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

  • The Once and Future King: Negotiating the Survival of Boys in 1990s Cinema

    Barnett, Katie; University of Chester (Berghahn, 2015-09-01)
    On the cinema screen, boyhood has often been depicted as a period of freedom, rebellion, and energy, a pre-cursor to manhood in which young boys are able to negotiate their identity and place within the world. In 1990s Hollywood, however, a wave of films turn to depicting the death of young boys on screen. As a result, boyhood becomes a site of vulnerability and weakness. This article seeks to examine the implications of these deaths, framing them within the context of a wider negotiation of masculinity and fatherhood politics. In addition, it questions the extent to which the deaths of these young boys can be read queerly, subverting the drive towards the future inherent in the figure of the child.
  • Horizontal dancefloors and vertical screens: Club culture in the cinema and the diegesis of the dancefloor

    Morrison, Simon A.; University of Chester; University of Leeds (Cine-Clube de Avanca, 2012)
    The culture – in particular the counterculture - of an age will always inform its cinema. This paper will argue that the most significant countercultural movement of the last 25 years has been the “rave” revolution, that morphed into Electronic Dance Music Culture (EDMC). The paper will address how that scene can be read through the medium of its cinematic representation, in UK films such as Human Traffic (1999) and North American productions such as 2012’s Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy. The paper will focus on the way music is utilised within EDMC film texts and the particular issues raised by the use of music in “clubbing” movies. The paper will firstly address non-diegetic codes and the particular issues of scoring a film that itself is focused on the tropes and modes of electronic music, by drawing on the primary input of composers. The argument will then move on to the more ambiguous area of diegetic codes, for instance retro fitting music to time-coded nightclub sequences, postproduction. The paper will then look at metadiegesis, when the music actually forms part of the club experience, blurring these diegetic boundaries and highlighting the peculiar issues that arise when rotating a horizontal dancefloor onto a vertical cinema screen.
  • Tramps Like Them: Jack and Bruce and the Myth of the American Road

    Morrison, Simon A.; University of Chester (Bloomsbury Academic, 2018-03-03)
    Abstract: ‘I try to explain to him the teddy is throwing a kink into our Kerouac On The Road cool, but Matt’s committed to his bear, so we drive on.’ Bruce Springsteen, Born To Run autobiography When Bruce Springsteen appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs at the end of 2015 he did not mention author Jack Kerouac in the list of writers he would consider for his book choice. However, his reference to Kerouac and the teddy bear in his autobiography (above) perhaps reveals stronger, if stranger connections than he imagined, with Kerouac ending the key work On The Road looking over ‘the long, long skies over New Jersey’, Springsteen’s home state, where ‘tonight the stars’ll be out, and don’t you know that God is Pooh Bear?’ Unlike, then, the physical proximity of Allen Ginsberg to Bob Dylan, or the overt creative influence of Jack Kerouac on music characters such as Patti Smith and Tom Waits there is, at first glance, no obvious link between Jack Kerouac and Bruce Springsteen. This chapter, however, will explore and then uncover the links that do, in fact, exist between the two. These can broadly be defined in three ways. Firstly, there are sartorial connections in the way the two men dress and present themselves, with Springsteen adopting the jeans, T, and work-shirt look that very much defined The Beats. Secondly, there are obvious thematic links between the musical and literary work of these two icons of American popular culture: a mythologising interest in blue collar, small town America and the way it harbours past love affairs; male friendship; the open road and the freedom it suggests. Finally, there are defined stylistic links in the free-flowing lyricism that defines the words and worlds of both men. Although these three areas provide the main focus for this account other synergies may also be seen between the two: their European heritage; troubled relationship with patriotism and the American flag; family dynamics; Catholicism. More than anything, however, this chapter will explore the ways Jack Kerouac was able to make literature powerful in a new and alluring way, and similarly how Springsteen was able to engage globally, musically, in a way that could never have happened without Kerouac’s influence. Key words: Bruce Springsteen, Jack Kerouac, Beat Generation, Rock Music
  • Leicester City lift the title: A triumph to touch the hearts of all sports fans

