Past research seminars, symposia and other events

2009 2010 2011 2012


16th - 17th October: Symposium on Film Schools

This two day symposium was organised as part of a research initiative on the history of film schools and their relation to wider issues of theory/practice and education/training policy being developed by Professor Duncan Petrie. The event was held at The Royal York Hotel and was attended by the following invited guests and members of TFTV:
Professor Christine Geraghty    (Theatre, Film and Television, University of Glasgow)
Ben Gibson (Director, London Film School)
Professor John Hill (Media Arts, Royal Hollow)
Professor Mette Hjort (Lingnan University, Hong Kong)
Professor Igor Korsic (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia)
Dr Des O’Rawe (Film Studies, Queens University Belfast)
Rod Stoneman (Director Huston School of Digital Media, National University of Ireland, Galway)
Professor Brian Winston (Chair of Communications, University of Lincoln)
David Hickman (TFTV, York)
Professor Andrew Higson (TFTV, York)
John Mateer  (TFTV, York)
Professor Duncan Petrie (TFTV, York)

Full Programme and Abstracts: Film School Symposium Report (MS Word  , 38kb)

27th October: Department Research Seminar

Dr Ben Poore (TFTV, York): Velvet goldmine: selling the Naughty Nineties in the Noughties


Ben Poore considers the music hall star of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Marie Lloyd, contrasting two models of music hall performance, the ‘saucy’, earthy style of Lloyd and the more distanced and nuanced male impersonation acts exemplified by Vesta Tilley, and the impact Lloyd’s persona and reputation have had on the popular understanding of music hall today.

10th November: Department Research Seminar

David Hickman (TFTV, York): The ugly truth about race and intelligence: the production and reception of a Channel 4 documentary


Television programme-maker, David Hickman, who has recently joined TFTV, discusses his most recent documentary, to be broadcast by Channel 4 in late October, as one of the keynote programmes in a season about race. The documentary, which has had a troubled production history given what some see as its controversial subject matter, explores the views of James Watson and the debate about race and intelligence.

23rd November: Department Research Seminar

Professor Robin Nelson (Department of Contemporary Arts, Manchester Metropolitan University): Practice as research in performance and screen media


Robin Nelson outlines the principles and methodologies of practice-based research, noting the tensions between the requirements of the academy and the demands of the arts world/industries. He will indicate what practitioners need to do in respect of articulating a research inquiry in order to transform intelligent practice into academic research outcomes.



2nd February: Department Research Seminar

Tom Cantrell (TFTV, York): Talking to actors about Talking to Terrorists: Processes of Research and Rehearsal in Max Stafford-Clark's Documentary Production


Max Stafford-Clark is a major proponent of verbatim theatre, and has developed innovative working methods which involve actors in the research as well as rehearsal of his productions. In interviews, he has made claims about the role of the actor in these plays; testimony from actors about the effect of their involvement is much more scarce. In this paper, Tom Cantrell draws on his PhD research, using new interview material with the cast of 'Talking to Terrorists' (2005) to redress this imbalance.

16th February: Department Research Seminar

Dr Sandra Pauletto and Tristan Bowles (TFTV, York): Designing the emotional content of speech


What makes a voice sound happy, sad or angry? How can we make a robotic voice express interesting emotions? This is a challenge for sound designers working in film, TV, and games. In this presentation, Sandra Pauletto and Tristan Bowles discuss their research into the digital manipulation of the acoustic parameters of a speech signal to modify the emotion expressed by the voice.

3rd March: Department Research Seminar

Dr Hannah Greig (Department of History, University of York): Turning history into film: behind the scenes of The Duchess


Hannah Greig, a specialist in eighteenth century British history, discusses her role as the historical adviser for Saul Dibb’s costume drama, The Duchess (released in 2008), and the issues the production raised in terms of the portrayal of history on film.

16th March: Department Research Seminar

Prof Eckart Voigts-Virchow (Dept of English Literature, University of Siegen, Germany): Lost in Austen: Television and the Affinity Spaces of Participatory Culture

Eckart Voigts-Virchow, currently on a Visiting Leverhulme Professorship in the School of Performance and Cultural Industries, University of Leeds, addresses the recent ITV television serial Lost in Austen as an emulation of amateur appropriations and mash-ups of Jane Austen's work. Using terms suggested by Henry Jenkins, he describes the four-part serial as an attempt to redesign fan-fiction cross-overs for broadcast television, tapping into the affinity spaces of participatory culture.

