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MFCO319 Contemporary American Cinema

An examination of a topic or topics pertaining to contemporary American cinema - such as the romantic comedy, the science fiction film, documentary genres, new technologies in American cinema, global Hollywood.

The notion of the film director as author has long been a central theoretical and historical issue within cinema studies. Film authorship has been crucially important both to film studies and the film industry itself in the last several decades. This paper will study the ways authorship has been theorised; its impact on the New Hollywood cinema of the late 1960s to the present; and the work of a selection of contemporary American directors as authors. Students will leave the paper with a greater understanding of film history and the work of the film director. It is ideal for MFCO majors, humanities students, students who wish to work in any part of the film industry and any student interested in contemporary cinema.

Paper title Contemporary American Cinema
Paper code MFCO319
Subject Media, Film and Communication
EFTS 0.15
Points 18 points
Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $955.05
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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18 200-level MFCO or FIME points
FIME 311
Schedule C
Arts and Music
Students who have not passed the normal prerequisite may be admitted with approval from the Head of Department.
Teaching staff

Convenor and Lecturer: Garth Cartwright

Paper Structure

This paper covers a history of the New Hollywood, a study of film authorship and the examination of four major New Hollywood directors as authors.


  • Participation 5%
  • Reading Response One 10%
  • Reading Response Two 10%
  • Essay 30%
  • Final Examination 45%
Teaching Arrangements

This paper is taught via lectures, screenings and tutorials.


Readings will be available in the Course reader or on Blackboard.

Course outline

View a sample course outline for MFCO 319

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Research.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete the paper will:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of theories of authorship
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the history of contemporary American cinema
  • Demonstrate critical thinking abilities
  • Demonstrate skill at written communication of ideas
  • Demonstrate ability to conduct and use independent research in writing about film

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Semester 1

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system

Film Screening

Stream Days Times Weeks
S1 Wednesday 16:00-18:50 9-10, 12-13, 16, 18-19, 21-22


Stream Days Times Weeks
L1 Wednesday 15:00-15:50 9-14, 16-22
Friday 13:00-13:50 9-13, 17-22


Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend one stream from
T1 Friday 14:00-14:50 9-13, 16-20, 22
T2 Friday 15:00-15:50 9-13, 16-20, 22