The Film, Theatre & Television Research Division carries out cutting-edge interdisciplinary research using state-of-the-art facilities at the University’s Minghella Studios.
Our research analyses the forms and conventions of film, theatre and performance, television and media, their cultural and historical contexts, and the politics of representation.
Close analysis is a hallmark of our work, and we were pioneers of practice-based research as an alternative means of exploring research questions. Recent practice-based work has included devised performance about subjectivity, gender and identity, mixed media and digital media performances, and durational performance art. Published scholarship includes books on world cinema, TV drama and sitcom, and how film and theatre engage with ecology.
We work across disciplinary and medium boundaries, collaborating with creative professionals, museums and arts institutions, and engaging with a wide range of local and regional communities in the UK, internationally, and online.
We have well-established links with cultural institutions including the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Tate Modern, the British Film Institute, the Cinemateca Brasileira (Brazil), AusStage (Australia) and IbsenStage (Norway).
We also provide research leadership through our editorial positions with journals including Critical Studies in Television, Transnational Cinemas, the Journal of Beckett Studies and Screen, and several leading book series ('World Cinema' published by IB Tauris, the 'Television Series' from Manchester University Press, and the 'Film Drama and Performance Studies' series of Anthem Press).
our research centres and projects
We are housed in the state-of-the-art Minghella Studios which include performance spaces, a digital cinema, multi-camera television studio, sound stage and editing suites, which we use to support teaching and research at every level.
Exploring Intermediality in Brazilian Cinema: This project has brought together researchers from Reading and the Federal University of São Carlos in Brazil to raise awareness of the diversity of Brazilian cinema and of the possibilities of ‘intermedial’ devices, using art forms such as painting, theatre and music in films as a ‘passage’ to political and social reality. Together the researchers have created an archive, captured in the film Passages, for which 15 key Brazilian filmmakers, technicians and curators were interviewed.
Friends at 25: Why a sitcom from the 1990s still matters today A new book by Simone Knox and co-author Kai Schwind from the Kristiana University College, Oslo, looks at the extraordinary success of Friends, still the most binge-watched television show in the world and a global cultural phenomenon. The authors draw on original interviews with key members of the creative team to identify a strategy of intimacy that informs Friends’ use of humour, performance, style and set design. The also reflect reflect on the backlash the show has received in recent years, arguing that the criticism levelled against it has been lacking nuance and awareness of context.
User Not Found: Research led by Professor Lib Taylor is engaging audiences in immersive performance experiences to explore the relationship between life, death, identity and social media. The play User Not Found, co-created with Reading-based theatre company Dante or Die as part of this work, toured the UK in 2018 and 2019 and received rave reviews during its 3-week run at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2018. A research symposium on social media technologies in immersive performance explored the impact of social media technologies on performance and space and its potential for mediating social reality and immersive experiences.
Harold Pinter: History and Legacies: Pinter's work has been central to world theatre since the 1960s and his films shaped British cinema. This research will facilitate the construction of new appreciations of how Pinter's work across different media forms his distinctive voice, and the impact that his output has had. The project will identify and assess every professional production of Pinter's plays in the UK between 1957 and 2017, as well as his output on television, radio and film.
Staging Beckett: The AHRC funded Staging Beckett project has compiled a searchable database of productions of Samuel Beckett's plays in the UK and Ireland, with various online resources including interviews and forthcoming productions. A special issue of Contemporary Theatre Review brought together the findings from the research.
War Child: Dr Teresa Murjas is using archival materials, artefacts and oral testimony as part of her creative practice. She collaborates with museums and galleries, and theatre and film practitioners, in order to make and publicly show her mixed-media projects. War Child is a based on research at the Evacuee Archive, one of the largest archives of its kind held at the Museum of English Rural Life in Reading. War Child incorporates macro-lens video footage of objects and archival materials, so that the viewer can encounter them in unexpected ways revealing textures and details not visible in the same way to the naked eye.
Our latest research papers and publications can be downloaded from the University’s institutional repository.
For specific enquiries, please contact:
Professor Jonathan Bignell
Research Division Lead
Telephone: +44 (0) 118 378 4073
We have a rich, longstanding expertise in practice as research and were one of the first departments in the UK to offer practice-as-research postgraduate degrees. We welcome interdisciplinary as well as discipline-specific projects, and have a lively community of some 30 research students at any one time, ranging from recent graduates starting a higher degree and practitioners just beginning their creative careers, to established industry professionals.
Find out more about postgraduate opportunities in Film, Theatre and Television: