CULT214-24S2 (C) Semester Two 2024

Sex and Sexuality on Screen

15 points

Start Date: Monday, 15 July 2024
End Date: Sunday, 10 November 2024
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Sunday, 28 July 2024
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Sunday, 29 September 2024


This course addresses the myriad and often conflicting ways that sex and sexuality have been represented throughout the history of Western cinema, with an emphasis upon Hollywood and American independent film.

This course addresses the myriad and often conflicting ways that sex and sexuality have been represented throughout the history of Western cinema, with an emphasis upon Hollywood and American independent film. We begin with early representations of sex and bodies and consider the significant impact and legacy of the Motion Picture Production Code, a ‘morality code’ that was enforced in the United States from the mid-1930s to the 1960s. We then move on to a diverse range of films and genres including comedy, horror, the musical, exploitation film and art film. We will explore ideological, social, ethical and artistic debates within film studies, while also addressing some important subgenres, historical trends, and specific films and filmmakers.

Throughout this course you will be challenged to think about the ways that the (re)presentation of sex on screen might be used to confront, titillate and shock audiences, as well as how film might be used as a mouthpiece for marginalised communities or as a social barometer. You will also be asked to engage with some important movements within cinema studies and the broader study of gender and visual culture. Please note that while some of the films covered are joyful, others are far more challenging. Guidance will be provided throughout the course. Topics for 2024 will include the following: the teen sex film; the 'celluloid closet'; cult cinema and transgression; queer filmmaking and 'homo pomo'; the mainstreaming of porn; the rape-revenge film; sex in pre-Code cinema.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

1)  analyse and problematize some of the ways that issues of sex and sexuality have been represented, explored and expressed in American and European cinema;

2) outline and appraise connections between diverse films and critical writing on sex, sexuality, identity, embodiment, spectatorship, and authorship;

3) make arguments about how diverse genres and cinematic modes engage with shared themes in different ways;

4) evaluate and make arguments about how films express complex meaning through cinematic form and content; and

5) apply skills in visual and critical analysis, film methodologies, and digital research practices to a range of cinematic texts in a variety of contexts.

University Graduate Attributes

This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.

Employable, innovative and enterprising

Students will develop key skills and attributes sought by employers that can be used in a range of applications.

Globally aware

Students will comprehend the influence of global conditions on their discipline and will be competent in engaging with global and multi-cultural contexts.


Any 15 points at 100 level from CINE or CULT, or
any 60 points at 100 level from the Schedule V of the BA.


Equivalent Courses

Recommended Preparation

Timetable 2024

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Thursday 12:00 - 14:00 A9 Lecture Theatre
15 Jul - 25 Aug
9 Sep - 20 Oct
Film Screening A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Tuesday 14:00 - 17:00 A9 Lecture Theatre
15 Jul - 25 Aug
9 Sep - 20 Oct

Course Coordinator

Erin Harrington


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
Short film analysis 30% 1500 words. Students will source and analyse a piece of short-form media. Due week 5.
Research exercise 20% 1500 words. A brief annotated bibliography with a reflective component that brings together unfamiliar sources. This is to help you develop your research skills in advance of the final assessment. Due week 9.
Workshop participation 20% Workshops take place immediately after screenings, and activities respond to the film we've just seen.
Take-home test 30% 2000 words. A comparative assignment in which you will make an argument about the use, expression and / or representation of sex and / or sexuality in your choice of three of the films studied in class, using the skills developed in workshops and earlier assessments.

Please check the course LEARN page for further details and updates.


Please note that this course requires in-person engagement for students to succeed, and it is not designed to be taken by distance. Many of the films shown in our in-person screening sessions will not be able to be sourced by students offsite, and students are required to be present and contribute in person to fulfil participation requirements. Lectures and workshops have a strong discussion component. ECHO recordings of lectures are offered as study resources and are not a replacement for consistent in-person attendance.

Provisional film list (subject to change)

It Follows
Madam Satan
Inside 'Deep Throat'
American Pie
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
Velvet Goldmine
But I'm a Cheerleader!
Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
Promising Young Woman
The Piano Teacher
Assorted short films

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $844.00

International fee $3,950.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

Minimum enrolments

This course will not be offered if fewer than 20 people apply to enrol.

For further information see Humanities .

All CULT214 Occurrences

  • CULT214-24S2 (C) Semester Two 2024