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Winter 03/04



This is the Centre's first Newsletter, intended to bring together some of its many strands and offer a snapshot of recent and future plans.

Explaining what the Centre is and how it works has never been easy, since its activities extend beyond the interests of most individuals. But I believe, like the others involved in setting it up, that there are important links between what can often seem quite separate lines of research. Film policy needs to be able to invoke a vibrant history of British cinema and television to argue its case; so refurbishing that history becomes a priority. But should British 'screen' history not include pre-cinema optical entertainment - and the deliberately marginal activities of artists? And in asking if it can be 'British', do we mean that it should engage with Europe and America, or that it should recognise regional difference?

Sooner or later, the research questions posed within each strand of the Centre's work raise questions within another strand. And important methodological issues are common to all. How can screen history make progress without closer attention to archival research? And how can film archives become more valued by other kinds of historian, such as those of the theatre and architecture?

As well as offering a snapshot of the Centre in action, we want to use the Newsletter to record some of its unique output. Without Centre backing, neither Bryony Dixon nor Patrick Keiller could have carried out the research which is briefly reported here. There'll be more in future issues.

No-one who has been involved with the Centre during its first three years will have any doubt that its successful organisation owes much to Laura Mulvey, as founding Director. Working closely with Sylvia Harvey and Ann Jones, and maintaining close links with all the partners, Laura devoted herself totally to ensuring that everyone has felt included and involved in the Centre's development. That it is in such excellent condition, and now looking forward to the future, beyond the initial funding period, is in large part thanks to Laura's enthusiasm and dedication. - IC



Professor Ian Christie took over from Professor Laura Mulvey as Director of the Centre during the summer of 2003, having been a Paul Mellon Senior Research Fellow in 2002/03 while working on Robert Paul and the early moving picture business in Britain. His book is due to appear in 2005, with a DVD of all Paul's extant films to be published by the BFI.

Professor Sylvia Harvey's move from Sheffield Hallam to the University of Lincoln in October 2003 brought a new partner to the Centre, as the project on Film and Broadcasting Policy got under way with the appointment of Kathrein Guenther in October 2003 and Margaret Dickinson in January 2004.

Dr Duncan Petrie will leave Exeter University in January 2003 to take up a chair in the Media and Communications Department of the University of Auckland in New Zealand. His replacement at Exeter is a former Centre Senior Fellow from Sheffield Hallam, Professor Steve Neale, who takes over as Director of the Bill Douglas Centre.

University of Ulster has been awarded £3m for a Centre for Media Research under the Department for Employment and Learning's SPUR II (Support Programme for University Research). The project will facilitate research into film and photography history and archives, media policy, cultural issues and emerging digital issues. The general public is increasingly media literate and this innovative project will enable researchers to investigate a wide range of local, national and international historical and contemporary issues.

Major SRIF funding awarded to Birkbeck has been allocated to building a new Research Centre in the School of History of Art, Film and Visual Media which hosts the Centre.

The AHRB's newly appointed director of Research Centres, Professor Nigel Llewellyn, will visit Birkbeck on 2 Feb, to meet representatives of the host and partner institutions, including the Master of Birkbeck, Professor David Latchman, and Director of the British Film Institute, Amanda Nevill.


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Last modified 24 November, 2004 ; web@bftv.ac.uk