4th June: First Annual Departmental Postgraduate Symposium

A day-long event from 10:00am - 6:00 pm featuring thirteen presentations in six panels. This included seven PhD students from TFTV, four students from other departments at York or other Universities and two early career researchers.

Full programme: First Annual Post Graduate Symposium Programme (PDF  , 141kb)




2nd February: Department Research Seminar

Professor Duncan Petrie (TFTV, York): Two Types of Film School Education


Within the field of film school education a distinction is often made between those institutions that have favoured an artistic conception of the medium and those guided by more industrial concerns. Thus, the cultural imperative that informed the great European conservatoires of Moscow, Lodz, Paris and Rome has increasingly been eclipsed by the concept of film schools as training providers, supplying the skills necessary to enable film and television industries to maximise competitiveness within global entertainment markets. This paper suggests a different kind of approach that specifically foregrounds creativity as a concept relevant to both sides of the culture/commerce divide. Professor Petrie then explores two radically different types of film school pedagogy, reflecting sharply contrasting conceptions of creative activity – namely, the ‘open curriculum’ model that prevailed at the new National Film School in Britain during the 1970s and 1980s, and the rules-bound philosophy developed at the Danish Film School in the 1980s.  The impact that these institutions and their teaching methods on their respective cinemas is also assessed in order to illuminate the wider significance of different educational policies and pedagogic approaches and to assess the kind of impact that film schools can have on their nation’s cinema.

16th February: Department Research Seminar

John Mateer (TFTV, York): Joint Academic-Industry Feature Film Production: A Legitimate Business Model or Failed Work Placement Strategy?

University film and television production departments have long sought to give students “real world” experience to enhance their career prospects in an extremely competitive industry. This can also benefit the institutions themselves through increased visibility within the business enhancing recruitment and potential benefaction. Academic engagement with industry has typically involved a limited number of work placements being arranged for a select group of capable students, even at institutions with departments born out of industry such as UCLA. However, over the past few years more formal models of working with industry have emerged for feature film production and at institutions not traditionally linked with major production centres. This paper discusses John Mateer's experience in developing and overseeing the University of York’s involvement in the feature film The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey (2007) and compares this with similar initiatives at the University of Texas for The Quiet (2005) and Homo Erectus (2007). All are examples of academic-industry partnerships involving established Hollywood stars and appreciable industry backing yet they had students working in roles of key responsibility that traditionally would be filled by experienced industry personnel. These projects will be examined in detail to assess their effectiveness both in pedagogic and business terms. From John's experience it is clear that the nature of student involvement must be carefully considered and that distribution poses a significant challenge for financial return. However, it is also apparent that these partnerships can be highly beneficial to both sides if the arrangement is properly designed.

2nd March: Departmental Research Seminar

Professor Andrew Higson (TFTV, York): Culturally English Filmmaking in the 2000s

This paper is about British cinema and British film policy in the age of globalisation, and draws on material in Professor Higson's recently published book, 'Film England: Culturally English Filmmaking since the 1990s' (London: IB Tauris, 2010). The paper focuses on developments in the 2000s - more or less, the moment of the UK Film Council. He tries to develop an idea of Englishness in relation to cinematic activity, since much of what passes for British cinema is in many respects better described as English cinema. In a post-devolution UK, officially made up of a series of distinct nations and regions, it certainly makes sense to try to develop a more specific concept of English cinema rather than a generalised British cinema - though in the era of globalisation, post-colonialism and transnational filmmaking, it is a very elusive and tricky concept to work with. The first part of the paper provides an overview of UK film production in the 2000s, offering a broad survey of the commercial circumstances of the film business, and especially the impact of inward investment, transnational production arrangements and the demand for commodities that can sell globally. He also looks at the development of UK film policy alongside and as part of these developments. Within this broad context, he then wants to consider the range of culturally English filmmaking in the 2000s, and the ways in which Englishness in films is variously shaped by local, national, transnational and global forces and interests.

16th March: Double Department Research Seminar

Nathan Townsend (TFTV, York): The Trans/national Divide: From British National Cinema to Transatlantic British Cinema

Nathan discusses his research to date, particularly as it relates to developing the critical category 'Transatlantic British Cinema'. He examines canonical assessments of national cinema in Britain and juxtaposes them with his own interpretation of the longstanding exchange between Hollywood and the UK industry. He also incorporates material about the London based production company Working Title Films which forms the core of his research project in the months (and years!) to come. At an industrial level the transnational identity of Working Title is suggested by transitions in the company's ownership and organisational structure throughout its near 30 year history. Its evolution from an independent British producer to a subsidiary of a major Hollywood studio is one of the most important narratives in recent British cinema. Understanding the textual balancing act of cultural specificity and transferability within Working Title's various canons is therefore a central concern of his research.

