Dr Melanie Selfe
- Lecturer in Cultural Policy (Theatre, Film and Television Studies)
Dr Melanie Selfe is a Lecturer in Cultural Policy at the Centre for Cultural Policy Research. Her work centres on the organisations, infrastructure, policies and information networks that enable access to and participation within the cultural and creative sphere. Key areas of interest include geographic variations in creative sector policy and practice; and the role of amateur and professional status in the production, consumption and criticism of the arts. She conducts research on both historical and contemporary topics and has expertise in archival work, reception analysis, audience research techniques and organisational ethnography. She is also the course director of the Centre’s new MSc in Creative Industries and Cultural Policy, which will launch in September 2016.
Many of Melanie’s publications to date have explored aspects of British film culture, including the regional expansion of the film society movement, the development of specialist and subsidised film exhibition, the critical and cultural reception of foreign language films in the UK, and the role of published critics and organisations like the British Film Institute and the BBC in shaping and cultivating audience taste. In 2009 she secured funding from the Carnegie Trust to conduct an archival study of film criticism as a professional practice, and the resulting publications examined film criticism’s relationship to the film industry, to libel law, and to the institutions of print and broadcast media in the mid 20th century. Her continuing research in this area includes further historical work on the role of film criticism in the development of cinephile audience cultures, and an examination of current trends within film policy, with a particular focus on exhibition, marketing, and audience development and education.
In 2013-2014, Melanie also worked with colleagues Prof. Philip Schlesinger and Dr Ealasaid Munro to examine contemporary creative sector business support in Scotland, exploring the way client-facing working practices are shaped by a mixture of local conditions, larger UK policy and international trends in creative industries thinking. She was Co-Investigator on the AHRC funded Creative Economy Knowledge Exchange project, Supporting Creative Business: The Cultural Enterprise Office and its clients. (AHK002570/1), and the team’s findings can be now be explored in the book arising from the project: Schlesinger, P., Selfe, M., and Munro, E. (2015) Curators of Cultural Enterprise: A Critical Analysis of a Creative Business Intermediary.Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9781137478870
Melanie graduated in Film and Television Studies (First Class) from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth in 2002. She secured AHRB support to pursue an MA in Film Studies (Distinction) at the University of Nottingham in 2003, following which she transferred to UEA to complete her PhD, ‘The role of film societies in the presentation and mediation of “cultural” film in post-war Nottingham’, an archivally centred cultural history, funded by the AHRC. In 2006, she returned to Aberystwyth, and her audience research roots, to work as the RA on Audiences and Receptions of Sexual Violence in Contemporary Cinema. This project was led by Prof. Martin Barker and was the first study of its type to be funded by the British Board of Film Classification. She joined the Centre for Cultural Policy Research in 2007 as an RCUK Research Fellow and was appointed Lecturer in Cultural Policy in 2011.
- 2009 Carnegie Trust: to facilitate an archival study of the mediated performance of film criticism in post-war Britain (£1630)
Melanie is currently supervising research projects in organisational, audience and policy related aspects of media and cultural industries. She welcomes new PhD applications in these areas, and in topics related to film exhibition and consumption, and the role of criticism and review cultures within arts and culture.
- Course Director of the MSc in Creative industries and Cultural Policy
- Convenor of the Masters level option, Issues in Audience Management (FTV5007)
- Contributor to Research Methods 1 & 2 (CCPR), Festivals (SCCA), and Film MLitt (FTV)
Conference Papers, Invited Talks and Workshop Participation
‘The Limiting Imagination of the National Cinema Audience: British film policy and audience instrumentalism’, a paper presented at the BAFTSS Conference, Manchester Metropolitan University, April 2015.
Presentation on the Supporting Creative Business project (AHK002570/1) at a jointAHRC/ Technology Strategy Board Workshop held in London, Sept 2014.
‘Researching a Moving Target: Managing ethnographic teamwork in an AHRC-funded Creative Economy Knowledge Exchange project’ (co-authored with Prof. Philip Schlesinger and Dr Ealasaid Munro) a paper presented at the International Conference of Cultural Policy Research, Hildesheim, September 2014.
Invited participant in a Design Policy Workshop organised by the National Centre for Product Design and Research (Cardiff Metropolitan University), held in Glasgow, May 2014.
Invited participant in a round table discussion on the international circulation of Chinese cinema, held at the 10th Anniversary China Independent Film Festival, Newcastle University, May 2014.
‘Putting Film Criticism to Work: Text, appropriation and the navigation of film culture’, a paper presented at the ECREA Film Conference, University of Lund, November 2013.
‘“Why do we sit through the second feature?”: Film criticism and the pursuit of cinephile pleasures’, a paper presented at the BAFTSS Conference, University of Lincoln, April 2013.
