FS30190 Animation

Academic Year 2022/2023

Free from the constraints of photographic indexicality, anything that can be dreamed can be rendered: this is the world of animation - arguably the most wholly 'cinematic' of film forms. It is also one of the most ubiquitous, and yet ironically invisible, forms of representation in the 21st century, as much part of every logo, loading screen, and gif we encounter daily as of mainstream cinematic feature films; part of every advertisement we click on or glaze over as much as short films and parody channels on YouTube. But how do we consume and contextualise these imaginings? Does animation animate us? This module will cover the history of animation from the beginnings to the age of Pixar, addressing the work of masters of the form from Blackton and McKay to Miyazaki and Svankjmeyer, encompassing economic, socio-cultural, national, and ideological perspectives on a form of cinema with a history and evolution as long as that of live-action, but quite a separate (or at least parallel) one. Animation Theory is a rich body of work combining acute awareness of the technical and the practical elements of the form with interrogative and analytical frameworks framed by intellectual engagement with urgent and constant questions of representation. This module will examine the means of its production and the contexts of its reception, including discussion of transhumanism, ontology, the uncanny, memory, and concepts of 'life itself' that are inherent in a form whose very name suggests spiritual and metaphysical dimensions imagined through aesthetics of motion stemming from moving drawings.

Show/hide contentOpenClose All

Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

This module will:
1) provide vocabulary and theoretical frameworks to facilitate students to acquire a comprehensive knowledge base pertaining to the history of animated film around the world and also understand the production methodologies and technical procesess by which animation is created and delivered
2) enable students to write critically and engage theoretically with animation as a representational paradigm, an art form, an industrial process, and a cultural phenomenon.
3) allow students to distinguish between various types and forms of animation and be capable of making critical judgements upon their place and function within the societies that produce them.
4) facilitate the written scholarly analysis of animated films at a level commensurate with advanced undergraduate film studies .

Indicative Module Content:

Animation is delivered in two blocks of approximately two hours each weekly, consisting of formal lecture in one part and a combination of screening and seminar in the other. Weekly reading lists will be provided with required, recommended, and reference reading, allowing for specified activity and scope for independent learning leading to the preparation of materials for assessment. Assessment will be by means of two essays: a mid-term writing assignment and a final essay of advanced undergraduate standard.

Indicative topics (subject to change):
Origins of animation
Business models in animation production
Animation processes, techniques, and technologies
Animation forms and types
Animation aesthetics
Realism and realisms in animation - formative and normative contexts
Audiences and models of reception
Convergence: posthumanism and digital cultures
Orthodoxy and ideology: reading, resistance, and reception
'Adult' and avant-garde animation
Authored animations and subjectivity
Language and image - translation, transnationalism, and cultural specificity
Music in animation
Graphic art and animation in cultural context (comix, animé, bande-desinée)
Metamorphosis and its meaning in theory and practice
History, memory, personality and the navigation of the imagined self

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning








Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Students are expected to attend two teaching blocks each week - the lecture block and the screening block. Time and participant engagement permitting, there will be provision for seminar style discussion in the screening block. There are no formal tutorials at level three, though there is open consultation every week throughout the trimester and in-class discussion is encouraged. The expectation is that at level three, independent learning skills will be expanding and developing, and a greater emphasis on research is expected. There are, of course, weekly required and recommended readings which provide specified learning activities, but an extensive research bibliography is also provided to enable independent scholarship. As a level three module, this course will require an advanced level of knowledge of the relevant vocabulary and theories of film, even though animation will in fact introduce a fairly extensive set of new ones and introduce new intellectual and conceptual challenges. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Recommendations:

This is an advanced undergraduate module and should not be attempted without sufficient experience to engage with the topic at the requisite level and with a capacity for independent learning based on research.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Animation (FS30030)

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Essay: Mid-term assignment. Week 6 n/a Graded No


Essay: Final Essay Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Written feedback will be available on all submitted mid-term and final essays, and students are invited to attend consultation to discuss this further. There will also usually be some general feedback notes either in class or on BrightSpace. General consultation is available on a weekly basis for all students throughout the trimester, including during preparation of assessment, but drafts will not be read prior to summative assessment.

Indicative Reading List (subject to change):
Beckman, Karen (ed.), Animating Film Theory, Durham and London: Duke Uni Press, 2014.
Dobson, Nichola, Annabelle Honess Roe, Amy Ratelle and Caroline Ruddell (eds.), The Animation Studies Reader, New York, London, Oxford, New Dehli, Sydney: Bloomsbury, 2019.
Furniss, Maureen, Art in Motion: Animation Aesthetics (revised edition), London, Paris, Rome, Sydney: John Libbey & Co., 2008.
Furniss, Maureen, Animation: The Global History, London: Thames & Hudson, 2017.
Wells, Paul, Understanding Animation, New York and London: Routledge,1998.
Wells, Paul, Animation: Genre and Authorship, London: Wallflower Press, 2007.