Film and Screen Media - Doctoral Theses

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    Analysing Irish accents on the contemporary screen: historical contexts and throughlines to the present
    (University College Cork, 2022) O'Riordan, Nicholas; Monahan, Barry
    Against a history of perceived misrepresentation of Ireland and the Irish in literature and theatre, academic discourses around the nation on screen have frequently evaluated the accuracy of these depictions. Such assessments have tended to focus on how the on-screen image of Ireland is shaped, and specifically how it looks. The current thesis shifts this focus, and offers an in-depth consideration of how the country sounds on screen. Colonial and foreign representations of the Irish were once characterised by a specific style of accent employment that tended to infantilise, essentialise, and ‘other’ Irish characters through their voices. This was often achieved in the form of ‘eye dialect’, where a character’s speech is explicitly marked as non-standard through variations in spelling. The introduction of the voice to cinema offered the previously silent medium a recorded and permanent aural manifestation of the types of linguistic representation that had already been commonplace on the stage and the page for hundreds of years. Outside of academia, public commentary online around representations of Ireland and the Irish abounds with criticisms and complaints about depictions of the Irish accent, often perceived as inaccurate, exaggerated, and stereotypical. The current project both explores the historical growth of, and motivations behind, such complaints, and also tracks their enduring evolution to contemporary criticisms of the Irish accent on screen. It proposes that there are historical and political motivations (nationalism, protectionism, and desires for cultural autonomy) for the intense critical reaction to the perceived misrepresentations. By interrogating the concept of accent as a social phenomenon, this project deconstructs essentialist considerations of standard and non-standard accents, and also offers a structuralist methodological framework for approaching accent. It suggests that the Irish accent, on the street or on the screen, should only be adjudicated and analysed in relation to the context of the speech act, the background of the speaker, and the relative experience and knowledge of the listener. Addressing textual uses of accent, a considerable part of the methodological and conceptual project involves the construction of a taxonomy. Focusing on moments in which there is a marked, or meaningful employment of accent, it considers what these moments are doing in the context of each film. This thesis ultimately proposes four main categories of accent use and thus, results in a categorisation of cinematic accents in Irish cinema.
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    Performative feedback filmmaking: participatory documentary and creative self-representation in the community
    (University College Cork, 2023) Holly, Michael; Rascaroli, Laura; Irish Research Council
    Between 2019 and 2022 I documented and observed various activities at a rural Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) club using video and sound as part of my PhD in Film and Screen Media through Creative Practice at University College Cork. The result of this long- term fieldwork became an exhibition of video, sound, installation and discussion at Uillinn, West Cork Arts Centre in 2022. My method, which I call “Performative Feedback Filmmaking”, developed a unique, creative, socially-engaged form of nonfiction filmmaking by drawing from a combination of specific disciplines and techniques, including participatory art, ethnographic filmmaking, sensory ethnography, and video installation. The development of this methodology was informed by extended research into historical and contemporary overlaps between ethnographic filmmaking and contemporary art practices. The subjects of my creative film project are also participants, whose input was vital to the development of the methodology and the final creative work. After three years of participatory filmmaking with the GAA community, I assembled the results as an exhibition of video, sound and installation at a regional public art gallery. This exhibition became a space for dialogue, discussion and talks for four weeks between April and May of 2022, revealing the possibility for this innovative combination of documentary filmmaking, participatory art and video installation as a toolbox for reflexivity and inter-community mediation.
