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The University of Southampton
FilmPart of HumanitiesPostgraduate study

Ms Sarah Louise Smyth 

Postgraduate research student

Ms Sarah Louise Smyth's photo

My thesis is titled, ‘Taking up Space: Female Filmmakers in Contemporary Britain’.

My project investigates women’s difficult navigation and uneasy occupation of various spaces within a number of films made by British female filmmakers from 2000-2015. These include films by Andrea Arnold, Lynne Ramsay, Amma Asante, Joanna Hogg, Alice Lowe and debbie tucker green. My investigation is twofold. Firstly, I am concerned with women’s space off screen, including issues pertaining to women’s authorship and persistent absence behind the camera. Secondly, I am concerned with women’s space on screen. How are women represented in space, whether this space be inside, outside, liberating or entrapping? By looking at the way in which women actively occupy, navigate and look at space, and by examining the ways in which both on-screen and off-screen women rebel against spatial confinements, I hope to point to ways in which women can claim authority, authorship and subjectivity in cinema.

My thesis is part of a larger project called Calling the Shots: Women and Contemporary UK Film Culture. (link: The project is a large Arts and Humanities Research Council funded four-year project researching and writing the contemporary history of women working in the UK film industry. The project is led by Dr Shelley Cobb and Professor Linda Ruth Williams. Natalie Wreyford is our project’s Research Assistant, and Ania Ostrowska is my fellow PhD candidate. For news and research updates, you can follow us on Twitter @WomenCallShots.

I have given papers on a wide range of topics. These include race and the heritage film in Amma Asante’s Belle; architecture in the films of Joanna Hogg; authorship, subjectivity and the horror film in Alice Lowe’s Prevenge; and representations of pregnancy in Anglo-American cinema. These papers have been presented at SCMS and BAFTSS, among others. I have a forthcoming chapter in an edited collection on intersectional spaces titled, ‘“I do not know that I find myself anywhere”’: Race, Space and the British Heritage Film in Amma Asante’s Belle (2014)’ (due late 2018). I also organised the interdisciplinary conference ‘Missing Women’ (find out more here and here), funded by the Graduate School for Humanities and the Centre for Modern and Creative Writing both at the University of Southampton.

I have taught on a range of modules including Classical Film Theory and Research Skills for MA Film Studies, and Critical Theory for UG English, all at the University of Southampton. I also teach Manipulating Media at the University of Winchester.

Ms Sarah Louise Smyth
Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Southampton, Avenue Campus, Southampton. SO17 1BF United Kingdom
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