Narrative and Film

The details
Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Undergraduate: Level 5
Thursday 08 October 2020
Friday 02 July 2021
08 June 2020


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA PQ32 Film Studies and Literature (Including Year Abroad),
BA PQ38 Film Studies and Literature (Including Foundation Year),
BA QW26 Film Studies and Literature,
BA QW27 Film Studies and Literature (Including Placement Year)

Module description

How do films tell their stories? What types of narratives and modes of storytelling belong to different genres? How have filmmakers used novels, short stories, poetry, comics, and video games to create new stories for cinema? And how has transmedia storytelling changed our experience of storyworlds?

In the Autumn Term we explore different modes of storytelling in cinema. We consider key films from the canon of classic realist Hollywood, modernist and postmodernist cinema and examine the ways in which different filmic narrative traditions create meaning and transform showing into telling. We also turn our attention to the various genre classification systems that group films according to type. We study the history of individual genres such as Gothic, Film Noir, Science Fiction, and the Road Movie and identify their recurring patterns, styles, and iconographies, and investigate whether and how the Superhero genre promotes new forms of serialized narrative.

In the Spring Term we explore how filmmakers have recycled, updated, and given new life to canonical and popular literatures, and movie originals. We study different types of adaptation, such as free adaptation and intermedial borrowing, and we analyse what is involved in the transposition of stories from one medium into another. We also explore the differences between remakes and reboots, and the differences between adaptations which retell the "same" story again (and again) and transmedia storytelling which arguably invents prequels, sequels and spin-offs out of a desire of never wanting a particular story to end, thus satisfying our modern "novelistic" taste for seriality.

In this module we draw on a wide range of works from movie classics such Apocalypse Now (1979), based on Joseph Conrad's novel Heart of Darkness, to the transmedia franchise Avengers: Endgame (2019).

Module aims

The learning aims of the module are to:
• introduce different formal, aesthetic, and generic modes of storytelling in cinema
• develop an understanding of how narratives are retold, updated and recycled across different genres, art forms, and media
• gain an overview of different types of serial storytelling, including adaptations, remakes, reboots, prequels, sequels, and transmedia
• familiarize students with key concepts in film analysis, genre theory, and adaptation studies

Module learning outcomes

On completing this module students should be able to
• communicate knowledge and understanding of the different formal, aesthetic, and generic modes of storytelling in cinema
• undertake comparative analyses and demonstrate an understanding of the aesthetic relations between verbal and visual media
• demonstrate critical awareness of key issues and concepts pertaining to cross-media adaptations and serial storytelling
• apply, and reflect on, film-, genre-, and adaptation theory

Module information


• Alice in the Cities, dir. Wim Wenders (1974)

• Alien, dir. Ridley Scott (1979)

• Apocalypse Now, dir. Francis Ford Coppola (1979)

• Avengers: Endgame, dir. Anthony and Joe Russo (2019)

• Batman Begins, dir. Christopher Nolan (2005)

• Blade Runner 2049, dir. Denis Villeneuve (2017)

• Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, dir. Rouben Mamoulian (1931)

• Hugo, dir. Martin Scorsese (2007)

• Masculin Féminin, dir. Jean-Luc Godard (1966)

• Nosferatu, dir. F. W. Murnau (1922)

• Rear Window, dir. Alfred Hitchcock (1954)

• Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, dir. Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey & Rodney Rothman (2018)

• Strange Days, dir. Kathryn Bigelow (1995)

• Timecode, dir. Mike Figgis (2000)

• The Big Sleep, dir. Howard Hawks (1946)

• The Fly, dir. David Cronenberg (1986)

Learning and teaching methods

Anticipated teaching delivery for 2020-21: Weekly 1 hour lecture plus 1 hour class; weekly 3-hour online screening


This module does not appear to have any essential texts. To see non-essential items, please refer to the module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Essay 1 (2,500 words)    47.5% 
Coursework   Essay 2 (2,500 words)    47.5% 
Practical   Participation    5% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Prof Karin Littau, email:
Professor Karin Littau
LiFTS General Office - email Telephone 01206 872626



External examiner

Dr Mikel Koven
University of Worcester
Senior Lecturer - Film Studies
Available via Moodle
Of 92 hours, 38 (41.3%) hours available to students:
54 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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