Professor Andrew Higson

Profile

Biography

I have published widely on British cinema, from the silent period to the present, and from contemporary drama to the heritage film. My books include Waving the Flag: Constructing a National Cinema in Britain (1995) and English Heritage, English Cinema: The Costume Drama Since 1980 (2003; both Oxford University Press). I have also edited two general surveys of British cinema history, which cover the period from the late 1920s to the late 1990s: Dissolving Views: Key Writings on British Cinema (Cassell, 1996), and British Cinema, Past and Present (co-edited with Justine Ashby; Routledge, 2000). A third edited book surveys the development of cinema in Britain in the silent period: Young and Innocent? The Cinema in Britain, 1896-1930 ( University of Exeter Press, 2002). With Richard Maltby, I also co-edited ‘Film Europe’ and ‘Film America’: Cinema, Commerce and Cultural Exchange, 1920-1939 (1999; awarded the Prix Jean Mitry), about relations between Hollywood and Europe in the 1920s and 1930s.

Running through much of my work is a concern for questions of national cinema; my article ‘The concept of national cinema’, first published in Screen in 1989, has proved very influential and has been translated and/or reprinted several times. I have published various papers since 1989 which revise my arguments about national and transnational cinema as well as papers on the British heritage film, on the British new wave, on silent cinema, on Channel 4 television and on film acting.

Career

I joined the University of York in January 2009, when I took up the Greg Dyke Chair in Film and Television Studies. I was previously Professor of Film Studies at the University of East Anglia, where I taught for 22 years.

At the University of East Anglia, I taught extensively on British and American cinema, non-mainstream film and British television. I specialise in the teaching of film history, theory and criticism, but I have also worked with colleagues teaching film, video and television studio production.

I was one of the first generation of students to undertake a PhD in Film Studies in the UK, doing so at the University of Kent. Before joining the University of East Anglia (UEA), I taught at Leicester Polytechnic and Sunderland Polytechnic. During the 1980s, I was chair of the Society for Education in Film and Television, and a member of the editorial board of its then journal, Screen, and the BFI’s Regional Consultative Committee. More recently, I served for four years as a member of the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s (AHRC) Postgraduate Panel for Visual Arts and Media.

I taught at UEA from 1986 to 2008, becoming a full Professor in 2000. From 1991 to 1998, I was the chair of the Film Studies sector in the large, interdisciplinary School of English and American Studies; in August 2002, I took over as Dean of this School. When the School was dissolved following re-structuring in 2004, I became the inaugural Head of the new School of Film and Television Studies. I was fortunate to be able to play a central role in establishing UEA as one of the leading places in the UK for film and television studies, overseeing an expansion from 3 to 10 staff, as well as a series of high-scoring research and teaching quality assessments, including a top-ranking 5* in the 2001 national Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), and an exceptionally high 3.40 in the (differently assessed) 2008 RAE (the equal sixth highest ranking of any department in any subject in the UK university system).

Research

Overview

Building on a long history of working on British cinema and questions of national and transnational cinema, my current research focuses on cinema in contemporary Europe (in the 2000s and 2010s), through the MeCETES project, described below. Recent related publications include essays in Paul Cooke and Rob Stone, eds, Screening European Heritage (2016, Palgrave Macmillan), and Ib Bondebjerg, Eva Novrup Redvall and Andrew Higson, eds, European Cinema and Television: Cultural Policy and Everyday Life (2015, Palgrave Macmillan).

I am also the lead editor of the Palgrave European Film and Media Studies series (established 2013, with Palgrave Macmillan), which includes four titles to date, with more on the way.
Other recent publications have dealt with the representation of the British monarchy in British films since the 1990s; representations of rural landscape in British films of the silent period; nostalgia, heritage and contemporary consumers; and recent British literary bio-pics.

Altogether, I have written four books, edited or co-edited five more, and published more than 50 essays in journals and anthologies. My work has been translated into Finnish, Polish, Spanish, Greek and Chinese. For more my details of my publications, please click on the link to the York Research Database above.

Projects

I am the Project Leader of Mediating Cultural Encounters Through Europeans Screens (MeCETES; www.mecetes.co.uk), funded by Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA) from 2013 to 2016 with a €1m grant. This collaborative research project exploring contemporary European film and television drama brings together colleagues at the University of Copenhagen, the Free University of Brussels and here at the University of York. A number of books and papers will be emerging from the project over the next year.

I was the director of the British Cinema History Research Project, funded for the period 2001-2004 by £317,000 grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Board (now the AHRC). This project produced an on-line index to a key period of the trade paper Kine Weekly and its variants (1890-1971), and more than 50 on-line transcripts of the interviews with film and television industry veterans carried out since 1986 by the History Project of the trade union BECTU. (See https://www.uea.ac.uk/film-television-media/research/research-themes/british-film-and-tv-studies/british-cinema)

I was also the lead applicant for another AHRC-funded project, which was run jointly with the East Anglian Film Archive, ‘Anglia Television at the East Anglian Film Archive’. The £412,000 awarded by the AHRC enabled the archive’s extensive collection of Anglia TV materials to be catalogued, and the Anglia Television conference to take place.

Supervision

I have considerable experience as a PhD supervisor, having supervised twenty-one students , on topics ranging from silent to contemporary British, American and European cinema, and from avant-garde to popular cinema, including theses on national cinema, exhibition and reception, cultural history, representations of the past and gender studies.

Thirteen of my supervisees were funded by either the British Academy or the AHRC; another four were in receipt of university studentships or overseas funding; twelve of my supervisees now have lecturing posts in universities. I am currently supervising another seven students, and would welcome enquiries about future supervisions: do contact me if you are interested.

Publications

Selected publications

For a full list of my publications, please click on the link above to the York Research Database.

External activities

Invited talks and conferences

I have organised a number of conferences over the years. In 1998, I was Director of Cinema, Identity, History: An International Conference on British Cinema held at the University of East Anglia.

In 2008, I organised a conference in Norwich on British television history, Anglia Television and the History of ITV: Programming, Regionalism and the Television Economy.

Through the MeCETES project, I have co-organised conferences in York (European Historical Drama in the Digital Age), in London (UK Film Distribution: What’s Changing?) and again in York (European Screens: An International Conference).

During the 1980s, I was chair of the Society for Education in Film and Television, and a member of the editorial board of its then journal, Screen, and the British Film Institute’s Regional Consultative Committee.

In the 2000s, I served as a member of the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Post-Graduate Peer Review Panel for Visual Arts and Media, 2005-2008, and as a member of the AHRC Peer Review College, 2004-2007. More recently, I have been consulted by, reviewed for or worked with the British Film Institute, Screen Yorkshire, the Estonian Research Council, National Science Centre, Poland, the Czech-Norwegian Research Programme, and the Irish Research Council.

Andrew Higson - Staff Page Picture

Contact details

Prof. Andrew Higson
Department of Theatre, Film and Television
University of York
Heslington
York
YO10 5DD

Tel: +44 (0)1904 32 5234