Short film of CHIME project at Lancaster Jazz Festival, 2015

Professor George McKay reflects on the recent Lancaster Jazz Festival, and his involvement with the EU funded CHIME Project. The post first appeared on his website a couple of weeks ago.

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One mid-September day I decided to stroll from my (current) home, a Victorian town house on the edge of Lancaster city centre, into town to see some of the bands playing on the free outdoors stage in the 2015 Lancaster Jazz Festival.

I was going anyway—it’s my local festival, I’m a jazz scholar and musician, and I usually do something in the festival each year, and always look forward to it—but I thought today I would take a videocamera to film the short journey. You can see the short film I made here, and below are some notes about it.

We had had the first meeting of our new EU Heritage Plus project, CHIME, in Birmingham a couple of days earlier, and I was wondering whether there would be something directly relevant to the project on my own doorstep (it features in the film) the very next weekend.

The outdoor stage is a feature of the Lancaster Jazz Festival that can be risky in September, due to the vagaries of the northern English weather in early autumn, but the day was warm and sunny.

Lancaster Jazz Festival logoI walked past a small Victorian park and fin-de-siècle school building, an elegantly simple Georgian church, a street of Georgian houses. The pavements round here are made of old flagstones. City centre shops quietly bustled on a sunny Saturday. Lancaster’s most famous old pub, Ye Olde John o’ Gaunt, looked inviting.

By the way, in terms of history, Lancaster also has a major medieval castle and some Roman ruins. In terms of jazz history, its Georgian splendour was predicated in large part on the triangulation trade—including transatlantic slavery.

Sun Square itself is one the Georgian city of Lancaster’s hidden gems, just off the main shopping streets. (As the film shows, and pleasingly for jazz myth and desire, to reach it involves plunging down a dark alley, drawn by strange half-heard saxophonic squawks, opening out on the other side into the contained loudness of the music.)

Festival-coloured bunting and free deckchairs add a party atmosphere and help transform—to eventise, one could say—the square itself. Each is a kind of vintage marker, possibly locating jazz not as the leading edge music the festival wants to present, but as seaside soundtrack from a bygone era. Though the sound of the (young) band playing, loudly amplified, more rock than jazz guitar, incorporating samples of soundtracks and sound effects, is pretty contemporary.

The white plastic sheeting and tent-like frame make the stage structure itself disappointingly functional in appearance—couldn’t organisers have got the wonderful local Melodrome mobile stage, say?—and its positioning in the square against some drab and dirty rear walls of buildings with a parked car or two in clear sightline is uninspired if driven by pragmatics.

But really Sun Square is dominated by a specific historic building, now called The Music Room, dating originally from the 1730s as a garden pavilion for a private town garden, the grand house and garden of which now no longer exist. (From our perspective, The Music Room is probably slightly misleading; it’s likely theMusic Room, Lancaster name is a corruption of Muses’ Room.) You see it in the film as the wonderful golden-stone tower with balustrades on top, elegant symmetrical windows and columns, a large arch window on ground level. Inside there is outstanding Baroque stucco work, featuring the muses.

The well-known local history of The Music Room includes its own near loss and destruction. Everyone knows it was saved in the 1970s at the last possible moment. In his influential guides Buildings of England, Nikolaus Pevsner wrote of it with equal parts anger and despair: ‘it is now so decayed that there can be no hope of saving it. It is a disgrace for a town like Lancaster…. In a few years it will all have disappeared.’ Fortunately in this instance Pevsner was wrong. So for Lancastrians Sun Square resonates with architectural history, the narrative of (Georgian) loss, and the triumph of one preservation.

That’s why for CHIME locating the jazz festival’s outdoor stage here is so perfect: it invites us to think about city heritage (Georgian architecture) and history (slavery and triangulation), jazz as soundtrack of modernity, jazz as heritage music, the phenomenon of vintage as retromania, the tradition of festival itself, and the sonic, visual and social clashing of all these experiences together one sunny day, free for anyone who was interested.

