Jogging memories with sounds and pictures

It’s Dementia Action Week. Reading researchers are tackling the problem of dementia on all fronts, from investigating its causes to how we can improve care and quality of life for those it affects. Today we speak to Professor Arlene Astell, who uses sound and video to trigger long-term memories in people with dementia and get them talking again.

“People with dementia often withdraw from social interactions, lose confidence and feel embarrassed about their condition – their world shrinks. We want to find ways to stimulate their mind and memories and improve their quality of life,” explains Arlene Astell, who is Professor of Neurocognitive Disorders in Reading’s School of Psychology and Language Sciences.

“One of the questions we’re asking in our research is ‘What makes life more enjoyable for people with dementia – what are the activities and pastimes they can do that give them the same pleasure and satisfaction that they had before?’”

Arlene and colleagues are doing this through the use of technology. Working with the BBC to use their sound and TV archive they have developed touch-screen software, called the Computer Interactive Reminiscence and Conversation Aid (CIRCA). The software uses audio and video clips of evocative sounds, music and images from the past – such the whine of an electric milk float, a picture of a 1950s street scene or a recording of Winston Churchill speaking on the radio.


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Heritage in Times of Conflict: film and panel talk

Internal Event – University of Reading staff and students only

We cordially invite you to the H&C Academic Forum for the Summer Term 2018 which will focus on the theme of Heritage in Times of Conflict.

As part of the event, we are holding a film viewing of ‘The Destruction of Memory’, followed by a panel discussion that will consider challenges around the preservation and protection of cultural heritage in today’s world. This important event will be of major interest for researchers whose work touches on heritage and conflict, and it will provide colleagues with an opportunity to ask questions and network more widely.

The ‘Destruction of Memory’ film is based on the book of the same name by Robert Bevans. The film includes interviews with the Director-General of UNESCO, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, as well as many international experts, including archaeologists. The film’s website is here

The film covers the following topics:

  • The devastating effects that ‘A war on culture’ has on today’s society and the challenges it causes in preserving and protecting history
  • Destructive behaviour of Daesh (ISIS) and how their actions attempt to obliterate culture and memory
  • Measures currently being pursued to protect, salvage and rebuild the history that has been lost as a result of cultural destruction.

The panel will be chaired by Professor Roger Matthews, Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology, University of Reading and President of RASHID International (Research, Assessment, Safeguarding the Heritage of Iraq in Danger) and will represent a variety of expertise from across the University and beyond. These include:

  • Tim Slade – Writer, Director and Producer of the film ‘The Destruction of Memory’ for Vast Productions, USA
  • Dr Lisa Purse – Head of Department and Associate Professor in Film, Theatre and Television, University of Reading
  • Professor Rosa Freedman – Professor of Law Conflict and Global Development, University of Reading
  • Dr Dina Rezk – Lecturer in Middle Eastern History (19th / 20th Century), University of Reading.

Please register with Chris Anderson in the Research Deans’ Office by e-mail on As catering will be booked for this event, please confirm whether you have any dietary requirements.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Professor Roger Matthews (Archaeology) and Professor Roberta Gilchrist (R Dean H&C)

Bringing Tropicália to life at the Tate Modern

A series of Brazilian films, showing at the Tate Modern, London from 9-12 November, explores the role of cinema in the Brazilian Tropicália cultural movement, and will bring together a range of key filmmakers and scholars in the field.

Image credit: Arthur Omar, Triste Trópico (Sad Tropics, 1974), film still. Courtesy the artist

The films, curated by Dr Stefan Solomon from the Department of Film, Theatre and Television, University of Reading, will be shown over four days at the Tate Modern’s Starr Cinema as part of Tate Film’s ‘Counter-Histories’ series.

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The moving form of film



6-8 November 2017, University of Reading, UK

As part of the AHRC/FAPESP-funded IntermIdia Project (, led by investigators from the University of Reading (UoR), UK, and the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar), Brazil, this international conference seeks to invite discussion of intermediality as a historiographic method.

Conference Convenor: Prof Lúcia Nagib

UoR Investigators: Prof Lúcia Nagib (PI); Alison Butler (Co-I); Prof John Gibbs (Co-I); Dr Lisa Purse (Co-I); Dr Albert Elduque (PDRA); Dr Stefan Solomon (PDRA).

UFSCar Investigators: Dr Luciana Corrêa de Araújo (PI); Dr Flávia Cesarino Costa (Co-I); Dr Samuel Paiva (Co-I); Dr Suzana Reck Miranda (Co-I); Dr Margarida Adamatti (PDRA).

Administrator: Richard McKay.

