The Department of Media offers programmes in television, radio, music production, media and film studies, advertising, photography and journalism at our campus sites in Chester and Warrington, serving more than 500 students at undergraduate, Master’s and PhD levels.

Recent Submissions

  • Emotional Fusebox: Presence, absence and sibling loss in Adult Life Skills

    Barnett, Katie; University of Chester (2018-09-05)
    “Are you still a twin if your twin is dead?” This is the question that Anna (Jodie Whittaker) poses as she struggles to come to terms with the death of her brother Billy and her—their—imminent 30th birthday. The question structures much of Rachel Tunnard’s 2016 film Adult Life Skills, as Anna attempts to rebuild a life around the gaping absence of Billy and their shared childhood. Anna is challenged by those around her to both ‘let go’ of her brother and ‘grow up’. The film treats these not as parallel problems but, as it were, twin problems: one is inextricably linked to the other. As such, Tunnard’s film addresses the place and function of sibling relationships in adult life. In sociology, psychology and developmental studies, sibling relationships are often perceived as being primarily a facet of childhood, a lateral bond whose significance diminishes into adulthood. Adult Life Skills appears to give space to the adult brother-sister relationship and yet complicates this by erasing one of the pair; such a relationship is only ever figured, on screen, as one that twins presence with absence. Likewise, the narrative drives towards a point at which Anna might embark on a romantic relationship with a man. Indeed, Anna’s mother (Lorraine Ashbourne) measures her daughter’s grief by her willingness to engage with members of the opposite sex. There remains a sense that Anna would always have to ‘let go’ of Billy (absent or not), to avoid expending her energy on what amounts to the ‘wrong’ heterosocial pairing. This paper examines Adult Life Skills as one example of a recent film that tackles a young adult woman’s loss of her brother (see also Into the Wild [2007], Personal Shopper [2016]), and explores the ways in which a close brother-sister relationship is persistently figured through absence rather than presence.
  • The Evolution of Alan Grant: Narratives of Reproductive Futurism in Jurassic Park

    Barnett, Katie; University of Chester (2018-06-08)
    As a quintessential product of 1990s Hollywood, Jurassic Park is reflective not only of shifts in form, production, and marketing, but of the underlying cultural preoccupations of the decade. In an era when Hollywood’s action heroes were increasingly making the transition to domesticated fatherhood, Jurassic Park offers a version of this narrative through the character of Alan Grant (Sam Neill). Alan Grant begins the film averse to the idea of parenthood and children in general; he dismisses them as “noisy, messy, expensive [and] smelly”, and is reluctant to engage with Lex and Tim on their tour of the park. This paper will examine the evolution of Grant’s character from this taciturn, aloof version of himself to a man who comes to embrace a paternal role by the end of the film. Shunted into the role of protector after the dinosaurs breach their compounds, he turns his focus to the survival of himself and the children. The narrative of Jurassic Park is preoccupied with reversing extinction. On a literal level, this concerns the dinosaurs resurrected by John Hammond. Beyond this, it is also applicable to Grant’s rehabilitation as a paternal figure. By the 1990s, Hollywood’s action heroes were diminishing, a reflection of the industry’s own preoccupation with the presumption of masculine crisis. Fatherhood was persistently constructed, throughout the decade, as an answer to this crisis, a way of ‘saving’ men and reaffirm their worth. As such, Jurassic Park may be read as a narrative of reproductive futurism, offering a tangible future as a father to Grant, channelling his energy towards his own survival as the helicopter flies past a flock of birds, the ancestors of the dinosaurs they have left on the island below.
  • Trauma and death in the digital age

    Waller, Rhian (SAGE Publications, 2019-07-05)
  • 'The best is yet come' - exclusive interview with Liverpool FC and Senegal star, Sadio Mane

    Hassall, Paul; University of Chester (TI Media Limited, 2019-03-05)
    An exclusive profile-interview with Liverpool and Senegal international, Sadio Mane. The forward discusses the burden of expectation for club and country.
  • Remember Scarborough Re-Active Propaganda as Natural Ethics

