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The University of Southampton
FilmPart of HumanitiesPostgraduate study

Dr Adam Vaughan 

Postgraduate research student

Dr Adam Vaughan's photo

Mr Adam Vaughan is a Postgraduate research student within Film at the University of Southampton.

2007-2010: BA(Hons) Film at University of Southampton

2010-2011: MA Film at University of Southampton

Research interests

‘Performing Reality and Identity in Contemporary Documentary Film’

  • What role does performance play in contemporary documentary?
  • Have the advent of ‘reality docs’ and the proliferation of images of ‘real’ people performing identity on television fundamentally altered how we define documentary today?
  • How has this shift presented itself in popular feature documentary?

The thesis will discuss these questions through analysis of case-study films - such as Joshua Oppenheimer’s ‘The Act of Killing’ (2012) and Carol Morley’s ‘Dreams of a Life’ (2011) – where ‘performative’ techniques (e.g. reconstruction, use of actors etc.) are utilised in specific ways to engage the viewer. It will also assess the impact reality TV (‘Big Brother’, ‘The Only Way is Essex’, ‘Educating Yorkshire’, ‘Gogglebox’) has had, and is having, on audience expectations of this film form.

The majority of academic writing in this area focuses on the extent to which the use of constructive methods either diminish or heighten a given film’s claim to representing a ‘truthful’ version of the world. However, my aim is to highlight that implementing elements of performance into non-fiction film is a technique used by the filmmaker to include the spectator in the negotiation of meaning in such films.

Project supervisors: Prof Lucy Mazdon & Dr Michael Williams

Dr Adam Vaughan
Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Southampton, Avenue Campus, Southampton. SO17 1BF United Kingdom
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