Keynote Speakers:

– Alain Badiou – French philosopher, former Chair of Philosophy, Université de Paris VIII

– Luciana Corrêa de Araújo – Professor of Film Studies, Universidade Federal de São Carlos

Robert Stam – University Professor of Cinema Studies, New York University

– Ismail Xavier – Professor of Film Studies, University of São Paulo

Plenary Speakers:

– Ágnes Pethő – Professor of Film Studies, Sapientia Hungarian University of Transylvania in Cluj-Napoca

– Lisa Shaw – Reader in Portuguese and Brazilian Studies, University of Liverpool

Opening Conference Screening and Guest Speakers:

Screening of Dong (2006, 66 minutes), documentary directed by China’s greatest filmmaker Jia Zhangke on the celebrated painter Liu Xiaodong.

Post-screening discussion with:

– Jia Zhangke (tbc)

– Cecília Mello – Lecturer in Film Studies, University of São Paulo

– Jean-Michel Frodon – Former editor of the Cahiers du Cinéma, current Professorial Fellow in Film Studies and Creative Industries at the University of St. Andrews

From its birth, the film medium has fuelled debates around its possible specificity versus its obvious connections with other arts and media. In recent days, with the advent of digital technologies that trigger and depend on media convergence, it has become indisputable that film is inherently intermedial, giving scope for reconsidering film history in light of the medium’s moving, all- encompassing form. As Alain Badiou summarises, it is impossible to think cinema outside of a general space made of its connections to the other arts. He says: ‘Cinema is the seventh art in a very particular sense. It does not add itself to the other six while remaining on the same level as them. Rather, it implies them – cinema is the “plus-one” of the arts. It operates on the other arts, using them as its starting point, in a movement that subtracts them from themselves’ (2005: 79).  This conference will build on such an understanding by investigating the ways in which intermediality, rather than obstructing, enhances film’s artistic endeavour. More pointedly, it will ask: how can intermediality help us to understand the history of cinema as a whole?

Broadly speaking, ‘intermediality’ refers to the interbreeding of artistic and technical medial forms. The uses of the term hark back to the 1960s and Higgins (1966; 1981), who applied it to an array of countercultural artistic phenomena of the time. Through the years, the concept has evolved to encompass an ‘inflation’ of definitions (Pethö 2010), which concur in the celebration of ‘hybridisation’, ‘transnationalism’, ‘multiculturalism’ and cross-fertilisations of all sorts. As for cinema, intermediality has gained prominence among other more established approaches, such as comparative, intertextual, adaptation and genre-based studies, for its wider premise that keeps the interrogation into the properties of the medium constantly on the critic’s horizon (Rajewsky 2010). This conference will look at medial interstices, intercultural encounters and creative clashes where the specificities of cinema are questioned and re-fertilised into new forms. Its ultimate aim will be to stimulate an overarching exploration of and theorising on the uses of intermediality as a historiographic method.

Film, Theatre & TV Seminar

Art, Performance and the Housing Crisis

Professor Jen Harvie (QMUL)

The conditions of the United Kingdom’s housing crisis are becoming painfully familiar. From 1980 until 2000, two million state-owned homes were sold off. Between 1997 and 2010, the number of households in England waiting for social housing rose by 81 per cent. Since 2001, the proportion of housing that is privately rented has skyrocketed by 69 per cent, while over a third of privately rented homes fail to meet the decent homes standard. In 2013/14, more than 81,000 households were homeless. The housing crisis destabilises households, schooling, work, and most dangerously networks of friends, kin and care. The housing crisis is a crisis in democracy because it is both a symptom and a cause of ever-growing social inequality.

In this presentation I examine art and performance that responds to the UK housing crisis. First, I survey a range of city-sited art works that articulate, in particular, housing precarity and the feelings it provokes. I then focus analysis on two performances: GETINTHEBACKOFTHEVAN’S 2013 Number 1, the Plaza; and Sh!t Theatre’s Letters to Windsor House which premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2016. Both shows explore the lives of pairs of female flatmates in Generation Rent. Both shows are funny, but also painfully revealing about how the headline-grabbing ‘housing crisis’ manifests in acute, traumatizing, and tragic personal pressures on friendship.


Jen Harvie is Professor of Contemporary Theatre and Performance at Queen Mary University of London. Her research focuses on cultural politics, with emphases on neoliberalism and feminism. Her monographs include Fair Play – Art, Performance and Neoliberalism (2013) and Theatre & the City (2009). She recently co-edited The Only Way Home Is Through the Show: Performance Work of Lois Weaver (2015). She is currently co-editing a special issue of Contemporary Theatre Review on feminism and Palgrave Macmillan’s series Theatre &. In her podcast, Stage Left, she interviews performance makers about their practices and shows.

