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Watching Politics

Watching Politics

FRIDAY 31 MAY 2013

Symposium Programme (.pdf)
Symposium Abstracts (.pdf)
Read a report of the conference here

Hosted by the Institute of Advanced Study and the
Department of Film and Television Studies
Millburn House
University of Warwick

KEYNOTE SPEAKER: Dr. Ian Scott (University of Manchester)

This symposium will explore the ideological, psychological and sociological impact of the
 of politics in mass media and visual culture – cinema, television, radio,
photography and on the internet.
The aestheticisation of politics has been a significant avenue
of popular and scholarly discourse for decades – where once the media’s influence inspired
concern regarding the possibility of demagoguery, it has now become a discussion about whether
it has created a superficial politics entirely lacking in substance. In its most extreme terms, visual
culture has either humanised politicians and provided clarity to our political processes, or has
resulted in a catastrophic ‘dumbing down’ of political debate. Where do the answers lie?

‘New’ media (e.g. user-generated video-streaming platforms such as YouTube, social networking
sites like
 Twitter) has opened up fresh and urgent areas to consider: the internet has played
significant, contrasting roles in partly facilitating the ‘Arab Spring’, but also provided a forum for
instantaneous satire of figures like Nick Clegg and Mitt Romney. Moreover, supposedly ‘old’
media continue to have significant influence on
 our understanding and conceptualisation
of political processes and issues
– this year’s Oscar-nominated films like Argo, Lincoln, Django
Unchained and Zero Dark Thirty all generated significant argument surrounding issues of continued
political importance (American intervention in the Middle East, and the legacies of slavery).

Cinema, television, radio, photography, and now the transfusion of aspects of these forms
through the
 internet have had, and continue to have, enormous impact on our politics. This
symposium aims to examine the contours of this relationship, exploring its historical significance
as well as providing a forum to debate its contemporary effects. Have these forms played a role
in critiquing our politicians and political processes, or
 have they provided uncomplicated
reinforcement to dominant ideological and mythological constructs? How
 have these forms
changed politics, and how might the rapidly changing media environment further alter our

relationship with politics and politicians in the future?

20-minute papers might address (but are not limited to) the following areas:

• Representations of political processes in cinema and television
• ‘New’ media and politics: parody and protest
• Politics and/in digital culture
• Politicians, performance and the media
• The political biopic in film and television
• Politics and television satire
• Historical perspectives on the impact of media on politics
• The sociological impact of media on political activity, engagement and understanding

Obama v Romney debate

The Thick of It


The West Wing

You Tube Arab Spring


Kennedy on TV