Essential Texts of Film Studies: The Yale Graduate List

1. Early Film Theories

Ricciotto Canudo, “The Birth of a Sixth art,” in Richard Abel, French Film Theory

Georg Lukács, “Thoughts on an Aesthetics of Cinema,” (1913), in McCormick, Guenther-Pal, pp. 11-16

Béla Balázs, “Sketches for a Theory of Film,” from Visible Man, Or the Culture of Film, (Berghahn Books, 2010), 17-84.

Jean Epstein, “Le cinematographe vu de l’Etna” in Jean Epstein Critical Essays 287-310.

Dziga Vertov, “We: variant of a manifesto” (1922) and “Kinoks: a Revolution” (1923) in Kino.Eye: the Writings of Dziga Vertov, University of California Press, 1984  

Sergei Eisenstein, “A Dialectical approach to Film Form”; “Word and Image”

2. Art and Media in the 1930s

Rudolph Arnheim, chapters 1-3, in Film as Art

Erwin Panofsky, “Style and medium in the Motion Pictures,” [1934] in Angela Dalle Vacche, The Visual Turn: Classical Film Theory and Art History, 69-84.

Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”

3. Postwar Film Theory

Andre Bazin, “Ontology of the Photographic Image,” “Myth of Total Cinema,” “Montage Prohibited,” “In defense of Impure Cinema,” “The Italian School of Neorealism”

Siegfried Kracauer, Theory of Film, Chapters 1-4, and 14.

Edgar Morin, The Cinema, or the Imaginary Man, pp 1-75

4. Semiotics, Ideology

Noel Burch, Theory of Film Practice, ch. 1

Christian Metz, “Problems of Denotation in the Fiction Film”

Pier Paolo Pasolini, “Cinema of Poetry”

Roland Barthes, “The Third Meaning” in Image Music Text

Stephen Heath, “Narrative Space” in Rosen, Narrative, Apparatus, Ideology

Jean-Louis Comolli and Jean Narboni, “Cinema/Ideology/Criticism”

Laura Mulvey, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”

5. Apparatus, Psychoanalysis

Christian Metz, “Identification, Mirror” from Imaginary Signifier

J-L Baudry, “Ideological Effects of the Basic Cinematographic Apparatus,” in Philip Rosen, Narrative, Apparatus, Ideology, Columbia Univ. Press, pp. 286-298.

Daniel Dayan, “The Tutor-Code of Classical Cinema”

Michel Chion, “Projections of Sound on Image” in Audio-Vision

6. Media and Social Formation

Jane Gaines, “White Privilege and Looking Relations: Race and Gender in Feminist Film Theory,” from Screen, v 29 1988)

Richard Dyer, “White,” from Screen, v 29 1988)

Fredric Jameson, “Reification and Utopia in Mass Culture” in Signatures of the Visible

Marshall McLuhan, “The Medium is the Message” and “Media Hot and Cold,” in Understanding Media

Raymond Williams, “The Technology and the Society,” in Television: Technology and Cultural Form

7. Cultural History, Modernity

Jacques Aumont, “The Variable Eye, or the Mobilization of the Gaze,” in Image in Dispute, 231-258

Tom Gunning, “The Cinema of Attractions”

Miriam Hansen, “The Mass production of the senses: Classical Cinema ad Vernacular Modernism,” in L. Williams, ed. Reinventing Film Studies

Bordwell, Thompson, Staiger, The Classical Hollywood Cinema, pp. 1-84, 155-261, 298-308, 365-385.

Thomas Schatz, from The Genius of the System, Parts I and II.

8. Philosophy, Aesthetics

Stanley Cavell, from More of The World Viewed sections 1-4, and conclusion.

Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 1: the Movement Image, ch 1-4; Cinema 2: the Time Image, chs 1, 4.

9. Genres/Documentary

Rick Altman, “A Semantic/Syntactic Approach to Film Genre” [in Film/Genre]

Philip Rosen, “Document and Documentary: on the Persistence of Historical Concepts” in Rosen, Change Mummified

Brian Winston, “The Documentary film as Scientific Inscription” in Renov, Theoriziing Documentary

10. Alternative Cinemas

Stan Brakhage, From “Metaphors on Vision” in Sitney, The Avant-Garde Film, 120-128.

P. Adams Sitney, “Major Mythopoeia” in Visionary Cinema

Maya Deren, An Anagram of Ideas on Art, Form and Film

Solanas and Getino, “Towards a Third Cinema” [n Robert Stam, ed., Film Theory