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Poetry Television Broadcasting at the BBC 1932-present: exploring developments in British poetry culture via the relationship between poetry and public service television broadcasting (NOWELL SMITHDU19)

Project Description

One hundred years ago, new broadcast media transformed how poems were composed, and opened them up to new audiences: not just readers, but listeners and viewers. Thus far, most scholarship in the field has centred around radio. This Collaborative Doctoral Award, between UEA and the BBC, will shift the focus, resulting in the first scholarly history of poetry in television broadcasting.

As public service broadcaster, the BBC has supported poetry in many ways: as a non-commercial, ’highbrow’ artform that brings prestige; as a way of exploring the formal possibilities of radio and TV; as a key part of the UK’s literary heritage; as a means of promoting British ’soft power’ abroad; and, more recently, as a means of exploring and representing the diversity of voices in modern Britain, providing a platform for BAME poets. The PhD will thus situate the BBC’s poetry television output within its broader cultural ’mission’; moreover, writing a history of its poetry output will provide the basis for a critical evaluation of the relationship between mission and reality.

The PhD is open to students with backgrounds in both Literature and Media Studies, and with a particular interest in modern British poetry, and the relations between broadcast media and technologies, the transformations across the last century both in the demographics of the UK and its place in the world, and the ability of poetry to reflect on these changes and engage with them. Supervised by researchers from both UEA and the BBC, you will get access to BBC Archives, undertake interviews with commissioners, producers, and poets, and have the opportunity to develop ideas for features on BBC broadcast and online platforms.

For more information on the supervisor for this project, please go here:

Type of programme: PhD

Project start date: October 2019

Mode of study: Full time

Entry requirements: The successful candidate will work both with the supervisory team at UEA, and with partners at BBC History and at the BBC Written Archives Centre. A large amount of the PhD will be archive-based, going through staff files, internal memos, and files dedicated to individual TV programmes and series. The candidate will also conduct interviews with a range of parties, including poets, directors, and producers, and then transcribe these interviews. As well as completing the thesis, the candidate will be expected to present work at conferences and to develop ideas for features on BBC broadcast or online platforms.
Essential skills/attributes:
• Good degree and postgraduate work in either Modern/Contemporary Literature, with particular interest in poetry, or Media Studies,
with particular interest in Broadcast Media
• Strong written expression
• Capacity for independent study and self-motivation
• Good time management
• Interest in archival work
• Good oral communication
• Good interpersonal skills

Desirable skills/attributes:
• For Media students, a grounding in 20th century and contemporary British and Commonwealth poetry
• For Literature students, a knowledge of the history of British broadcasting and some acquaintance with broadcast media theory
• A track record in archival work
• A track record in public engagement

Acceptable first degree - History, Literature, Media Studies. The standard minimum entry requirement is 2:1. Must also have or be working towards an MA in a relevant discipline.

As applicants will be applying for a specific research project, they do not need to include a Research Proposal as part of their online application. They should, however, upload a Research Statement including why they are applying for the project, an outline of relevant current knowledge and skills and an indication of how these will help them complete the research and their training needs.

Funding Notes

This studentship is being funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council through the Consortium for the Humanities and the Arts South-East England (CHASE). This studentship is funded for 3 years (full-time) and comprises home/EU fees and a stipend of £15,559 for two years and £17,559 for one year.

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