    Hart, Christopher; University of Chester (Midrash, 2018-10-14)
    In chapter 2 Christopher Hart’s ‘Remember Scarborough. Re-Active Propaganda as Natural Ethics’ takes a popular and often reproduced poster called ‘remember Scarborough’ to propose the use of moral philosophy to recover the deeper meaning this and similar posters would have had following the German naval bombardments of towns on the North East English coast in December 1916. Hart asks, How did the official propaganda published following the bombardment of towns on the North East Coast of England, in December 1914, express deeply held moral outrage, and as such represented a real morality and not mistreatment of truth? At the core of his argument is that the poster ‘Remember Scarborough’ is not naïve propaganda or an exaggeration. Surveying the reasons given by the German high command and reporting of the bombardments in German newspapers, Hart argues there was no strategic justification for the attacks. Turning to deviancy theory and moral philosophy Hart proposes that the bombardments were an action of a German Navy, humiliated in a previous sea battle. They had to gain face with their high command and the German public that despite their attempts to justify the attacks, they expressed disregard for the Hague Convention (1906) and turned to revenge as a tactic, and as such, abandoned any claim to morality. The words and the images on the poster ‘Remember Scarborough’ are, according to Hart, much more than a call to arms; they express deeply held outrage that the attacks were an assault on humanity.
  • Introduction

    Hart, Christopher; University of Chester (Midrash, 2018-10-14)
    This introduction proposes the argument that during the First World War entertainments , media and popular culture used the war to attract audiences and readers - five propositions are introduced. The first is this. Entertainment as a topic for study is not trivial, inconsequential or irrelevant. To understand any culture look at what its members do for their entertainment. This includes looking at such things as, in 1914, jokes and humour, songs and music, drama and plays, cartoons and caricatures, films and animation, fiction and gossip, photographs and illustrations, advertising and posters, and newspapers and magazines. This proposition will be discussed in more detail once the other four propositions have been stated. The second position is this. The core activities that are taken as entertainment, such as the cinema, books, music and newspapers, are surrounded by the institutions, industries and crafts which bring the entertainments to the marketplace. The third position is the recognition people read, sing, watch, listen and laugh not just for leisure but also when doing work and other activities. Entertainment does not always have to be separate from the workplace or from time doing work-based tasks; it can be incorporated into most aspects of life. The fourth position follows on from longstanding debates about hierarchical schemes of entertainment regarding differentiated cultural value. Notions of high culture and low culture, popular culture and elite culture are overworked dichotomies that distract attention from the entertainment under study, as a thing in itself, and lead to prejudice against one of the classes of entertainment on the scale. If classical music performances are elitist, exclusionist and class-based it does not entail they are ‘bad' and things should be otherwise. It is not the music or musicians that are excluding anyone. It is the instructional arrangements that bring such performances to the marketplace, a lack of education provided about the value of the experience and, possibly, snobbishness of some audiences. The fifth proposition is entertainment is about audience experience. This can take multiple forms for the same audience of an entertainment. Bosshart and Macconi (1998) include the following in a list of possible experiences an audience member can take from consuming a particular media - obtaining relaxation, being distracted, seeing something different to the norm, seeking excitement or a thrill, wanting to laugh, sharing the joy and enjoying a place.
  • “Any closer and you’d be Mom”: The limits of post-feminist paternity in the films of Robin Williams

    Barnett, Katie; University of Chester (Rowman and Littlefield, 2015-12-03)
    This chapter explores the representation of fatherhood in the films of Robin Williams, considering the actor's star persona alongside his persistent performance as 'father' in a range of films from the late 1980s into the 2000s. The chapter includes an in-depth analysis of Williams' role in Mrs Doubtfire and the implications for post-feminist performances of paternity, and concludes with a discussion of Williams' suicide in 2014 and the ways in which this news was filtered through the same paternal persona established in his films.
  • On the Cusp: Exploring Male Adolescence and the Underbelly of High School in Freaks and Geeks

    Barnett, Katie; University of Chester (Routledge, 2018-06-26)
    This chapter examines the representation of adolescent masculinity in Freaks and Geeks, focusing on the three 'geeks' of the series' title. It suggests that the anxiety experienced by the boys in the series is a reflection on a wider crisis of masculinity, occurring both within the timeline of the programme (1980) and the period of its release (1999). The chapter also explores the function of nostalgia in Freaks and Geeks and discusses the issues of authenticity and realism around the series' depiction of an American high school experience.
  • It’s Only Teenage Wasteland: The Home Media Revival of Freaks and Geeks

    Barnett, Katie; University of Chester (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017-10-27)
    This chapter explores the home media revival of the short-lived US TV series Freaks and Geeks (1999-2000), examining the ways in which successful fan campaigns led to the broadcast of missing episodes and the eventual DVD release of the series in 2004. The developing cult status of Freaks and Geeks is discussed, with particular reference to the series' use of music and the ways this both contributes to the authenticity of the programme and became a barrier to its home media release.
  • Fans & Consumption

