Professor Martin O’Shaughnessy of Nottingham Trent University introduced the MOOC and suggested different ways in which it might be used. He began by explaining the MOOC’s structure, with its 4 modules, each divided into two ‘chapters’ with an overall movement from the philosophical and contextual towards the filmic and from the classical and historical towards the contemporary. He then went into more detail with respect to the different modules as follows:
Introduction to Hospitality: Martin O’Shaughnessy explained the functioning of this module, focused on classical Greece and presented by Maria Paz de Hoz from Salamanca University, as it moves from its first part, a discussion of how hospitality was codified as something happening between families and involving different rituals and obligations, to its second part, as rules of hospitality became more codified at state and inter-state level and found expression in laws, practices and institutions. Martin underscored how, despite the historical distance involved, many of these foundational attitudes and practices, still connected, in very recognisable ways, to our contemporary world. This connection finds expression at both the general level in things like the still current tension between seeing the stranger as a guest and as a threat, a tension that is key to the thinking behind the whole MOOC, and at the more specific level of embodied practices, the significance attached to spaces and movements and the symbolic importance of objects. Martin noted how, in its attention to bodies, their gestures and their movement, to spaces and their boundaries, and to the interaction between people and objects, cinema can speak particularly effectively of this material level. He also noted that, if we look closely , we can find visual echoes of the kind of iconography discussed by Maria Paz in some of the films discussed.
Hospitality and Philosophical Perspectives: Split between Domingo Hernández and Jesús Benito, this module of the MOOC brings us into modern times, moving from a discussion of Kantian cosmopolitanism to an account of more recent, sometimes contemporary philosophical perspectives that respond to the era of globalisation with its multiplication of contact zones. With reference to Domingo Hernández’s chapter, Martin paid particular attention to the contrast drawn between emotion as a collective response to the other, often based on rejection, and sentiment, as something more open and worked out between individuals on a negotiated and shifting basis. He suggested that this might be productively mapped onto some of the films and the way in which they find utopian elements in the capacity of individual protagonists or small groups to develop ways of living together even when the broader context was one of rejection or exclusion. Turning to Jesús Benito’s chapter, Martin drew attention to the contrast established between more narrowly ethical responses to the Other (Levinas) and to more broadly political ones (Derrida, Agamben, Arendt). Benito’s discussion of Arendt and Agamben draws out how, when rights are tied to citizenship, we see the appearance of those, such as paperless migrants, who are defined as illegal outsiders deprived of rights (Agamben’s homo sacer) although on the inside. In this context, rather than seeing people as somehow ‘illegal,’ we need to focus on the active role played by laws (and borders) in the production of illegality. The contrast between the relatively effortless mobility of some (the cosmopolitans) and the impeded or clandestine mobility of others clearly provides a useful way into the films.
Film Analysis I; Martin O’Shaughnessy looked at his own module of the MOOC. Adding the work of Thomas Naill to the module’s theoretical toolkit, he draws on Naill’s account of the relationship between the movement of individuals (migrants) and the movement (evolution) of the world: applying this to film, Martin suggested that the films discussed in the MOOC are at their most interesting when they use the movement of migrants to reveal (rather than distract from) the movement of the world as, for example, in Last Resort, where the characters’ story allows us to see how the UK has become an inhospitable space and a surveillance society. Martin explained how, looking at Zombie films, his second chapter reminds us that it is a mistake to over-concentrate on broadly social realist works when looking at representations of migrants and refugees and that genres like horror can often be of equal interest. Zombie films figure those deemed destroyable (extreme forms of Homo Sacer) and probe the feelings associated with the sense of homelessness and abandonment that haunts us all. They also probe the connection between our physical sense of self as bordered bodies and national identities and borders.
Film Analysis II; Martin then looked at how, in the first chapter of this module, Jesús Benito looks at Dirty Pretty Things and the way in which, in the context of London as a globalised city, it explores the commercialisation of hospitality and the commodification of the bodies of disposable migrants. The chapter pays particular attention to how films can intervene in questions of visibility and invisibility in the context of migration, the way in which some, although they are essential to the production of the global city, are asked to remain out of sight. Ana Manzanas’s final chapter completes the MOOC by exploring how the film Welcome exposes how the modern European state forces its citizens effectively to police its borders and enforce its exclusions by refusing to help migrants. But, at the same time, the film shows a hero who makes an absolute ethical commitment to the migrant other. This can be connected back to the earlier, theoretical part of the MOOC and the contrasts developed between state regulated hospitality and the hospitality developed by individuals.
Martin completed his presentation of the MOOC by suggesting that it could be used in different ways, each with its own productivity. It could be worked through systematically and in numerical order, moving from theory and context to film analysis and from there to self-testing using the tests that accompany each chapter. Or it could used in a less structured way, starting on whichever chapter or section was of interest and moving out from there to explore points in more detail. Thus, one could start with the film analyses and profitably work from them back to the theoretical and contextual sections. The important point, Martin noted, and as indicated at the start of this summary, was to explore all the different connections that could be made between past and present, theory and text, abstract and concrete.