Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 1
Successful completion of Part 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 Essay 1 (2000 words)  For information on due dates for submission of assessed work, please refer to the departmental web pages at   40%
Semester Assessment Essay 2 (3000 words)  60%
Supplementary Assessment Essay 1 (40%) Essay 2 (60%)  100%

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.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Communication Students' written communication skills will be developed over the two pieces of assessed work that they produce. They will be encouraged to produce arguments about the subject, using appropriate language and style and through structuring their argument and writing effectively. Students will develop their oral communication shills through seminar sessions which will encourage both individual contributions and group discussion, and, in some cases, will ask students to give brief presentations (in groups). Students will also be encouraged to answer and to ask questions in lectures.
Improving own Learning and Performance Students will develop their critical thinking skills, and their ability to apply, evaluate and compare contrasting theoretical and critical perspectives and methods. Through small group discussions in seminars, students will be given opportunities to develop an awareness of the opinions of others and reconsider initial ideas if necessary, to apply and test theoretical claims and arguments, and to articulate and communicate their ideas.
Information Technology Students will be given opportunities to develop their skills using electronic search and retrieval of sources. Students will develop their research and referencing skills when analysing, evaluating and referencing materials from the web and related sources, and will focus on the selection of materials appropriate to the task (seminar work and assessed work). E-mail and Blackboard will be the main forms of communication and information sharing in this module, so students will be encouraged to actively engage in these processes.
Personal Development and Career planning Students will be encouraged to take increasing responsibility for managing their own learning by preparing work independently for seminar sessions. 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, compare and evaluate existing critical thought and theory, and to identify and select the most appropriate material (academic reading, films and reception materials) to use in their assessed work.
Research skills Students will be given the opportunity to develop their research skills and apply and test the research methods necessary for their assignments within seminar provision. Students will be encouraged to evaluate, analyse, interpret and reflect upon a variety of primary sources that they will use in their assessed work and in seminars.
Subject Specific Skills See QAA Subject Benchmark Statement Communication, media, film and cultural studies (2008)
Team work Seminar sessions will enable students to work within a small group, and discuss and compare ideas. Furthermore, some of the required pre-seminar preparation will ask students to engage in particular preparation tasks in small groups.

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