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RAE 2008

Rearch Assessment Exercise 2008

Nick Haeffner

My research interests include:
film: history, theory and practice (especially U.S. independent cinema; British social realism; dystopian sci-fi; the gangster film; Scandinavian cinemas); photography: history and practice (especially amateur photography and the snapshot aesthetic; digital photography; Photoshop); the life and work of Alfred Hitchcock; realism in the media; British television drama, comedy and documentary.

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Research Outcomes

Outcome 1 - Alfred Hitchcock
This book is a critical study of the director and his films. It asks whether dominant approaches to Hitchcock’s films such as auteurism, feminism and psychoanalysis are adequate to account for the significance of the Hitchcock phenomenon in culture.
The approach taken in the book is to locate different discourses about Hitchcock and his work in relation to different audiences such as industry professionals, cinema audiences, fans and critics. Thus the meaning of Hitchcock and his films is shown to flicker across different institutions in different historical moments.


Outcome 2 - Fear Itself: Towards a Post-psychoanalytic Approach to Cinematic Anxiety
This research project came about as the result of an invitation from the Averoff Museum in Metsovo, Greece to take part in a symposium, Fear Itself: Towards a Post-psychoanalytic Approach to Cinematic Anxiety attached to an exhibition of contemporary art called The Scarecrow: Fear and Art and Life.
The paper asked whether it might not be fruitful to bracket off psychoanalytic approaches to anxiety in order to consider how contemporary developments in philosophy, biology, semiotics and cognitive science might be brought together to form an alternative theory of cinematic anxiety.
Taking as a case study Alfred Hitchcock’s film The Lodger, the paper analysed the opening sequence of the film, demonstrating Hitchcock’s understanding of the cognitive operations implicit in Eisenstein’s practice of montage.


Outcome 3 - RePossessed
RePossessed is a travelling new media exhibition inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s film Vertigo. The starting point for the exhibition is the question of what happens to notions of authorship and possession in the age of interactive new media where artists and digital amateurs are able to appropriate artefacts produced by auteurs such as Hitchcock.
This initial enquiry has generated subsequent research questions such as: how much public re-use of corporate owned film footage is permitted by law?; can women artists bring new perspectives to existing ways of looking at a Hitchcock classic?; what happens when visitors to the exhibition are given the chance to remake a classic?; can eye tracking technology be used to shed new light on old debates about the gendered gaze in Hitchcock’s Vertigo?


Outcome 4 - In This (Mediated) World: Realism, Dialogue and Pedagogy in Media Studies
This article, in the International Journal of Applied Semiotics, continues themes established in other research to do with the relationship between academic criticism, industrial practice and creativity: It challenges dominant terms used in the study of visual culture - post-structuralist theory, ideology critique, interpretation of the text - and suggests new avenues for research.
The article investigates the possibilities of a dialogue between a theorist (the author) and a screenwriter (Tony Grisoni) where pragmatic issues of making are considered in relation to broader theoretical issues such as realism and cultural difference. It asks what happens when the claims of theory are offered up for dialogue with a practitioner. The research uses the method of dialogue/interview to obtain new knowledge and understanding. It also asks whether this dialogue might be helpful in bridging the current gap between theory and practice in teaching.


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