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A happy ending for film at MeCCSA media conference?

* 10 December 2003 *

A happy ending for film at MeCCSA media conference?

The future of film will be brought into focus at the Media, Communication and Cultural Studies Association's (MeCCSA) fifth annual conference, to be held this year at the University of Sussex.

Billed as a national forum for the most recent research in the media studies field, the three-day conference (December 19-21) will include a major plenary with the Film Council that takes The Future Of Film as its theme.

The conference is organised by Dr Sally Munt, head of the University of Sussex Department of Media and Cultural Studies, and is generously subsidised by the University from its research support funds. Among those taking part will be Professor Patrick Fuery, who joined the department at Sussex this year and who takes an upbeat view of the subject amid a climate of technological revolution, economic uncertainty and academic restructuring that would 'downgrade' media studies.

Professor Fuery, author of the recently-published Madness And Cinema: Psychoanalysis, Spectatorship And Culture and Visual Cultures and Critical Theory, said: "The plenary title rather invites the idea that film doesn't have a future as we know it - we are in the digital era. What is also of concern is film's future as an area of study. Funding to media courses is under threat and media studies may be rebanded. It seems a soft target when it comes to cuts. Certainly, these are concerns raised by everyone from Lord Puttnam [who headed the committee scrutinising the Government's Communications Bill] to MeCCSA itself. But things aren't so bad here."

Professor Fuery believes fears of a media studies crisis in the UK are overstated, especially as universities abroad are presently facing tougher challenges. In his native Australia, for example, Professor Fuery points to the increasing use of corporate funding for courses and a government funding bias towards hard sciences. "The Australian Government tried to say it would fund sciences more than humanities, but humanities enrolment keeps on rising. Media studies is an incredibly seductive field of study," he said.

Dr Munt, while concerned about trends that suggest a negative impact on the future of media studies, was also upbeat about the subject's standing. She said: "The growth of MeCCSA, and the lively and interesting set of papers submitted for the conference, are further signs that this is a field of enormous significance, both academically and socially. As the last research assessment exercise confirmed, research in our field is world class. Students continue to find our courses attractive and valuable. MeCCSA continues increasingly to play a key role in the development of policy and initiatives affecting our field. We hope that this conference will also see the birth of a postgraduate network to support the interests of this important group, and we welcome Sussex students and staff."

Keynote speakers at the conference from the US, Israel and Norway reflect the international appeal of the subject. Ian Diamond, the Chief Executive of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) will also speak. Papers on a wide range of topics have been submitted to the conference and include media coverage of the Iraq war, the media portrayal of "Blair's Babes", sadomasochism in Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and Lord of The Rings as a contemporary phenomenon.

For further information email or tel: 01273 678448.

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Press Office contacts: Maggie Clune or Jacqui Bealing, University of Sussex,
Tel. 01273 678888, Fax 01273 877456, or

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