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Hello friends,

Several people over the past few years suggested I ought to set up a blog, and seeing as I enjoy blathering on about things but in the post-PhD blues phase of life I can't muster up the energy for much academic writing, I figured now is an appropriate time to have a go.

My primary research concerns film and visual culture in contemporary Northern Ireland, particularly ways in which film-makers and visual artists address issues that can be regarded as deriving from post-Agreement (rather than post-conflict) society in our wee country. These issues include questioning ideologies generated by mass media representations of conflict, the Troubles as a mediatized war, and confronting individuals' internalizations of complex sociopolitical upheaval. My broader interests include avant-garde/experimental/modernist film and documentary.

I am hugely passionate about creative arts and the people who drive them in NI. I intend to largely use this blog to write reviews or commentary about exhibitions and films, etc. I may also go off on long-winded rants about the deplorable treatment of shop assistants by the general public, such is my current and past means of survival. I may also dispel some myths about academia along the way. Many of us are not dealt an easy hand in life, and everything takes graft and struggle. At 27 I feel spent and broken, such has been my efforts with education for the past decade or so. The qualifications are what they are, they do not guarantee a secure future. Nothing does. And if one more woman from my native East Belfast tells me I need to find a rich man to marry, I may become violent. But enough of this tangent...

We have a wealth of creative talent in NI, and I strongly believe that collective healing processes can be found through means of expression alternative to conventional methods - i.e. many people I have spoken with who have experienced traumatic pasts have found involvement in community arts projects more effective than any therapy or counselling. I want to join such people in promoting acceptance, acknowledgement, and self-expression. And sure, we'll try to have a bit of craic along the way.

Paula

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Shadow Dancer

*DISCLAIMER: I am writing about the film with an approach to critical analysis with only a hint of review, therefore there are spoilers within if you have not seen the film. This post serves as a line of thought that I am archiving for later development.*
It appears that reviews of Shadow Dancer (Marsh, 2012) have not been entirely complimentary, as far as I am aware (I am deliberately avoiding them so feel free to correct me), and seem largely to have been written by men. The film is much more than critics and general commenters deem it to be (e.g. one I came across stated that this is yet another Troubles film making the IRA out to be scum). Shadow Dancer does not attempt to depict the Northern Ireland conflict through a microcosmic narrative, rather it draws out a suppressed individual struggle within patriarchal organizations, and in doing so attempts to reflect the hidden lives many were forced to lead.
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In trying to tackle the issue with having more research ideas than time or opportunities to publish them all, I figured I'd fire up the old blog to post up almost verbatim versions of papers and embryonic ideas to build an archive and show that I'm still active even though I'm still in that lovely early-career-and-may-not-have-a-job-in-a-few-months stage. This is one I gave in the Literature seminar series in the School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics, Newcastle University, on 25 February 2015, and again at a workshop at University of Aberdeen. This paper builds on a case study from my monograph, looking at it alone instead of in comparison to another film by the same artist.