THE great and the good from the world of media are expected to be in Londonderry for an international media conference to be held in Magee next week.
Journalists, film-makers, television producers, photography, digital media practitioners and media theorists are among an eclectic line up of contributors for an international media conference at the University of Ulster’s Magee campus from 9-11 January 2013.
The event, one of the first major events to be held in Londonderry as part of its year long tenure as the UK City of Culture 2013, is expected to generate much discussion about media representation and national identity.
The conference is organised in a different university each year by the Media Communication and Cultural Studies Association (MeCCSA).
This year the conference, ‘Spaces and Places of Culture’, will be hosted at the Magee campus by the Centre for Media Research in the University’s School of Media, Film and Journalism.
The conference programme includes contributions from the world of film and TV studies, media production, journalism, radio, photography, creative writing, publishing, interactive media and the web, as well as media practice and media studies in higher education.
This will be the first time that the annual MeCCSA conference has been held in Northern Ireland and, according to event organisers, Professor Martin McLoone and Professor Maire Messenger Davies, it has generated a lot of interest and attracted some “big hitters.”
The programme includes Roy Greenslade, a media analyst and Professor of Journalism at City University, and a writer and blogger for The Guardian. Dr. Beatriz Garcia will also be in attendance, the Head of Research at the Institute of Cultural Capital, University of Liverpool, and expert on Cities of Culture programmes;.
Other notable attendees include Phil Redmond, producer of classic television shows such as Brookside, Hollyoaks and Grange Hill, Honorary Professor at Liverpool John Moore’ University and veteran of Liverpool’s European City of Culture year in 2008; as well as Londonderry’s own Shona McCarthy, chief executive of Culture Company 2013 and an alumna of the University of Ulster who will contribute to a panel discussion on ‘spaces and places of culture’ to consider the role of the City of Culture in Londonderry.
Professor McLoone is the Director of Ulster’s Centre for Media Research and a proud native of the city. “Being part of the City of Culture year-long programme of events gave us a unique advantage and an edge over other academic institutions looking to host the event this year. I’m delighted that I’ll have the privilege and honour of welcoming my peers from around the world to my home city,” he said.
Professor McLoone said that the theme of the conference, ‘Spaces and Places of Culture’, coupled with Londonderry hosting UK City of Culture, meant that the three day event has attracted more than the usual number of international delegates.
“We have submissions from scholars who might not normally come to a MeCCSA conference: scholars of architecture, tourism, ‘heritage’ and city studies, as well as media scholars studying representation of place and space in film, television, photography and digital media,” he noted.
“An action-packed year in the media policy arena has also produced a number of submissions on press regulation and the Leveson Inquiry. It seems, too, that there will be strong national (Ireland, UK) and international (China, USA, eastern Europe) themes.
“Derry~Londonderry, as its dual name implies, has been a divided space, geographically, politically and culturally. Its selection as UK City of Culture highlights this conflicted identity since the city’s traditions are both Irish and British. We expect that national and regional identity will be strong themes throughout the conference and will generate a lot of debate among delegates.”
Professor McLoone continued: “The conference programme has been built around themes relevance to the city itself such as cultural geography – ‘space, place, walls, bridges’ – and the conflicted history represented there.
“Given Northern Ireland’s current screen successes – the popularity of ‘Game of Thrones’, a huge international hit for Home Box Office and the 2012 Oscar for Terry George’s short film ‘The Shore’, there will be a focus on film and television studies, with screenings and contributions from film makers; delegates were encouraged to submit their own creative material for exhibition during the conference and film policy will be a conference theme.
“The programme also includes a special tribute lecture to the late Stuart Hood and his contribution to radical TV drama.
Professor McLoone added that although MeCCSA 2013 was an academic conference, the broad theme of Spaces and Places of Culture meant that a full range of interests would be catered with some of the screenings in city centre venues such as The Playhouse and Nerve Centre open to the public.
For further information on MeCCSA 2013 programme, see www.meccsa.org.uk