PhD In Cinemas Studies

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Department of Film Studies, Indian Film Makers University PhD Coursework

Doctorate Program For Film Makers

Course 1: Approaches to Film Studies: Models, Concepts, Issues

At least 4 modules will be taught. Credit points: 4  

The course will familiarize the students with research models and debates that have had a formative influence on the field of Film Studies. The course instructors shall base their lectures on pre-assigned readings from (but not limited to) the list of suggested readings. 


Every student will have to a) make a presentation based on a written term paper related to the student’s own research area and b) write a review article on a published book related to the field of Film Studies.

Module 1: The Institutionalization of Cinema: Modernity and Culture

Suggested Readings 

  • Jurgen Habermas, The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity, trans. Frederick G. Lawrence. Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1990.
  • Marshall Berman, All that is Solid Melts into Air: The Experience of Modernity. New York: Penguin Books, 1982.
  • Walter Benjamin, Illuminations: Essays and Reflections. trans. Harry Zohn. (ed. Hannah Arendt). New York: Schocken Books, 1968.
  • Leo Charney, Vanessa R. Schwartz (eds.) Cinema and the Invention of Modern Life. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.
  • Noel Burch, Life to Those Shadows. trans. Ben Brewster. University of California Press, 1990.
  • Douglas Gomery, The Coming of Sound. New York: Routledge, 2005.
  • David Bordwell, Janet Staiger and Kristin Thompson (eds.) The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style & Mode of Production to 1960. New York: Columbia University Press, 1985.
  • Tapati Guha-Thakurta, The Making of a New Indian Art Artists, Aesthetics and Nationalism in Bengal, C.1850 – 1920. Cambridge University Press, 1992.
  • Ashish Rajadhyaksha, ‘The Phalke Era: Conflict of Traditional Form and Modern Technology’ in Tejaswini Niranjana, P. Sudhir and and Vivek Dhareswar (eds.) Interrogating Modernity: Culture and Colonialism in India. Calcutta : Seagull Books, 1993.
  • Stephen P Hughes, ‘Tamil Mythological Cinema and the Politics of Secular Modernism’ in Birgit Meyer (ed.), Aesthetic Formations: Media, Religion, and the Senses. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009. 
  • Someswar Bhowmik, Behind the Glitz: Exploring an Enigma Called Indian Film Industry. Kolkata: Thema. 2008. 
  • Kaushik Bhaumik, The Emergence of the Bombay Film Industry, 1913-1936, unpublished D.Phil thesis, Oxford University, 2001

Module 2:  Melodrama and Popular Entertainment

Suggested Readings 

  • Peter Brooks, The Melodramatic Imagination: Balzac, Henry James, Melodrama and the Mode of Excess. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987.
  • Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. [1869, Hamburg edition. trans. Saul K Padover] in Collected Works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, 1851-53, Vol. 11.International Publishers, 1980. 
  • Cristine Gledhill (ed), Home is Where the Heart Is: Studies in Melodrama and the Woman’s Film. London: British Film Institute, 1987
  • Ben Singer, Melodrama and Modernity: Early Sensational Cinema and its Contexts. New York, West Sussex: Columbia University Press, 2001.
  • Stanley Cavell, Contesting Tears: The Hollywood Melodrama of the Unknown Woman. University of Chicago Press, 1996.
  • Barbara Klinger, Melodrama and Meaning: History, Culture and the Films of Douglas Sirk. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994.
  • Wimal Dissanayake (ed.), Melodrama and Asian Cinema. London: BFI Publishing, 1987.
  • Kathleen McHugh and Nancy Abelmann (eds.) Korean Golden Age Melodrama: Gender, Genre and National Cinema. Wayne State University Press, 2005.
  • Ravi S. Vasudevan (ed.), Making Meaning in Indian Cinema, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2000.
  • Chidananda Dasgupta, Talking About Films. Hyderabad: Orient Longman Limited, 1981. 
  • Satyajit Ray, Speaking of Films (Bishay Chalachitra) trans. Gopa Majumdar. New Delhi: Penguin India, 2005.
  • Ritwik Kumar Ghatak, Chalachitra, Manush Ebang Aaro Kichu, Kolkata: Dey’s Publishers, 2005.
  • Ashish Nandy, An Ambiguous Journey to the City: The Village and Other Odd Ruins of the Self in the Indian Imagination. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2007.
  • Ravi S. Vasudevan, The Melodramatic Public: Film Form and Spectatorship in Indian Cinema. London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2010

