James Newton publishes on anarchist cinema

Dr James Newton, Lecturer in the Department of Media Studies, has new published a new book The Anarchist Cinema (Intellect Books, 2019).

This book examines the complex relationships that exist between anarchist theory and film. No longer hidden in obscure corners of cinematic culture, anarchy is a theme that has traversed arthouse, underground and popular film.

In the book, James explores the notion that cinema is an inherently subversive space, establishes criteria for deeming a film anarchic, and examines the place of underground and DIY filmmaking within the wider context of the category. He identifies subversive undercurrents in cinema and uses anarchist political theory as an interpretive framework to analyse filmmakers, genres, and the notion of cinema as an anarchic space.

For more details, please see the publisher’s page here:

Nostalgia podcast with Helen Brooks

Dr Helen Brooks, Reader in Theatre and Cultural History in the Department of Drama and Director of Research in the School of Arts, is the subject of the latest instalment of ‘Nostalgia’, a podcast project created by Dr Chris Deacy, Department of Religious Studies.

Imagine receiving a birthday card from Doctor Who – this is what happened when Helen Brooks celebrated her thirteenth birthday.

In the podcast, Helen talks about Peter Davison, Samuel Beckett, why her school teachers had tried to dissuade her from taking Drama at A Level, being exposed to an eclectic range of music as a child (from Motown to Handel’s Messiah), why Helen has returned in recent years to writing a diary (and who it is being written for), how her dream was once to be a serious actor on the stage, and why she tries to live in the present.

To listen to the podcast, please visit:

Kaitlyn Regeher hosts podcast series on the benefits of research

Dr Kaitlyn Regehr, Lecturer in Media Studies, will be hosting a new podcast series entitled How Researchers Change the World, launching today, 7 May 2019.

The series, which is supported by the publisher Taylor & Francis, will release a new episode every two weeks, and will cover topics as diverse as new technology, the impact of social media, virtual reality, climate change, artificial intelligence, and gender studies.

Every episode will follow the story of one passionate researcher and their journey from the initial spark of an idea through to world-changing findings.

The first instalment tells the story of Dr Orii McDermott, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Mental Health, University of Nottingham, whose work as a music therapist gave her an awareness of the research needed to enhance her own practice and to improve the lives of her patients, people living with dementia.

Speaking of the series, Kaitlyn said: ‘I am thrilled to be working on this innovative project with the amazing team at Monchu and WBBC as well as with Taylor & Francis, a publisher dedicated to supporting researchers  at all stages of their careers.’

The podcasts will be available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Sticher. To read more, please see the dedicated site here: www.howresearchers.com

Film staff publish on cinema’s Gothic heroines

Dr Tamar Jeffers-McDonald, Reader in Film, together with Dr Frances A. Kamm, Associate Lecturer in Film, have just edited a collection entitled Gothic Heroines on Screen (Routledge, 2019), which will be published in May.

Gothic Heroines on Screen explores the translation of the literary Gothic heroine on screen, the potential consequences of these adaptations, and contemporary interpretations of the form.

Each chapter illuminates the significance of this moving image mediation, relating its screen topics to their various historical, social, and geographical moments of production, while maintaining a focus on the key figure of the investigating woman. Many chapters – perhaps inescapably – delve into the point of adaptation: the Bluebeard story and du Maurier’s Rebecca as two key examples. Moving beyond the Old Dark House that frequently forms both the Gothic heroine’s backdrop and her area of investigation, some chapters examine alternative locations and their impact on the Gothic heroine, some leave behind the marital thriller to explore what happens when the Gothic meets other genres, such as comedy, while others travel away from the usual Anglo-American contexts to European ones.

Throughout the collection, the Gothic heroine’s representation is explored within the medium, which brings together image, movement, and sound, and this technological fact takes on varied significance. What does remain constant, however, is the emphasis on the longevity, significance, and distinctiveness of the Gothic heroine in screen culture.