    Hassall, Paul; University of Chester (Eurosport UK, 2016-05-07)
    A focus on the afternoon Leicester City FC made a fairytale dream a reality and sealed one of the most famous sporting surprises of all-time.
  • Daily Mirror exclusive interview with ex-Liverpool and Arsenal footballer, Michael Thomas

    Hassall, Paul; University of Chester (Daily Mirror newspaper, 2014-02-07)
    An article recalling Michael Thomas's infamous goal for Arsenal at Liverpool on the 25th anniversary of his famous last-gasp title-winning strike.
  • Alas, Poor Richard: Fandom, Personal Identity and Ben Myer's Novelization of Richey Edwards' Life Story

    Duffett, Mark; Hearsum, Paula; University of Chester; University of Brighton (Cairn Info, 2017-12-13)
    In 1995 the Manic Street Preachers played their last show as a four piece before their rhythm guitarist and “minister for propaganda” Richey Edwards disappeared on the advent of a US tour. Although his body was never found, his car was discovered at the Severn bridge. It was assumed Edwards had committed suicide. In order to explore the troubled guitarist’s mysterious last days, fifteen years later in a novel called Richard the music journalist Ben Myers wrote a fictionalized first-person account of Richey’s life story. This article assesses Richard as a perceived act of literary impersonation by focusing on the way its author positioned himself as a fan and also on how fans and reviewers responded to the book. Addressing ideas such as parasocial interaction and mythologization, the piece shows that the “cult of Richey” apprehended Richard’s author as an unwelcome textual poacher. Fans challenged both Myers’ motives and the accuracy of his portrayal. We argue that rather than dismissing them as irrational, blind loyalists who cling to the false belief that they know the actual person, fans should be studied as individuals who use their accumulated knowledge to serve shared ethical concerns.
  • Understanding Which Fandom? Insights from Two Decades as a Music Fan Researcher

    Duffett, Mark; University of Chester (John Wiley & Sons, 2018-03-14)
    As researchers, when we study media fandom, are we all studying the same thing? If we have a shared object now, does that mean our traditional disciplines no longer matter? Twenty years ago, Clifford Geertz published an academic memoir called After the Fact. Its subtitle said, “Two Countries, Four Decades, One Anthropologist.” Geertz’s (1995) book discussed his insights from forty years as a professional scholar. At the time his memoir appeared, I embarked on a PhD exploring the cultures and meanings made by Elvis Presley fans. In the two decades since, my career has taken me to a place where I wrote a book introducing the field of fan research, called Understanding Fandom (Duffett 2013a). Following Geertz, this chapter aims to map my academic journey and offer some pointers about how fan scholarship could develop. As part of that mapping, I will be citing my own work and reactions to it.
  • Fannish Identities and Scholarly Responsibilities: A Conversation

    Brooker, Will; Duffett, Mark; Hellekson, Karen; Kingston University; University of Chester (Routledge, 2017-11-01)
    Three innovative fan scholars with tremendous experience as fan scholars and as editors of fan scholarship, Will Brooker, Mark Duffett and Karen Hellekson, engage in a discussion of issues they feel are central to the methods and ethics of fan studies scholarship. In this conversation, they discuss best practices and methods for fan studies, the impact of scholars’ fannish identities on methods and ethics in fan studies, scholars’ relationships to fan objects and communities, and the responsibilities scholars should assume when studying fan communities.
  • Beyond Exploitation Cinema: Music Fandom, Disability, and Mission to Lars

    Duffett, Mark; University of Chester (Bloomsbury Academic, 2016-07-14)
    Mission to Lars (Moore and Spicer 2012) is a feature documentary in which Kate and William Spicer help their brother Tom make his dream come true. Tom wishes to meet drummer Lars Ulrich from the heavy metal band Metallica. He also has Fragile X syndrome, which Kate calls, “a sort of autism with bells on.” Mission to Lars is therefore a film about disability and popular music fandom. Its marketing and reviews suggest a warm and sympathetic portrait of family life in which two siblings help a third to achieve his ambition. No documentary innocently captures its subject. Mission to Lars explores issues of disability awareness. Raising the possibility that Kate and Will Spicer may not have been motivated by altruism, it deliberately contrasts able-bodied and disabled cast members by using fan stereotypes. The film is therefore an unusual 'fansploitation' picture, depicting fandom both as a training ground for employment and as a compensation for the disabled.
  • I Scream Therefore I Fan? Music Audiences and Affective Citizenship

