Máiréad Casey

PhD Project Title: Playing Devil's Advocate: Demon Possession in Contemporary American Horror

Supervisor: Dr. Conn Holohan

What’s it about?  This thesis explores the new cycle of demonic possession in contemporary American horror. This multidisciplinary project will include analysis of film, television, and popular culture with the aim to locate the renewed popularity of this narrative in the cultural context of 21st century America.

When it was first released in 1973, The Exorcist located the moral and physical battleground of America’s youth in the body of a white, pre-pubescent, upper-middle class girl. It struck cultural pressure points of anxiety regarding the growing secularisation of American society, women’s liberation, civil rights, and the counter-cultural zeitgeist of experimentation and rebellion. At the time, it spawned a string of imitators without the same critical or commercial impact as their originator. However, the re-release in 2000, reignited an interest in demonic possession narratives for the film-going public. The narrative was reborn and sustained in franchises and single narratives with mass appeal. The Conjuring (2013) is one of the highest grossing horror films in the last twenty years, and the Paranormal Activity franchise (2007-2015) is the second highest grossing horror franchise of all time. The renewed interest this subgenre is occurring in a time when new conversations surrounding sexuality and consent have come to define gender politics in America in the early 21st century.

Some of the specific cultural, political, and historical circumstances that changed the semiotic nature of this narrative include: the revelations of sexual child-abuse scandals in the Catholic Church in the Boston and contemporary re-examination of the understanding and teaching of consent, sexual assault, discussions around sexual harassment in popular cultural discourse in the 2010s and the social and cultural impact of fourth-wave feminism.

Student Bio:  Máiréad Casey is a PhD candidate with NUI Galway's Huston School of Film & Digital Media. Her research interests include contemporary horror, gender and sexuality in film, representations of gendered violence, religion in horror, and the Gothic.

Contact: m.casey29@nuigalway.ie

Dan Dwyer

PhD Project Title: An exploration of the role of media practices in identity formation among the Irish diaspora in Britain.

Supervisor: Dr. Seán Crosson

What’s it about? Recent developments in media technologies allow the Irish diaspora easier and increased access to Irish produced and Irish themed media content. This project seeks to understand what drives those who consider themselves Irish and live in the UK to seek out Irish media. Media practices that may enhance and strengthen a diasporic identity, provide alternative historical narratives in a host nation, and facilitate a sense of attachment to a homeland are some of the emerging themes which facilitate a deeper understanding of this diasporic population. The project uses insights from media audience studies, diaspora studies and contemporary Irish studies to explore the role of media audience practices in the maintenance and development of an Irish identity in Britain today.

Student Bio: Dan Dwyer has taught media studies through the Irish language at undergraduate and postgraduate level at National University Ireland, Galway since 2006 and is currently undertaking his PhD with the Huston School of Film and Digital Media at the same university. Dan’s PhD explores the relationship between media audience practices and identity among the Irish in Britain.

Contact: dan.dwyer@nuigalway.ie

Temmuz Süreyya Gürbüz

PhD Project Title: An Investigation of Punk Aesthetics in Cinema and its Position in Postmodernity: A Queer Study

Supervisor: Dr. Seán Crosson

What’s it about? This research project takes as its main focus a particular aesthetic deployed in cinema from the early 1970s onwards, namely, what came to be known as “punk cinema,” and aims to analyze it through the lens of queer theory. Low-budget cinematic productions that are born out of the subcultural, avant-garde or/and punk inclinations of certain filmmakers exhibit a queer sensibility, a sensibility of being inclusive towards excluded subjectivities, not (only) by way of casting those subjects as its subject matter, but more specifically by way of its construction of time and space on the level of film form. This research builds on a combination of aspects of queer methodologies that view subjectivity as important as the corpus of the study, and textual analyses that focus on the process of identification in cinema.

Student Bio:Temmuz Süreyya Gürbüz hold a BSc in Computer Science and a minor in Film and Television from Istanbul Bilgi University. She received her MA from University College Cork, Ireland in 2013 in Film Studies with the thesis titled “Baise Moi, Genre, Sexuality: A Critical Analysis of the Blurred Margins of Subjectivity and Cinematic Representation”. Her research interests include Queer Theory, Punk Subculture, Gender and Sexuality in Film, Body Genres, Music & Cinema.

Contact: t.gurbuz1@nuigalway.ie

Ben Gwalchmai

PhD Project title: Interrogating the use of algorithmic storytelling to effect change

Supervisors: Dr. Conn Holohan and Dr. Sam Redfern

 What’s it about?A practice-based PhD creating an Augmented Reality experience to answer the question, can these algorithmic storytelling and augmented reality be used to reconfigure wider political attitudes toward perceptions of public space?

Student bio:Ben Gwalchmai is a maker, worker, & writer who was W.N.O.’s writer-in-residence, a Historical Novel Society ‘Editor’s Pick’ for his novel Purefinder, and winner of the Writing Platform Award 2013 for his app, Fabler. His next book, swimming in locks//kites over marches, will be published in 2019 by Indigo Dreams Publishing.