Module 3: Contemporary Approaches to Film Theory

Suggested Readings 

  • Bill Nichols (ed.) Movies and Methods, Volume I and II. Kolkata:  Seagull Books, 1993.
  • Stanley Cavell, The World Viewed: Reflections on the Ontology of Film, Enlarged Edition. Cambridge, Massachusetts.: Harvard University Press, 1979.
  • Jean Mitry, Semiotics and the Analysis of Film. trans. Christopher King.  Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000.
  • Philip Rosen, Change Mummified: Cinema, Historicity, Theory. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2001.
  • Giles Deluze, Cinema I: The Movement Image. trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam. London: Athlone Press, 1985. 
  • Giles Deluze, Cinema 2: The Time-Image. trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Robert Galeta, London: Athlone Press, 1989.
  • Giorgio Agamben, What is an Apparatus? and Other Essays. Trans. David Kishik and Stefan Pedatella. Stanford University Press, 2009.
  • Sean Cubitt, The Cinema Effect. Cambridge and London: The MIT Press. 2004.
  • Paul Willemen, Looks and Frictions: Essays in Cultural Studies and Film Theory. London: BFI, 1993.
  • Satyajit Ray, Our Films Their Films. Hyderabad: Disha Books, 1993.
  • Ritwik Kumar Ghatak, Rows and Rows of Fences: Ritwik Ghatak on Cinema. Kolkata: Seagull Books, 2000.
  • Vijay Mishra, Bollywood Cinema: Temples of Desire. New York: Routledge, 2002.
  • Ashish Rajadhyaksha, Indian Cinema in the Time of Celluloid: From Bollywood to the Emergency. New Delhi: Tulika Books, 2009.

Module 4: South Asian Cinema and the Politics of Identity: National, Transnational and the Global

Suggested Readings 

  • Edward Said, Orientalism. New York: Vintage, 1979
  • Stuart Hall and Paul du Gay (eds.) Questions of Cultural Identity. London: Sage Publications, 1996.
  • Ashish Nandy, The Intimate Enemy: Loss and Recovery of Self Under Colonialism. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1997.
  • Stuart Hall, ‘Cultural Identity and Cinematic Representation’ in Robert Stam & Toby Miller (eds.) Film and Theory. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers. 1992.
  • Jim Pines and Paul Willemen (eds.) Questions of Third Cinema, London: BFI, 1989
  • Valentina Vitali and Paul Willemen (eds.) Theorizing National Cinema. London: BFI Publishing, 2006.
  • Priya Jaikumar, Cinema at the End of Empire: A Politics of Transition in Britain and India. Kolkata: Seagull Books, 2006.
  • Arjun Appadurai and Carol Breckenridge (eds.) Consuming Modernity: Public Culture in a South Asian World. Minneapolis: University Of Minnesota Press, 1995.
  • Raminder Kaur, Ajay J. Sinha (eds.) Bollyworld: Popular Indian Cinema through a Transnational Lens. New Delhi: Sage Publications, 2005.
  • Stuart Cunningham and John Sinclair (eds.) Floating Lives: The Media and Asian Diasporas. Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield, 2001.
  • Shakuntala Banaji. Reading ‘Bollywood’: The Young Audience and Hindi Films. Basingstoke: Palgrave, Macmillan, 2006.
  • Sangita Gopal and Sujata Moorti (eds.) Global Bollywood: Travels of Hindi Song and Dance. Minneapolis: University Of Minnesota Press, 2008.
  • Rini Bhattacharya Mehta and Rajeshwari Pandharipande (eds.) Bollywood and Globalization: Indian Popular Cinema, Nation and Diaspora, NY & London: Anthem Press, 2010.


Module 5:  Understanding Media Forms: The Celluloid Era and Beyond

Suggested Readings 

    • Arjun Appadurai, Modernity at Large: The Cultural Dimension of Globalization. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996. 
    • Manuel Castells, The Rise of the Network Society (The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture Vol. I) 2nd Edition. Cambridge, MA; Oxford, UK: Blackwell. 2000.
    • Gene Youngblood, Expanded Cinema. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1970.
    • Martin Rieser and Andrea Zapp, (eds.) New Screen Media: Cinema/Art/Narrative, London: British Film Institute, 2002. 
    • Janine Marchessault and Susan Lord (eds.) Fluid Screens, Expanded Cinema, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007. 
    • Jacques Ranciere, The Future of the Image. trans. Gregory Elliot. London: Verso, 2008.
    • James Lyons, John Plunkett, Multimedia Histories: From the Magic Lantern to the Internet, Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2007. 
    • Lev Manovich, The Language of New Media. Cambridge and London: MIT Press, 2001. 
  • Armand Mattelart and Michelle Mattelart (eds.) Rethinking Media Theory: Signposts and New Directions, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1992
  • John Fiske, Television Culture. London: Methuen, 1987
  • Alexander Kluge and Oskar Negt, Public Sphere and Experience: Toward an Analysis of the Bourgeois and Proletarian Public Sphere. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993
  • Richard Dienst, Still Life in Real Time: Theory after Television. Durham: Duke University Press, 1994.
  • Vivian Sobchack (ed.) The Persistence of History: Cinema, Television and the Modern Moment, NY & London: Routledge, 1996.