    Duffett, Mark; University of Chester (New York University Press, 2017-08-28)
    Screaming has long been regarded, in the mainstream media, as the sine qua non of celebrity fandom. Pop music represents one of the obvious places where it is heard in the public sphere. Not all fans scream, but those who do are not doubted as fans since they express their position on the “knowing field” of fandom in an emotional way. As scholars, however, we rarely if ever discuss exclamations made by fans, instead focusing on their creativity, autonomy and collective intelligence. Taking popular music as its focus, what follows will develop in two sections. The first considers why screaming has been framed as a problematic activity. The second argues that fan screaming can alternatively be understood as a form of enunciative productivity, an indicator of totemic interest, and a mode of affective citizenship.
  • Fighting Putin and the Kremlin’s grip in neo-authoritarian Russia: the experience of liberal journalists

    Slavtcheva-Petkova, Vera; University of Chester (SAGE, 2017)
    Russia is one of the most dangerous countries for journalists and the conflict with Ukraine and Russia’s involvement in Syria present even further challenges for the future of Russian journalism. In addition to the financial pressures, physical attacks, abductions and harassment, liberal journalists now face an increasing threat to the democratising role they see themselves as playing. President Vladimir Putin’s soaring popularity and the elaborate range of tactics used to suppress press freedom are forcing liberal media to rethink their mission(s) and identity(ies). This paper presents empirical evidence on the range of tactics used by Russian authorities as well as the coping strategies adopted by journalists. The study shows that some Russian media and journalists demonstrate a great degree of resilience in their efforts to expose wrongdoings and hold the powerful to account. The article questions the applicability of Western-centric normative media system theories because it shows that the breadth, depth, and mechanisms of control in modern-day Russia are very different from the ones used during Soviet times, and yet, Russian media and society do not appear to be on a linear journey from authoritarianism to democracy. The article presents the findings of a semi-ethnographic study of some of Russia’s most influential liberal news outlets – Novaya Gazeta, Radio Echo of Moscow and Radio Free Europe/Liberty. The study was conducted in May 2014 in the midst of the conflict with Ukraine. It involved observations of editorial meetings, documentary analysis and interviews with editors, deputy editors and journalists.
  • Dancefloor-Driven Literature: Subcultural big bangs and a new center for the aesthetic universe

    Morrison, Simon A.; University of Chester (Cambridge University Press, 2016-12-13)
    This paper sets coordinates squarely for Holleran’s ‘aesthetic center of the universe’ –venturing toward the black hole of the nightclub dancefloor. Further, it will reach out to those writers determined to capture the electronic essence of this at times alien electronic dance music culture within the rather more earth-bound parameters of the written word. How might such authors write about something so otherworldly as the nightclub scene? How might they write lucidly and fluidly about the rigid, metronomic beat of electronic music? What literary techniques might they deploy to accurately recount in fixed symbols the drifting, hallucinatory effects of a drug experience? In an attempt to address these questions this paper will offer an outerspace overview of this subculture and its fictional literary output.
  • Why you can bet your shirt on Zlatan Ibrahimovic joining Manchester United

    Randles, David; University of Chester (The Conversation, 2016-06-13)
    Analysis of the commercial logic for Manchester United to sign the 34-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic this summer (2016).
  • Why it may not be game, set and match for Maria Sharapova

    Randles, David; University of Chester (The Conversation, 2016-03-11)
    Analysis of Maria Sharapova's failed drug test and the potential commercial implications for the Russian tennis star.
  • Premier League clubs should learn from Liverpool fans’ Anfield walkout

