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TH237 - Audio-Visual Avant-Gardes 2014-15

School of Theatre, Performance and Cultural Policy Studies


TH237 Audio-Visual Avant-Gardes

This module explores the history of avant-garde film, video, sound, and installation work from the early twentieth century up to the present day. It will allow you to engage both conceptually and practically with a wide range of forms, movements and practices, and to explore the persistent currents of interaction and exchange between avant-garde and popular cultures. It will examine the contexts from which the term ‘Avant-garde’ emerges, and the ways in which the description has been employed in various periods and places, by considering it in relation to alternative descriptors such as: ‘underground’, ‘experimental’ and ‘subcultural’. The module operates as a broad survey that will help you to make connections amongst a variety of disparate movements and trends, from the 'high art' domain of 1920s avant-garde film to the popular eruptions of early 80s hip-hop, while also providing the opportunity for detailed analysis of a number of key works.

During the course of the module students will work in groups to research, re-create and investigate key works and practices covered in each term, including: found footage filmmaking and the remix, minimalist sculpture and film/video, expanded cinema and the audiovisual performance installation, video as object and the interactive installation.

Before the beginning of term it is recommended that you read the following:

‘Modernism and the Idea of the Avant-Garde’ in Paul Smith and Carolyn Wilde (eds), A Companion to Art Theory (Blackwell, 2002). Available online here:

Michael Pigott

Class Times:
Mon 0900-1300 (G53)


15 CAT

Essay (2500 words): 50%
1.5 hour exam: 50%

30 CAT

Essay (2500 words): 25%
Critical Review: 25%
3 hour exam: 50%