‘Inside a cultural agency: Ethnography and knowledge exchange’, a panel co-presented with Prof. Philip Schlesinger, Dr Ealasaid Munro and Deborah Keogh on the Supporting Creative Business project (AHK002570/1), delivered as part of the CREATe session at the AHRC Creative Economy Showcase, London, March 2013.
‘Doing business with Eddie Cantor: the Goldwyn musicals, marketing innovation and celebrity salesmanship’, an invited talk delivered at Kings College London, research seminar series, February 2013.
‘1950s Film Culture and the Failed Middlebrow Marketing of Continental Cinema’, an invited paper presented at Middlebrow Cinema, a symposium held at the University of Exeter, July 2012.
‘Cultural Critics in the Radio Age: Evolutions in the policy, practice and form of the BBC's broadcast criticism’, an invited talk delivered at Cultural Criticism in the Digital Age: Media, Purposes, and the Status of the Critic, a symposium held at the University of Kent, Canterbury, June 2012.
Participant on a mixed academic/professional panel addressing exhibition and diversity at the New Forms of Cinema Exhibition: Film Consumption in the Digital Age, Cinema City, Norwich, November 2011.
‘Circles, Columns and Screenings: Mapping the spaces of film criticism in 1940s London’, an invited talk delivered at the Institute of Historical Research, Film History Series, London, November 2011.
‘Quality, National Authenticity and the Evolution of the BBC’s Policy on Film Criticism’, a paper presented at Broadcasting in the 1950s, at Gregynog Hall, University of Wales, July 2011.
‘Dilys Powell and the Discursive Construction of “the American Film”: 1939-1950’, a paper presented at the Screen Conference Conference, University of Glasgow University, July 2011.
‘Critics On the Air: BBC policy and the performance of film critique’, a paper presented at the Screen Conference, University of Glasgow, July 2010.
‘Film Criticism in the Dock: Examining the proper performance of cultural critique in postwar Britain’, a paper presented at SCMS, Los Angeles, March 2010.
‘Film Critics in the Circle: negotiating professional standards, prestige and strength’, a paper presented at MeCCSA, LSE, January 2010.
‘Marketing, Musicals and the Ultimate Salesman: Conquering the crash with branded and flexible product placement’, a paper presented at the Screen Conference, University of Glasgow, July 2009.
‘A Regional National Film Theatre in Glasgow: making a cultural statement on two national stages’, a paper presented at the European Network for Cinema and Media Studies: Locating Media Conference, University of Lund, June 2009.
‘The Shifting Cultural Politics of Subsidised Exhibition’, a paper presented at MeCCSA 2009, University of Bradford, January 2009.
‘“Incredibly French”: Nation as an interpretative context for extreme cinema’, a paper presented at Anglo/French Cinematic Relations, Southampton, September 2007.
‘The Nottingham Festival Film Unit: Amateur filmmaking with official status’, paper presented at Amateur Film and Videomaking, a seminar held at London Knowledge Lab, July 2007.
‘Researching “Risky” Audiences’ ¬co-presented with Prof. Martin Barker at the 2nd Edinburgh Film Audiences Conference, Filmhouse, Edinburgh, March 2007.
‘Amateur film production and the Festival of Britain’, an invited talk delivered at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth research seminar series, December 2006.
‘Relocating John Ford: inflecting the auteur for London and Nottingham’, an invited paper presented at The BFI and its Publics: A Historical Perspective, University of London, November 2006.
‘The use of amateur production within a film society context’, a paper presented at Amateur Matters: An Amateur Cinema Conference, University of Glasgow, May 2006.
‘Going West with Stetson: The pioneering role of product placement in marketing Whoopee! and its New York icons across America’, a paper presented at SCMS, Vancouver, March 2006.
‘Doing “the work of the NFT” in Nottingham or How to use the BFI to beat the communist threat in your local film society’, a paper presented at the MeCCSA and AMPE Joint Annual Conference, Leeds Metropolitan University, January 2006.
‘“in the best Lejeune manner”: Cultivating the art of critique in an English provincial film society’, a paper presented at Not Gazing, But Watching: The Edinburgh Film Guild 75th Anniversary Conference, Filmhouse, Edinburgh, March 2005.
‘The Role of the Provincial Film Society in Mediating National Cinema Discourse’, a paper presented at Off-screen Spaces: Regionalism and Globalised Cultures, University of Ulster, Coleraine, July 2004.
‘Building Little Britons: Central education policy and regional resistance in 1930s Sight and Sound’, a paper presented at the Screen Conference, University of Glasgow, July 2004.
‘“sshhh...” Listening with intent in the art-house space’, a paper presented at Sounding Out 2, University of Nottingham, July 2004.