Mark Smith (TFTV, York): Frantic Fingerprints: Authoring (in) the Devised Theatre of Frantic Assembly

Frantic Assembly is a "physical theatre" company which has worked almost exclusively over the past 15 years with established playwrights, collaborating to create new plays through processes which also emphasise devising and physicality. This talk introduces the company's productions and processes, and look at some ways in which authorship of their work is simultaneously distributed and jealously guarded.  The aim is to explore how a Frantic play is authored by the company collectively and by its "assembly" of directors, performers and writers.

27th April: Departmental Research Seminar

Dr Alan Marcus (Department of Film and Media studies, University of Aberdeen): Capturing Kafka: an observational glimpse
This talk and screening explores how the experimental film, The Cemetery (Marcus, 2009), made under the 'In Time of Place' research project (, frustrates efforts to transparently map an iconic and heavily touristed urban space. The 30-minute film, which operates without narration or interviews, adopts a contemporary inquiry into a transfigured contested locale in Prague's former Jewish quarter. The film offers a medley of engagements with different users of the site, including tourists, locals and both Jewish and non-Jewish participants. The talk probes the way the film positions a narrative mix of touristic crossings, banal and traumatic inferences of a society once hemmed by boundaries and later subjected to liquidation. Questions are posed about what is unveiled as pilgrimage and ritual in a Kafkaesque setting.

18th May: Departmental Research Seminar

Dr Varsha Panjwani (TFTV, York): “Must these men die too?” - Shakespeare’s Duel with Contemporaries at the Swan

Over the years, authorship studies have established that Shakespeare co-wrote many plays; he shared his manuscripts with his contemporaries. Theatre practitioners, too, have time and again presented Shakespeare’s jointly authored plays. In 2005, the Royal Shakespeare Company resurrected a multiple-authored play, Thomas More, at the Swan and now Gregory Doran is preparing to mount Cardenio (which he describes as a Shakespeare-Fletcher collaboration) to celebrate the Swan’s re-opening. It appears that we are moving away from narratives of Shakespeare as the ‘onlie begetter’ of great plays and towards seeing him as a contributor in a community of talented playwrights working alongside him and sometimes writing jointly with him.  But are we? This presentation looks at Barry Kyle’s production of The Two Noble Kinsmen authored by Shakespeare and Fletcher. This was the opening production for RSC’s Swan; a playhouse that was primarily built to study Shakespeare in the context of other early modern playwrights. The paper draws on the latest editions, the prompt-book, reviews, and the programme of the play in order to examine whether RSC’s desire to present work by Shakespeare’s contemporaries fuelled the reconfiguration of both Shakespeare as author and joint authorship.

27th May: Second Annual Departmental Postgraduate Symposium

A day-long event comprising four panels featuring a total of eleven speakers, a presentation on research as practice and featuring a rehearsed reading of a new play, and a keynote by David Hickman.  


Full programme: Second Annual Post Graduate Symposium Programme (MS Word  , 22kb)

1st June: Departmental Research Seminar

Patrick Titley (TFTV, York): Black and White TV - The Ethics of Production

The issue of trust in the media has been in the news over the last few years, from Top Gear faking a fire in a caravan, to Blue Peter cheating their viewers out of naming a cat. The event that really triggered the mass coverage was when a BBC promotional tape showed the Queen supposedly storming out of a photo session, even though that never happened.

But in truth, the camera always lies, and it has done since it was first invented. Every shooting and editing decision affects the audience's perception of a film and of the characters portrayed. And these techniques are what makes a film interesting; without them, they would be unwatchable. So the real question is not whether it's OK to use techniques; and where is the boundary between the honest use of techniques, and deception?

It's certainly true that in many TV shows, telling stories in a gripping way has become more important than the "truth" of the situation; and that triggers two interesting questions: who's to blame? Is it the producers who want to get their next commission, the broadcasters who out pressure on the production teams to deliver more and more excitement on lower and lower budgets; or the audience, who are often complicit in the deception (think Top Gear)?

