PhD Studentships “The Army Film and Photographic Film Unit, 1941-1945” 2017, Durham University, UK

Publish Date: Apr 28, 2017

Deadline: May 15, 2017

The cameraman’s experience of the Second World War: a study of the Army Film and Photographic Unit’s ‘dope sheets’

AHRC PhD Studentship in collaboration with Imperial War Museums (IWM) and Durham University

Applications are invited for an AHRC-funded PhD at Durham University: “The Army Film and Photographic Film Unit, 1941-1945”. This is offered under the AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership programme. The partner institutions are Durham University and the IWM. The studentship will be supervised by Professor Jo Fox and Dr James Smith at Durham University, and Fiona Kelly of IWM. This full-time studentship, which is funded for three years at standard AHRC rates, will begin on 1 October 2017.

The Studentship

IWM holds a collection of more than 20,000 records referred to as ‘dope sheets’ – unique documents created by members of the Army Film and Photographic Unit (AFPU) during the Second World War, that meticulously outline the content of each reel of film the cameramen shot, in some cases concentrating on technical aspects and factual information. The films they document record operations of the British Army in various theatres of war – from North Africa, Italy, North-West and Central Europe, to the Balkans and the Far East. Our understanding of events such as the Battle of El-Alamein, the D-Day landings, the crossing of the Rhine and the liberation of Bergen-Belsen has been shaped by the visual records captured by the cine cameramen and stills photographers of the AFPU. The little-known dope sheets reveal the creator’s view of unfolding events. Often seen as supplementary records, rather than as significant historical documents in their own right, this resource has not been the subject of study before, and therefore offers a unique opportunity for original research in uncharted territory.

The aim of the project is to use the dope sheets to explore the role of the cameramen in recording historical events. How far did they remain detached from what they were filming? How far did they change their position from being mere observers to active participants? What does the study of these papers and the language used reveal about the circumstances in which they were compiled? Concentrating on a small number of individuals, this project will investigate how the cameramen’s backgrounds and education influenced their work, how their perspective changed over time and how they reflected on the events they recorded in later years. The student will be encouraged to focus on the North African campaign – whose records have been less studied to date. The study also offers the opportunity to examine how the cameramen’s experience of being in Africa reflects contemporary attitudes to race, and other aspects of the colonial encounter.

IWM’s holdings are particularly rich in the area of research, and while the written documentation will be the main focus of this study, other important sources will be the actual films the dope sheets describe, the official photographs taken by Army photographers who worked alongside the cine cameramen, and oral testimonies by cameramen recorded by IWM since the 1970s. The student will be expected to contribute to the dope sheet collection documentation through enhancing the catalogue entries.

Subject to AHRC eligibility criteria, the scholarships cover tuition fees and a grant (stipend) towards living expenses. The national minimum doctoral stipend for 2017/18 has been set by Research Councils

UK as £14,553 plus £550 additional payment for Collaborative Doctoral Students. 

Students are also eligible to draw additional funding from a Student Development Fund to support the cost of training, work placements, and other development opportunities that will benefit the student’s doctoral research and future career development.

In addition, the student is eligible to receive up to £1,000 a year from IWM and will be able to apply for internal funding from the University to support archival visits and the delivery of academic conference papers.

How to Apply

Applicants should have a good undergraduate degree in history or another relevant discipline, and will need to satisfy AHRC eligibility requirements including Masters-level advanced research training or equivalent.

Applicants must be a resident of the UK or European Economic Area (EEA). In general, full studentships are available to students who are settled in the UK and have been ordinarily resident for a period of at least three years before the start of postgraduate studies. Fees-only awards are generally available to EU nationals resident in the EEA. International applicants are normally not eligible to apply for this studentship.

Applicants should submit via email a curriculum vitae (no more than 2 pages), a sample of writing, a brief letter outlining their qualification for the studentship, transcripts of undergraduate and masters qualifications, and two academic references to Kelly Groundwater ( later than 5pm on 7th May 2017. Please note it is the responsibility of applicants to request references from their referees and ensure that they have been received by the Department of History by this deadline. All documents should be submitted in either a MS Word or PDF format. Please ensure the subject line of your email appears as ‘surname, first name – IWM/Durham studentship.’

Interviews are scheduled to be held in London on 15 May 2017.

For more information please click "Further Official Information" below.

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