In 1995–1996, I taught for the first time an MA course in film history. It was called Hollywood and the history of American popular film. The first-term theme was “American history and Hollywood film”; the second-term theme was “Hollywood genres.” The course was built around the screening and discussion of relevant film texts. But every week I also included reading for an additional topic. All this may seem of picayune interest, of no significance to others than myself and – maybe – the fifteen students who took the course. But new courses at my institution, University College London (UCL), have to be vetted for their academic and intellectual content. I thought this process might be easier if I included some theory – and spectatorship theory seemed just the thing, the hottest topic at the time in film studies. So, I included lots of spectatorship theory in the first few weeks of the course. We began with Christian Metz’s ideas on semiotics, Louis Althusser’s on ideological state apparatuses, the application of Jacques Lacan’s ideas on psychoanalysis of film spectatorship, and Laura Mulvey’s pioneering work on the theoretical female spectator. At this point, an American MA student asked an interesting question: “Why are we looking at so much theory? We’re historians.”