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Unit information: Screen Style and Aesthetics in 2015/16

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Unit name Screen Style and Aesthetics
Unit code DRAMM3015
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Alex Clayton
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Film and Television
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit investigates issues in screen aesthetics through detailed examination of how screenworks, drawn from film and/or television and/or related media, employ the facilities of their particular medium to shape meaning. Screenworks are selected from a range of periods and places, guided primarily by the extent to which each individual text may reward close and repeated scrutiny. Seminars will provide the opportunity to explore the workings and significance of particular sequences and draw connections to wider aesthetic questions and philosophical ideas. Students will be encouraged to analyse with increasing sensitivity and express considered judgements with precision, care and evidential reasoning. Matters to be explored may include the expressive role of particular components of screen style, such as colour, sound, or gesture, in relation to topics such as medium-ontology, synthesis, ambiguity, motifs and patterning, diegesis, tone, rhetoric, viewpoint and interpretation. The unit will also consider accomplishments and principles involved in forms of criticism which seek to articulate the grounds of aesthetic experience in particular objects.


  • To provide an understanding of issues in screen aesthetics
  • To explore in depth how screen style shapes tone and meaning
  • To consider the relationship between individual screenworks and their medium
  • To sharpen and deploy screen analysis skills in the service of aesthetic enquiry
  • To develop an appreciation of principles involved in film criticism
  • To encourage modes of expression which do justice to the qualities of the aesthetic object.

Intended learning outcomes

  • To gain an understanding of issues in screen aesthetics
  • To develop analytical skills and build an appreciation of the workings of screen style
  • To be able to make precise discriminations and provide detailed justification for critical judgement
  • To write fluently, sensitively and persuasively about particular screenworks, consciously crafting language to express a specific form of engagement with their individual qualities.

Teaching details

Seminars and screenings.

Assessment Details

5000 word essay (100%).

Reading and References

  • Butler, Jeremy, Television Style (Oxon and New York: Routledge, 2009)
  • Cavell, Stanley, The World Viewed (Enlarged Edition) (Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England: Harvard University Press, 1979)
  • Corner, J. Critical Ideas in Television Studies (Wotton-on-Edge, Gloucestershire: Clarendon Press, 1999).
  • Gibbs, John and Pye, Douglas (eds.), Style and Meaning: Studies in the Detailed Analysis of Film (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2005)
  • Lury, Karen, Interpreting Television (London: Hodder Arnold, 2005)
  • Perez, Gilberto, The Material Ghost: Films and Their Medium (London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998)
  • Perkins, V.F., Film as Film (London: Da Capo Press, 2005)
  • Toles, George, A House Made of Light: Essays on the Art of Film (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2001)