Film Theory: The Basics provides an accessible introduction to the key theorists, concepts, and debates that have shaped the study of moving images. It examines film theory from its emergence in the early twentieth century to its study in the present day, and explores why film has drawn special attention as a medium, as a form of representation, and as a focal point in the rise of modern visual culture.
The book emphasizes how film theory has developed as a historically contingent discourse, one that has evolved and changed in conjunction with different social, political, and intellectual factors. To explore this fully, the book is broken down into the following distinct sections:
Theory Before Theory, 1915-1960
French Theory, 1949-1968
Screen Theory, 1969-1996
Complete with questions for discussion and a glossary of both key terms and key theorists, Film Theory: The Basics is an invaluable resource for those new to film studies and for anyone else interested in the history and significance of critical thinking in relation to the moving image.
Kevin McDonald is a Lecturer in the Department of Communication Studies at California State University, Northridge where he teaches popular culture and cultural theory. His research focuses on film theory and contemporary Hollywood. He is currently co-editing a collection entitled The Netflix Effect.
Introduction 1 Theory Before Theory, 1915-1960 I. Early American Theorists and the Quest for Legitimacy II. France, Film Culture, and Photogenie III. Soviet Russia and Montage Theory IV. Germany and the Frankfurt School V. Post-War France: From Neorealism to the New Wave Summary 2 French Theory, 1949-1968 I. The Linguistic Turn II. Lacan and the Return to Freud III. Althusser and the Return to Marx IV. Cinema and Semiotics V. May 1968 and Afterward Summary 3 Screen Theory, 1969-1996 I. Screen and Theory II. Feminist Film Theory III. Postcolonial Theory IV. Queer Theory V. A Postmodern End Summary 4 Post-Theory, 1996-2015 I. Theory's Critics, Cognitive Science, and Historical Poetics II. Deleuze and the Return of Philosophy III. New Media and Post-Film Theory Summary Appendix I: Glossary of Key Terms Appendix II: Glossary of Key Theorists Bibliography