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Centre for Media Studies, School of Arts

Arab Cinemas

Course Code:
Course Not Running 2015/2016
Unit value:
Year of study:
Year 1 or Year 2
Taught in:
Term 2

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

  • To introduce students to a range of Arab cinemas and their historical, industrial, and cultural contexts and a selection of films representing the aesthetic diversity of those cinemas.
  • To encourage them to beware of Eurocentric presuppositions when considering Arab films and cinemas.
  • To develop appropriate research methods for analysis of the films.
  • To teach students to contextualise their interpretation of the films in the wider social, cultural, aesthetic, industrial and historical contexts in which the films have been made.
  • To locate the cinemas among other media developments in the Arab world.
  • To provide the students with the conceptual tools to evaluate and engage with a range of primary and secondary source material and link these to critical analysis.
  • To enable the students to critically apply postcolonial theory to the study of Arab cinemas.

Scope and syllabus

Arab cinemas are diverse with distinct trajectories and aesthetics. This is not only because the countries where the films originate are a heterogeneous mix of populations with different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. The region’s film production practices have also been diverse ranging from a strong commercial industry in Egypt to a centralised socialist model in Algeria. The yearly production volume has been anywhere between just a handful in most countries to about 50 in Egypt. In spite of this diversity, by covering the major film producing regions this course aims to introduce students to a range of cinemas and to relate them to their various and sometimes convergent historical, political, economic, social, cultural, and artistic contexts.

The course will concentrate on cinemas of Egypt, the Maghrib (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia) as well as Palestinian films. It will examine major moments in the history of these cinemas and the political developments that have inevitably had a major influence on filmmaking in the region.

The course will primarily be an option for the MA Global Cinemas and the Transcultural, where it can be paired with the half-unit on Iranian Cinema, or with any of the other Cinema options already taught. It can also be paired with other half-unit courses in other MA programmes offered at the Centre for Media and Film Studies.

Method of assessment

100% Coursework.

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