Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 1

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials Seminars 1 x 1 hour per week every other week (Students will be informed of their group allocations)
Other Viewing session 1 x 2 hours-3 hours per week
Lecture Lecture 1 x 2 hour per week


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment For information on due dates for submission of assessed work, please refer to the departmental web pages at   3000 word essay 1  50%
Semester Assessment 3000 word essay 2  50%
Supplementary Assessment Resit will be by submission of failed component (essay or portfolio) to a fresh topic 

Learning Outcomes

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

  • Identify and critically analyse style in alternative films
  • Work with the concept of 'reading against the grain' in studying alternative cinema
  • Understand theoretical notions such as 'exploitation' , 'paracinema', 'peverse spectators' and 'cultism' in studying alternative cinema
  • Make critical use of reception and audience activities in studying alternative cinema


The aims of the module are:
  • To analyse style in alternative film and think about the reasons behind alternative practices, as well as ways of reading alternative films;
  • Understand movements and periods in alternative cinema;
  • To use and question theoretical concepts such as 'exploitaton' and 'cult' and to use reception and audience practices in studying alternative cinema;


This module introduces students to the practices and reception of what is known as 'alternative cinema'. As such, it amis to discuss the similarities and differences between 'avant-garde cinema', 'cult cinema', 'experimental cinema', 'exploitation cinema', 'US Independent Cinema', 'trash cinema' and 'underground cinema'.

A first part of the module is devoted to a historical overview of alternative cinema in its diverse appearances. Special attention will go to questions of style, experimental cinema, and the avant-garde. We will also concentrate on how alternative cinema evokes alternative readings through so called 'reading agains the grain'. Throughout this part, the emphasis will be on cinema as a historical form and as a viewing experience. Issues of production practices, cutural background, reception, and canonization will be central to the discussions. Avant-garde films of the 1920s and 1930s, films from the US underground, European art cinema, Political cinema and US Independent Cinema will be used as case studies.

A second part of the module is devoted to the more popular examples of alternative cinema, such as cult, horror, trash, and exploitation cinema. Lectures and seminars will outline the most important theoretical concepts of studying these cinemas, such as 'reflexivity', 'alternative reception', 'paracinema', 'cultism', 'perverse spectators', and 'textual poaching'. Throughout this part the issues of high-culture versus low-culture, and the challenging of aesthetics, niche-market reception, and viewing experiences will be central to discussions.

Reading List

Recommended Background
Hiller, Jim (2001) American Independent Cinema: A Sight and Sound Reader BFI Primo search Jancovich, Mark et al (2004.) Alternative Europe :eurotrash and exploitation cinema since 1945 /edited by Ernest Mathijs & Xavier Mendik. Wallflower Press Primo search King, Geoff (2005.) American independent cinema /Geoff King. Distributed in the U.S. by Palgrave Macmillan Primo search Mathijs, Ernest & Mendik, Xavier (2003.) Defining cult movies :the cultural politics of oppositional taste /edited by Mark Jancovich ... [et al.]. Manchester University Press Primo search Mendik, Xavier & Schneider, Steven Jay (2002.) Underground Usa :filmmaking beyond the Hollywood canon /edited by Xavier Mendik & Steven Jay Schneider. Wallflower Primo search O'Pray, Michael (2003) Avant-Garde Film; Forms, Themes and Passions Wallflower Press Primo search Rees, A. L. (April 1999) A History of Experimental Film and Video BFI Publishing Primo search Telotte, J.P. (1991.) The Cult Film Experience :beyond all reason /edited by J.P. Telotte. University of Texas Press Primo search Wayne, Mike. (2001.) Political Film : Dialectics of Third Cinema /Mike Wayne. Pluto Wilinsky, Barbara. (c2001.) Sure seaters :the emergence of art house cinema /Barbara Wilinsky. University of Minnesota Press


This module is at CQFW Level 6