    Randles, David; University of Chester (The Conversation, 2016-02-15)
    Analysis of the reaction to Liverpool Football Club's controversial proposed ticket pricing structure for the 2016-17 season and the ill-fated £77 top priced ticket.
  • BBC SPOTY Tyson Fury Furore could have been avoided

    Randles, David; University of Chester (Vice Sports, 2015-12-19)
    Analysis of the decision to include controversial heavyweight boxer Tyson Fury on the BBC Sports Personality of the Year shortlist.
  • Boris, Brexit or Bust

    Charles, Alec; University of Chester (Political Studies Association / CSJCC, 2016-07)
    An analysis of political blogging in the 2016 referendum campaign.
  • Out of Time: The Deaths and Resurrections of Doctor Who

    Charles, Alec; University of Chester (Peter Lang, 2015-08-27)
    Doctor Who is one of television's most enduring and ubiquitously popular series. This study contends that the success of the show lies in its ability, over more than half a century, to develop its core concepts and perspectives: alienation, scientific rationalism and moral idealism. The most extraordinary aspect of this eccentric series rests in its capacity to regenerate its central character and, with him, the generic, dramatic and emotional parameters of the programme. Out of Time explores the ways in which the series' immortal alien addresses the nature of human mortality in his ambiguous relationships with time and death. It asks how the status of this protagonist - that lonely god, uncanny trickster, cyber-sceptic and techno-nerd - might call into question the beguiling fantasies of immortality, apotheosis and utopia which his nemeses tend to pursue. Finally, it investigates how this paragon of transgenerational television reflects the ways in which contemporary culture addresses the traumas of change, loss and death.
  • DJ-driven Literature: A Linguistic Remix

