Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
Experimental Cinema
Academic Year
Semester 1
Successful completion of Year 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Viewing 10 x 4 Hour Viewings
Lecture 10 x 1 Hour Lectures


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Reflective Journal (2500 words)  40%
Semester Assessment Essay (3000 words)  60%
Supplementary Assessment Reflective Journal (2500 words)  40%
Supplementary Assessment Essay (3000 words)  60%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Engage critically with a range of experimental works.
2. Demonstrate an understanding of the ways in which experimental filmmakers have challenged the conventions of mainstream cinema.
3. Be able to use and question categorical and theoretical concepts such as 'avant-garde', 'artists' film', abstract film' 'pure cinema', 'structural film', 'materialst film', 'underground film' and 'found footage film'.
4. Understand films within various historical and institutional contexts.

Brief description

The module 'Experimental Cinema' introduces students to a vital area of non-mainstream film production, paying close attention to particular key movements and practices the 1920s to the present. It aims to provide students with a wide-ranging knowledge of the different ways in which artists and filmmakers have challednged the narrative and stylistic convention of mainstream (particularly Hollywood) cinema. As well as developing an understanding of experimental cinema as a counter-cultural art form, students will also be encouraged to think about the ways that experimental aesthetics have been appropriated by, and thus have fed back into, mainstream cultural production. Students will be exposed to a wide range of alternative films and associated theoretical concepts such as 'pure cinema', 'structural film', 'found footage' and 'materialist film'. The module will engage with the way experimental forms of filmmaking are positioned within, contribute to, and draw inspiration from artistic movements such as Cubism, Dada, Surrealism, Minimalism, Fluxus and Situationism. Students will therefore be encouraged to consider these films in relation to other art forms such as painting, photography and poetry. Close attention will be paid towards the end of the module, to contemporary debates around spaces of reception, particularly the relationship between the institutions of the cinema and the gallery, and the economic factors involved in the emergence of 'artists' film. The module will also critically assess the aesthetic and institutional shifts in experimental film production with the rise of digital technology, looking specifically at the different ways in which filmmakers have responded to the threat to celluloid-based production by (re-)embracing materiality. The module will concentrate on some of themost important figures in the development of experimental film aesthetics such as Man Ray, Hans Richter, Maya Deren, Stan Brakhage, Kenneth Anger, Michael Snow, Jonas Mekas, Chantal Akerman and Martin Arnold. It will also look at lesser-known and emerging contemporary filmmakers, particularly those working at the intersection of the cinema and the gallery space.


Course delivery:

10 x 1 hour lectures
10 x 1 hour Seminars
10 x 3 hour Viewings

1. What is 'Avant-Garde'? Some Introductory Case Studies
2. Early Avant-Garde Film
3. Exploring Subjectivity: From Maya Deren to Stan Brakhage
4. Kitsch and Camp: The American Underground
5. Structural Materialist Film
6. The Essay Film
7. Appropriation, Recycling and Found Footage Film
8. Video Art, Subjectivity and Narcissism
9. The Alternative Space of Artists' Cinema
10. Contemporary Materialist Practice in the Digital Era

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number
Communication Students' written communication skills will be developed. They will be encouraged to produce detailed arguments about the subject using appropriate language and style. Students will develop their oral communication skills through seminar sessions which will use both individual contributions and group contributions.
Improving own Learning and Performance Students will be able to develop their skills of information location and retrieval. Students will be given opportunities to develop note-taking skills. Students will develop their critical thinking skills. Through small group discussions and seminars students will be given opportunities to develop an awareness of the opinions of others and reconsider initial ideas if necessary.
Information Technology Students will be given the opportunity to develop their authorial and note-taking skills when planning for written assignments, and will be encouraged to develop their note-taking skills in lectures. Students will be given opportunities to develop their skills using electronic search and retrieval of sources both on the web and on the AU LIS. Students will develop their skills when referencing from the web and related sources, and will focus on the selection of materials appropriate to the task. E-mail and Blackboard will be the main forms of communication and information sharing in this module, so students will be encouraged actively to engage in these processes.
Personal Development and Career planning Students will be given the opportunity to evaluate current knowledge and skills and set targets for self-improvement. Students will be encouraged to take increasing responsibility for managing their own learning. Students will be encouraged to build upon the knowledge gained from lectures through developing skills in self study (supported by the general and specific reading lists and other resources distributed throughout the module).
Problem solving Students should be able to identify tensions and debates in the field. They will be encouraged to engage with existing critical thought and theory and to evaluate the most appropriate material to use. Students will be given the opportunity to address the difficulties of analysing screen performance using close textual analysis.
Research skills Students will be able to develop their skills of information location and retrieval. Students will be given opportunities to develop effective note-taking skills. Students will be encouraged to evaluate, interpret and reflect upon a variety of sources.
Subject Specific Skills
Team work Sessions will be provided that enable students to collaborate in small groups.


This module is at CQFW Level 6