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Dr James MacDowell

Associate Professor in Film & Television Studies

Departmental Examinations Secretary

Email: James dot MacDowell at warwick dot ac dot uk

Room A0.17, Millburn House

Tel: +44 2476 573041


James MacDowell holds an MA and PhD in Film Studies from the University of Warwick. Before assuming his post at Warwick he taught film studies at the Universities of Birmingham, Royal Holloway, and Reading. James is a member of the editorial board of Movie: A Journal of Film Criticism, makes audiovisual essays for his YouTube channel The Lesser Feat, and tweets here.

Research interests

My research is primarily concerned with exploring the aesthetic strategies of popular screen art, with a particular focus on the generic conventions, narrative strategies, and stylistic properties of studio-era Hollywood, American independent cinema, and (most recently) YouTube. My work is influenced by philosophical aesthetics, and by critical traditions dedicated to exploring the interdependence of style and meaning. I have written books about the nature of irony in film, the Hollywood 'happy ending', as well as numerous articles about contemporary 'quirky' indie filmmaking, and cult movies valued for being 'so bad they're good'. Current research interests include the role of intention in the interpretation of film, and the aesthetics of YouTube.

Selected publications


  • Irony in Film (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016)
  • Happy Endings in Hollywood Cinema: Cliché, Convention and the Final Couple (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2013) [Read the introduction here.]

Audiovisual essays


Teaching and supervision

I teach subjects covering classical and contemporary Hollywood cinema, ‘indie’ cinema, and - most pervasively - questions of film style and aesthetics.

In 2017-18 I am teaching the core undergraduate 1st-year module ‘Film Criticism’, the 3rd-year core module 'Film Aesthetics', and the MA option 'Film Criticism, Film Style'.

I am interested in supervising postgraduate projects related to my research interests - including irony in film, intention and interpretation, Hollywood/American independent cinema, 'badfilm', YouTube, and more broadly candidates who wish to pursue the detailed investigation of audiovisual style and meaning, and/or apply traditional questions in the philosophy of aesthetics to film and screen media.

National roles and professional associations

I am a member of BAFTSS (British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies) and SCMS (Society of Cinema and Media Studies).