Research, on the doorstep.

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By Professor George McKay, Professor of Media Studies and an Arts & Humanities Research Council Leadership Fellow.

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The Pleasures of the Familiar: Norfolk On-Screen

If we look back at the very birth of cinema, the trend of audiences enjoying the sight of themselves (or people like themselves) and their local areas on-screen is evident.  With their short film La sortie des usines Lumière, the Lumière brothers famously showed workers leaving their factory gates in Lyon, and at the turn of the century Mitchell and Kenyon continued this in the north of Britain with their tours of actuality films. I have come to realise in recent years that although cinema audiences have changed in many ways since then, perhaps becoming more sophisticated in general, some things haven’t changed. We still get pleasure from seeing the familiar – be it on TV or at the cinema, in actuality, or in fiction. Why would we have local broadcasting if we just crave the exotic? Why would films made in Norfolk be popular with Norfolk audiences? As an employee at Cinema City in Norwich I can confirm that this popularity is often the case – sometimes defying the critical and commercial indifference that some Norfolk-set films are met with in the rest of the UK.

As a resident of Norwich for most of my life, and even as a film studies academic and professional, I confess to still getting a jolt of recognition and pleasure whenever I recognise people or places that I know on screen. I let out a little yelp when a resplendent Thor smashed his hammer into the ground of what is clearly the UEA campus in Avengers: Age of Ultron, and I loved seeing Eddie Redmayne and Romola Garai flounce around North Norfolk in Stephen Poliakoff’s Glorious 39.

Rarely, if ever, have I seen a film made in Norfolk that is explicit about its location and celebrates it. This does of course happen in the cinema for other locations.  The prime example might be New York.  From Woody Allen’s cool and monochrome Manhattan, to Carrie Bradshaw’s sexy city for the single girl, New York is most often portrayed as the nadir of Western metropolitan existence. But Norwich? It’s famous for the awkwardly parochial Alan Partridge and most of its screen outings might be seen as fleeting and inconsequential (Julie Christie visits Tombland in The Go Between, and Stardust disguised Elm Hill as an exotic market in the fantasy kingdom of Stormhold). And the Norfolk landscape? It’s usually not credited. Holkham beach was disguised as the new world at the end of Shakespeare in Love and when the Norfolk Broads appeared in Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket they were doubling as Vietnam.

However, in recent months I have seen two new films that buck this trend and are filmed and firmly set in Norfolk. These are Guy Myhill’s The Goob (on release in May) and Andrew Haigh’s 45 Years (release date 28 August). Both filmmakers present a vision of life in the county which is in turns realistic and uncomfortably grim but also pastoral, peaceful and pleasant. The Goob features a teenage protagonist, ‘Goob’ Taylor (played by Dereham newcomer Liam Walpole), negotiating a bleak future working the fields of west Norfolk governed by his mother’s bullish boyfriend Gene Womack (portrayed by an intimidating Sean Harris). The filming was done over the long hot summer of 2013, and a lot of scenes appear to have been shot in the sunset ‘magic-hour’, giving the grim reality of Norfolk rural life a hazy nostalgic tone.

Goob at magic hour in Norfolk fields.  Photo credit: Emu Films / Amelia Troubridge

Goob at magic hour in Norfolk fields. Photo credit: Emu Films / Amelia Troubridge

45 Years features Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay playing the very middle-class couple Kate and Geoff Mercer, who are in their advanced years and facing their 45th wedding anniversary. They live in retirement in a farmhouse in the Norfolk Broads and the grey skies and misty country lanes add to the feeling of foreboding that builds over the course of a week as their relationship disintegrates due to a slow reveal about Geoff’s past relationship.

Andrew Haigh and Charlotte Rampling on location for 45 Years.  Photo credit: Agatha Nitecka.

Andrew Haigh and Charlotte Rampling on location for 45 Years. Photo credit: Agatha Nitecka.

