: Bill Viola’s Slow Motion

Week Ten: Video in the Gallery: Douglas Gordon and Bruce Nauman

Indicative reading list

Charles Baudelaire (1995) The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays, London: Phaidon Press.

Walter Benjamin, (2005) "On Some Motifs in Baudelaire" in Walter Benjamin, Selected Writings, Volume 4, eds. , Howard Eiland and Michael Jennings, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Jonathan Crary (1992) Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the 19th Century: On Vision and Modernity in the Nineteenth Century, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Chrissie Iles (2000) “Video and Film Space” in Space, Site, Intervention: Situating Installation Art, ed. Erika Suderburg, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Siegfried Kracauer (1995) The Mass Ornament: Weimer Essays, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Michele Pierson, David E. James, Paul Arthur (eds.) (2010) Optic Antics: The Cinema of Ken Jacobs, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

A. L. Rees (2011) A History of Experimental Film and Video, London: BFI

Christine Ross (2006) “The Temporalities of Video: Extendedness Revisited” in Art Journal Vol. 65, No. 3.

Ralph Rugoff (2000) “Fluid Mechanics” in Science is Fiction: The Films of Jean Painlevé, ed. Andy Masaki Bellows, Marina McDougall, Brigitte Berg, Cambridge, Mass.: Brico Press.

Wolfgang Schivelbusch (1992) The Railway Journey: The Industrialization and Perception of Time and Space. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Allan Sekula (1986) “The Body and the Archive” October , Vol. 39, (Winter) pp. 3-64.

Georg Simmel. (2002) “The Metropolis and Mental Life [1902-3]” in Art in Theory 1900-2000: An Anthology of Changing Ideas, Wiley-Blackwell.

Chris Townsend (ed.) (2004) The Art of Bill Viola, London: Thames and Hudson.

Malcolm Turvey (2011) “Ken Jacobs: Digital Revelationist” in October 137, Summer 2011.

Subject specific skills

No subject specific skills defined for this module.

Transferable skills

No transferable skills defined for this module.

Study time

Type Required
Lectures 9 sessions of 1 hour (50%)
Seminars 9 sessions of 1 hour (50%)
Total 18 hours
Private study description

No private study requirements defined for this module.

Other activity description

Tutorials: As required to discuss essays and progress.


No further costs have been identified for this module.

You do not need to pass all assessment components to pass the module.

Assessment group A1
Weighting Study time
Essay 90%
Group presentation 10%
Feedback on assessment

Students will receive detailed written feedback on each piece of written work and on their assessed group presentations.


This module is Core for:

  • Year 1 of UFIA-W620 Undergraduate Film Studies