Literature, Visual Culture and Film Studies
Engage in a broadly interdisciplinary study of the relationships between literature, visual culture and film in contemporary and historical contexts. Gain cutting-edge theoretical insights into intermedial aesthetics and into the philosophy of literature, art and film. Equip yourself with critical tools for the cultural analysis of contemporary audiovisual, image, and text-based media.
We welcome applicants who wish to explore the possibilities of extending the boundaries of the traditional disciplines
in the humanities by focusing their research on the relations between words, still and moving images both historically
and in contemporary culture.
Students also acquire various practical skills – ranging from analysis and problem solving to writing and presenting – which prepare them for diverse career pathways and enhance their employment opportunities.
Why study with us?
- An interdisciplinary programme that is run in collaboration with the Estonian Academy of Arts – the faculty is comprised of renowned experts in literature, art, film and visual culture.
- Ample opportunities for practical experience through collaborations with major international literary, art and film festivals in Tallinn – since 2018, our students have been participating in the composition of the programme of the Black Nights Film Festival (PÖFF). Read more here. Our other partners include Head read, Artishok, and Estonian Centre for Contemporary Art.
- Seminar-led courses, with an excellent student to lecturer ratio, foster an active debating and discussing environment.
- Individual approach – the supportive learning environment encourages students to follow personal research interests from an early stage of studies.
- International study groups – the diverse cultural backgrounds of our students contribute to the spirit of the comparative study of culture.
- A research-centred programme creates an ample possibility for further studies at the PhD level.
- Open to applicants from all disciplines in the humanities and social sciences.
- Estonia is the home for many nations. Listen to the podcasts in Found in Estonia.
- During the two-year programme the MA student is expected to actively participate in seminars, to engage in field-related practice and to write a Master’s thesis.
- During the second and third semester the student engages in practical work organised by the school in collaboration with international literary, art, and film festivals in Tallinn.
- At the end of the second semester, MA researchers are required to submit a research proposal and choose a supervisor.
- The fourth semester, concluding the studies, is reserved for writing the thesis in the framework of the master’s seminar guidelines. The research semester provides an ample opportunity for the student to focus on their area of interest. The thesis is publicly defended at the end of the last semester.
Core course components
- Key Concepts in Literary and Cultural Analysis
The seminar explores the main concepts and arguments of the 20th century literary theory and cultural analysis. Its aim is to provide a coherent context for researching literature, films and visual culture in their intermedial relationship.
- Key Concepts in Critical Theory and Visual Culture
This seminar course will focus on key thinkers in critical theory and the social analysis of the image, building a trajectory from G.W.F. Hegel’s philosophy of history to contemporary visual and cultural studies. Rather than concentrating on discrete ideas, the course will explore the connections and ongoing discussions between authors in the critical tradition.
- Seminars in Literature, Visual Culture and Film I, II, III
The interdisciplinary courses approach various literary texts, films and objects of visual culture from the perspective of a thematic focus. Depending on the year the topics include: Dystopia in Philosophy, Literature and Film; Affect and Emotion in Literature, Visual Culture and Film; Memory in Literature and Visual Culture; War in Literature and Film; Postcolonial Studies; Genre; Space in Literature and Visual Culture.
- Word and Image in the Middle Ages/Renaissance
This lecture and seminar course studies some key questions concerning the relationship of verbal and pictorial art from the late Middle Ages to the late Renaissance. Apart from the rivalry and emulation between poets and artists, the interaction of verbal and pictorial rhetoric will be discussed on the example of a number of well-known and less well-known authors and theorists (mainly) in the European tradition.
- Estonian Art in Context
This course will provide an overview of modern and contemporary art in Estonia, discussing its developments through historical precedents and social context. The classes include field trips and visits to art events and exhibitions, allowing participants to develop their understanding of the local art scene. Students are encouraged to participate actively in seminars, artist talks and presentations.
The purpose of the course is to acquaint the students with the basic concepts and methods of narratology, i.e. the study of narratives, and to practice their application to particular texts. Besides literary fiction, non-fictional and cinematographic narratives are discussed.
Through the analysis of various literary texts and their film adaptations the seminar deals with central critical and cultural debates about film adaptation. Film adaption will be studied from the different perspectives of historical and cultural context, authorship, genre etc.
- Word and Image
The course provides a thorough introduction to the various 20th and 21st century cultural phenomena that connect words and images, the verbal and the visual, and the relevant theoretical approaches.
Distribution of the courses over the four semesters (sample)
Study Support Facilities
- The university campus houses a study library. The main university library and The National Library of Estonia are situated within easy reach in the city centre. Various electronic databases are available through the libraries.