Myhill and Haigh have both achieved naturalism and authenticity in their films – in the characters, their stories, and the settings.  Myhill presents a rural working-class teenager coming-of-age, whereas Haigh successfully and succinctly portrays a couple realising their ‘coming-of-old-age’ and a discomfort with this and each-other.  Something else that links both films is that they both benefitted from iFeatures, a production fund from national organisation Creative England.  One of the objectives of this fund is to ‘support low budget films that capture a sense of place’.  I hope this is just the beginning of a new era of investment and production in filmmaking in this hitherto rather neglected part of the country.

The films of Richard Curtis (namely Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill) may have put certain sections of London on the tourist trail, but I doubt that many will travel to Norwich and Norfolk to tread the paths of Goob and the Mercers. But The Goob and 45 Years have achieved more than that in my view. They’ve succeeded in finally providing a credible and admirable depiction of my homeland and its people. It might not always be pretty but I’m still proud to call it home.

By Anna Blagrove

Anna is a PhD Researcher in the Film, Television and Media Studies Department. Her thesis is an audience study of young cinema-goers and other research interests include Australian film and the work of Studio Ghibli. She is employed as Education Officer at Cinema City, programming learning provison and chairing special events such as filmmaker Q&As.  She also works on the HLF funded Norfolk at the Pictures project.

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Teaching Theory/Practice: ‘Working in Magazines Podcasts’

As Lecturer in Media Studies in UEA’s Department of Film, Television and Media Studies, one of the modules I convene is ‘Magazines’. It is a theory/practice module, so as well as teaching students academic approaches to the study of magazines it also teaches them the different skills needed to produce them. Before I embarked on my academic career I worked as a magazine editor at British gay culture magazine Attitude, so I am able to draw on 11 years of experience to teach this part of the module. I am also able to draw on a wide network of contacts for the purposes of guest lectures and for a new initiative that I will be introducing to the 2015/2016 version of the module – the ‘Working in Magazines Podcasts’.

image

In these podcasts I interview various people about their careers in the magazine industry. Once the 2015/2016 term starts they will be available on Blackboard so students enrolled on the Magazine module can listen to them whenever is convenient. So far there are podcasts with Chris Williams, art director of Britain’s largest circulation magazine – Asos magazine; Colin Crummy, film editor at i-D and celebrity editor at Men’s Health; Frank Strachan, freelance pop stylist and editor of The Most Beautiful Man in The World and Patrick Welch, freelance travel journalist. By September more podcasts will be available including one with Chris Lupton, art director of Empire magazine.

The point of the podcasts is to give students up to date insights into a variety of issues within the rapidly changing magazine industry. Particularly given the transformative effect that digital technologies are having on all forms of print media, academic publishing often finds it difficult to keep up with developments within the magazine sector where little remains the same for more than six months. Those interviewed discuss a range of topics including: the rise of digital, the effect of shrinking magazine budgets since the 2008 financial crisis and the difference between the working conditions of freelancers and permanent staff. They also talk more personally about career highs and lows including interviewing Melissa McCarthy and being mistaken for Uma Thurman by paparazzi in Hollywood’s Chateau Marmont! These issues speak directly to content taught on the Magazines module but also more widely to all types of students thinking about breaking into different sectors within the creative industries.

The ‘Working in Magazines Podcast’ is an ongoing project, the overall goal being to collect a large archive of interviews with interesting people who’ve had successful careers in one of Britain’s most dynamic creative industries.

In the below podcast i-D film editor and Men’s Health celebrity editor Colin Crummy talks about his career:

By Dr Jamie Hakim

Lecturer in Media Studies

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‘Coming soon to a theatre near you’: Online Theatre Trailers

Coming soon to a theatre near you’,  ‘Online theatre trailers lost the plot?’

At the end of the first decade of the new millennium, theatre critics like those in the above articles started quite loudly acknowledging (well… mostly lamenting) the presence of a new form of promotional material for stage theatre: the theatre trailer. Despite theatre trailers ranging back as far as the start of the film industry, as far as some critics were concerned: this was a new phenomenon, shaking the foundations of theatre*.

