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Name: Jake Leonard

PhD: Film and Television Studies

Thesis Title: Amateur Film in Public History: The Use and Misuse of Non-Professional Media in Museums, Archives, and Arts Projects


Thesis Description: In this thesis, I will look at the ways in which museums, archives and arts groups present amateur film materials (whether fictional or non-fictional) to the general public and how the public then interact with them. I will start by looking at museum exhibits like the Museum of Childhood's 'Children and Amateur Media in Scotland', which I visited earlier this year. I hope to speak to the organisers and curators of events such as this and ask them about their rationales behind their exhibitions were and what they think they achieved as a result, while also considering funding, thematic decisions, selection of sources and feedback from visitors. I will also be working with the British Film Institute (BFI) and learning more about their current archiving scheme 'Unlocking Film Heritage', which is digitising amateur films stocks in the BFI archives. I am very keen to see what the criteria for selection and preservation are and which films make it past the cutting room floor and why. Regarding Arts Projects, I hope to build on my MRes collaboration with FreeFall Arts and work more closely with them so that I can learn more about their 'Past Lives Project', how it was funded, what its legacy will be, and how it was received by the members of the public involved. 'Past Lives' operated in the Midlands and the North of England and aimed to find amateur film footage made by local residents in areas that were not usually approached by arts projects or associated with making amateur film. The organisers believe in looking beyond the archives and expressed a critical view of the way in which major archives like the BFI and MACE (Media Archive for Central England) record and collect amateur film materials. In order to best suit my subject matter, I will need to build on my knowledge of public history and cultural studies, while also learning from the previous literature concerning museums studies. I intend to do this through reading but also through working with the University of Leicester and parts of their Museum Studies MA course. I will be spending most of this semester building up contacts with researchers, museums, archives, and arts groups and I look forward to it immensely. 

Supervisors and Institution(s): Dr. James Mansell (University of Nottingham), Dr. Tracey Potts (University of Nottingham)

Publications (please include full details with page nos. or web links):

Scholarly / Public Engagement Activities:

Other Research Interests: Amateur Film, Film Studies, Everyday Life, Cultural Studies, Modern History, 'History from Below', Cultural and National Identities, Gender Studies, Sexuality, Holocaust Studies, 1970s America


University email address:

Twitter: @jakeleonard1992

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