- Tallinn University is home for the archive of the renowned semiotician, Juri Lotman.
- There are many opportunities for the Erasmus exchange.
- Students will have the possibility to both participate in and organize various literary and cultural events held in Tallinn.
- Before applying to the MA programme, one can learn more about Tallinn University through taking part in Tallinn Summer School or Tallinn Winter School. Both are 3-week programmes running in July and in January, respectively, which combine a wide range of courses with a rich, diverse cultural programme and attract participants from all over the world.
- Our main partner for this study programme is Estonian Academy of Arts.
Eneken Laanes is the Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at Tallinn University and Senior Researcher at the Under and Tuglas Literature Centre of the Estonian Academy of Sciences. Her research deals with transnational memory and transcultural memorial forms in post-Soviet memory cultures of Eastern Europe. Laanes studied comparative literature at the University of Tartu, University of Bologna (Spring 2001), the Free University of Berlin (2003–2004), She has been a Juris Padegs Research Fellow at Yale University (2013–2014). She is the author of Unresolved Dialogues: Subjectivity and Memory in Post-Soviet Estonian Novel (in Estonian, Tallinn: UTKK, 2009) and co-editor of Novels, Histories, Novel Nations: Historical Fiction and Cultural Memory in Finland and Estonia (Helsinki: SKS, 2015).
Laanes’s research interests include trauma theory, the historical novel, critical theory and cultural analysis, contemporary literature; theories of subjectivity, autobiography and self-writing; world literature, transnational literature and multilingualism.
Follow her minilecture How do movies affect our memories
Professor at the Institute of Art History and Visual Culture of the Estonian Academy of Arts in Tallinn, senior researcher at Tallinn University School of Humanities. Her fields of research are history and theory of art and architecture in the Early Modern period, history and theory of art history writing, history of Estonian architecture and design of the Soviet period.
Prof Kodres is author of the books Beautiful House and Room (2001), History of Estonian Art, Vol. 2, 1520-1770 (2005, editor and main author); Presenting Oneself. The Early Modern Tallinn (Reval) citizen and his house (2014). She has contributed a chapter for the book Lutheran Churches in Early Modern Europe (ed. A. Spicer, Ashgate 2012) and for the book Art History and Visual Studies in Europe. Transnational Discourses and National Frameworks (eds. M. Rampley, T. Lenain, H. Locher, et al. Boston: Brill Academic Publishers, 2012). She is also editor-in-chief of the History of Estonian Art (6 volumes) and board member of the Estonian academic journal of art history and visual culture Studies on Art and Architecture.
Andres Kurg is a Senior Researcher at the Institute of Art History, Estonian Academy of Arts in Tallinn. His research explores the architecture and design of the Soviet Union in the late 1960s and 1970s in relation to technological transformations and changes in everyday life as well as its intersections with alternative art practices.
He studied art history at the Estonian Academy of Arts and architectural history at University College London. He has published articles in AA Files, ArtMargins, Journal of Architecture, Home Cultures and contributed to many collected volumes and exhibition catalogues. In 2008 he co-edited Environment, Projects, Concepts: Architects of the Tallinn School 1972-1985. He recently co-curated Our Metamorphic Futures. Design, Technical Aesthetics and Experimental Architecture in the Soviet Union 1960–1980 in Vilnius National Gallery of Art and Estonian Museum of Applied Art and Design (2011–12), a project funded by a grant from the EU Culture programme. In 2015 he was a Guest Scholar at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles; in Spring 2017 he was Visiting Senior Researcher in European Studies at the MacMillan Center, Yale University, New Haven.
Daniele Monticelli is the Professor of Italian Studies and Semiotics. He has studied and researched in Italy, Germany, Estonia, the US and teaches subjects in contemporary Italian history, society and politics, philosophy of language, comparative literature and research seminars.
His research is characterized by a wide and interdisciplinary range of interests which include the relations between translation and ideology particularly under totalitarian rule and censorship, semiotic theory and poststructuralism, the literary construction of affects, passions and cognition, contemporary critical theory with particular focus on the political thought of Agamben, Badiou and Rancière. He has authored literary and essayistic translations from Estonian into Italian and actively contributes to the cultural and political debate in the Estonian media and society.
Follow his minilecture Is Love an Endangered Emotion?
Ülar Ploom is a scholar in literary and translation studies.
His main research areas comprise late Medieval and Early Renaissance culture and literature (with an emphasis on the Italian Duecento and Trecento) and 20th century Italian literature, as well as the reception of Italian literature in Estonia. He has prefaced and commented the Estonian translations of Dante’s Inferno and Purgatory and is now completing (with I. Vene) the translation of Paradise. He has published short prose and three collections of poetry.