*presumably this negative hype was also to generate traffic to blogs and sites, so let’s take it with a pinch of salt – for now.

This somewhat frosty reception says a lot about how elements of the industry wanted to define theatre in relation to film (if you’re interested in this debate check out this). Tied up with the rise of live-streaming to cinemas and emerging from a similar context (check out Martin Barker’s fantastic book on the topic), theatre trailers now form a key part of audience engagement for amateur and professional, big and small companies alike. It’s now common to see theatre companies running their own YouTube channels, and if you go to a cinema you’re quite likely to see something for a live theatre event.

But it’s the internet that has become a major site for contemporary promotional videos, in part thanks to a shift in consumer culture and connectivity, resulting in ‘YouTube culture’. Indeed, the introduction of theatre ‘trailers’ led critic Lyn Gardner to suggest that theatre itself was going ‘down the YouTube’.  For all the criticism, theatre trailers function within the same industrial and social framework as film trailers, and came be used to consider how the industry is maintaining an identity online. Sometimes made in-house, sometimes by professional (movie) trailer companies; theatre trailers at once echo and reject the conventional aesthetic trends for film trailers, and what we see is an industry that is in the process of using different promotional aesthetics. This flux draws attention to the identity of theatre on screen.

Looking at theatre trailers overall (and you can read my methods and underlying research here), there is a strong indication that overall theatre trailers replicate the film trailer: we see a recorded performance edited together within a discontinuous narrative, audio narrative bridges, spatial and temporal ellipsis that typifies a film trailer aesthetic (like the final minute of the Casino Royal Trailer but often much slower in pace – like this warhorse trailer).

Yet for all its similarities with the film trailer, many theatre trailers seemingly avoid the presentation of a holistic fictional world. Film trailers promote in the same medium of the product, but theatre trailers and theatre products are in two different media – with the exception of Livecast theatre that complicates matters no end!). Instead of being nice, neat and organised, theatre promotion- like life, is messy, disorganised, and changing more rapidly than we can document.

The aesthetics of theatre trailers is in flux with several overlapping modes of presentation. So much so that (as Honour Bayes notes) it is not always possible to discern the narrative of the product being promoted. Yet through looking at theatre trailers overall (and I assure you, I have obsessed about this) three broad aesthetic features emerge – which I’ve dubbed; The Stage world, The Cathartic Event, and the Short Film. By no means a rigid framework, trailers can belong to multiple categories, and by no means designed to judge quality, these aesthetic trends serve as a way identifying the kinds of ways theatre may exist on screen and forms a starting point for future work.

So let’s take a look at what I mean with these sweeping categories (and they are sweeping, let’s not have any illusions). The first off; The Stage World. In this, the presentation of theatre performance is often from the point of an audience, the camera is largely fixed, the set is clearly visible as a theatre set and there is a distinctly static feel to the event: it’s obviously theatre – you can see the mechanics of it all. Typified by the South Bank’s Chouf Ouchouf trailer.

The second kind of aesthetic, and it seems to be less popular within the industry, could be called the cathartic event: this largely consists of audience interviews with little to no footage of the performance itself, audiences and creator address the camera and emphasise through dialogue the ‘live experience’, it’s the trailer equivalent of a friend telling you about a movie they’ve seen. In short this is a trailer that unlike the stage world that sticks to emphasising ‘theatre-ness’ and ‘theatricality’, avoids the ‘free sample’ aesthetic in favour of mystery and an unknown experience being conveyed to the audience through celebrity and audience endorsement.

And finally, by far the most popular, thanks to big players like the RSC, the ENO and the NT, we have the short film aesthetic. Within such a format the performance space takes on a diegetic world in which there is less emphasis on the onscreen audience, the action is set on a stage, or a real world environment but attention is not drawn to it as with the stage aesthetic – you’d have to really focus on the background to see audience members for example. Within this there is little to no discernible performance space, and often indications of it being theatre are confined to the end of the trailer.