19th October: Departmental Research Seminar

Dr Lisa Peschel (TFTV, York): Theatrical Texts from the Terezin Ghetto:  Czech, German and Zionist Cabaret
In this seminar I discuss and perform scenes from three recently rediscovered cabaret scripts, written by Czech-speaking, German-speaking and Zionist Jews from Czechoslovakia, to explore the question: how did theatrical performance stabilize identity and subjectivity in the ghetto? The vast majority of Jews in the multinational state of interwar Czechoslovakia selected one of three officially recognized nationalities: Czech, German or Jewish. During World War II, these national differences carried over into the Terezin ghetto and its cultural life. Their cabaret texts reveal how each group enacted and thus preserved its own prewar norms on the stages of the ghetto, resisting the imposed homogenous group identity of racial inferiority and maintaining their chosen national, linguistic and political affiliations.

2nd November : Departmental Research Seminar

Ollie Jones (TFTV, York): The Other Shakespearean Stage: Provincial Performance at Stratford-upon-Avon.
The last twenty years has seen a shift of emphasis in the study of early modern theatre from a centralised, metropolitan phenomenon of named playwrights, playhouses and playing companies to something more provincial, collaborative, and multivocal. The earlier impulse to discover everything ‘Shakespeare’, to identify his hand in plays, to rebuild his theatres (even as an ‘academic best guess’) has not died, but it has been matched, after long years of archival searching, by scholars who have wanted to insist that provincial playing was widespread and common, and that playing conditions and provincial audiences could in some way rival those of the capital.
Until now the debate has been an economic one, based on historical records and accounts that are patchy and incomplete. Performance, of a text, in a space, has rarely been addressed, except perhaps at the Globe in London, which seems to have been built in the expectation that inspiration and revelation would automatically come to practitioners there. Assumptions about early modern performance and staging are rarely articulated yet underpin most scholarly writing on the subject, in which scholars simultaneously extol the variety and difference of playhouses' construction, while at the same time insisting on a homogeneity of performance strategies. 
By investigating extant buildings that hosted theatre performances we may take a step away from the academic fantasy embodied by the Globe and the Blackfriars theatre in Staunton, VA, and aim towards something more tangible. In this paper I will discuss how re-examining scenes from an early play by the Queen’s Men in the context of the medieval guildhall at Stratford-upon-Avon has problematised assumptions on staging and performance, and discuss the methodologies used for putting theory into practice.

16th November: Departmental Research Seminar

Mary Luckhurst (TFTV, York): 9/11 and Documentary in America: The Taboo of The Falling Man
In 2003 Channel 4 in the UK commissioned a documentary on 'The Falling Man' - a photograph of an unknown man made famous by Richard Drew's photograph and subsequently by Tom Junod's article about it in 'Esquire'. Henry Singer and Richard Numeroff produced and filmed the documentary, which investigated the American censorship of the images of the falling from the Twin Towers just days after the catastrophic event. This paper examines the documentary makers' own struggle against surveillance, interference and suppression and the continuing censorship of images of those who fell from the towers, and the ways in which those images threaten the dominant narratives of hero-isation and martyrdom propagated by the American government. Numeroff has commented that 'the space for viewer contemplation has been occupied in America' and that he can no longer shoot the documentaries he wants to shoot.

30th November: Double Departmental Research Seminar

Mark France (TFTV, York): The 'Great Shakespeareans': Gregory Doran, Antony Sher and Titus in South Africa
Over the last decade the director Gregory Doran, in his position as Chief Associate Director at the Royal Shakespeare Company, has been the driving force behind a series of highly successful and high profile productions. He has worked almost exclusively on the plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, and has developed an aesthetic that is clearly positioned within RSC performance traditions. Doran's most successful work is built around attention to detail, excellent ensemble performances and an elegant simplicity of staging. These are all factors that have won him critical favour with those who would see in Doran a return to the company's founding values, particularly his clear, coherent approach to verse-speaking. He has publicly associated himself with the practice and teachings of the RSC advisory director John Barton on several occasions, emphasising his connection to company's past. Enjoying a high media profile, he has come to be identified as a voice of continuity and heritage within the institution. All of this led the Sunday Times Theatre critic, John Peter, to refer to him in 2008 as 'One of the greatest Shakespearians of his generation'.
In this paper I will provide a case study of what I perceive to be Doran's breakthrough production, Titus Andronicus(1995). I will examine his rehearsal methodology, his thinking behind the production and how it proved a pivotal moment in the emerging director's career. This was a production that ironically was not produced by the RSC, but was a co-production between the National Theatre and the Market Theatre, Johannesburg. Like several of his most notable productions it featured his offstage partner actor Antony Sher in the leading role. Unlike many, it was controversial, overtly political and boldly staged, and it provoked strong reactions both here and in South Africa. To some it was even 'un-Shakespearean'.
Verena Von Eicken (TFTV, York): Performing Germanness - Acting out social critique in the films of Hanna Schygulla and Nina Hoss
Hanna Schygulla (*1943) is one of the key actors of the New German cinema of the 1970s. She was the face of films acutely observing societal misgivings such as Germans' suppression of the memory of Nazism and the Holocaust, xenophobia and female inequality, which earned the New German cinema a reputation as a period in filmmaking of significant cultural and artistic value. Nina Hoss (*1975) is one of the most prolific actresses of contemporary German cinema, which is experiencing a revival after a decade of obscurity, its films enjoying international popularity and critical recognition due to their choice of themes and innovative style. Nina Hoss has starred in several art films of the 'Berlin School' movement, which seeks to capture the experience of life on contemporary Germany in view of the profound political and social changes the country witnessed since unification and the advent of globalisation. Hoss' characters in these films are victims of social injustice, venture capitalism, and a persistent female inequality in the German workplace and law.
Despite working within 40 years from each other, both actresses share a similar acting style which is central to their films' statements on misgivings in German society. This paper will explore how Schygulla's and Hoss' stylised and distanced acting creates a space in which the effects of their characters' adverse social surroundings, their vulnerability and simultaneous strength, are negotiated. Both being part of moments in German filmmaking that critically comment on the country's discontents, studying the actresses' performances and screen personas enriches the study of socially critical art cinema, which is all too often equated with the vision of an all-powerful 'auteur'-director.