As well as their introduction, Tamar has contributed a chapter entitled ‘Blueprints from Bluebeard: Charting the Gothic in contemporary film’ and Frances has contributed another entitled ‘The Gothic in Space: Genre, Motherhood and Aliens (1986)’. Lawrence Jackson, Senior Lecturer in Film and Head of Film Practice, has also contributed a chapter entitled ‘Bluebeard in the Cities: The Use of an Urban Setting in Two 21st Century Films’.

The book will be available in May, and you can read further details about it here:


Aylish Wood Inaugural Professorial Lecture

Professor Aylish Wood, Professor in Film, will be giving her Inaugural Professorial Lecture, entitled ‘Making Waves: Taking a Software Approach to Moana and What It Tells Us about Digital Culture’, on Wednesday 8 May 2019 at 5pm.

The Disney animation Moana‘s (dirs Ron Clements and John Musker, 2016) release was accompanied by celebrations of animation software and the ingenuity of VFX practitioners. Frequently focussing on the feature’s quite fabulous looking water animation, these commentaries are a valuable starting point for challenging the extent to which simulations in cinema are, as is so often claimed, ‘realistic.’ Given their scale and increasingly detailed textures, it is easy to get caught up in the visual appeal of simulations created with VFX software. Aylish’s purpose in exploring Moana is to step around the power of this visual appeal, and map a route through to the computational and cultural influences that inform and shape simulations.

Aylish’s lecture will take place in Keynes College Lecture Theatre 1, and will be followed by a drinks reception in Keynes College Atrium at 7pm. Attendance is free, but please book your place here:

Nostalgia podcast with Lawrence Jackson

Lawrence Jackson, Senior Lecturer and Deputy Head of Film (Film Practice), is the subject of the latest podcast on ‘Nostalgia’, as part of an ongoing project by Dr Chris Deacy in the Department of Religious Studies.

The podcast consists of an interview with Lawrence exploring his background. Lawrence tells us why he doesn’t consider his native Guildford to be the coolest place in the country and we learn why his childhood was idyllic when growing up in the vicinity of Wookey Hole.

The youngest of three children, and the only boy in the family, Lawrence recalls the science fiction of the time, including Blake’s 7 and Doctor Who, and his love of pop music , especially the Electric Light Orchestra and we find out why he especially related to their album ‘The Diary of Horace Wimp’. We learn how Lawrence entered academia and why he believes it is important not to censure people’s ideas. He was a film buff while he was studying Modern Languages at Oxford, from where he went to Bournemouth Film School which, as he explains, produced some very talented filmmakers. He also worked for BBC Northern Ireland and he tells us about his experience of sitting on the Berlin Wall in 1989.

In terms of politics, Lawrence’s family background is right of centre and Church of England, which he explains is not his ideology, and he tells us why he reacted against Thatcher’s Britain and about the time he went to church every Sunday but later grew out of it. We also discover why he was so disappointed when John Major won the General Election in 1992.

In the final part of the interview we learn why Lawrence’s memories are predominantly positive and why it is that going to boarding school at age 13 was a key experience. He believes that he has fulfilled the dreams he had when he was young and is more of a looking forward than a looking back type of person.

To listen to the podcast, please visit:

Launch of Playing A/Part website

The School of Arts is delighted to announce the launch of a dedicated website for the Playing A/Part research project, investigating the identities of autistic girls through creative practices.

Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Playing A/Part is an interdisciplinary collaboration between the universities of Kent and Surrey, involving academics, arts practitioners and the autistic community in participatory research. Academics from drama and media arts at the University of Kent are working with specialists in psychology and autism at Surrey, alongside a steering group of autistic women and .a multidisciplinary advisory board.  The Principal investigator on the project is Nicola Shaughnessy, Professor of Performance in the Department of Drama and Theatre and the project is in partnership with Limpsfield Grange School in Surrey.

By offering participants (aged 11-16) the opportunity to take part in a range of creative participatory activities, the research aims to gain insights into how autistic girls and adolescents experience themselves and their world. The team are evaluating how creative activities affect self-awareness and well-being. The creative tools include improvisation, puppetry, storytelling and collaborative media production.

