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Robert Kilshaw

Media, University of Warwick

Thesis title:

Outer Limits: Edgeland Spaces and Cultural Self-Imaginings in the Film and Television of Post-Industrial Britain

Occupying the interstices of town and country, the so-called ‘edgeland’ is a topography defined by liminalities. Its typical features – the ring roads, business parks, railway sidings and brownfields found throughout the limits of our cities – are transient and interzonal structures; neutral territories that suture the urban–rural divide without quite laying claim to either sphere. However, far from being simply the dead space between two binaries, these peripheral exclaves contain within them a wealth of dualities, the opposing aspects of which form a resonant and societally charged field of interrelations.

My thesis seeks to determine the role of the edgeland in the British self-imagination by studying its filmic and televisual representations from throughout the post-industrial era and into the present day. Making close analyses of texts ranging from children’s serials to arthouse cinema, and from public safety broadcasts to polemical documentaries, it will chart commonalities and differences alike against broader critical and historical contexts in an effort to tease out the nature of an edgeland aesthetics. An informed consideration of this aesthetic framework as it relates to narrative and discursive trends may hopefully foster a hermeneutic model through which to better apprehend how the edgeland functions as a cultural construct. With this knowledge, I aim to shed fresh light on the ways in which the national imagination has worked to parse the upheaval felt in the wake of post-industrialism and assess what bearing this may have upon the vicissitudes of British identity – particularly as regards the nationalist discourse surrounding the 2016 Brexit referendum.

Research Area

  • Media
  • Television History, Theory and Criticism

Other Research Interests

  • Cinemas of national identity
  • Aesthetic approaches to landscape in film
  • Spatial-cultural relations
  • The archaeology of images
  • 'Topomystica' and the transcendental aesthetics of sacred sites
  • Radical historiographical praxis in film
  • Hauntology and the nostalgic uncanny