Research in motion
The moving image permeates all cultures through time, from the shadow plays of the Upper Paleolithic Chauvet Cave in southern France brought to life in Werner Herzog’s 3D documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010) to the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century cinemas of attraction of the fairground, to the travelling cinemas of rural India to the circulation of Nigerian cinema through traded VHS tapes. The artistic and technological directions of contemporary screens range from those we hold in the palms of our hands to the immersivity of IMAX and VR.
Our diverse research is guided by a shared vision of how film, television and moving image media are central to understanding what it means to be human. The moving image structures how we see, feel and think about ourselves and others and its production, exhibition and distribution networks shape understandings of work and technology and significantly impact on the environment and on questions of race and ethnicity. Our teaching is equally enriched by the understanding our work brings to underlying histories, theories and practices of the moving image. We are especially interested in the material histories of technologies, in the liveliness of archives, aesthetics, intermediality, genre, questions of nation and migration, audiences, the body on screen, collaborative and co-produced work with diverse communities, and practice-as-research.
We are also committed to a research culture that is open, accessible and inclusive, especially to those who are new to the study of film and television. Our research events are open to all, either in-person or online. Flavia Cheesman, who graduated with a BA in Theatre and Film in 2019, says:
“As someone who had never studied film before university, I never felt like my voice was less valued or that I couldn’t ask the questions that I wanted to, and I think that was largely to do with the kind of space the lecturers and seminar teachers created.”
The breadth of our research is reflected in the variety of topics and activities in our teaching. Flavia describes her own experience of this:
“It was amazing how broad the Film units were, pushing me in all different directions to ultimately determine what it was that I was most interested in. I could go from reviewing a film in my first year to creating my own manifesto for Political Filmmaking in my final year.”
Our aim is to encourage our students’ independence and collaborative skills in their academic and creative work, just as we foster the distinctive features in our own scholarship. We want our students to think for themselves, take initiative, and take risks in their own research, writing and creative practice. And we want to support them in doing this. As Flavia observes:
“It can get a bit daunting when former University students talk about how important ‘independent study’ is for each curriculum, but the support I received from lecturers in my last year was unbelievable.”