    Duffett, Mark; University of Chester (Bloomsbury, 2020-08-06)
    This chapter surveys different ideas from popular music studies, fan studies and associated areas to explain how ‘the rock audience’ has been perceived. It outlines four theoretical perspectives which can be associated in various ways. The first suggests that our understanding of the audience is a consequence of rock’s extended reaction against elitist criticism. The second says rock has created a kind of community, or at least communality. The third suggests that mainstream media representations have hidden significant fan productivity. A final perspective suggests that ‘the rock audience’ is actually a composite housing a variety of discreet experiences based on the social identities of its individual participants. In other words, for example, males and female fans may have distinct experiences; the same goes for fans of particular generations, national identities, musical tastes, subgenre interests, and so on. The chapter argues that a critically nuanced approach is required: in every instance, we need to ask by who and for what purpose and is ‘the rock audience’ being defined.
  • Why Pep’s Manchester City could push past Barcelona as the Harlem Globetrotters of football

    Hassall, Paul; University of Chester (Eurosport UK, 2016-11-02)
    How Manchester City's Champions League win over Barcelona was a significant milestone in Pep Guardiola's side's aim of breaking into Europe's elite.
  • Counting Down Elvis: His 100 Finest Songs

    Duffett, Mark; University of Chester (Rowman and Littlefield, 2018-02-01)
    Counting Down Elvis: His 100 Finest songs is a book length analysis of Elvis Presley's recorded music. It includes discussion of celebrity image, song history, prior versions, music genre, critical evaluation and occasional contextualizing cultural history (1950s to 1970s). The academic popular music historian B. Lee Cooper has reviewed the book for a peer-reviewed academic journal. This is a 'remixed' version of the manuscript in chronological rather than count down order.
  • Negotiating identity politics via networked communication: a case study of the Welsh-speaking population in Patagonia, Argentina

    Roberts, Simon Gwyn; University of Chester (Cambridge Scholars, 2017-09-01)
    This chapter examines the communicative and political potential of networked communication in the specific context of marginalized linguistic communities. The work concerns the remnant Welsh-speaking population in Patagonia, Argentina, descended from 19th century migrants who attempted to establish an exclusive and deliberately isolated Welsh-speaking enclave in the region. Since then, the ‘enclave’ has been absorbed into the wider Argentinian ethnic and linguistic melting pot with Welsh-speaking residents now Argentinian citizens claiming dual linguistic and cultural heritage, and therefore represents a kind of archetype for a wider journey from conflict and exclusivity to compromise, inclusivity and hybridity.
  • Impossible Unity? Representing Internal Diversity in Post-Devolution Wales

    Roberts, Simon Gwyn; University of Chester-- (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015-09-16)
    The gradual transformation of British politics through the processes of devolution has been a ‘work in progress’ since Scotland and Wales voted in favour in the 1997 referenda (in the case of Wales, for the creation of an Assembly with devolved powers). Yet these major constitutional changes have not been matched by a realignment of the UK media (Cushion, Lewis and Groves, 2009). In this context, the particular deficiencies of the Welsh media have become increasingly politically relevant in recent years, with its shortcomings (in terms of informing the public about devolved politics) regularly highlighted by politicians, academics and journalists. A 2014 BBC poll, for example, found that fewer than half of Welsh respondents knew the NHS was devolved, which Thomas (2014) suggests results from a Welsh media landscape in which “huge numbers of people” get their news from London-based newspapers. The contrast with Scotland is marked: while Scottish devolution provided a pretext for London-based national newspapers to reduce news content from all three devolved nations it simultaneously provided a catalyst for the further development of an independent media policy in Scotland itself. In interviews, London journalists argued that since Scotland had its own parliament it had its ‘own news’ and its own newspaper editions to carry it (Denver, 2002). More recently, Macwhirter (2014) rued the financial decline of the Scottish newspaper industry, suggesting that this makes it harder for the Scottish media to perform their traditional role as ‘cultural curators’ and forum for informed debate. However, sentiments like this merely highlight the more acute media deficiency in Wales, because the Welsh media is considerably more fragmented than its Scottish equivalent, with no real tradition of a Welsh national press to draw on and the majority of newspaper readers dependent on London-based publications. Around 1,760,000 (from a total population of three million) read newspapers with ‘virtually no Welsh content’ (Davies, 2008).
  • 'A pit we have dug ourselves': The EU referendum and the Welsh democratic deficit

    Roberts, Simon Gwyn; University of Chester (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018-06-26)
    The chapter examines the Welsh Brexit vote from a news media perspective, locating it within the long-standing 'democratic deficit' and absence of Welsh national press.
  • Nurturing English regionalism: A new role for local newspapers in a federal UK?

