RA5a: Structure,environment and staffing policy
Media Studies is delivered within the multi-disciplinary School of Law, Arts and Humanities and within the University wide cross-School Media Portfolio. In development for three years, it has only been a full curricula and research funded area for one year. This emergent research area manages a budget of £10,000 devolved from University designated resources, which consolidates and enhances the established research profiles of the staff in post, and advances curricula and research project initiatives, most notably in regard to four areas of work : The Northern Region Film and Television Archive;The National Centre for Animation;New Media Formations; and Cultural Practices and Applications. Current research spending has been focused on supporting staff development initiatives in relation to enhancing the creation of a research culture which embraces the multiplicity and inter-disciplinarity of both traditional and new media forms. The research strategy which underpins the approach is therefore based on the following objectives :
RAE5 Structure, Environment, and Staffing Policy
The Northern Region Film and Television Archive is a regional Archive currently made up of three consortium partners, Trade Films, Tyne and Wear Archives, and the University of Teesside. In 2000, the University, in collaboration with Middlesbrough Council successfully secured £1.3m from the SRB6 funding round in order to custom-build a state-of-the-art storage facility which is expected to be the leading purpose built Archive in Europe. The work of the NRFTVA will extend the research and publication initiatives of the internationally established Living Pictures - The Journal of the Popular and Projected Image Before 1914, edited by Simon Popple based at the University, and Vanessa Toulmin of the National Fairground Archive in Sheffield. The journal aims to stimulate research and interdisciplinary studies in relation to popular forms of visual entertainment before 1914, and already boasts an international rosta of contributors and editorial consultants. Simon Popple has been recognised as a leading figure in the research and promotion of this area of work. The Archive already supports a 'Year of the Artist' project and facilitates the work of the North East England History Institute (NEEHI), a consortium of regional and local historians in five north eastern Universities.
A) to interrogate the interface between traditional media forms (ie Film, Television, Radio, Print etc) and new media applications (ie Computer Animation, Virtual Reality, Web-sites etc), and to situate ‘animation’ as a distinctive and significant form within this interface. B) to engage with the history and development of visual cultures as the aesthetic and social context for new textual and cultural formations in the contemporary era, and to specifically situate the film, television and community practices of the North East of England within these debates, and C) to re-define paradigms of cultural research within media contexts : 1) developing progressive theoretical agendas responsive to the place of socio-cultural research within the curriculum, and 2) configuring and presenting cultural research within professional media practice (ie radio and television broadcasting; on-line publication; and journalism).
Northern Region Film and Television Archive
In its development period, the Media Studies area has been staffed with three core members of staff, and designated staff in appropriate and related disciplines in partner Schools within the University wide Media Portfolio. Initially, curricula and research developments were prioritised to support the work in the area, and to enhance the profile of the four working areas defined above. Three additional posts have now been added and will develop the Team's work from October 2001. All staff have been supported by the University Research and Development Office. This has largely been through the facilitation of funds for appropriate Courses, Conferences, and costs in relation to the development of the NRFTVA. Emergent staff have also been supported by the University Academic Staff Development Unit in relation to teaching and managing research within a full time academic brief. All staff are given a day a week for research purposes, and are facilitated in the working environment by up-to-date computer facilities with full internet and learning support service access.
National Centre for Animation
The Media Studies Team, working in collaboration with colleagues in the School of Computing and Mathematics have established the National Centre for Animation holding two conferences, Animation 2000 and Animation 2001, which consolidated the University’s work and secured developing partnerships research, publication and production initiatives. Participants are making contributions to The Animation Handbook, edited by Professor Paul Wells and Paul Watson, commissioned by Routledge as an international overview of the animation field.
New Media Formations
A distinctive aspect of the Media Studies curriculum at the University is its commitment to New Media. The Media Studies Team in collaboration with the Community Infomatics Research and Applications Unit (CIRA), have linked Animation Studies, the NRFTVA, and traditional media forms with methodologies drawn from New Media contexts. CIRA have been instrumental in enhancing regional research and development in local communities within the Tees Valley Lifelong Learning Partnership, by facilitating communities with information technology and developing research projects sensitive to local and regional interests. Brian Loader, the Head of the Unit has an international reputation in the field with influential works, The Governance of Cyberspace (1997) and The Cyberspace Divide (1998). The University houses an Innovation Centre including a Virtual Reality Theatre, the Hemispherium™, which has facilitated a number of business and educational contexts with the creation of virtual environments.
Cultural Practices and Applications
The Media Studies Team, with Dr David Boothroyd and Dr Gary Hall, have sought to share research expertise to develop a distinctive approach to Cultural Studies based on two key principles : an inter-disciplinary approach to re-engaging with critical and cultural theory as a research practice, and a cross-disciplinary approach to the definition and representation of the term ‘culture’ as a process and an application. David Boothroyd and Gary Hall both received AHRB funding (£16,000) to facilitate their work by securing sabbatical time to complete and launch Culture Machine, an on-line Journal attracting internationally renowned contributors. This project was consolidated in the extensive work of Professor Paul Wells in broadcasting. This balance between academic criticism and professional practice informs the distinctiveness of this published and broadcast work nationally and internationally. Laughing Matters, the six-part radio series submitted as a publication in this RAE round, is six critical essays on humour. It was broadcast to 120 countries worldwide on the BBC World Service, and was later broadcast on BBC Radio Four, receiving critical acclaim globally, and winning an International Radio Festival of New York Award.
Middlesbrough Arts Development Unit and the Media Studies Team have worked on the ‘Developing Audiences in the North' Northern Arts Regional Development initiative, funded by the Arts Council (£10,000), to create an effective communications system which enables the young people of Teesside to participate in Arts and Media developmentally. The Royal Television Society and the Media Studies Team also facilitate the annual RTS Young People’s Film and Video-making Awards. This is reinforced by work as part of the Tyne Tees Media Partnership, in which the Media Studies Team is leading initiatives in industry / University liaison in potential areas of shared interest and development, most notably in relation to new media ‘convergence’ and the research and broadcast potential within the NRFTVA.
Copyright 2002 - HEFCE, SHEFC, ELWa, DEL
Last updated 17 October 2003