LIT237 : Love and Death in the Films of Woody Allen

Convenor(s): Dr Jonathan Ellis


Please note: This module may or may not run in any given semester. Please check with the tutor.

General Information

This module combines an interest in contemporary American cinema and film theory with a close study of the work of a single film director, Woody Allen. As well as being one of the most prolific filmmakers of his generation, Woody Allen is also one of the few directors to have complete artistic control over the writing, casting, filming, editing and scoring of his work. A study of his career thus offers the chance to see a single artist develop and evolve a very distinct cinematic language. Issues to be raised in seminars will include the relationship between image and music in film narrative, the problem of assessing comic elements in cinema, Allen's relationship to recent and contemporary American cinema, the use of auteur theory in film studies, and feminist, Marxist and psychoanalytic critiques of Allen’s work. Films to be studied will include Love and Death, Annie Hall, Manhattan, Zelig, Hannah and Her Sisters and Husbands and Wives.


There will be two teaching hours per week (one lecture, one seminar). Lectures will provide biographical, cultural and philosophical contexts for the study of Allen’s films and will also offer advice on preparing for the close analysis exam. In seminars you will have the opportunity to share your ideas and discuss them with other students and your tutor. The course will proceed chronologically through Allen’s career, from the ‘early, funny films’ of the early 70s through to the mature and serious work of the 80s and 90s. There will also be opportunity to look at Allen’s contemporary work. There are normally film screenings of each of the course films.


Assessment will be in two parts. There will be a two-hour close analysis exam counting for 40% of the mark and a 2,500 word essay counting for 60% of the mark. The exam will take the form of a close analysis of a 10-minute sequence from a Woody Allen film not studied in class. There will be opportunity for practising this exercise in class. In the essay you will be asked to focus on at least two Allen films in order to address larger issues and themes that arise from the study of his career.

Contact Details

Dr Jonathan Ellis, tel: 0114 222 8465

Information last changed: Wednesday 22nd of February 2017 :: 03:30:32 PM (GMT)


The University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK