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Film Studies

This guide is an introduction to the resources for Film Studies at Dartmouth. If you are interested in Television, see the separate research guide for Television.

A short definition for film criticism

Film criticism

A form of writing that examines the achievement, distinctiveness, and quality of a film (or lack of it). The term is used to refer to a wide range of writing on film, ranging from reviews of the latest releases to certain types of scholarly/film-theoretical inquiry, such as genre criticism. Generally, however, film criticism is considered a separate activity from film reviewing. A film review will usually be produced after one viewing and is primarily designed to help potential viewers decide whether or not to watch the film; and a review will usually not contain spoilers—crucial information relating to the film’s plot, especially its ending. In contrast, film criticism will tend to discuss the film in its entirety and seek to deepen, reveal, expand, sharpen, and/or confront, a potential viewer’s understanding in a way that goes beyond simply deciding whether or not the film is worth seeing. Unlike academic writing, which usually adopts a neutral, objective style, film criticism may adopt freer, more rhetorical, language in an attempt to capture a sense of the film and to engage or entertain the reader. Whereas a scholarly, disciplined approach would be suspicious of personal involvement, subjective opinion, and serendipitous reflection, film criticism is at liberty to embrace these dimensions. However, this is not to say that film criticism is subjective and ill thought out: a key aspect of film criticism that makes it distinct from reviewing is the critic’s knowledge and erudition. Film criticism will usually also register, explicitly or implicitly, potential counterclaims about the film under description: as such, the work of film criticism embodies an element of judgement and advocacy.   ...

Kuhn, A., & Westwell, G. (2020). Film criticism. In A Dictionary of Film Studies. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 21 Apr. 2023

Searching the catalog for film criticism

When searching the online catalog for film criticism, there are 3 subject headings used in this catalog and they are listed below. The subject heading film criticism has the largest collection of resources.

The books are scattered throughout the range PN 1994 through PN 1998 on Baker Level 4.

Film theory as a subject is not used in the online catalog. However, as a keyword search, you will get lots of results.

Introductory reading(s)

Selected book title(s)

Finding scholarly articles and selected journal title(s)