RA5a: Structure,environment and staffing policy
RESEARCH CULTURE AND ENVIRONMENT
Over the past four years, Drama, Theatre and Film Studies have acted vigorously to consolidate and enhance the research environment. The School has introduced studentships; launched new MA programmes; developed its profile of research seminars; increased funding for staff research; developed research collaborations with other universities, and established a specialised research centre. The subjects were formally linked in 1995 into the School of Drama, Film & Visual Arts. The previously separate units have united to provide a co-operative and supportive environment for the advancement of a research. (History and Theory of Art is making its submission to UOA60.) Staff and postgraduate research is nurtured by the policy of encouraging links between disciplines within its undergraduate and graduate programmes of study.
Research themes and/or emphases: Film staff research within these themes and approaches:
· Film aesthetics: all staff are committed to the study of film as a specific medium and art form (while recognizing that it evolves historically and in relation to adjacent media such as television, recorded music, etc). Thus, staff are engaged in research in which close analysis of films plays a central role.
· Philosophy and film: SMITH, MICHAEL GRANT, CATHERINE GRANT, KLEVAN and CARDWELL are involved in analysing theoretical and critical questions in the light of concepts and arguments drawn from philosophy – be it analytic philosophy (SMITH, CARDWELL, CATHERINE GRANT), Wittgenstein (MICHAEL GRANT) or Cavell (KLEVAN).
· Film and social identity: COWIE, CATHERINE GRANT, and CARDWELL engage in research concerned with the way film depicts and shapes social types and forces, from the impact of gender, sexual identity and race (COWIE and CATHERINE GRANT), through to social role of television (CARDWELL).
· Film and history: COWIE, CATHERINE GRANT, SMITH, and CARDWELL are all concerned with both the history of film, and ways in which film depicts history, whether in the documentary (COWIE), Latin American cinema (CATHERINE GRANT) or television adaptations of historical classics (CARDWELL). SMITH’S work focuses on the history of early film theory and the avant-garde film.
Drama staff research within these themes, topics and approaches:
· Contemporary performance and its processes: ALLAIN, BECK, DOUBLE, SHAUGHNESSY, WHELAN (and KLEVAN and CARDWELL in film) explore the nature and techniques of the act of performance itself. CARVER considers acts of performance within the community. We also have been awarded two, three year AHRB Research Fellowships in the Creative and Performing Arts: Frances Barbe examines through training and performance, the methods of Tadashi Suzuki and is expanding their application within a range of performance projects; Vayu Naidu practices the art of the storyteller and aims to examine methodologies of relating the concerns and identity of storytelling with those of performance.
· Gender theory and theatrical practice: SHAUGHNESSY (and COWIE in film) consider issues of performance as melodrama, autobiography and aspects of feminist theatre and performance.
· Theatre history: BAUGH, GRANTLEY and PEARLMAN consider past performance structures within their scenographic and social contexts and in terms of their dramatic literature.
· Scenography: BAUGH and CARVER consider its history and practice with especial reference to the use and implications of computer modelling within the design process, and in performance.
Research groupings: The Kent Interactive Digital Design Studio (KiDDS) consists of BAUGH and CARVER. It was established in 1998 and in 1999-2000 had Leverhulme Visiting Research Fellow, MARK REANEY, the Director of the Institute for the Exploration of Virtual Realities (University of Kansas). KiDDS exhibited its work at the World Congress of the International Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR) in July 1998. It worked on the exhibition Exploding Tradition! Edward Gordon Craig 1872-1966 at the V&A Theatre Museum (June 1998). The lighting of Craig's scene for the Bach St Matthew Passion was explored, and a reconstruction of Craig's Patent Document No. 1710 (1910) was made and was subsequently published by BAUGH, CARVER & FERGUSSON in Scenography International Vol. 1 no. 1. 1999. CARVER and REANEY mounted a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in June 2000 to explore the creation of virtual scenes in performance. To coincide with this CARVER and BAUGH hosted the conference Digital Scenography. KiDDS has collaborated with the University of Warwick to create computer models of Drury Lane Theatre (1673) and the Théâtre du Marais and published in Theatre Notebook, Vol. 53, No. 4, 1999. KiDDS is contributing to the EU funded Theatron project to create a virtual history of theatre buildings, by modelling Drury Lane Theatre from 1773-1823, and the Roman theatre at Orange. Building upon this collaboration, Kent and Warwick have applied for AHRB Research Centre funding.
The fit between departmental structure and the UoA framework: The Department contains a specialist group of film studies staff with particular concerns for the history, theory and aesthetics of film, and therefore submission to UOA66 is more appropriate than to UOA65 Communication, Cultural and Media Studies. In addition there are research synergies between staff working in drama performance and those in film performance that are better reflected in a combined submission.
The research infrastructure and facilities for research students: All undergraduate and postgraduate modules are research-led. This was remarked upon in TQA subject review reports. MA option modules in film and theatre have a more specific emphasis on staff research expertise – the MA in Film Studies grows directly from research concerns and the MA in Performance Space and IT Modelling has grown from the activities of KiDDS. Facilities for film research include 35/16mm flatbed editors; multi-standard VCRs and DVD players; multimedia software, e.g. Adobe Premiere for editing sequences and grabbing still frames, and a video printer. Drama has space dedicated to the research of KiDDS including advanced computing facilities and modelling and imaging software. These are available to research students.There is a general postgraduate research room with networked computers shared for all graduate students. The School has a growing number of full fees and maintenance research studentships.