The new site includes information about the research and the team, videos about the research, links to publications and further resources, and details of past and forthcoming events.

The site can be found here:

A Night in the West End 1914-1918

On Saturday 27 April 2019, Gateways to the First World War will hold a lecture-concert entitled ‘A Night in the West End: 1914-1918’ at Westgate Hall, Canterbury. The event has been organised by Dr Helen Brooks, Reader in Theatre and Cultural History in the School of Arts, and Dr Emma Hanna, Senior Research Fellow in the School of History.

Gateways to the First World War is a centre for public engagement with the First World War centenary, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The aim of the Gateways team is to encourage and support public interest in the centenary of the First World War through a range of events and activities such as open days and study days, advice on access to materials and expertise, and signposting for other resources and forms of support.

In this lecture-concert, Helen and Emma bring together their respective expertise in the histories of wartime music and theatre to explore the story of the wartime West End. With the Invicta Concert Band and singers bringing the songs to life, this is a unique opportunity to experience the music and stories from some of the biggest hits of the war years, including Chu Chin Chow, A Little Bit of Fluff, The Bing Boys Are Here and The Maid of the Mountains.

The event will also include a collection for Soldiers’, Sailors’ & Families Association, the Armed Forces charity.

The event starts at 7pm and is free to attend. Tickets can be booked here: www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/a-night-in-the-west-end-1914-1918-tickets-55152965003

Maurizio Cinquegrani on the depictions of Nazi war criminals in Latin America

Dr Maurizio Cinquegrani, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Film, will be presenting a paper at the International Congress on Visual Culture: Latin America from the Image, the Historical Narrative and Visual Culture, to be held in San Juan at the Inter American University of Puerto Rico on Monday 15 April 2019.

Maurizio’s paper is entitled ‘Ratline Escapees and the Cinematic Landscapes of Post-War Latin America’. From Frederick Forsyth’s thriller The Odessa File (1972) to George Steiner’s philosophical novella The Portage to San Cristobal of A.H. (1981), where Adolf Hitler is found alive in the Amazon jungle over thirty years after the end of the war, and to the Führer’s brief appearance in ‘Bart vs Australia’ in The Simpsons (S06E16), where he is seen struggling with his car phone in the Buenos Aires of the 1990s, the afterlife of the Third Reich has continuously been narrated or reinvented on film, literature and other media.

Based on a chapter from a monograph that Maurizio is currently writing, his paper focuses on the ways in which the presence of Nazi war criminals in Latin America, following their escape across the so-called ratlines after the war, has been portrayed on film since 1946. It explores a diverse range of case studies including classical Hollywood cinema and Latin American films, spanning across different genres including dramas, espionage, and science fiction. Two main tensions are going to be identified throughout his study: on the one hand there is vague Latin-American topography used in films exploiting post-war events to fabricate a generic cinematic space with no ties to historical accuracy; on the other, a group of films focusing on the escape and capture of Adolf Eichmann see the unfolding of a more coherent cinematic landscape.

These films will be made to dialogue with documentaries and archival footage on Jewish migration to Latin America before and after the war. Case studies include Notorious (dir. Alfred Hitchcock, 1946), Gilda (dir. Charles Vidor, 1946), Operation Eichmann (dir. R.G. Springsteen, 1961), They Saved Hitler’s Brain (dir. David Bradley, 1969), Boys from Brazil (dir. Franklin J. Schaffner, 1978), Algunos Que Vivieron [Some Who Lived] (dir. Luis Puenzo, 2002) and Wakolda (Lucia Puenzo, 2013). Additionally, the paper is based on Maurizio’s study of archival footage held at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.

To find out more about the congress, please see the page here:

Call for papers: ‘Performing Multilingualism in Europe and Beyond’

Dr Margherita Laera, Senior Lecturer in Drama in the School of Arts, and Professor Peter Boenisch from The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, are organising a conference entitled ‘Performing Multilingualism in Europe and Beyond: Migration, Globalisation, Utopia’ with the participation of Gintersdorfer / Klassen and Maxim-Gorki-Theater, Berlin. The conference will feature Professor Yana Meerzon (University of Ottawa) as keynote speaker, and will be hosted by the School of Arts on Friday 13 September 2019.

