I am currently (2016-17) Distinguished Visiting Professor in Film and Culture at Central Washington University in Washington State. As well as contributing to the Film Program's development at CWU which includes practical filmmaking and industry-led classes, I am now an Executive Producer for Wildcat Productions making professional films for showcasing and broadcast as well as for the higher-education sector. The position at CWU emerged from work on, and the profile of, our film, Projections of America (2015), for which I was script editor, senior historical advisor and contributor and which was recently broadcast on PBS America in the UK, and which is now available on DVD and streaming through Amazon.
Projections has been an ongoing four-year project examining what were thought to be lost propaganda films from World War II. The film took its cue from my book, In Capra's Shadow: The Life and Career of Screenwriter Robert Riskin (University Press of Kentucky, 2006) that critically examined the career of one of Hollywood's leading writers and also head of the Office of War Information's Film Unit from 1943-45. A new monograph accompanying the film, A Better Tomorrow: Transatlantic World War II Propaganda examining the relationship between American and British wartime filmmaking is my current project being completed while I'm in the United States. In addition we are working with the German Ministry of Education to provide a detailed and interactive website that will recuperate all the films and add additional commentaries, essays and remarks from leading scholars and public figures associated with our film, and with the original OWI 'Projections' series.
As well as finishing numerous articles and chapters while here I have also had the honour of being asked to contribute to the Library of Congress National Film Preservation Board's list of the most significant movies of all time. My contribution on Frank Capra's It Happened One Night (1934) is now part of the National Film Registry and can be accessed at the Film Review Board's website: https://www.loc.gov/programs/national-film-preservation-board/film-registry/index-of-essays
Since 2012 I've been a member of the Art, Culture and Ethics in Black and White Network investigating and re-examining the issues and controversies surrounding 100 years of D.W. Griffth's The Birth of a Nation film. The network held three hugely successful symposia in 2014-15 at the Eccles Centre of the British Library, the Whitworth Art Gallery of the University of Manchester, and the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool. An edited collection of the work generated for the network - which includes art, installations, film and more traditional written scholarship - is currently being assembled with a view to 2017 publication.
At Manchester I was Assistant Associate Dean for Internationalisation in the Faculty of Humanities during 2015-16, developing partnerships and projects around the world, not least in the United States where a successful on-going relationship with Indiana University is now blossoming.
I received my undergraduate degree in Politics and History from the Manchester Metropolitan University in 1988, an MA in American History and Institutions from the University of Keele in 1990, and a PhD also from Keele in 1996. I have taught American Studies at Crewe and Alsager College (later Faculty of MMU), Keele and the Open University. I joined the staff at Manchester in 1994 and was Programme Director for American Studies from 2000-2003. Over extended periods between 2001 amd 2013 I was also Admissions Officer for English and American Studies and the American Studies MA Programme Director in 2014.
I sit on the editorial board for the War, Culture and Society series with Bloomsbury. I served on the Peer Review Panel of the Arts and Humanities Research Council between 2008-12. I was the Conference Coordinator for the annual meeting of the British Association for American Studies (BAAS) at Manchester in 2012 and sat on the Executive Committee of the association between 2003 and 2009. I was chair of the Awards Committee for five years in that period.
I would be delighted to work with graduate students interested in any aspects of film culture and history, especially those with interests in political movies, screenwriting and/or aspects of authorship theory. In addition, students wishing to conduct research,into the political, social or cultural formation of California.,or,investigate,sports, particularly football history, would be welcomed. I currently supervise MPhil and Ph.D. level students working on Censorship in the Post-Studio era and Jewish-American Literature and Film in the mid-20th Century.
At the undergraduate level, I teach various courses on American Political Culture, the History of California and Film and Politics in America.
At the postgraduate level, I teach on the American Cultural Studies and Screen Studies core courses as well as contributing my own specialist course, Authorship and the Studio System in Hollywood.
I was an elected member to the Executive Committee of the British Association for American Studies 2003-09 and chair of the Association's Awards Committee 2005-09. I am currently a member of the Peer Review College of the AHRC.
Book Awards and Distinctions
Hollywood's White House was the Ray and Thomas Browne Popular Culture Association (PCA) Book of the Year for 2003. Why We Fought was a Choice book of the year for 2008.