We have a series of links and relationships with research bodies that benefit the research culture. For example, membership of the NFA/BFI allows archive holdings to be viewed on campus and allows use of the BFI library by staff and students. Kent is a partner member of the South East Film and Video Archive (SEFVA) that provides access to staff and graduate students to substantial holdings of early films and related material. We are represented on the Committees of the V&A Theatre Museum and the Society for Theatre Research for whom BAUGH serves as Chair of its Research Committee.
Interdisciplinary and collaborative research: The linking of Drama and Film within the School has enabled collaboration in explorations of sound media ranging from radio (BECK) through the Mexican musical (CATHERINE GRANT) to sound design and music in film (SMITH). Theatre and early film have been explored through collaborative teaching.The MA in Performance Space and IT Modelling that is jointly taught by Kent and Warwick will provide new research students, and will enable KiDDS to undertake collaborative research. BAUGH and Professor David Thomas (Warwick) have been awarded a Fund for the Development of Teaching and Learning (FDTL3) grant to explore ways whereby distance learning collaborations may flourish and facilitate learning and research.
The MA in Film Studies forges links with other subjects such as English and Philosophy and on occasion, students are supervised by staff from other disciplines. The structure of the University accommodates interdisciplinary research, for example, SMITH participated in 1998 in a symposium organised by psychology and has delivered papers in the Philosophy department; COWIE and DAVIS have worked in Women’s Studies; KLEVAN is part of an English Department reading group on comedy, whilst MICHAEL GRANT publishes in the field of English as well as Film. We are part of the Kent Institute for Study in the Humanities (KIASH) that facilities interdisciplinary research within the humanities and encourages and provides financial support for collaborative activities such as conferences and the Annual Film Symposium. UKC is the home of Cinema 3 the BFI Regional Film Theatre. This provides focussed screenings that relate with research interests.
Developing the research of younger and/or new researchers: New staff are given a lighter teaching and administrative load and are mentored in all aspects of teaching and research. Probation will normally last for 3 years for those new to the profession, and research progress forms a structured part of the annual probation reports. The PGCHE that young staff take is a research-led programme. In addition, research seminars and the School publications serve to encourage and focus their work.
The role and contribution of A* staff who have joined the department: A bid for additional student funding to HEFCE based upon ‘excellence in teaching’ assessed by a 24 point TQA score has allowed Drama to make two new appointments. One of these (DOUBLE) strengthens research into the practices of performance. His work and the publication of his PhD thesis on stand-up comedy, introduces a new and important area of performance study and creates the research framework for this topic. WHELAN is a maker of new performance. He joins as a newcomer to the profession and expands our commitment to contemporary work by examining issues of live art and new performance practice. ALLAIN has been appointed at Senior Lecturer level to replace Alison Oddey who has taken up the Chair of Drama at Loughborough. ALLAIN’s book on the Gardenieze Theatre strengthens our expertise and commitment to contemporary performance practice. In addition, he has a particular focus upon performance training. This augments our interests in this area (BECK and radio acting) and he is completing a book on Tadashi Suzuki and Japanese actor training.
With the appointment of SMITH to the Chair of Film and with the growth in student numbers, new appointments have been made in this section. GUERIN examines international silent cinema. She is seeking publication of her recent doctoral work on Weimar cinema that promises to be a major revisionist study of one of the most fertile and influential moments in film history. Her work thus augments the work on avant-garde film of the 1920s by SMITH, early documentary history by COWIE, and work on European film history by CATHERINE GRANT. CARDWELL is principally a television expert, but her interests in medium specificity, aesthetics and philosophy augment the work on these issues by established members of staff. Her work on television adaptations of classic novels also relates to the theme of film and history (representation of the past, as well as the emergence of TV as a competitor to film), as well as to the theme of film and social identity, insofar as this same work raises questions of class and gender address. She has a contract to develop her PhD thesis into a book on this subject from Manchester University Press.
Departure of staff in categories A*, B and D: Christie's period as Chair of Film helped film to re-focus its strengths in the area of film history and to enhance its commitment to archive study. These will continue with the new appointments as indicated and in his co-editorship of Film Studies. His work on early cinema allowed links to be created with theatre history that will continue.
Oddey's departure required Drama to re-focus its work on contemporary performance – the appointments of ALLAIN and WHELAN as outlined above, and the appointment of two AHRB Creative Research Fellows is an indication of how this has been achieved. ANDERSON’s retirement has permitted Drama to focus its research objectives.
Different modes of research and types of output, within the submission: The main modes of research pursued by film staff are 1) close critical analysis, 2) more abstract ‘philosophical’ approaches to theoretical questions, and 3) historical research into the background and development of films, the film industry, and film theory/criticism itself. Their varied modes of output include journal articles, monographs, anthologies, editorships of journals and Internet postings. Whilst drama staff occupy similar forms of output, much of the research associated with KiDDS is finding its form within electronic publication where computer modelling and animation (for example the 1910 Patent Screens of Gordon Craig) may be properly reflected. Practice as research is undertaken by WHELAN and also in the production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (June 2000) that explored the inter-action of live performance with computer generated and projected virtual scenes. This was reflected upon in the accompanying conference Digital Scenography and ensuing electronic publication. Practice as research also took the form of the exhibition Exploding Tradition! Edward Gordon Craig 1872-1966 at the V&A Theatre Museum in June 1998. This was devised and designed by BAUGH and prompted the KiDDS work on lighting Craig’s St Matthew Passion model and the reconstruction of Craig’s ‘screen’ scenes and the subsequent publication of the findings in Scenography International. BAUGH acted as scenographer for Mecklenburgh Opera in association with Symphonia 21 and the BBC to stage Mahagonny Songspiel and Der 7 Todsunden at the Royal Albert Hall in August, 1997.
Copyright 2002 - HEFCE, SHEFC, ELWa, DEL
Last updated 17 October 2003