Here we see it integrates direct character address to construct a narrative, with the close ups of the body rather than the performance space: it avoids overtly suggesting ‘theatre’. Editing features strongly in creating a sense of a narrative in contrast to the Stage World aesthetic that presents large sections, while it lacks establishing shots and the conventions of Hollywood, you could be forgiven for initially thinking this is a film.

These are broad aesthetics and the ‘ideal type’ that I’ve listed here, but they serve a purpose; to orientate discussion of theatre on screen in an age of media convergence. Despite early criticism from those in the media there are some (in my opinion) fantastic trailers out there, and the ways of presenting theatre as an industry, and individual products within it, offer the opportunity to explore theatre’s identity on screen.

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Dr Ed Vollans (Arts Marketing Association) received his PhD from the Department of Film, Television and Media Studies. He co-runs the watching the trailer project at www.watchingthetrailer.com and regularly bores people talks about all things trailer related.

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Talking Back: Responding to Media Images of Eating Disorders

In the first six months of 2015, there were several reports in the mainstream media about a rise in the diagnoses and treatment of eating disorders, as squarely attributed to the ‘rise of social media that has helped develop an obsession with image’. Headlines offered such statements as ‘How social media is fueling the worrying rise in eating disorders’, ‘Eating Disorders: How Social Media Helps Spread Anorexia And Bulimia In Young People’, or ‘Social media: Feeding eating disorders’. Some of these reports focused on the general use of image-driven social media (such as Facebook and Instagram) and the centrality they place on youthful bodies. Other reports focused more specifically on how pro-anorexia communities were finding new ways to incite competition between sufferers (and to ‘indoctrinate’ would-be eating disorder subjects) with the use of selfie diaries focused on the body. So as Dr Alex Yellowlees, a consultant psychiatrist at the Priory hospital group in London claimed, clinicians had seen a ‘worrying trend for online anorexia “diaries”, charting people’s descent into starvation, complete with photographs… exposing those susceptible to eating disorders to a new level of psychological pressure’.

Such concerns, and evidence of a rise in the diagnosis of eating disorders among young people, should not be wholly dismissed. At the same time, such concerns can be situated as part of a long history of concern in which eating disorder sufferers, particularly young girls, are constructed as especially vulnerable to media images and messages. Given the extent to which eating disorders, especially anorexia, are popularly constructed as a response to the pressure of mediated bodily ideals, the anorexic often emerges as not simply vain and narcissistic, but also unable to separate image from ‘reality’, or self from media object. Indeed, in social science work in particular, eating disorder subjects are routinely constructed as as occupying a ‘heightened state’ of susceptibility in relation to media culture, and as being ‘suggestively vulnerable’ and ‘at risk’ (and thus in need of protection and intervention).

As these descriptions suggest, very little of this work has emerged from Media and Cultural Studies approaches to audiences which challenged the arguments of the media ‘effects’ model some time ago, shifting the focus from how the media ‘effects’ people to how audiences actively engage in the process of generating meaning within broader operations of power. The most articulate and incisive objections to the above images of the anorexic have been made by Abigail Bray in her work on how self-starvation is constructed – in popular, medical and some feminist discourse – as a not simply an eating but also a ‘reading disorder’. Bray explains how a ‘dominant paradox has been mapped onto the anorexic subject’ which insists that ‘food refusal [is]…  the direct result of the consumption of media representations of idealised thin femininity. An excessive media consumption is perceived to activate a pathological fear of corporeal consumption: over-reading produces under-eating’ (2005: 116). In examining how anorexia becomes a ‘synecdoche for all [female]… pathological vulnerability’ to media forms (imagined reading practices which construct women as infantilised and irrational, and which have a long history) (2005: 123), Bray eloquently observes how ‘the consumption of images of an idealised and commodified self is interpreted as an autophagic process in which the subject is transformed into the object of narcissistic consumption’ (Ibid: 117).

