Documentary Studies
Course code
old course code
Course title in Estonian
Dokumentaalfilmi uuringud
Course title in English
Documentary Studies
ECTS credits
Assessment form
lecturer of 2023/2024 Spring semester
Not opened for teaching. Click the study programme link below to see the nominal division schedule.
lecturer of 2024/2025 Autumn semester
Not opened for teaching. Click the study programme link below to see the nominal division schedule.
Course aims
A central goal of this course is to provide students with perspectives, background, and ways of thinking about documentary films through Bill Nichols’ theories that will facilitate the critical inquiry and viewing of documentary and ethnographic films. Also this course aims to familiarize students with the various modes and styles of documentary film described by Nichols, the issues and controversies related to documentary representation, and documentary subjects, the historical, social, and political contexts that have given rise to particular documentary styles, approaches, and subjects, the uses of documentary as evidence and argumentation, and the changing social, political, and cultural uses of documentary film.
Brief description of the course
This course focuses on key issues and concepts of Bill Nichols’ theories on documentary and ethnographic film. The most important topics and issues in documentary history and criticism are covered through this approach. The course will explore how these issues involved in representing reality have exemplified the inventiveness of documentary filmmakers. Documentary is presented as a wide-ranging and freewheeling for of filmmaking practice, and the examples of this span a large area of filmmaking. The course aims to offers suggestive answers to important issues that have stood at the center of debate around documentary throughout the last century. In Bill Nichols’ theory on documentary these questions cover the question of authenticity and originality, modes and types of documentary, ‘voice’, history and politics of documentary, and issues around the form and ethics of documentary filmmaking. The issue of how to write about documentary in a clear and convincing way is also covered during the course.
Learning outcomes in the course
Upon completing the course the student:
- has learn to identify and analyze Bill Nichols’ theories through interpreting and analyzing his/her works in the field of documentary and ethnographic film;
- is able to discuss documentary film within its historical and theoretical contexts according to Nichols’ theory;
- is able to critically analyze the development of ideas about the relationship of truth and representation, political agency and the ethics of documentary film practice, especially how these issues are reflected in Nichols’ works;
- is able to examine and discuss the ethical and ideological implications of documentary as a film form explicitly engaged with reality;
- is provided with core skills in researching, critically assessing, and writing about documentary films.
Jarmo Valkola, PhD