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Middlebrow Cinema

This project developed from Sally Faulkner’s AHRC Fellowship ‘A New History of Spanish Cinema: Middlebrow Films and Mainstream Audiences’ (2011), which explored the concept of the middlebrow in Spanish film. Faulkner is now leading a team of scholars as they consider how this often derogatory English term, first coined in 1924, translates across cultures (including European, Latin-American and Asian cinemas) and time (from the 1940s to the present day). Enquiries for the project should be sent to Sally Faulkner at

Spanish cinema

Faulkner’s AHRC Fellowship project, 'A New History of Spanish Cinema: Middlebrow Films and Mainstream Audiences' (2011) questioned labels such as 'art' or 'popular' cinema to propose the 'middlebrow' as a new way of approaching Spanish film. First, it argued for the existence of Spanish 'middlebrow cinema', and suggested that middlebrow films had been central to the development of Spanish film history. This new focus illuminated the connections between a number of tendencies in Spanish cinema from the 1960s to the present. Thus, the so-called 'Third Way' cinema of the 1970s, state-subsidized literary adaptations known collectively as 'Miró' films in the 1980s, 'heritage' cinema of the 1990s, or 'popular auteurs', like Pedro Almodóvar, of the 1990s and 2000s, were all analyzed as examples of Spanish middlebrow cinema.


Faulkner, Sally, A History of Spanish Film: Cinema and Society 1910-2010New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2013.

Faulkner, Sally, ed, Middlebrow Cinema, Routledge, forthcoming 2014.

Screen Talks

Project members Faulkner and Higbee speak regularly at the University of Exeter's collaboration with Exeter Picturehouse, 'Screen Talks' (organiser Helen Hanson).

Related sites

UK Middlebrow Network


'Galdós and Spanish Cinema', Sally Faulkner, 2011 Annual Pérez Galdós lecture

Sally Faulkner's 2011 Pérez Galdós lecture on Galdós and Spanish Cinema is available to listen to on this page via the media player below.

University of Exeter · ‘Galdós and Spanish Cinema’, Sally Faulkner, 2011 Annual Pérez Galdós lecture

Project Lead: Sally Faulkner (Exeter)

Tim Bergfelder (Southampton)

Chris Cagle (Temple, Philadelphia)

Shelley Cobb (Southampton)

Rachel Dwyer (SOAS, London)

Rosalind Galt (Kings College, London)

Ting Guo (Exeter)

Susan Hayward (Exeter)

Will Higbee (Exeter)

Lawrence Napper (Kings College, London)

Karl Schoovner (Warwick)

Melanie Selfe (Glasgow)

Deborah Shaw (Portsmouth)

Lisa Stead (Exeter)

Belén Vidal (Kings College, London)


'Spanish Middlebrow Cinema'

Organiser: Sally Faulkner

21st Screen Studies Conference, University of Glasgow, Scotland, July 2011

  • Chris Cagle, Temple University, US, 'The Prestige Drama: Hollywood Historiography beyond the High/Low Binary'
  • Sally Faulkner, University of Exeter, UK, 'Spanish Middlebrow Cinema'
  • Rosalind Galt, University of Sussex, UK, (now Kings College London), 'Popular art cinema as an international form'

Key-Note Lecture

Sally Faulkner, November 2011. ‘Galdós and Spanish Cinema’, Annual Pérez Galdós lecture, hosted by the University of Sheffield as part of The Pérez Galdós Editions Project, and endowed by the Spanish Embassy.

As part of the Visual Culture Research Group, Sally Faulkner, Fiona Handyside, Will Higbee and Danielle Hipkins form a team with expertise in French, Italian and Spanish cinemas. Beyond Europe, Exeter specialists have also published on Mexican, Hollywood and African film. Their work interrogates the notion of 'national cinema', and, collectively, they have published on transnational film, feminism and film, stars, audiences, space, literary adaptations, political cinema, and the middlebrow. They present their work frequently at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Film Research (founded in 1999 by former Modern Languages film specialist, Susan Hayward, as the Centre for Research in Film Studies) and the Centre for Translating Cultures founded in 2012 by Faulkner) and participate regularly in the University of Exeter’s collaboration with Exeter Picture House, Screen Talks, organised by Helen Hanson. Hipkins is CI on a major AHRC Grant-funded project 'In search of Italian cinema audiences in the 1940s and 1950s: Gender, Genre and National Identity' and Faulkner leads 'Middlebrow Cinema', a project which developed from an AHRC Fellowship.