Module 6: Writing Histories for Cinema

Suggested Readings 

  • Michael Chanan, The Dream that Kicks: Prehistory and Early Years of Cinema in Britain. London: Routledge, 1995
  • Lea Jacobs, The Wages of Sin: Censorship and the Fallen Woman Film, 1928-1942. Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 1997.
  • Robert Sklar, ‘Oh Althusser! Historiography and the Rise of Cinema Studies’ in Robert Sklar and Charles Musser (eds.) Resisting Images: Essays on Cinema and History. Temple University Press, 1990.
  • Somnath Gupt, The Parsi Theatre: Its Origin and Development. trans. Kathryn Hansen. Kolkata : Seagull Books, 2005.
  • Sumita Chakrabarty, National Identity in Indian Popular Cinema:1947-1987. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.
  • M. Madhava Prasad, Ideology of the Hindi Film: A Historical Construction. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998.
  • Bhaskar Sarkar, Mourning the Nation: Indian Cinema in the Wake of Partition. Durham: Duke University Press, 2009.
  • Kalish Mukhopadhyay, Bangla Chalachitra Shilper Itihash: 1897-1947. Calcutta: Roopmancha Publications, 1962.
  • Gourangaprasad Ghosh, Sonar Daag Vol. 1, 2nd edition. Kolkata: Jogamaya Prokashani, 2001.
  • Eric Barnouw and S. Krishnasawamy, Indian Film, 2nd Edition, New York, Oxford, Delhi:  Oxford University Press, 1980.
  • Firoze Rangoonwalla, 75 Years of Indian Cinema. New Delhi: Clarion Books, 1983.
  • Ashish Rajadhyaksha and Paul Willemen (eds.), Encyclopaedia of Indian Cinema. Revised  2nd Edition, London: BFI, 1999.
  • Journal of Arts & Ideas Digital Archive, Digital South Asia Library, University of Chicago <>
  • The ICC Report, 1927-28 and Enquiry Committee Report on Film Censorship, 1969 

Module 7: Gender, Performance and the Film Industry

Suggested Readings 

  • Sigmund Freud, ‘Femininity’(1933), in New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis. Penguin Freud Library Vol. 2, London: Penguin Books 1983. 
  • Carole Pateman, The Sexual Contract. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1988.
  • Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. London: Routledge, 1990.
  • Laura Mulvey, Visual and Other Pleasures: Theories of Representation and Difference. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989.
  • Kumkum Sangari and Sudesh Vaid (eds.) Recasting Women: Essays in Colonial History. New Delhi: Kali for Women. 1993.
  • Mary E. John and Janaki Nair (eds.) A Question of Silence: The Sexual Economies of Modern India. New Delhi: Kali for Women. 1998.
  • Anuradha Kapoor, ‘Impersonation, Narration, Desire and the Parsi Theatre’ in Stuart H. Blackburn (ed.) India’s Literary History: Essays on the Nineteenth Century. Delhi: Orient Longman, 2004.
  • Valentina Vitali, Hindi Action Cinema: Industries, Narratives, Bodies. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2008.
  • Neepa Majumdar, Wanted Cultured Ladies Only!: Female Stardom and Cinema in India, 1930s-1950s. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2009.
  • Rey Chow, Woman and Chinese Modernity: The Politics of Reading between West and East, London: University of Minnesota Press, 1991

