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Dr Lucy Fife Donaldson


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Dr Lucy Fife Donaldson

Senior Lecturer in Film Studies

My research focuses on film style, texture, performance and the body. I am interested in bringing together close textual analysis with issues of embodiment, experience and sensation, and drawing on connections to a range of other disciplines, such as dance, philosophy and art. My research interests include the staging and presence of performance in cinema and TV; the relationship between bodily affect, agency and effort; structures of engagement with film, specifically its materiality; genre, especially horror and melodrama; British Film Criticism (especially in the Movie tradition) and the contribution of ‘below the line’ film designers to the materiality of cinema. I have published on the materiality of performance in post-studio horror and its relationship to elements of film style, on performance and intertextuality in Biopics, the relationship between camera and performer in US cop series The Shield and the contribution of foley artists to the effort and affect of performance. I am currently working on performance in Television, and am co-editing a book on that subject with Dr James Walters, University of Birmingham, for Palgrave Macmillan. I have also been working on the intertextual echoes embedded in film and television space, in a chapter on a series of films directed by Budd Boetticher, and in an article on the British television drama Inspector Morse for my work on the AHRC-funded project ‘Spaces of Television: Production, Site and Style’ as a post-doctoral researcher.

In 2014, I published a monograph Texture in Film for Palgrave Macmillan’s series: Palgrave Close Readings in Film & Television (Series Editors: Gibbs, John & Douglas Pye). The book is a strongly interdisciplinary study of the concept of ‘Texture’ in relation to mainstream cinema, and discusses this in relation to its usage in film criticism, narrative, genre and specific decisions around mise-en-scène (lighting, aspect ratio, composition), editing, sound and bodies on-screen. My approach is based in close textual analysis, bringing together discussion of style, criticism and technology.

I am a member of the Editorial Board of Movie: A Journal of Film Criticismand co-edited issue 6 in 2015, which featured a special dossier on ‘moments of texture’ in film and television.

I am currently the Director of Teaching for the department.



Texture in Film. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, 2014. Series: Palgrave Close Readings in Film & Television. Editors: Gibbs, John & Douglas Pye.


Movie: A Journal of Film Criticism, 6, 2015. co-edited with James MacDowell.


'Locating sound in UK/US television crime drama: The affective impact of sound effects and music in Happy Valley and Hannibal' in Hansen, Kim Toft & Steven Peacock, Sue Turnbull (eds) European Television Crime Drama and Beyond. Palgrave Macmillan, 2018, pp. 83-99.

co-written with James Walters, 'Inter(acting): Television, Performance and Synthesis', Critical Studies in Television, 13.3, 2018, pp. 352-369.

'Surface Contact: Film Design as an Exchange of Meaning', Film-Philosophy, 22.2, 2018, pp. 203-221.

‘Rough and Smooth: The Everyday Textures of Toy Story’ in Smith, Susan & Michael Shaftoe, Sam Summers, Noel Brown (eds) Toy Story. London: Bloomsbury, 2018, 73-86.

'"You Have to Feel a Sound for it to be Effective": Sonic Surfaces in Film and Television' in Mera, Miguel & Ronald Sadoff, Ben Winters (eds), The Routledge Companion to Screen Music and Sound. London: Routledge, 2017, pp.85-95.

'Feeling and Filmmaking: The Design and Affect of Film Sound', The New Soundtrack, 7.1, 2017, pp. 31-46.

'The Ranown Style: Mapping Textual Echoes' in Rhodes, Gary D. & Robert Singer (eds), ReFocus:The Films of Budd Boetticher. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2017, pp.149-165.

'Series Spaces: Revisiting and Re-Evaluating Inspector Morse', Journal of Popular Television, 4: 1, 2016,  3-28.

'Reading Space in Cracker', Movie: A Journal of Film Criticism, 6, 2015, 40-45.

The Work of an Invisible Body: The Contribution of Foley Artists to On-screen Effort’, Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media, 7, 2014.

‘Camera and Performer: Energetic Engagement with The Shield' in Jacobs, Jason & Steven Peacock (eds), Television Aesthetics and Style. London: Continuum Press, 2012.

‘Performing Lives: Performance, Embodiment and Intertextuality in the Contemporary Biopic' in Brown, Tom & Belén Vidal (eds), The Biopic in Contemporary Film Culture. London: Routledge, 2013

‘Effort and Affect: Engaging with Film Performance' in Reason, Matthew & Dee Reynolds (eds), Kinesthetic Empathy in Creative and Cultural Practices. Bristol: Intellect Books, 2012.

‘"Normality is Threatened by the Monster": Robin Wood, Romero and Zombies', CineAction, 84, 2011, 24-31.

