ways of seeing

Brighton lecturers suggest books, films and sites to get you thinking

Take a look at these great, short, affordable introductions to some of the key ideas and concepts we explore across the Humanities Programme. Some are fiction, some non-fiction, some classics, some more recent. Read them to prepare for university, or simply read them to engage your mind, then discuss them too.


  • Anna Burns, Milkman (Faber & Faber, 2018).
  • Reni Eddo-Lodge, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race (Bloomsbury, 2017).
  • Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (Penguin, 2008).
  • George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (Various editions).
  • Edward Said, Orientalism (Penguin, 2003).
  • Michael Sandel, Justice: What’s the Right Thing To Do? (Penguin, 2009).
  • Art Spiegelman, Maus vols. 1 and 2 (Penguin, 2003).


The following sites contain a good deal of free content addressing subjects or issues explored across the Humanities programme. Many feature writing by academics for a general audience. Each is worth exploring.

Films to get you thinking

Films, fictional and documentary, can often provide us with a means of examining society and reflecting on events, concepts and issues. Here are just a few that can help you engage with some of the issues we address on the Humanities programme at Brighton. Some of these films deal with difficult themes and include either real or staged scenes of violence.

  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Dir. Milos Forman, 1975): A film based on Ken Kesey’s book about the patients of a psychiatric hospital in the United States: an examination of power, conformity, will, rules order and repression. Should we be able to do as we please? Does ‘breaking the rules’ lead to chaos or liberation?
  • The Battle of Algiers (Dir. Gillo Pontecorvo, 1966): A film recounting the Algerian war of independence of 1954-62. What does the film tell us about the history and nature of colonialism and anti-colonial struggle?
  • 13th (Ava Du Vernay, 2016): A documentary exploring the history and politics of prison in the United States and its close relationship to histories of racial exploitation and oppression.
  • Parasite (Dir. Bong Joon-ho, 2019): A film about class and privilege in South Korea which speaks to global issues about marginality and power. Structures of power are literally and metaphorically investigated in a complex story about visibility and inequality. What is parasitic about the relationships in this film and what, if anything do they tell us about contemporary class relations?
  • West Beirut (Dir. Ziad Doueiri, 1998): An account of the early stages of the Lebanese civil war from the perspective of a group of young teenagers and how their everyday lives and relations to family and friends are transformed.
  • Memento (Dir. Christopher Nolan, 2000): A drama about a man who has lost his memory trying to discover who killed his wife. The film plays with narrative structure and asks interesting questions about how we make sense of the world through stories.
  • Blade Runner Director’s Cut (Dir. Ridley Scott, 1992): A drama about the hunt for humanoid “replicants” in a futuristic Los Angeles. What makes a human human? Would we be able to identify if our own consciousness was a fabrication? In exploring imagined futures authors and film-makers have used to the future to address critical philosophical questions.
  • Examined Life (Astra Taylor, 2008): Documentary in which eight contemporary philosophers, including among others, Judith Butler and Peter Singer, walk the streets of New York discussing the practical implications of their philosophical ideas.

Find out about studying Humanities at Brighton.




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