Piret Peiker is a postdoc researcher of the School of Humanities, Tallinn University. She defended her PhD thesis on the discourses of modernisation in the 19th-21st century Estonian literature at the University of Turku, Finland.
Her research interests include postcolonialism, modernity, nationalism and nationhood, globalisation, and Genre Studies.
Teet Teinemaa works as a lecturer in Film Studies at Tallinn University. He received his PhD from the University of Warwick. Teinemaa serves as the co-editor of Baltic Screen Media Review and his articles have appeared in journals such as Film International and Studies of Art and Architecture - Kunstiteaduslikke Uurimusi. He is the Head of an international MA programme Literature, Visual Culture, and Film Studies. His research interests are post-Soviet masculinities, ageing, and nostalgia in Eastern European film.
Mari Laaniste is a researcher studying various forms of visual and audiovisual culture: film, animation, comics, cartoons and the interrelations of words and images in popular culture. She defended a MA (2002) degree at the Institute of Art History and Visual Culture at the Estonian Academy of Arts, and has since published research mostly on Estonian animation and fiction film.
Her PhD dissertation focuses on Priit Pärn’s Soviet-era works. She teaches classes on visual culture and film at the Estonian Academy of Arts and the University of Tallinn, has edited books and organized conferences in the ongoing series “Studies in Contemporary Culture” as well as curated comics exhibitions, published some fiction and is also active as a critic.
- Completed Bachelor’s degree or the equivalent
- Proof of English Proficiency
Please see the complete overview of admission and application requirements for Master's level applicants.
- The admission exam consists of a written and oral part. The written part is based on
- Statement of research interests (1-2 pages) [to be submitted to DreamApply]
Writing sample (an excerpt from either the BA thesis or a paper, 10 pages) [to be submitted to DreamApply]
If your BA studies did not end with a BA thesis, academic referenced essays written during your BA studies in total capacity of 10 pages are accepted. Your published scholarly articles may also be accepted as writing samples.
If your BA thesis (or equivalent writing sample) was not written in English, please provide a translation into English with the original writing sample. You may do your own translation, no notarized translation required.
- The oral part is an interview. The applicants who are accepted to the interview will be notified via e-mail. If the date and time offered for an online interview does not suit the applicant it may be possible to delay the interview until the next interview date which is usually in the next month. NB! Only applicants receiving the minimum required points for the statement of research interest and writing sample will be invited for the interview.
For the purposes of identity verification at the admission procedure the Admission Committee has the right to record the oral part of the admission exam carried out via video bridge.
Assessment of the candidates
- Statement of Research Interest: 30 points (min. required 21 points)
- Writing Sample and Previous Study Results: 30 points (min required 21 points)
- Interview: 40 points (min. requirement 28 points)
Important! Only applicants receiving the minimum required points for the first two components will be invited for the interview.
What we assess
Statement of research interest: Ability to justify the choice of the programme; the match between the research interests and the programme; ability to comprehend future prospects.
Writing sample and previous study results: Suitability of the previous studies and quality of study results; structure, argumentation and use of secondary sources in the writing sample; academic writing skills in English (if the writing sample is not in English the general Academic Writing Skills will be assessed).
Interview: Student motivation; match between the research interests and the programme; general erudition; ability to comprehend future prospects.
How we assess
The examination board will assess each applicant individually based on the criteria. The board members go through the Statement of research interests, the writing sample and the previous study results and make a joint decision whether to invite / not invite an appicant for an interwiew. One of the participating board members will be leading the interview, all members may ask questions. After each interview there is a discussion among the board members, points for all assessed components will be entered into the table which calculates the average of the points given and the final subtotal points.
Find more information about the deadlines here.
Graduate career options
Graduates will be equipped to work in any area that requires excellent skills in critical thinking, visual analysis and writing. The prospective career options include research, education, cultural journalism, arts administration, cultural management, museum industry, publishing, cultural diplomacy.
Further study opportunities
The graduates will be prepared to continue their studies at the PhD level. We help our students to find relevant internship opportunities in order for them to explore their interests and preferences already while studying.
Meet some of our Alumni
Literature, Visual Culture and Film Studies MA (2019), Lecturer, Junior Research Fellow, Filmmaker, and PhD student.
My experience with the Literature, Visual Culture and Film Studies MA was very positive; I was introduced to a whole new world of cultural theory and philosophy; gained skills in close reading, academic research, and critical analysis; and also improved my abilities as a writer and presenter. I would recommend this MA for anyone interested in deepening their understanding of cinema, literature, and culture. Whether you are a budding theorist or practitioner, this programme will deepen your understanding and make you think differently.
Literature, Visual Culture and Film Studies MA (2019), Translator, Marketer, Customer Support, Salesperson.
I have once written an essay about the devils and demons for a course regarding the Medieval arts in this programme. Why? - Because I got this idea in Kaunas while travelling. I didn’t know that I had been so creative and considered myself as just a person who does and likes (fine) arts before coming to Tallinn from the countryside of Japan. Literature, Visual Culture and Film Studies is an interdisciplinary programme, which provided me with a number of opportunities to broaden my potentials and belief that I can produce creative writing and visual arts.
Literature, Visual Culture and Film Studies MA (2019), Teacher of English, PhD student.
The Literature, Visual Culture and Film Studies MA programme expanded my knowledge beyond my primary field of research and helped me find a research topic for a PhD project in the field of intermedial studies. As an international programme, this MA gives students a great chance to make friends from all over the world. For me personally, it was perhaps the best part of the whole experience. I would recommend this programme for anyone who has diverse research interests and is looking for an opportunity to study in an international environment.
Monireh Sadat Razavi Ganji
Literature, Visual Culture and Film Studies MA (2020)
As an innovative joint programme between Tallinn University and the Estonian Academy of Arts, "Literature Visual Culture and Film Studies" enables its students to gain comparative knowledge, interdisciplinary skills, and intercultural experience with a distinctive approach. I feel so honoured to have joined this newly established programme as one of its pioneering students."
Juliana De Carvalho
Literature, Visual Culture and Film Studies MA (2020)
"The practical training experience at the Black Nights Film Festival gave me more knowledge than I could have ever expected. It also confirmed how the cinema of festivals and the cinema of diversity brings an enriching experience that goes beyond what we are used to seeing in the mainstream channels of film distribution. This experience was extremely motivating for my future as a professional and for me as a person who loves cinema and art."
Literature, Visual Culture and Film Studies MA (2020), Junior Research Fellow, PhD student.
If you have many passions but do not wish to head in a single direction, the Literature, Visual Culture and Film Studies MA programme might be the right one for you – that is, if you are not afraid of the cold Estonian winter. The best part about the programme for me was the fact that it is open to people with different academic backgrounds which often resulted in interesting discussions and group work. I myself did not know much about film or art theory before joining the programme but what I have learned was very interesting and useful. I enjoyed the wide range of possibilities when choosing my research topic and was glad that I could turn my hobby (films and video games) into an MA thesis. One of the highlights was also the possibility to help out with the organization of different festivals, which also gave me some practical experience. Thanks to this programme I was able to gain new perspectives, learn a lot of things, and visit some interesting museums.
Mayra Lynn Assink
Literature, Visual Culture and Film Studies MA (2021)
I chose the Literature, Visual Culture and Film Studies MA Programme for its wide and interdisciplinary approach. I wanted to find an international MA that combined Film and Literature and I was given a programme that did this and more. Now, when people ask me what I studied, I tell them that I studied narratives in all their forms and beyond the act of writing. Especially critical analysis, close reading and creativity were emphasised. My favourite courses were the seminars in which we as students teamed up with a professor and emerged ourselves in the field they were doing research on. This not only brought a lot of knowledge together but also gave one the confidence to continue research in the field that one found interesting. I would definitely recommend this programme to anyone who has an interest in an international research environment and who is keen to learn more about the way any kind of narrative emerges.
Literature, Visual Culture and Film Studies MA (2021)
As a curious person, I always felt the need to expand my knowledge, to investigate concepts and to express my own point of view on them. I could not think of specializing in just one branch of cultural studies without feeling I was missing out on all the rest. When I first read the name of this program, I thought "this is the one for me." Does it sound too naïve? Well, it was.
This program was the right place for me to develop my critical thinking and to learn to express myself through academic, yet personal and creative writing. Do you know the story about Academia that put you in boxes? Well, it is definitely not about this program. During my studies I always felt supported by teachers in my personal research; I have been encouraged to deeply investigate cultural materials and to express my perspective on them. This program creates the space for brilliant discussions concerning cultural academic topics, through the comparative analysis of literary, visual and audiovisual material. Sometimes it was challenging, but it was always worth it.
I would recommend this program to anybody who wants to gain a relevant cultural knowledge, and who is searching for a stimulating, international cultural environment.
- Specific questions regarding the programme should be directed to the School of Humanities:
aDdressNarva mnt 25, 10120 Tallinn
- For additional guidelines regarding admission procedure please contact the international admission specialist.
- Questions regarding student life at Tallinn University:
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