Tuesday 13 May 2014

Ways of Being: The film dissertation to end all film dissertations

Ways of Being: The Spectator and the Spectacle is my award-winning first class graduate theoretical dissertation. 

The masters length paper was praised for its boldness, progressive thinking and received the highest mark that has ever been awarded to a Film and Screen Studies dissertation at Bath Spa University.

The paper was also awarded the first Media Futures Research Award for Excellence in Film and Screen Studies research.

I am pretty pleased with how it turned out.

"This is an outstanding undergraduate dissertation: brave and superbly executed. It's grasp of theory is superb and Peter deploys it in a brilliant fashion. This is certainly one of the best FL dissertations I have read for many a year."  
- Dr Terence Rodgers,
Head of Department: Film and Media Production

The paper is devoted to filmmaker and innovator Douglas Trumbull, for his innovating efforts, inspiring persistence and words of wisdom.

You can also download a pdf copy of Ways of Being from my Academia profile.

The paper is a consideration of the epistemological, ontological and metaphysical downfalls of film theory’s understandings of the spectator and the spectacle; with particular emphasis directed towards the neurobiological implications of the spectator’s body.  
The thesis argues that these shortcomings are representative of wider ranging issues of complacency engulfing the film industry and film exhibition as a whole. Furthermore, the fundamental disruptions of the digital upgrade of cinema, and the expanding means through which film content can be experienced, are explored in relation to the pressing need for film theory to reassess itself.  
Drawing on a plethora of empirical and non-empirical research, the dissertation is a highly progressive expression of how film experience has always been about transcendence and, as a result of its digital re-birth and diversifications, it is now becoming even more so. 

Additionally, you can view the Literature Review and Proposal Presentation I also orchestrated in preparation for the writing of Ways of Being

EYES of a Storyteller - the blog/portfolio for the EYES project that was orchestrated alongside Ways of Being.

This project also had a huge influence - and vice versa - on my graduate practical dissertation: EYES, a web series concept proposal package, that is a reflexive expression of contemporary networking attitudes and their implications on our ways of being.

On top of my other final year projects, getting the paper up to the standard I wanted was a tall and exhausting order.

"This is a well researched, conceptually sound and cogently argued dissertation which is striking in its originality of argumentation and in its nuanced reading of a wide range of film and critical material. 

It draws on a plethora of examples from traditions of visual culture from prehistoric cave art to contemporary film, the IMAX experience and future practices of audio‐visual consumption in order to examine traditional and contemporary theories of spectatorship and the spectator’s relation with the spectacle.  

The introduction clearly sets out the structure and methodology of the dissertation and provides a useful overview of the technological shifts which have resulted in a reconfiguration of the relationship between the viewer and the viewed. 

This is clearly an ambitious project. 

It makes a passionate case for the revival of grand theory in studies of Spectatorship in particular and Film Studies in general and sustains this case through argumentation of an exceedingly high order. 

It acknowledges the need to expand the scope of such studies beyond film, in its reference to a wide range of media texts as much as to critical literature, all of which are directed towards an understanding of spectatorship from points of view as diverse as the sensory, experiential, philosophical, spiritual, metaphysical and neurological." 

- Dr Suman Ghosh, Senior Lecturer in Film and Screen Studies.

As a result of my enthusiasm for the project, I unearthed so much data that the first draft I assembled warranted a request for a larger word count submission. As such, the primary content I eventually submitted totalled just fewer than 15,000 words, with the Appendix and other supplementary material bringing the overall word count to over 30,000 words! 

One of two hard copies I submitted on 06/06/2013.

The copy of Ways of Being that is included here is a refined draft that I produced between July and September 2013. 

The research content and argumentation has not been altered or added to in anyway; rather, the refined draft includes additional polishing, proofing and initial page material. Key among this new initial page material is the marking feedback I received and a new Foreword section in which I reflect on and deconstruct my process of assembling the paper.

If you would like to view the original submitted paper, then you can do so by viewing it on or downloading it from my Academia profile.

In October, 2013, I was invited back to the university to give an hour-and-a-half talk for the following year's students. The talk dealt with how to deliver a first class thesis and how to use your degree as a whole for springboarding you into your ideal career focus. The talk went down very well with the students.

"A dissertation was my chance to do something different, to say something really uniquely personal on film that would deal with where I was as a person in the here and now. Even if I did not consciously know what that really unique personal thing was, deep down I just wanted to write the film dissertation to end all film dissertations!" 
- Ways of Being, 2013:21

As the name suggests, Ways of Being is the primary progenitor and the prelude for Ways 2 Interfacemy transdisciplinary research project and study log that is continuing the research I started in the paper; in addition to chronicling my ongoing studies. Furthermore, I am using Something to do with Film to continue my personal exploration of all things film, in the here and the now.

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