Journeys Across Media (JAM) Postgraduate Conference



Department of Film, Theatre and Television, University of Reading

The Journeys Across Media (JAM) Postgraduate Conference, run by postgraduate students for postgraduate students, is back for 2017 and will be taking place on Tuesday 11th April in Minghella Studios, Whiteknights Campus.

This year, we have gathered an eclectic collection of papers and practice as research presentations to explore the theme of ‘Worldhood and World-making’ in film, theatre, television, new media and beyond. From the world cinemas of Brazil, Spain and Iran to the world-building of major hit U.S. television series; from the utopias conjured by British and America avant-garde filmmakers to the DIY noise-makers of the unruly Japanese punk scene; and from the suspension of disbelief in fictional podcasts to the suspension of reality in participatory theatre, there’s something for everyone at this year’s JAM conference. (You can see the conference schedule below.)

Our keynote speaker this year is Dr. Daniel Yacavone, Lecturer in Film Studies and Director of the Film Studies Programme at the University of Edinburgh, and author of Film Worlds: A Philosophical Aesthetics of Cinema (Columbia UP: 2015).

Registration to attend is now live at the University of Reading online store:

For more information about the conference, visit the Department of Film, Theatre and Television blog:

Questions? Please get in touch with us at:

Reconsidering Movie Special Effects Seminar

Reconsidering Movie Special Effects: Aesthetics, Reception, and Remediation


In an era in which digital visual effects are ubiquitous, questions of aesthetic achievement and imaginative and creative labour are central to industry and public discourses on special effects craft.

At the same time, this ubiquity and its reception obscure the long aesthetic and craft histories of cinematic special effects, histories that are nostalgically invoked in much contemporary digital media practice.

This symposium will seek to unpick this complex web of relations between histories of reception, craft, and artistic endeavour in a reappraisal of the ‘special effect’ and its contemporary manifestations.


Under the Shadow film screening

The School of Politics, Economics and International Relations would like to invite you to the launch of

Under the Shadow

A 54 minute documentary by Fiona Lloyd-Davies

Followed by a discussion panel with:

  • Fiona Lloyd-Davies
  • Vava Tampa, Congolese political youth activist
  • Sarah Blakemore, Director of Keeping Children Safe
  • Chaired by Dr Georgina Holmes, University of Reading

One woman leads Congo’s rape survivors to find healing, independence and justice through working together in the field.  But can these women escape the shadow cast by this threat of sexual violence and will the spectre of justice bring hope and resolution? We hear extraordinary confessions from soldiers who have raped women and then witness inside the court room as others are tried for this crime, the ultimate weapon of war. This immersive, observational film was made over four years, taking the viewer inside a woman’s ultimate nightmare, to show how the human spirit is impossible to defeat.

FTT seminar: Andréa Franca

You are warmly invited to the next in our research seminar series on Thursday 2 March, 4.00-6.00 pm, G03, Henley Business School. We are delighted to host a talk by Andréa Franca.

Andréa’s abstract and biographical note can be found below.


The 15-minute short video Passeio Público [Public sidewalk] is a new expression of subjects dear to Andréa França’s heart as a researcher. For years she has been investigating the relationship between documentary and the usage of archive film through a few key questions which include: What artistic potential can be extracted from using archive footage in documentaries? How has such footage been reused? In what aesthetic form have the subjects of memory, history and forgetting been brought into play? The most thought-provoking documentaries in Brazilian film that draw on previously shot material are the ones that interrogate the document as objective evidence left behind by events. Passeio Público also seeks to open up the field of meaning of the images from the past. It tells a surprising story about images of the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro in the 1920’s. A story told through the debris of an unknown Alberto Botelho’s film made at that time and given as a gift to an Italian prince.

Andréa França Martins is researcher and Associate Professor in the Department of Social Communicationat Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio). Member of the Decision Committee at SOCINE – Brazilian society of Cinema and Audiovisual Studies. She is the author of Terras e fronteiras no cinema politico contemporâneo (2003). Her contributions include chapter “Cinema de terras e fronteiras” for História do Cinema Mundial (2013, 7 edição), “Os brinquedos-fósseis e o tempo da memória” for Eu assino embaixo: Biografia, memória e cultura (2014), “La invención del Lugar en el cine brasilero contemporâneo” for Déplacements culturels : migrations et identités (2013), “Documentary Cinema and the Return of What Was” for New Argentine and Brazilian Cinema: Reality Effects (2013), “A imagem-excesso, a imagem-fóssil, a imagem-dissenso: propostas cinematográficas para a experiência da ditadura no Brasil” for Narrativas Sensoriais(2014). She is researcher of National Counsel of Technological and Scientific Development /CNPq.