Surrealism and Its Legacies (EAF3233)

StaffDr Felicity Gee - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level6
Duration of Module Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

  • To thoroughly explore Surrealism’s position within the modernist avant-garde, and you will learn how Surrealism and modernity are linked through the Surrealists’ appropriation of new media (film, photography) and of concurrent socio-cultural trends (psychoanalysis, supernatural, crime fiction, documentary film, international travel, for example).
  • To give you the opportunity to work across literature, film and art history and to be able to understand the relevance of other disciplines within the field of film studies, applying art historical research to both modernist and contemporary filmmaking. Seminars will give the opportunity to discuss and unpack Surrealism in all its forms, and you will have the opportunity to engage with a range of source materials, with time given to the presentation of individual and group research aims.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. You should be able to demonstrate a keen knowledge of Surrealism, its major practitioners, and the debates that it raised as a radical movement
  • 2. You should be able to demonstrate research-specific skills in working with primary source materials (texts, objects, films available digitally)
  • 3. You should be able to read closely between literature, painting and film and be able to better understand the term avant-garde and its position within modernist studies

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. You should be able to demonstrate advanced analytical skill in close formal reading of primary texts, films and images
  • 5. You should be able to demonstrate advanced analytical skill in discussing the critical debates surrounding the ‘genre’ of Surrealist film
  • 6. You should be able to demonstrate an advanced ability to evaluate and respond to theoretical concepts and debates and understand their particular relevance to the individual and collective study of film, literature and art history
  • 7. You should be able to develop an advanced understanding of aesthetics and aesthetic theory

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 8. Through individual and online group work, you should be able to communicate ideas clearly and gain confidence and knowledge through peer interaction
  • 9. You should be able to demonstrate active communication online whether verbally, or in synchronous or non-synchronous chat, wiki or forum platforms, with emphasis on original thought and presentation of individual research
  • 10. You should be able to construct a clear and coherent argument; to demonstrate advanced research skills and to demonstrate competence in bibliographical referencing through the practice of essay writing
  • 11. You should be able to achieve a higher fluency of scholarly language through research-led reading and writing

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

An Indicative Module Syllabus:

  • The Paris circle – André Breton, the Surrealist Manifesto, séances and automatic writing
  • Writing and photographing Paris – the flâneur, the flea-market, dreams and the uncanny – André Breton, Louis Aragon, Eugene Atget
  • Early Surrealist film collaboration – Man Ray, Luis Buñuel, Salvador Dalí, Germaine Dulac
  • The everyday and the marvellous – Surrealist documentary, surrealism and the modern world
  • Female Surrealists? Women and Surrealism
  • World and Transnational Surrealisms – indicative areas to include: American Surrealism 1940s – 1960s ; Czech Surrealism –Surrealism in Latin America;  Japan and Surrealism – Abe Kobo and Hiroshi Teshigahara’s Collaborations
  • From Eraserhead to Twin Peaks – David Lynch’s surrealist tales
  • Collage in painting (Max Ernst, Claude Cahun) and in film (Joseph Cornell, Guy Maddin)

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching33Online lectures and seminars, Q&A sessions
Scheduled learning and teaching33Film screenings
Guided independent study33Online group preparation and meetings
Guided independent study70Seminar preparation (individual)
Guided independent study131Reading, research and essay preparation

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay352000 words1-6, 8-11Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up
Object/primary source analysis15500 words1-11Feedback in class with opportunity for tutorial follow-up
Essay503500 words1-7, 10, 11Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-6, 10, 11Referral/deferral period
Object/primary source analysisObject/primary source analysis1-7, 10, 11Referral/deferral period
EssayEssay1-7, 10, 11Referral/deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:

  • First Manifesto of Surrealism (André Breton, 1924)
  • Nadja (André Breton, 1928)
  • Paris Peasant (Louis Aragon, 1926)
  • The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (1837)
  • Woman in the Dunes The Face of Another (Kobo Abe, 1964)

Core Viewing:

  • A selection of short experimental and avant-garde films (Man Ray, Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí, Germaine Dulac, Maya Deren, Joseph Cornell)
  • Ghosts Before Breakfast (Vormittagsspuk) (6 minute short); Dreams That Money Can Buy (Hans Richter, 1928, 1948)
  • Los Olvidados; The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (Buñuel, 1950; 1972)
  • The Double Life of Véronique (Kieslowski, 1991)
  • Valerie and Her Week of Wonders (Jaromil Jireš, 1970) Daisies (Chytilová, 1970)
  • Alice (and other shorts) (Jan Svankmajer, 1980)
  • Endless Poetry; The Dance of Reality (Alejandro Jodorowsky, 2014; 2016)
  • EraserheadWild at Heart; episodes from Twin Peaks (David Lynch)
  • The Face of Another; Pitfall (Teshigahara, 1966, 1961)
  • The Lobster (Lanthanimos 2017)

Secondary Sources:

  • Breton, André, ‘Manifesto of Surrealism, 1924’, in Manifestoes of Surrealism, pp. 3-47 (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2010).
  • Desnos, Robert, ‘The Work of Man Ray’ [1923]; Man Ray ‘The Age of Light’ [1934]; and Man Ray ‘On Photographic Realism’ [1935], in Christopher Phillips (ed.) Photography in the Modern Era: European Documents and Critical Writings, 1913-1940, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1989, pp 7-10; 52 – 54; and 57 – 59 respectively.
  • Knowles, Kim, A Cinematic Artist: The Films of Man Ray, (Bern: Peter Lang, 2009)
  • Kuenzli, Dada and Surrealist Film, Cambridge M.A.: MIT Press, 1996, pp. 207-220
  • Dalí, Salvador, ‘'The Object as Revealed in Surrealist Experiment' [1931], in Hershel B. Chipp (ed.), Theories of Modern Art: A Source Book by Artists and Critics, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994)
  • Almer, Patricia, Angels of Anarchy: Women Artists and Surrealism. Munich and London: Prestel, Manchester Art Gallery, 2009.
  • Adamowicz, Elza, Surrealism: Crossings/Frontiers European Connections. Oxford: Peter Lang, 2006.
  • —. Surrealist Collage in Text and Image. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.
  • Ades, Dawn, Photomontage. London: Thames and Hudson, 1976.
  • Ruiz, Raúl, The Poetics of Cinema. Translated by Brian Holmes. Paris: Éditions Dis Voir, 2005.
  • Richardson, Michael, Refusal of the Shadow: Surrealism and the Caribbean. Translated by Krzysztof Fijalkowski and Michael Richardson. London and New York: Verso, 1996.
  • —. Surrealism and Cinema. Oxford: Berg, 2006.
  • Foster, Hal, Compulsive Beauty. Cambridge, Massachusetts and London: The MIT Press, 1993.
  • Freud, Sigmund, “Creative Writers and Daydreaming.” In The Freud Reader, by Peter Gray. London: Vintage, 1995 (1907).
  • Hammond, Paul (ed.), The Shadow and Its Shadow: Surrealist Writings on the Cinema, (San Francisco: City Light Books, 2000).
  • Krauss, Rosalind, ‘The Photographic Conditions of Surrealism’, October, Vol. 19, (Winter, 1981), pp. 3-34
  • Bazin, André, 'Cruelty and Love in Los Olvidados' 1972, The Exterminating Angel, Nazarin, and Los Olvidados: Three Films by Luis Bunuel, trans Nicholas Fry, London: Lorimer Publishing
  • Sims, Terry Ann, In the Mind’s Eye: Dada and Surrealism, New York: Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Abberville Press, 1985.

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Surrealism, avant-garde film,  modernism, experimental film, art history, photography, collage film, marvellous realism, uncanny, oneirism, Paris, Latin America, Japan, Czech surrealism