It is such problematic consumptions of the relationship between eating disorder sufferers and media culture that I am seeking to complicate and challenge in a study of how people with experience of an eating disorder respond to media representations of eating disorders. The project involves undertaking 18 semi-structured interviews with people who have experience of anorexia, bulimia or EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified) and asks them about how they use, evaluate and respond to such media images in the context of their everyday lives. Having undertaken 11 interviews so far, I can safely say that rather than media ‘dupes’ or ‘passive’ consumers, I have encountered highly articulate, critical and insightful responses to how the media portrays images of eating disorders. Participants have shared with me their earliest memories of encountering images of eating disorders in the media; what they find most problematic about how ‘they’ are portrayed; how they would construct their own stories about what it is like to have an eating disorder, as well as the ways in which media images in this regard might be improved.

Cassie in E4’s Skins who suffered from an eating disorder. The association of only young, white girls with anorexia is an image that many participants in the study would like to challenge.

Cassie in E4’s Skins who suffered from an eating disorder. The association of only young, white girls with anorexia is an image that many participants in the study would like to challenge.

I had anorexia for 20 years and for much of that time I also lectured on and studied the media – taking apart its messages and deconstructing its power. In terms of popular media constructions of anorexia, these two identities were surely incompatible.  It wasn’t nice to be spoken for, and constructed as a passive, juvenile and vulnerable media consumer – especially when I was no such thing.  I think we should listen to the voices of those with experience of an eating disorder and enable them to speak back to media discourse, the very thing which is often constructed (in part of whole) as making them ‘ill’. I hope the project – in some small way – can contribute to such a dialogue, and help us value voices which are often dismissed, marginalised and pathologised in relation to media culture.

By Su Holmes                                                                                                                           Reader in Television Studies.

Works cited:

Bray, A (2005) The Anorexic Body: Reading Disorders. In Atkinson, T (ed), The Body: Readers in Cultural Criticism, Palgrave, Basingstoke: 15-128.

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Reflections on Eastern ARC Digital Humanities Launch Conference, University of Essex, 8th July 2015

arc eastern

You may have heard of Digital Humanities (DH) in recent years, given its increasing ubiquity in academic circles (Miriam Posner gave a great introduction to digital humanities and media studies at a workshop at the 2013 SCMS annual conference). As our research environment has become increasingly digital, DH has emerged as an area of enquiry engaged primarily with developing tools and theoretical frameworks for the use of computing in humanities research. You’re probably less familiar, though, with the Eastern ARC, a collaborative research consortium involving UEA and its partner universities Essex and Kent. The ARC’s primary objective is to develop research collaboration and training in a number of contemporary research themes, including Digital Humanities. Since joining Film, Television and Media at UEA, a large part of my role has been to work across the Faculty of Humanities at UEA and beyond, finding ways to provide training, community-building and other forms of support for researchers with associated interests. Along with the other members of the Digital Humanities strand, we’ve been working hard to put together an inspiring programme for colleagues and students.

On the 8th July, we officially kicked off this programme with an introductory conference that brought together around 50 academics and postgrad students from across all three institutions. In future years, this will form the cornerstone of Digital Humanities activities across the ARC, but for this first conference we introduced attendees to the diverse range of research that fall under the banner of DH across the ARC. All of this was, of course, fuelled by frequent breaks for refreshments. Our keynote speaker was Sir Deian Hopkin, President of the National Library of Wales and Honorary Professor at the University of Essex; his paper dissected the death of the Digital History movement, with reference to what we could learn for contemporary Digital Humanities. As a co-organiser, my perspective on the speakers is perhaps slightly biased, so rather than provide a paper-by-paper account I plan to talk briefly about the wider issues that arose from debates at the conference.

