Studio 02: Narrative and Storytelling

Studio brief

This studio focuses on modes of storytelling and narrative conventions. We will particularly consider how narrative intersects with, and informs, identity. That is, how the stories we are told, share and express, inform our sense of self and others. Consideration will be given to race and recent black cinema. Black films matter, and through diverse genres such as the historical drama (Selma, 2014), satirical-horror (Get Out, 2017), sci-fi dark comedy (Sorry to Bother You, 2018), coming-of-age drama (Moonlight, 2016) and super-hero fantasy (Black Panther, 2018) these narratives foreground issues and questions around racial identity and culture. This could be the contemporary relevance of the civil rights movement (Selma), liberal ignorance and myriad levels of racism (Get Out) the connection of race and class (Sorry to Bother You), sexuality and gender (Moonlight), and afrofuturism and fictional analogies for real-life struggles (Black Panther).

The studio invites you to consider how your practice and dissertation interests might relate to and intersect with theories, ideas and questions of narrative generally as well as possible issues raised by narrative and identity.

Students will be producing storygraphs, storyboards, and various forms of narrative analysis in the seminars. Under scrutiny will come issues around:

  • narrative and identity
  • definitions and models of narrative
  • ways of researching narrative
  • the narrative theories of Todorov and Aristotle
  • mythology and Campbell's hero’s quest
  • postmodern narrative

Previous dissertation topics in this studio include Japanese anime, the mythology of the dragon, transgender in film, gothic imagery, the superhero genre, gender in Disney animation, digital cinema, psychoanalytical narratives, crime-scene photography, death and mourning, art therapy, photographic manipulation, David Hockney, psychedelic art, alternative economic narratives, the films of Scorsese and so on.

Suggested readings, resources and preparatory activities


  • Campbell, Joseph, The Hero with a Thousand Faces (Princeton University Press, 1986)
  • Herman, David, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Narrative (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007)
  • hooks, b., Race and Representation (1992)
  • Mask, M., Contemporary Black American Cinema: Race, Gender and Sexuality at the Movies (2012)
  • Rose, S., Black films matter –how African American cinema fought back against Hollywood (2016)


  • Selma, 2014
  • Moonlight, 2016
  • Get Out, 2017
  • Sorry to Bother You, 2018
  • Black Panther, 2018.
J Baldwin's dissertation studio


Tutor Jon Baldwin

Dissertation studios


Cass Studios archive by year