    Morrison, Simon A.; University of Chester, University of Leeds (Bloomsbury, 2013-12-19)
    Rave culture began very much as a scene for the cognisant in-crowd. Any broader understanding of the role of the DJ within that scene was limited, almost exclusively, by the parameters of the dancefloor, the walls of the warehouse. As the police discovered when they began to move against the nascent rave scene in the 1980s, they were handicapped principally by a complete lack of understanding as to what they were dealing with. It is only now, with the benefits of time, hindsight and an expanding academic and cultural literature that serious attempts can be made to understand what has become known as EDMC. This proposed chapter aims firstly to separate the construct of the DJ from the broader subcultural context of EDMC, and instead examine the DJ as focus for literary exploration. Identifying literary representations of DJs, the chapter will look at the way the society of the dancefloor has been represented in contemporary literature, and how these texts have broadened the understanding of DJ culture for a possibly non-participatory readership. The chapter will ultimately argue that such literature has in fact assisted the enculturation of the DJ by elevating them beyond the physical nightclub and into one built from words, their tropes and modes not merely known by a restricted number of clubbers, but an infinite crowd of readers. The chapter will examine the actual function of the DJ – whether leader of, or servant to, the dancefloor – and will then consider what fictional representations of the DJ archetype may add to the on-going, broader understanding of the practices within DJ cultures. Establishing a theoretical platform from which to build an argument, the chapter will draw on the likes of Calcutt & Shephard and Whissen to examine where club fiction might sit within the broader subgenre of cult fiction, and how the role of the DJ is explored within that realm of club fiction. In order to do this, the work will consider works by Hebdige on subcultures and Muggleton on post-subcultures and will investigate whether a homology exists between the musical and cultural setting and the literature which reports it. The chapter will also look at the environment of the nightclub and consider how Middleton’s “signifying structures” might relate to the interplay of music, fashion, drug consumption and behavioural patterns that each contribute to the context within which the DJ resides. The DJ’s work, after all, is about the “mix”. However where, in fact, does the DJ fit into this interplay of power relations, into this mix? One of Middleton’s homological “structural resonances” is undoubtedly language, in this case the language of the dancefloor. The key aspiration of EDM texts is authenticity and that is dictated, and constructed, by semantics. Here the chapter will introduce the literary notion of verisimilitude: how the life and work of the DJ is translated successfully into the printed word via a naturalistic encapsulation of the syntax of the dancefloor, and what is lost and gained in the process of that translation. A nightclub is a cauldron of colour and energy. The chapter will identify and consider how an author might capture that intangible magic and transcribe it utilising the written word. It might be argued that authenticity is in fact achieved through the homology of language and experience, in constructing a believable fictional environment within which the DJ might play. But is there an inevitable disconnect between the literal and the literary? Chemical Generation writers such as Irvine Welsh, Jeff Noon and Pat W. Henderson sit within a lineage of countercultural writers, who have all had to draw on specific literary techniques in order to authentically capture the spirit and energy of their particular countercultural environment. Whether Jack Kerouac on jazz or Hunter S. Thompson on rock, when in comes to writing about music, these writers have all had to reach for a kind of artistic synethesia. Each of these writers has had to find a voice with which to describe the music, and the techniques of the production of that music. The chapter will also contemplate where club culture writers might lie, in terms of a lineage of countercultural scribes. In terms of methodology, the chapter will then focus on one novel, or perhaps a number of short stories, as a kind of literary springboard into a broader discussion of these more theoretical ideas, holding the text/s up against the theories of the likes of Hebdige, Muggleton, Middleton et al. It will also incorporate primary research with the likes of the DJ Graeme Park, principally known for his residency at the Hacienda in Manchester. In conversation, he explains how the writer Pat W. Henderson asked Park’s permission to feature him in a fictional work, which raises interesting notions of diegetic and non-diegetic involvement of DJs and electronic music texts in literature. This work, Henderson’s third novel entitled Club, is currently an unpublished manuscript but Henderson will allow the author of this chapter access to that primary manuscript to assist this research, and to discuss his inspiration. It will be important to compare genuine representations of DJs such as Graeme Park and John Digweed, with fictional DJ characters, such as Lloyd, in the Irvine Welsh short story, ‘The Undefeated’. Again, notions of verisimilitude come to the fore, in terms of confidently capturing the techniques of the DJ and their music, in order to achieve authenticity. The central argument of the chapter will propose that the appearance of Chemical Generation writers has undoubtedly engendered a broader enculturation of EDMC. In terms of DJ cultures, the production of knowledge is necessarily limited when restricted to participants. Fictional representations of the DJ, therefore, add a cultural dynamic to our understanding of the DJ and the tropes and modes of a DJ’s character, function and behaviour. With the emergence of Chemical Generation authors, you no longer had to physically go to a club to discover what might take place within it walls, and how its soundtrack might be constructed. It might therefore be argued that the archetype of the DJ has passed into mainstream understanding via the process of its cultural representation. Moving forwards, the role of EDM texts will become increasingly important. As the participants of that initial explosion of acid house culture grow older and retire from the dancefloor, what will be left (aside, of course, from the music itself) will be these such texts, which will form a socio-historical archive moving forwards, by which EDMC will be considered.
  • The Hidden Brother: Nicky Graham and the Complexities of Songwriter / Producer Media Profiles

    Mason, Jim (2016-01)
    Bros were a successful late 1980s UK pop act that received significant media exposure. The group’s hits were credited to “The Brothers” on their record sleeves, a strategy suggesting - though not overtly stating - that they were written by the group members. The main creator of Bros’s musical works was actually Nicky Graham – a “hidden” writer and producer who received relatively little media attention at the height of the act’s fame. Graham was "hidden" from the public in a way which contrasted with "celebrity" producers of this era, such as Trevor Horn and Pete Waterman, and may have cost him the opportunity to gain his own fans in contrast with Horn and "celebrity" mix engineer, Tom Lord-Alge, as discussed by Hills (2014). Various popular music scholars have explored songwriting in relation to contested notions of authenticity (see Moore 2002; Cusic 2005). Drawing on ideas such as auteur theory and cultural capital, this paper discusses the results of a new interview with Graham, which was undertaken to focus specifically on the theme of "hidden" musicians. Using Graham as a case study, the paper explores how music audiences perceive the identities of “hidden” music makers and investigates precisely what factors guide the decision-making processes of a “hidden” writer/producer.

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