In an increasingly inter-connected world characterised by flows of people, goods and capital, multilingualism has become a feature in many social environments, highlighting the importance of translation in human communication. Whether enforced by financial waves, mass movement, tourism, education systems or colonialism, speaking multiple languages has become a feature of increasing importance in our societies. How do theatre and performance makers deal with multilingualism?

In the UK, the population is made up of 13.5% foreign-born and 8.9% non-British citizens (Migration Observatory, 2015). Still, multilingual theatre and performance in the UK is rare and mostly confined to the fringe theatre sector. Experiments such as those by Nina Raine (Tribes, 2010), Simon Stephens (Three Kingdoms, 2012) and Katie Mitchell (The Forbidden Zone, 2014) remain few and far between.

Elsewhere, particularly in continental Europe, Canada and Asia, the genre of multilingual theatre has gained new currency in the context of globalization, international mobility and movements of migration. Practitioners like Luk Perceval, Jan Lauwers, Anestis Azas, Michel Tremblay, Krzysztof Warlikowski, Robert Lepage, Lola Arias, Angélica Liddell, Fausto Paravidino, Ong Keng Sen, Robert Wilson and others have experimented with multilingualism. Under the artistic directorship of Milo Rau, National Theatre Ghent’s 2018 manifesto proposed ten commandments for a ‘theatre of the future’, where number six prescribes that at least two languages must be spoken in any given production. A number of European theatres, such as the Maxim-Gorki-Theater Berlin, had started long before the refugee situation of 2015 to foster cultural diversity and multilinguality within their ensembles, integrating exile artists from Syria, Palestine, Afghanistan and elsewhere (not all of them refugees), and allowing multiple languages to interweave in performance. In the work of these artists, multilingualism can perform both ideas of inclusivity and exclusivity, and signify both utopian and dystopian worlds.

Meanwhile, scholarship on multilingual theatre has been intensifying in recent years, but the field is still very much under-researched. Marvin Carlson’s Speaking in Tongues (2009) prompted colleagues to think about these practices, their histories and development in contemporary theatre. Since then, special issues of Linguistica Antverpiensia, New Series. Themes in Translation Studies (2014) on multilingualism in film, theatre and opera, and the special issue of Modern Drama (61.3, 2018) on multilingual theatre in major world cities have advanced the horizons. Linguistic diversity in the arts and everyday life is the focus of ‘Creative Multilingualism’, a UK Arts and Humanities Research Council-sponsored research project based at the University of Oxford, part of Open World Research Initiative. ‘Creative Multilingualism’ has co-founded this conference and the research project of which it is part, headed by Prof. Peter Boenisch (co-I, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, London, and Aarhus University, Denmark) and Dr Margherita Laera (PI, University of Kent, UK).

This conference seeks to stimulate an exchange between UK theatre makers and theatre artists from overseas, who engage with multilingual performance practices in the field of theatre dramaturgy, playwriting and performance-making. Our objective is to begin to chart the ‘state of the art’ of both advanced creative practice and academic discourses on multilingual theatre, and to map out core issues and problems for future research. We are interested in hearing the perspectives of artists, scholars and audiences alike.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Multilingualism in rehearsals
  • Multilingualism and performers
  • Multilingualism and dramaturgy
  • Multilingualism and audiences
  • Classifications and new trends of multilingual performance
  • Multilingualism and ideology
  • Multilingualism and migration
  • Multilingualism and post-colonialism
  • Multilingualism and/as Utopia/Dystopia

The organisers invite the submission of 300-word proposals for 20-minute papers by 6 May 2019.

Please send your proposals to: performingmultilingualism@gmail.com

Image credit: Heiner Müller, Hamletmachine, dir. Sebastian Nübling, Gorki Exil Ensemble, prem. 24 Feb. 2018 © Ute Langkafel