Module Identifier TF30920  
Academic Year 2006/2007  
Co-ordinator Dr Jamie Sexton  
Semester Semester 1  
Pre-Requisite TF10220  
Course delivery Seminars / Tutorials   5 x 1 hour  
  Lecture   10 x 2 hour  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Assessment 3 part portfolio (20 item dossier and 1500 word reflection) For information on due dates for submission of assessed work, please refer to the departmental web pages at 60%
Semester Assessment 3500 word essay  40%
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:
-   1) to identify and critically analyse style in alternative film
-   2) to work with the concept of 'reading against the grain' in studying alternative cinema
-   3) to critically analyse specific instances of reflexivity in alternative cinema
-   4) to identify and analyse movements and periods in alternative cinema
-   5) to use and question theoretical concepts such as 'exploitation' and 'cult' in studying alternative cinema
-   6) to make critical use of reception and audience practices in studying alternative cinema


The aims of the module are:


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', 'third 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 viewing experience. Issues of production practices, cutural background, reception, and canonization will be central to the discussions. The films of Luis Bunuel ("Un chien andalou" ), Kenneth Anger ("Scorpio Rising"), British experimental cinema (avant-garde of the 1920s and 1930s, and selected films from the US underground), Paul Morrissey ("Trash"), and Jean-Luc Godard ("Bande a part and La jetee"), and Third Cinema ("Xala") 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. As examples we will study films like "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, S.," and "Daughters of Darkness". There will also be a distinct focus on the films of David Cronenberg ("Videodrome and Shivers")

Indicative Sessions

Examples of topics for lectures and seminars would be:

Style and 'reading against the grain'
The first wave of avant-garde filmmaking
The US underground
Art cinema and authorship: Jean-Luc Godard
Third Cinema/Political Cinema
Genre as alternative cinema: The horror film
Between art and genre: David Cronenberg
Paracinema: beyond conventions of taste
Cult Cinema: theoretical concepts
Cult cinema: tracing a film's reputation

Additional topics might include:
US independent cinema
Case studies of alternative cinema: Peter Greenaway, Werner Herzog, Vincenzo Natali
Alternative cinema and National cinema
Alternative film festivals, criticism, and circuits of reception
Marketing and selling alternative cinema

Reading Lists

** Recommended Text
Austin, Bruce . ((1981)) Portrait of a Cult Film Audience: The Rocky Horror Picture Show Journal of Communication 31. p. 43-54
Betz, Mark ((2003)) Art, Exploitation, Underground, in Jancovich, Mark, Antonio Lazaro-Reboll, Julian Stringer, and Andy Willis (eds). Defining Cult Movies; the Cultural Politics of Oppositional Taste. Manchester: Manchester UP. 202-222.
Dixon, Wheeler Winston, and Gwendolyn Audrey Foster, eds, (2002) Experimental Cinema: The Film Reader, London and New York: Routledge, sections 2 and 3
Eco, Umberto ((1986)) Cult Movies and Intertextual Collage in: Travels in Hyperreality. London: Picador. 197-211.
Hoberman, J., and Jonathan Rosenbaum, (1991) The Underground, in Hoberman and Rosenbaum, Midnight Movies, New York: Da Capo Press
Jerslev, Anne ((1992)) Semiotics by Instinct: Cult Film as a Signifying Practice between Film and Audience in M. Skovmond and Kim Schroder (eds). Media Cultures: Reappraising Transnational Media. London: Routledge.
Kael, Pauline ((1960)) Fantasies of the Art-House Audience. In Sight and Sound
Mathijs, E. ((2004)) Nobody is Innocent: Cinema and Sexuality in Contemporary Belgian Culture; in: Social Semiotics. Vol. 14, Nr. 1. p. 85-101
Mathijs, Ernest ((2003)) AIDS References in the Critical Reception of Cronenberg: It may be not such a bad disease after all, in Cinema Journal. 42 (4).
Mathijs, Ernest ((2005)) Bad Reputations: the Reception of Trash Cinema Screen 46 (4)
Mathijs, Ernest & Xavier Mendik (eds.). Alternative Europe. London: Wallflower Press.
Polan, Dana ((1978)) A Brechtian Cinema? Towards a Politics of Self-Reflexive Film in Jump Cut. Nr. 17. Reprinted in: Nichols, Bill (ed) (1985). Movies and Methods II. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 661-671.
Rees, A L (1999) A History of Experimental Film and Video London: BFI; pp15-56
Sconce, Jeffrey (1995) Trashing the Academy: Taste, Excess and an Emerging Politics of Cinematic Style Screen 36 (4). 371-393
Sexton, Jamie (2002) The Film Society and the Creation of an Alterntive Film Culture in Britain in the 1920s in Andrew Higson (ed.), Young and Innocent? The Cinema in Britain, 1896-1930 Exeter University Press
Staiger, Janet ((2000)) Hitchcock in Texas; Intertextuality in the Face of Blood and Gore, in: Perverse Spectators; the Practices of Film Reception. New York: New York UP. p. 179-187.
Staiger, Janet, (2000) Finding Community in the Early 1960s: Underground Cinema and Sexual Politics, in Staiger, Perverse Spectators: The Practices of Film Reception, New York and London: New York University Press,
Suarez, Juan . ((1996)) Pop, Queer, or Fascist? The Ambiguity of Mass Culture in Kenneth Anger�s Scorpio Rising; in Winston Dixon, Wheeler and Gwendolyn Audrey Foster (eds.). Experimental Cinema; the Film Reader. London: Routledge. 115-137.
Thompson, Kristin . ((2004)) The Concept of Cinematic Excess; in Leo Braudy and Marshall Cohen (eds.). Film Theory and Criticism (6th Edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press. p 513-524.
Wayne, Mike, (2001) Political Film: Dialectics of Third Cinema, London & Sterling: Pluto Press,


This module is at CQFW Level 6