Module 8: Spectacles, Spectators and the Public Sphere in India

Suggested Readings 

  • Theodore Baskaran, History through the Lens: Perspectives in South Indian Cinema. Hyderabad: Orient Blackswan, 2009.
  • K Sivathamby, Tamil Film as a Medium of Political Communication. Madras: New Century Book House, 1981.
  • S.V. Srinivas, ‘Is There a Public in the Cinema Hall?’ in Framework: The Journal of Cinema and Media, Vol. 42, 2001. 
  • Chidananda Das Gupta, The Painted Face: Studies in India’s Popular Cinema. New Delhi: Roli Books, 1991. 
  • M. S. S. Pandian, The Image Trap: M.G. Ramachandran in Film and Politics. New Delhi: Sage Publications, 1992.
  • M. Madhava Prasad, ‘Reigning Stars: The Political Career of South Indian Cinema’ in Lucy Fischer and Marcia Landy (eds.) Stars: The Film Reader, London: Routledge, 2004. 
  • S.V. Srinivas, Megastar: Chiranjeevi and Telugu Cinema after N.T. Rama Rao. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2009.
  • Selvaraj Velayutham (ed.) Tamil Cinema: The Cultural Politics of India’s Other Film Industry. London: Routledge, 2008.
  • Kajri Jain, Gods in the Bazaar: The Economics of Indian Calendar Art. Durham: Duke University Press, 2007.

Course 2: Research Methodologies in Film Studies

Credit Points : 4

The course shall examine broad methodological questions in film and media studies in relation to the methods adopted by researches in disciplines like Cultural Studies and the social sciences. The overall aim is to enable the students to organize and execute research at the doctoral level in accordance with institutional requirements. Students will learn to define their areas of research, identify research questions and reflect on the methods to be used in their theses. They will acquaint themselves with methods like visiting archives, audience research, fieldwork, textual formatting, organizing filmographies, using basic reference management software, etc.    

Module 1: Defining Research Areas and Problems 

Discussions will focus on techniques of writing research proposals, with particular attention to defining the area and arrangement of chapters.  Students shall learn to conduct literature survey and to structure their proposal in accordance with their specific research problems. Methodological innovations shall be encouraged.

Significant publications in the field will be used to demonstrate a variety of institutional and academic conventions in textual organization and to raise related theoretical and methodological questions.

Module 2:  Sources, Citations, Classifications 

The module will introduce students to conventional formatting styles in Humanities and social sciences. Students will be equipped with techniques of organizing textual notes, references, bibliographies etc. Relevant software for reference management shall be introduced. Students, in this module, shall also learn ways of classifying film related meta-data. 

Suggested readings

  • Chicago Manual of Style and MLA Handbook (recent editions) 
  • Virchand Dharamsey, ‘Filmography of Indian Silent Cinema’ in Paolo Cherchi Usai, Suresh Chabria, Virchand Dharamsey (eds.) Light of Asia, Pune: National Film Archive of India, 1994.
  • Paolo Cherchi Usai (ed.), The Griffith Project. Vol. 1, Films produced in 1907 London : British Film Institute, 1999. 

Module 3:  Encountering the Archive

The module shall primarily deal with methods of extraction, use and classification of archival data. Students shall learn to approach different forms of archival materials (films, historical records, newspapers, reports etc.) and to put them to use in particular discursive contexts. 

Suggested readings

  • Paolo Cherchi Usai, Burning Passions: An Introduction to the Study of Silent Cinema, London: BFI, 1994.
  • Philip Rosen, Change Mummified: Cinema, Historicity, Theory, University of Minnesota Press, 2001 

Module 4: Working with Digital Forms: Technical and Methodological Issues 

The module will provide a comprehensive overview of the developing field of Digital Humanities. Students shall be introduced to the basic architectures and interfaces of electronic databases. The discussions shall also involve conceptual issues with particular reference to debates on intellectual property and copyright. 

Suggested readings

  • Victoria Vesna (ed.), Database Aesthetics: Art in the Age of Information Overflow, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007.
  • Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens and John Unsworth (eds.), A Companion to Digital Humanities. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell Publications, 2008
  • Kevin D. Franklin and Karen Rodriguez, Interview with Lev Manovich: ‘The Next Big Thing in Humanities, Arts and Social Science Computing: Cultural Analytics’.

Module 5: Studying the Field: Primary Data Collection and Processing 

This module aims to familiarize students with methods of fieldwork and documentation required for academic research in areas like reception and exhibition practices. Students shall be acquainted with methods of sampling, quantitative analysis, preparing statistical charts and diagrams, techniques of interviewing etc. They shall also be encouraged to interrogate existing conventions in order to build more relevant models. 

Suggested readings

  • Norman K. Denzin, Sociological Methods: A Sourcebook, 5th edition, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 2006
  • James Hay, Lawrence Grossberg and Ellen Wartella (eds.), The Audience and its Landscape, Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1996.