Sam Beaton

  • PhD candidate



Research summary

My PhD research focuses on the documentary films of Jan Špáta and Helena Třeštíková, two prolific Czech directors who have produced work both during the Communist regime and the democratic period which has followed it. I aim to identify and account for the changes in content and style which took place in their films recorded in the post-communist period compared with those made under authoritarianism.This includes ideas surrounding neutrality in non-fiction film and how the director’s use of language and authorial ‘voice’ communicates socio-political ideas which are relevant to the issues of the time.

I am particularly interested in how the filmmakers portrayed and assessed the issues of ‘identity’, ‘memory’ ‘global security’ and others prevailing in the post-1989 media debates on the future of the country; and how this reflected a wider movement in Czechoslovakia to engage with these issues, thanks in part to a more open, democratic governance. I argue that in order for an effective examination to take place, films cannot be read in isolation to the political and cultural shifts in Czech society, and thus I advocate an interdisciplinary approach to methodology which encompasses historical investigation, sociology and semiotic analysis.

In addition to my thesis work, I have a wider interest in Central and East European cinema and history; in particular Czechoslovak, Hungarian and Polish feature film.

Higher Education

2012-Current: PhD in Czech Studies, University of Glasgow
2011-2012: PgDip in Czech Language, University of Glasgow
2007-2011: M.A. in Slavonic Studies and Central & East European Studies, University of Glasgow


My PhD research is funded through the Madeleine Albright PhD Scholarship in Czech Studies.

Conferences and papers

‘Estonian National Identity and the Natural Environment – How Estonian Cinema Reflects Identity’, International Student Symposium, Perspectives on Estonia: Present, Past and Future II, University of Glasgow, 2nd-3rd December 2011

‘Problems of the Past, Visions for the Future: How Contemporary Czech and Estonian Cinema Reflects on the Communist State’, International Student Symposium: Estonia Brings Us Together, Masaryk University Brno, 19th-20th April 2013

‘Helena Třeštíková’s Manželské etudy Documentary Series and its Representations of Czech Society’, Current Trends in Czech Studies IV: “Not Such a Faraway Country?” Czech Studies in the UK 2013 Conference, Embassy of the Czech Republic, London, 4th October 2013