    Roberts, Simon Gwyn; University of Chester (Intellect, 2017-01-20)
    Any constitutional move towards a federal system in the United Kingdom would inevitably be unbalanced by England’s obvious economic, cultural and numerical dominance. Some form of English regional devolution is therefore essential if we are to progress as a multinational state post Scottish and Welsh devolution. This article adopts a deliberately polemical approach to a consideration of the potential role of regional English newspapers in that context, suggesting that their established links with a coherent audience, rooted in place, might allow them to act as a vehicle for debate and nurture a sense of regional identity often absent from contemporary English politics. Regional newspapers are ‘culturally specific’ and have a key role to play in articulating the popular experience of post-devolution political change: this might also present this struggling sector with valuable commercial opportunities as they take advantage of the new political paradigm to further embed themselves within their communities.
  • Hillsborough: Justice at last, but the city of Liverpool always knew the truth

    Hassall, Paul; University of Chester (Eurosport Uk, 2016-04-27)
    A response to the verdicts of the Hillsborough inquest
  • Mrs Miniver (1942): Moral Identity and Creation of the Other

    Hart, Christopher; University of Chester (Midrash, 2015-11-10)
    In Chapter 2 Christopher Hart (University of Chester, UK) takes a popular wartime film, Mrs. Miniver (1942) and analyses it from a Simmelian (derived from the work of Georg Simmel) frame of reference. Taking the assumption that Mrs. Miniver is a ‘why we fight’ film, Hart looks closely at this categorization to make visible for analysis the essentially moral messages in the narrative. Through a detailed examination of several social forms including, value exchange, time and temporality, Americanisation, and conflict Hart argues that categorizing Mrs. Miniver as a ‘why we fight’ film is overtly simplistic and misses the purpose of the film and its director William Wyler. Mrs. Miniver is, Hart argues, a narrative about the future of civilization. Mrs. Miniver was aimed at the American audience, some of who when the film was being made, were advocating isolationism. Mrs. Miniver presents the Americans with a moral choice between supporting the moral choice already made by the British not to capitulate to the ‘evil of Nazism’ or to do nothing and allow Nazism to establish itself as a world order. On 7th December, 1941 with the Japanese attack on Pearle Harbor this moral choice was largely lost and Mrs. Miniver became, regardless of its widespread popularity, classified as a why we fight film.
  • I’m (Not) A Girl: Animating Experiences of Girlhood in Bob’s Burgers

    Barnett, Katie; University of Chester (Intellect, 2019-03-01)
    Discourses of girlhood increasingly acknowledge its mutability, with the ‘girl’ as a complex image that cannot adequately be conceptualized by age or biology alone. Likewise, theories of animation often foreground its disruptive potential. Taking an interdisciplinary approach that encompasses girlhood studies, animation studies, and screen studies, this article analyses the representation of the two main girl characters, Tina and Louise Belcher, in the animated sitcom Bob’s Burgers (2011–present). Taking this concept of mutability as its central focus, it argues that animation is an ideal medium for representing girlhood, given its disruptive potential and non-linear capacities, whereby characters are often frozen in time. With no commitment to aging its young female characters, Bob’s Burgers is instead able to construct a landscape of girlhood that allows for endless reversal, contradiction and overlap in the experiences of Tina and Louise, whose existence as animations reveals girlhood as a liminal space in which girls can be one thing and the other – gullible and intelligent, vulnerable and strong, sexual and innocent – without negating their multifarious experiences.
  • Leaving the Building: Elvis, Celebrity and the Limits of Psychological Autopsy

    Duffett, Mark; Hearsum, Paula; University of Chester; University of Brighton (l’Association Française d’Études Américaines, 2018-10-01)
    This article probes the limits of one particular mode of biographic investigation—psychological autopsy—and considers its relationship to the way in which fans have sought to understand their hero. Using Elvis as a case study, we aim to prompt wider discussion about the efficacy of psychological autopsy as a means of understanding popular individuals. If psychological autopsy is so compromised, why does it remain popular? Our discussion develops in two parts. The first examines how psychological autopsy departs from objectivity and is problematic as theory. The second asks why fans are still interested in discussing why Elvis died, even though psychological autopsy necessarily lacks methodological rigour.

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