First, there is widespread interest in what DH methods can bring to research. Attendees were generally positive about the event, and came from a range of disciplines including Film, TV and Media Studies, History, Literature, Politics and Geography. This diversity, though, was simultaneously seen as a strength and a challenge: some attendees could see value in talking across disciplines, while others felt strongly that a more singular approach would be more useful. The disagreement around this point indicated a wider uncertainty among participants of exactly what Digital Humanities is, and what its particular relevance is to attendees’ own research. This reminded me of the “Big Tent” discussion in DH, covered eloquently in an illuminating blog post by Prof. Melissa Terras from the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities.

DH - what is it

Indeed, a question that arose for many attendees was “yes, but is what *I* do actually Digital Humanities?” A number of people commented that their attempts to read around DH had been unfruitful, and that the literature hadn’t necessarily answered the questions they had. Rather than conceptualising DH as a distinct academic discipline, it was felt that it represented a potentially valuable methodological approach to existing disciplines. The richness and variety of research presented at DH conferences suggests that this is the case: there is a commonality with digital research methods that spans disciplines, and fruitful collaboration can perhaps occur at points where these methods intersect.

From our perspective, this told us that further work is needed on our part to familiarise staff and students with DH methods, through training and discussion across the scholarly community. DH methods provide great opportunities for researchers to augment their existing practices through the use of new tools, developing theoretical approaches to digital culture, and practicing digital pedagogy. Yet, for many of us, this represents a huge challenge which requires a new set of skills and even a different way of working. This is a point that we intend to address for future events, ensuring that relevant training and networking opportunities are available. We are also attempting to collate information about people working on humanities tasks using digital methods so that the community can begin to support each other.

DH - meme

I’d like to finish off with a few pointers to further information for the DH-curious. First, if you’re interested in hearing more about UEA’s involvement in the Eastern ARC, or Digital Humanities more generally, then please do drop me an email. You may also like to check out some of the official publications from the Alliance for Digital Humanities Organizations: Digital Scholarship in the Humanities (for which I’m currently the reviews editor); Digital Humanities Quarterly, which is an open access online journal. Having successfully swerved the “What is Digital Humanities?” question, I hope the conference, and these publications, can give a sense of the breadth of research that currently falls under this heading. And finally, do keep an eye out: UEA, in conjunction with its Eastern ARC partners at the Universities of Essex and Kent, has many exciting developments forthcoming in the coming months and years!

By Dr Paul Gooding                                                                                                                                 Eastern Arc Research Fellow in Digital Humanities in the Department of Film, Television and Media Studies.

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Redefining auteurism: Auteuse Theory, a blog about women’s cinema.

auteuse

Since December 2012, Eylem Atakav and I have run a blogsite focussing on women filmmakers called Auteuse Theory (auteusetheory.blogspot.co.uk). In a spirit of feminist subversion, we wanted to occupy and feminise a word – auteur – which still sits at the heart of so much film scholarship and appreciation. The blog’s original purpose was, and still remains, to create a space to discuss a range of film (understanding that term in its broadest sense) made by women, from silent re-discoveries to the latest releases, from activist documentaries to mainstream Hollywood features, taking in examples from across the globe, whether famous or obscure; to explore the diversity of forms taken by women’s filmmaking across different nations and eras.

Posts from UEA staff or alumni over the last year have included Tim Snelson on influential 40s producer Joan Harrison, Despoina Mantziari on Ida Lupino’s rape-revenge drama Outrage, two very different perspectives on women’s work in animation from Su Holmes and Nina Mickwitz, as well of incisive reviews of controversial recent releases Celine Sciamma’s Girlhood/Bande de Filles (by Despoina Mantziari) and Sam Taylor-Johnson and Kelly Marcel’s adaptation of E. L. James’ bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey (by Richard McCulloch).

With a substantial archive of material already built up on the blogs, over 30,000 page views to date, and more posts to come, the age of the auteuse is surely upon us.

By Melanie Williams                                                                                       Melanie.williams@uea.ac.uk                                                                                      @BritFilmMelanie

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