‘"The suffering black male body and the threatened white female body": Ambiguous Bodies in Candyman'The Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies, 9, 2011.

Access and Excess in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (Tobe Hooper, 1974)' in Movie: A Journal of Film Criticism, 1, 2010.

‘“There’s something very familiar about all this”: generic play and performance in the Back to the Future trilogy (Robert Zemeckis, 1985, 1989, 1990)’ in Ni Fhlainn, Sorcha (ed.), The Worlds of Back to the Future. Jefferson: McFarland, 2010, 73-90.

‘Human monstrosity: rape, ambiguity and performance in Rosemary’s Baby (Roman Polanski, 1968)’in Baumgartner, Holly & Roger Davis (eds.), Hosting the Monster. Amsterdam/New York: Rodopi, 2008, 43-62.


Review of Stephen Barber, Performance Projections: Film and the Body in Action (London: Reaktion Books, 2014), Screen, 57: 4, 2016, 503-506.

Review of Matilda Mroz, Temporality and Film Analysis (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2013), Cinema Journal, 55: 2, 2016, 159-161.

Review of Lauren M. Good,  Lilya Kaganovsky and Robert Rushing (eds), Mad Men, Mad World: Sex, Politics, Style and the 1960s (Durham: Duke University Press, 2013) and Erika Engstrom, Tracy Lucht, Jane Marcellus and Kimberly Wilmot, Voss Mad Men and Working Women: Feminist Perspectives on Historical PowerResistance, and Otherness (New York: Peter Lang, 2014), Critical Studies in Television 10:1, 2015, 91-93.

Review of Janet McCabe, The West Wing (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2013), and Sherryl Vint, The Wire (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2013), Critical Studies in Television 9:3, 2014, 123-125.


Repeating and Re-articulating Space: Inspector Morse's House for Critical Studies in Television Online

Costume and Space: Inspector Morse in his Pyjamas for 'Spaces of Television: Production, Site and Style' research project blog



‘Surface Contact: Film Design as an Exchange of Meaning’, Research seminar series, King’s College London, December 2017.

'The same, but different: adjustment and accumulation in television performance', Research seminar series, University of Stirling, November 2016.

'Feeling and Filmmaking: The Affect and Design of Film Sound', Research seminar series, University of Bristol, March 2016.

‘The Strong and Silent Type?: Reading Against the Grain of Jason Statham’s Star Persona’, Research seminar series, University of Reading, May 2014.

Keynote speaker. Textures conference, University of St Andrews, Apr 2014.

‘Masculine Tools: The Controlled Body of Jason Statham’. Film and Television Aesthetics Research Seminar Series, University of Hertfordshire, Apr 2013.

‘Textural Worlds’. Centre for Film Studies Events, University of St Andrews, Nov 2012.


'The same, but different: adjustment and accumulation in television performance'. SCMS (Panel on Acting in Complex TV), Toronto, 2018.

‘Setting the scene: valuing television as a medium for performance’, with James Walters (University of Birmingham), Acting on TV, University of Reading, April 2016.

'Feeling and Filmmaking: The Design and Affect of Film Sound', Sound and Screen, University of West London, November 2015.

'Mapping the materiality of off-screen sound'. Sound and Image, University of Greenwich, November 2015.

'Surface and Affect: The Texture of the Film World'. Film-Philosophy, St Annes College, University of Oxford, July 2015.

'"You have to feel a sound for it to be effective": Sonic Surfaces in Film'. Haptic Narratives: Touching Sounds Through the Screen, University of Greenwich, May 2015.

‘Masculine Tools: The Controlled Body of Jason Statham’. Revisiting Star Studies, University of Newcastle, June 2013.

‘Experiencing Film Space: Responding to Surface and Depth’. Texture in Film, University of St Andrews, March 2013.

‘Sensing Space: The Texture of Suppression and Revelation in Vertigo’. Film-Philosophy, King’s College London and Queen Mary, University of London, Sept 2012.

‘Camera and Dancer: Proximity, Pleasure & Performance’. Not Just Fred and Ginger: Camaraderie, Collusion and Collisions Between Dance and Film, Annual Conference of European Association of Dance Historians, London Metropolitan University, Oct 2011.

‘The work of the body: thinking about effort in performance’. Screen Studies Conference, University of Glasgow, July 2010.

‘Effort and Affect: Engaging with Film Performance’. Kinesthetic Empathy: Contexts and Concepts, University of Manchester, April 2010.

Research supervision

I would welcome projects from students working in various areas of film and television performance and aesthetics, affect and embodiment in film and television, audio-visual design, film sound, film criticism, genre  (especially horror and melodrama) and American cinema.

I am currently supervising: