Archival Encounters: Material Film Histories (EAFM089)

Staff - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level7
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks;

Module aims

The module aims to do the following:

  • introduce you to the history of film archiving across the 20th and 21st centuries with a basis in British archival institutions, and the opportunity to compare these to practices and collections based in other nations and national cinemas;
  • ground your analysis in a complex understanding of key currents and debates in archival theory and theories of film heritage specifically;
  • develop your understanding of and practical skills in cataloguing approaches and techniques for film archive materials;
  • develop your critical and analytical skills in writing about film history through an archival lens;
  • develop your professional networking skills in enabling you to interact with a range of curators and archive and heritage professionals;
  • deepen your knowledge of British film history and its material preservation;
  • enhance your transferable skills in applying your academic learning to public facing outputs in the creation of blog and social media content about archival material and ephemera;
  • support students who choose to undertake a final MA dissertation project in film museum culture/ archive curation

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate an advanced critical appreciation of some of the dominant concepts, methods and debates informing the study of film archives and film archiving.
  • 2. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of different traditions of film archiving in different national and international contexts.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Demonstrate advanced and autonomous skills in the research and evaluation of relevant critical and historical materials for the study of film and film archiving.
  • 4. Demonstrate a sophisticated ability to interrelate texts and discourses specific to their own discipline with issues in the wider context of cultural and intellectual history.
  • 5. Demonstrate a sophisticated ability to understand and analyse relevant theoretical ideas, and apply these ideas to films, archives and archival practices.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 6. Through the writing of essays and other pieces of written work, demonstrate appropriate research and bibliographic skills, a capacity to construct a coherent, substantiated argument, and a capacity to write clear and correct prose.
  • 7. Through research, seminar discussion, and the writing of essays and other pieces of written work, demonstrate an advanced capacity to question assumptions, distinguish between fact and opinion, and reflect critically on their own learning.

Syllabus plan

It is envisaged that the topics covered will be as follows:

  • What is a Film Archive?
  • Ephemera and Archival Cataloguing
  • Early Cinema in the Archives
  • Non-fiction Film Archives
  • Archiving Cinemagoing / Archiving Audiences
  • Archiving Cinema Technology
  • Regional Film Histories
  • The ‘Living’ Archive
  • Making New Archives
  • Omeka presentations

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 Teaching 22Seminar – 1 x 2 hour weekly
Guided independent Study33Study group preparation and meetings
Guided independent Study70Seminar preparation (individual)
Guided independent Study175Research, reading and essay writing

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
Omeka catalogue302500 words1-7Feedback sheet with opportunity for tutorial follow-up
Research essay705000 words1-7Feedback 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
Omeka catalogue (2500 words)Essay (2500 words)1-7Referral/deferral period
Research essay (5000 words)Research essay (5000 words)1-7Referral/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 50%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will be capped at 50%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Indicative reading:

  • Burton, Antoinette, ed. Archive Stories: Facts, Fictions, and the Writing of History. London: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
  • Cvetkovich, Ann. 2002. “In the Archives of Lesbian Feelings: Documentary and Popular Culture.” Camera Obscura 17, no.1: 107-47.
  • Derrida, Jacques. 1996. Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression. Translated by Eric Prenowitz. London: University of Chicago Press.
  • Dever, Maryanne. 2010. “Greta Garbo's Foot ,or, Sex, Socks and Letters.” Australian Feminist Studies 25, no. 64: 163-73.
  • MacNeil, Heather and Terry Eastwood. Currents of Archival Thinking, 2nd ed. Santa Barbara, California: Libraries Unlimited.
  • Farge, Arlette. 2015. The Allure of the Archives. Translated by Thomas Scott-Railton. London: Yale University Press.
  • Gansky, Paul. 2013. “Spellbound, Archives, Exhibitions, and Film’s Material History.” Film History 25, no. 3: 126-48.
  • Gledhill, Christine and Julia Knight. 2015. Doing Women’s Film History: Reframing Cinemas, Past and Future. Chicago: University of Illinois Press.
  • Hastie, Amelie. 2006. “The Miscellany of Film History.” Film History 18, no. 2: 222–30.
  • Kadar, Marlene and Helen M. Buss. Working in Women’s Archives: Researching Women’s Private Literature and Archival Documents. Ontario, Wilfrid Laurier University Press.
  • Petersen, Anne Helen. 2013. “What to Do With a Coffin Full of Sugar: Gloria Swanson, Kenneth Anger, and Self-Authorship in the Star Collection.” The Moving Image 13, no. 2: 81-98.
  • Stead, Lisa. Reframing Vivien Leigh: Stardom, Gender and the Archive. Oxford University Press, 2021.
  • Vaknin, Judy, Karyn Stuckey and Victoria Lane, eds. All This Stuff: Archiving the Artist. Faringdon: Libri Publishing.
  • Wickham, Phil. “Scrapbooks, Soap Dishes and Screen Dreams: ephemera, everyday life and cinema history.” New Review of Film and Television Studies. 8.3 (2010): 315-30.

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

ELE site will contain core readings and further reading suggestions.

Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

Film, Cinema, archives, museums, production history, audiences, digital archives, ephemera