25th January: Departmental Research Seminar

Marty Zeller-Jacques (TFTV): ‘You’ll believe a man can fly!’: Liveness and Performance in Stage Superhero Adaptations’

 When we think of adaptation and superhero comics, we imagine big-budget Hollywood blockbusters – franchise movies with cutting-edge special effects and lucrative merchandising tie-ins.  However, Superhero adaptations have always been a more pluralistic field, encompassing radio and television programmes, early film serials, low-budget superhero films, video-games, motion comics and live stage performances.  While much of the recent work on superhero adaptations (Gordon, Jancovich and McAllister, 2007; Wandtke, 2007; Zeller-Jacques, 2012) focuses on the role of high-profile media adaptations of superhero narratives, little has been done to explore the implications of live superhero performances. Such adaptations are extremely varied, encompassing everything from unscripted public appearances by actors portraying superheroes at theme-parks to highly choreographed stunt-shows to fully-realised Broadway musicals.  In this paper I contend that live adaptations of superhero narratives appeal to an aesthetic of realism and immediacy which is present in many other forms of superhero adaptation, but that they also encourage a sense of involvement and participation on the part of their audiences.  Examining both the recent Batman: Live! arena tour and the Broadway musical, Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark, I situate the live superhero performance alongside its better-known relatives, theorising both its adaptation and its aesthetics.

15th February: Departmental Research Seminar

Dr. Ben Poore (TFTV): 'Analogue Nostalgia: Neo-Victoria Comedy and Music Hall in the Age of Spectoral (PDF  , 251kb)

29th February: Departmental Research Seminar

Terry Flaxton (Department of Drama, University of Bristol):'Capturing the Hyper Real: The Cinematographers Eye'

In this presentation I shall discuss what it is that a cinematographer sees when he or she looks into the luminous frame.  I shall do this by pointing out that language, myth and meaning surround the idea of communicating experience, of how today’s understanding of 'what matters in art' is governed by ideas derived from a remediation of the image, that requires interpretive thinking rather than direct experience. I shall compare ideas from both neuro-science and myth and discuss why ideas created some three and a half thousand years ago may have greater veracity than ideas created in the last twenty years. I will also be showing short examples of my recent works which explored these issues, created whilst on two consecutive AHRC Fellowships in the Moving Image.

6th June: Departmental Research Seminar

Dr. Peter Kirwan (Department of English, University of Nottingham): 'Shakenstein: Remaking the Apocrypha in Shakespeare's Image'

 The plays of disputed authorship most commonly known as Shakespeare's 'Apocrypha' have a complex stage history. Academic and professional interest in obscure plays is tempered by the commercial need to sell tickets, leading not only to the invocation of Shakespeare's name as an enticement, but also the unconscious or conscious reworking of the plays into a more recognisably Shakespearean form. This paper draws on prepared versions of four disputed plays (Arden of Faversham, Double Falsehood, Thomas of Woodstock, A Yorkshire Tragedy), and the paratexts of performance, to interrogate the ways in which practices of adaptation and visual/aural quotation are employed in order to create a new hybrid of "Shakespearean" play.


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