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Centre for Media Studies, School of Arts

Palestine and the Moving Image

Course Code:
Course Not Running 2015/2016
Unit value:
Taught in:
Term 1

Palestine has been a subject and site for cinematic encounters since the advent of the moving image – a communications revolution that coincided with the emergence of the Zionist movement and ensuing contest in Palestine. Both the Lumiere and Edison companies had filmed „holy land‟ scenes by the late 19th century, and some of the Middle East‟s first cinematograph displays occurred in Jerusalem in 1900. Since then, diverse moving image practices have been implicated in, or accented by, an unending series of colonial, nationalist, and conflictual processes related to Palestine and its representation.
The course introduces students to this film history, examining a spectrum of international film and video works on the subject of Palestine, produced from 1896 to the present day. It relates aesthetics and modes of production to socio-historical contexts, investigating the shifting concerns of artists, audiences, and exhibitors over time and place. With close reference to signal film works shown each week, we examine genres including colonial propaganda, militant agitation, narrative fiction, video art, and media activism. Throughout the course, we will relate these works to the politics of representation (emphasising issues of gender, empire, and memory), whilst drawing on critical debate surrounding aesthetics and spectatorship.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

By the end of the course, students will be equipped to:

  • Situate the history of moving images of and from Palestine in relation to social, cultural, and geopolitical processes.
  • Evaluate the roles played by film and video in mediating ideology in connection with the Palestine/Israel conflict and its history.
  • Apply a range of critical theoretical approaches to material and representational economies of the moving image.
  •  Apply a variety of analytic frameworks for the study of „national cinemas‟, including transnational, (post)colonial, and diasporic approaches.
  • Identify, and critically interpret, aesthetic and political tendencies in filmmaking over the course of modern Palestinian history.
  • Recognise core ethical tensions and strategies related to the production, circulation, and spectatorship of moving images of conflict and human suffering.


10 lectures and 10 seminars over 10 weeks

Method of assessment

Coursework: 5,000 word essays, worth 100%