Contact: b.gwalchmai1@nuigalway.ie


Noel Hendrick

PhD Project Title: ‘Disclosure’ as Affective Experience: A Phenomenology of Dread, Awe, and Wonder in Moving Images

Supervisors: Dr. Conn Holohan, Dr. Seán Crosson, and Dr. Gerald Cipriani

What’s it about? This study explores the perception of a particular set of affective states, dread, awe, and wonder in the moving image experience. These affective states are defined discretely but share the central feature of being ‘disclosive.’ The purpose of the research is to thematise our understanding of these particular affective states. The research investigates the notion of the moving image as a space of possibilities and foregrounds the significance of embodied experience within this space. Essentially the research asks, how do these particular affective states alter the structure of the moving image experience? And, what is ‘disclosed’ in the experience?

In order to articulate the significance of embodied subjectivity in the moving image experience a phenomenological methodology is utilised to describe and particularise each affective state. The study draws upon the phenomenological work of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Martin Heidegger, and the work of Vivian Sobchack to make meaningful both the affective and sensory dimension of our engagement with the moving image. A collage of moving image examples are drawn from the early 2Oth century to the contemporary in support of the dissertation.

Student Bio: Noel Hendrick is PhD candidate at the Huston School of Film and Digital Media at NUI Galway. He has lectured and tutored across a range of modules on the BA programme at the Huston School. His main research area is emotion and the cinematic experience. In particular the emotions of ‘Awe’, ‘Wonder’, and ‘Dread.’ He is utilising a phenomenological methodology in his research, in particular the work of Maurice Merleau-Ponty. He graduated from NUIG with a degree in Psychology and spent a number of years as a film industry professional.

Contact: n.hendrick1@nuigalway.ie

Martin Jones

PhD Project Title: Global Genres in Theory and Practice: Action, Science Fiction, Crime and Small National Cinema.

Supervisors: Dr. Conn Holohan and Dr. Tony Tracy

What’s it about? Since 2000, there has been a marked increase generally in the numbers and proportions of genre and hybrid-genre films funded (at least in part) by the state funding authorities of small national cinemas. These genres include universal designations such as comedy, the musical, the war film, the thriller, action, science fiction, horror and crime, all of which are products of – or have been appropriated wholesale by – the Hollywood studio system. As American, or fully Americanised, these genres could and should be considered both ‘global’ and ‘unaccented’ (Naficy 2001).

The current research project focuses on the genre outputs supported by Screen Ireland (formerly The Irish Film Board), The Norwegian Film Institute and The New Zealand Film Commission, and examines:

  • the premise that these global, unaccented genres become significantly altered when they engage with a mode of production specific to small national cinema(s)
  • the operation and function of genre in these contexts, including the nature of this engagement, the consequent alteration, and its effects on both the genre and the small national cinema in question.

The approach above prioritises both the theoretical (including depictions of gender and race) and practical (including examination of funding and marketing strategies) effects of these interactions.

Student bio: After a long absence from Third Level education, Martin Jones had the opportunity to undertake a part-time M.A. degree in Film Theory and Practice from 2013-2015. His M.A. dissertation examined the role of genre in influencing representations of masculinity in Edgar Wright's Cornetto Trilogy. As an extension of this interest, Martin is currently engaged in PhD study at the Huston School of Film and Digital Media where his research focusses on the operation and function of genre in the context of small national cinema.‌

Contact: m.jones3@nuigalway.ie

Cormac McGarry

PhD Project Title: Comic Books and Graphic Novels in the Digital Age: The Reading/Watching Dialectic as Post-Medium Perceptual Regime.

Supervisors: Dr. Conn Holohan and Dr. Liam Burke

What’s it about? Cormac’s research project examines the large-scale remediation of comic books and graphic narratives as they increasingly constitute the fulcrums on which transmedia enterprises are weighted. In particular, the project looks to map out how the comic book’s innate media hybridity, in the wake of increased remediation, offers it up as a prospective case study for the development of post-medium specificities. Such post-medium specificities would take the form of ‘perceptual regimes.’ The project proposes a ‘reading/watching dialectic’ as the perceptual regime of comic books and graphic narratives and provides a framework for analysing its persistence across the conventional-institutional, communicative-semiotic, and material-technological changes wrought on the medium by digitisation and remediation into wide-ranging new forms such as motion comics, guided-view, and the infinite canvas.

Student Bio: Cormac graduated with a BA with Film Studies from NUI Galway in 2015 before moving on to pursue postgraduate research under the auspices of the Galway Doctoral Scholarship that same year. Since beginning the project, he has presented his research at the Irish Screen Studies Seminar, the Comics & Animation Symposium, and the International Graphic Novel and Comics Conference. His other research interests include transmedia spectatorship, visual culture, superhero narratives, and comic book history.   

Contact: c.mcgarry3@nuigalway.ie