The University of Newcastle, Australia
Not currently offered
Course code



20 units


3000 level

Course handbook


While historians deal principally with written texts, they are increasingly turning to film as an important source of historical evidence. Historians are also interested in interrogating the constructed nature of filmic accounts and the ways in which films represent the past. These concerns form key themes of Reel History. Moreover, the development of critical engagement and visual literacy across a range of film genres is increasingly necessary in a world saturated in visual media. To this end, a range of films and historical and theoretical texts will be investigated. Examples of both documentary and dramatic screen texts will be used in the course, and some use may also be made of experimental film.


Not currently offered.

This Course was last offered in Semester 1 - 2015.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate awareness of film as an historical medium and the capacity to critically read a film as an historical source or representation.

2. Use theoretical perspectives to inform an awareness of the contested nature of historical representation within the medium of film and to apply this across a range of historical media.

3. Demonstrate the ability to conduct research independently, and to express clear and informed arguments, either orally or in writing, on various aspects of film and history.

4. Display awareness of the ways in which an interdisciplinary approach can inform understandings of the past.


The course will be taught in a thematic way and will introduce students to the concept of film as cultural artefact, The overarching construct linking the selection of film is the concept of representation. Following introductory lectures on how to read a visual text and genres of historical film, the course is structured around a selection of themes. The themes may include cinematic representations of childhood and youth; gender and sexualities; Indigenous histories; surf culture; and politics and war over a range of historical periods.

Assumed knowledge

A general knowledge of history will be assumed equivalent to that acquired in two ten-unit courses of history. No previous study of film and history will be assumed.

Assessment items

Written Assignment: Written paper

Report: Four reviews based on films and readings

Report: Written paper on oral presentation

Presentation: Oral seminars

In Term Test: Class end of semester test