How do films tell their stories? What types of narratives and modes of storytelling belong to different genres? How have filmmakers used novels, short stories, poetry, comics, and video games to create new stories for cinema? And how has transmedia storytelling changed our experience of storyworlds?

In the Autumn Term we explore different modes of storytelling in cinema. We consider key films from the canon of classic realist Hollywood, modernist and postmodernist cinema and examine the ways in which different filmic narrative traditions create meaning and transform showing into telling. We also turn our attention to the various genre classification systems that group films according to type. We study the history of individual genres such as Gothic, Film Noir and the Road Movie, identify their recurring patterns, styles, and iconographies, and investigate whether and how the Superhero genre promotes new forms of serialized narrative.

In the Spring Term we explore how filmmakers have recycled, updated, and given new life to canonical and popular literatures, and movie originals. We study different types of adaptation, such as free adaptation and intermedial borrowing, and we analyse what is involved in the transposition of stories from one medium into another. We also explore the differences between remakes and reboots, and the differences between adaptations which retell the “same” story again (and again) and transmedia storytelling which arguably invents prequels, sequels and spin-offs out of a desire of never wanting a particular story to end, thus satisfying our modern “novelistic” taste for seriality.

In this module we draw on a wide range of works from movie classics such Apocalypse Now (1979), based on Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness, to the transmedia franchise Avengers: Endgame (2019).



100% Coursework Mark


95% Essay (2 Essays) + 5% participation mark


Module Supervisor's Research into Subject Area


Professor Littau has published widely in the fields of print and visual cultures. Her main research interests are in film and literature, cross-media adaptations, and transmedia storytelling. Her most recent book is Cinematicity in Media History (2013, with her colleague Professor Jeffrey Geiger). Her next book is a history of the relations between film and literature.