Power and Resistance

Kingston University

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Power and Resistance

  • Host University

    Kingston University

  • Location

    London, England

  • Area of Study

    Film Studies

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Prerequisites

    Substantial prior study of film

  • Course Level Recommendations

    Upper

    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • Credits

    4
  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
    4
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
    0
  • Overview

    Course Content:

    The module offers an account of theories and ideas concerning power and resistance
    from a range of critical approaches to cinema including post-colonialism, poststructuralism,
    post-modernism, post-humanism, as well as Deleuzian, Bakhtinian and
    Foucauldian perspectives.

    These critical ideas will be used to approach a range of film texts that provide counteraccounts
    to the dominant discourses in relation to colonialism, dispersal and race,
    gender, anti-humanism, bodily and mental non-conformity, as well as films that allow for
    critically productive explorations of contemporary identity.

    These approaches raise questions about mainstream or dominant cultural production
    and practices from a range of film styles or cultures including satirical, parodic,
    grotesque, and horrific modes. The critical focus is on understanding power and
    resistance as forces and strategies produced through certain negotiated practices.

    Autumn Semester topics:
    ? Introduction to the module and strand A; Foucault Screening
    ? Deleuze; Strand B
    ? Bakhtin: Strand C Screening

    Chose 1 of 3 options (strands):

    ? Strand A: Strategies of resistance: colonialism, postcolonialism and race
    The strand will offer an account of ideas developed in Cultural Studies such as post colonialism,
    post structuralism and postmodernism related to the cultural politics of power, identity and
    difference specifically applied to the filmic exploration or treatment of race. We will focus on
    influential thinkers such as Fanon, Said, Bhabha whose critical ideas will be illustrated through
    a range of non mainstream film texts which provide counter accounts to the dominant
    discourses of the experience of marginalised communities such as colonialism, slavery, dispersal
    and integration. The specific film practices, narrative and representational strategies relating to
    the filmic treatment of ?race? and colonised peoples, will be examined, drawing also on ideas
    on subversion proposed by Bakhtin. The classes will also attend to issues or questions raised by
    directors exploring such experiences in the light of the ideas introduced in the module.

    ? Strand B: Humanism, posthumanism
    Do we yet know what it means to be human? Using films from various genres ? sci-fi,
    horror, anime - this strand explores the meaning and future of those creatures called
    homo sapiens that currently populate the earth. Through techno-fantasy, dystopian
    fiction, and various thought experiments, these films explore what the word ?human?
    means, past, present, and future, and how any one definition is resisted within the
    ?posthuman? paradigm shift we are already experiencing today, be it at the hands of
    bioscience, animal studies, or counter-cultures. Through the ?deconstruction? of the
    human subject as a socio-political myth, the 'becoming-molecular' of Gilles Deleuze's
    philosophy, or the extension of the human body in technology (robotics, informatics, and
    art), we will look at the following eight areas in this field (with suggested sample
    viewings):
    1. Have We Ever Been Human? (Alien Resurrection, Splice)
    2. What is Human? (Blade Runner, X-Men)
    3. The New Flesh and Supercinema (Scanners, Videodrome)
    4. Prosthetic Cinema and Techno-humanism (Strange Days, Robocop, Ghost in
    the Shell)
    5. Biocinema (Gattaca, Never Let Me Go, Coma, Soylent Green,)
    6. Loving the Alien Invader (They Live!, Close Encounters of the Third Kind,
    Independence Day)
    7. Politics of the Posthuman (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, District 9)
    8. Gestural Film and Body Cinema (The Five Obstructions, Dancer in the Dark)

    ? Strand C: Carnival, Dialogism and Postmodernism
    What role does 'carnival' play in contemporary society, and how is it articulated in
    popular culture? Are figures like The Joker and the deformed villains of horror movies
    expressions of playful resistance, or stereotypes of disabled bodies and mental health?
    This strand of the module begins with a thorough exploration of Mikhail Bakhtin's
    theories of carnival. How can we understand cosplay and other subcultural behaviour
    through these theoretical frameworks?
    We then draw on the work of Michel Foucault to investigate the discourses that
    categorise some people as disabled, aberrant or hysterical, and others as healthy and
    'normal'. We return to Bakhtin's concepts of dialogism -- the use of many voices and
    meanings -- and move into a discussion of postmodernism as playful carnival, asking
    finally how this form of play is connected to privilege. Who is given the opportunity to
    celebrate and party, experimenting with styles, and whose cultural carnivals are
    contained or repressed?

    Spring Semester topics:

    Chose 1 of 3 options (strands):

    ? Strand A: The Body: disability, gender and sexuality
    The strand will offer an account of ideas developed in Cultural Studies such as post
    structuralism and postmodernism related to the cultural politics of power, identity and
    difference specifically applied to the filmic exploration or treatment of the body,
    disability, gender and sexuality. We will focus on influential thinkers such as Foucault
    and Butler, whose critical ideas will be illustrated through a range of non mainstream
    film texts which provide counter accounts to the dominant discourses of the experience
    of difference or non conformity. The specific film practices, narrative and
    representational strategies of films relating to the filmic exploration of aspects of the
    body, will be examined, attending also to contexts and aesthetic traditions which have
    informed more contemporary texts

    ? Strand B: Humanism, posthumanism
    Do we yet know what it means to be human? Using films from various genres ?
    sci-fi, horror, anime - this strand explores the meaning and future of those
    creatures called homo sapiens that currently populate the earth. Through technofantasy,
    dystopian fiction, and various thought experiments, these films explore
    what the word ?human? means, past, present, and future, and how any one
    definition is resisted within the ?posthuman? paradigm shift we are already
    experiencing today, be it at the hands of bioscience, animal studies, or countercultures.
    Through the ?deconstruction? of the human subject as a socio-political
    myth, the 'becoming-molecular' of Gilles Deleuze's philosophy, or the extension of
    the human body in technology (robotics, informatics, and art), we will look at the
    following eight areas in this field (with suggested sample viewings):
    1. Have We Ever Been Human? (Alien Resurrection, Splice)
    2. What is Human? (Blade Runner, X-Men)
    3. The New Flesh and Supercinema (Scanners, Videodrome)
    4. Prosthetic Cinema and Techno-humanism (Strange Days, Robocop, Ghost in
    the Shell)
    5. Biocinema (Gattaca, Never Let Me Go, Coma, Soylent Green,)
    6. Loving the Alien Invader (They Live!, Close Encounters of the Third Kind,
    Independence Day)
    7. Politics of the Posthuman (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, District 9)
    8. Gestural Film and Body Cinema (The Five Obstructions, Dancer in the Dark)

    Strand C: Carnival, Dialogism and Postmodernism
    What role does 'carnival' play in contemporary society, and how is it articulated in
    popular culture? Are figures like The Joker and the deformed villains of horror movies
    expressions of playful resistance, or stereotypes of disabled bodies and mental health?
    This strand of the module begins with a thorough exploration of Mikhail Bakhtin's
    theories of carnival. How can we understand cosplay and other subcultural behaviour
    through these theoretical frameworks?
    We then draw on the work of Michel Foucault to investigate the discourses that
    categorise some people as disabled, aberrant or hysterical, and others as healthy and
    'normal'. We return to Bakhtin's concepts of dialogism -- the use of many voices and
    meanings -- and move into a discussion of postmodernism as playful carnival, asking
    finally how this form of play is connected to privilege. Who is given the opportunity to
    celebrate and party, experimenting with styles, and whose cultural carnivals are
    contained or repressed?

    Teaching: In first 3 weeks, single weekly two hour lecture preceded by a screening. Then two hour
    weekly lecture/workshops

    Assessment:
    STUDY OPTION 1: Two 2000 word essays.
    STUDY OPTION 2 or 3: 2000 word essay

    Study Option 1 = Whole Year
    Study Option 2 = Autumn
    Study Option 3 = Spring/summer

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Eligibility for courses may be subject to a placement exam and/or pre-requisites.

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Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.

Please reference fall and spring course lists as not all courses are taught during both semesters.

Please note that some courses with locals have recommended prerequisite courses. It is the student's responsibility to consult any recommended prerequisites prior to enrolling in their course.