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    The cosmopolitan aspect of Brazilian cinema: encountering the other, forging vernacular worlds
    (University College Cork, 2022) Saldanha, Humberto; Rascaroli, Laura; Irish Research Council; Higher Education Authority; University College Cork
    In this thesis, I investigate the cosmopolitan aspect of contemporary Brazilian cinema. Departing from the idea of cosmopolitanism as a project towards world conviviality, I propose a critical understanding of the concept, accounting for how vernacular perspectives imagine and address a set of challenges. These include the debates on migration and hospitality, the enactment of borders and in-betweenness, the persistence of neocolonial dynamics in the shape of world memories and the issue of strangeness and the otherisation of alterity, including human and non-human subjects. By framing cosmopolitanism as a critical and vernacular enterprise, my goal is to delink cosmopolitanism from its Western genealogy, while considering how localised epistemologies challenge and goes beyond universalist values. The emphasis on the vernacular does not imply the return of the national, but rather how the local provides a particular perspective on broader contexts, debates, projects, and transnational relations. Furthermore, this thesis situates cosmopolitanism as a relevant concept to reframe world cinema, dialoguing with a set of calls to consider the latter beyond its networks of global circulation. This implies embracing the world in world cinema as an entity foregrounded by cosmopolitan ethic-political dispositions. This is, ultimately, the basis to imagine alternative and vernacular worlds that include those excluded by globalisation and coloniality. In this regard, I suggest that contemporary Brazilian cinema not only is actively involved in the nurturing of cosmopolitan debates, but also, in doing so, unfolds cinematic worlds, whose vernacular epistemologies and alterity confront Eurocentric and imperial versions of cosmopolitanism, as well as their mode of organising and shaping the world.
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    The medi(atis)ation of the slave experience: a journey from page to screen
    (University College Cork, 2019) Schroeter, Caroline V.; Jenkins, Lee; Young, Gwenda
    Considering the increase in slave films in recent years, this interdisciplinary project explores the cross-generic development of nineteenth-century slave narratives into their contemporary cinematic iterations. Continuities and changes in the (self-) representation of African Americans are interrogated in two specific cinematic slave narratives: Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave (2013) and Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation (2016). My argument draws on theories of race, film analysis and intertextuality, specifically adaptation and the black tradition of Signifyin(g), to examine the network of intertexts that influences these films. Key areas considered include the representation of slavery, gender, race, the black body and sexual violence on and off screen. I also trace the conventions of the slave narrative across mediums and discuss the complex nature of authorship and authenticity. Assessing the close connection between the different narrative forms across three centuries, my research shows filmmakers of cinematic slave narratives to be modern-day mediators of the slave experience, similar to the amanuenses of their literary predecessors. This thesis therefore explores how motivations behind the production of these films reflect a recurring social phenomenon reminiscent of those underpinning nineteenth-century abolitionism and the twentieth-century Civil Rights movement. Thus, this thesis examines the effects of mediatisation on the representation of blackness and identity, as instantiated by the experiences of slavery and mediatised Othering, and the tools used to convey these to a twenty-first-century audience. This thesis demonstrates that, despite increasing historical distance, slave narratives continue to be relevant as a commemoration of the African-American experience and a commentary on slavery and its present-day legacy.
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    Hyphenating Ireland and America: examining the construction of contemporary hybrid identities in film and screen media
    (University College Cork, 2019) Goff, Loretta; Monahan, Barry; Irish Research Council; University College Cork
    Hyphenation legitimises and makes coherent the unstable and amorphous notion of identity, clarifying “who one is” with shorthand efficiency: Irish-American, Hispanic-American, Anglo-Irish, are some of many identities sutured into coherence by the hyphen. Further to this, and significantly, hyphenated identities are deeply implicated in commodified cultural exchanges between nations, and thus usefully illustrate the ideological and economic operations of identity construction and international relations. This thesis examines contemporary performances of Irish-American hyphenation across several aspects of film and screen media; including stardom, directors, production locations and genres. In doing so, it interrogates the economic and social factors that inform the construction of Irish-American identity and the relationship between Ireland and America (in a media production context). Cinema, as cultural expression and industry, is an interactive form of discourse that magnifies—literally and formally—processes of hyphenation. It therefore acts as the ideal platform for the analysis of protean identity performances. Through such analysis, this thesis seeks not just to simply categorise an emergent “type” of contemporary Irish-America that performs hyphenation with flexibility, but to assess and evaluate the processes of such categorisations. Simultaneously, it reveals the conservative stance taken in films wherein, more often than not, singular identity is implicitly, but problematically, offered as “safer”. This thesis acts as a timely paradigmatic study of contemporary hyphenated identity within the international context.