I research and teach film and television aesthetics. My work involves close textual analysis and, particularly, I am interested in the relationship between this critical practice and questions of value and achievement.
James completed a first degree in film studies at the University of Kent before studying for an MA at the University of Warwick under the supervision of V.F. Perkins. He completed his PhD at Warwick before moving to the University of Westminster, where he spent a year as research fellow.
James was appointed to Birmingham in 2007. He has contributed a number of articles and chapters on film and television as well as books on ‘alternative worlds’ in Hollywood cinema, fantasy cinema, and the film moment
My research engages with the profits and challenges inherent in the close scrutiny of film style, and how sustained attention to questions of aesthetic composition can enrich claims for achievement in cinema. My book, Film Moments, best reflects this approach. I have a particular investment in movies from contemporary and golden era Hollywood, represented in critical appraisals of the work of directors such as Fritz Lang, Vincente Minnelli, Frank Capra, Woody Allen and Quentin Tarantino.
I have a broad interest in genres of British and US television, again featuring a critical emphasis upon matters of style and meaning. My work attends to a series of issues ranging from the representation of ordinary people in reality television, thematic structuring and character arcs in television drama, and close textual analysis in the context of television released as DVD. I also spent a year working on the AHRC-funded research project 'The Production Ecology of Preschool Television', the outcomes of which were published in 2010.
My writing on film and television often incorporates a close consideration of tones and styles of performance, taking into account the ways in which gesture, movement, voice and gaze resonate within a character’s fictional world. Articles on His Girl Friday, The Others and the television dramas Shameless, Doctor Who and 24 make this their specific focus.
Fictional worlds and fantasy narratives
A large amount of my research has involved an analysis and evaluation of fictional worlds in cinema, and particularly films that create the fantasy of an alternative or parallel world within their narratives. This interest is best represented in my books, Alternative Worlds in Hollywood Cinema and Fantasy Film.