Dr James Walters BA (Kent), MA, PhD (Warwick)

Department of Film and Creative Writing
Senior Lecturer in Film and Television Studies
Head of Department of Film and Creative Writing

Contact details

Arts Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

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.


  • BA Hons (Kent)
  • MA (Warwick)
  • PhD (Warwick)


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



  • North American Cinema
  • Filmmaking Practices A
  • Filmmaking Practices B


  • Research, Production and Commissioning

Postgraduate supervision

I welcome PhD applications in the areas of film and television studies.


Film aesthetics

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. 

Television studies

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.

Other activities

  • Head of Taught Postgraduate Studies, School of English, Drama and American Studies
  • Postgraduate Examinations Officer, School of English, Drama and American Studies
  • Postgraduate Welfare Officer, School of English, Drama and American Studies
  • Programme Director for MA in Film and Television: Research and Production
  • Member of the European Network for Cinema and Media Studies
  • Member of film research group ‘The Magnifying Class,’ St Anne’s College, Oxford University



  • Fantasy Film: A Critical Introduction (Berg, 2011)
  • Film Moments: Criticism, History, Theory (British Film Institute/Palgrave Macmillan, 2010) edited with Tom Brown
  • Alternative Worlds in Hollywood Cinema (Intellect/Chicago University Press, 2008)

Chapters in books

  • 'Ambiguity and Achievement: Alec Guinness' Ealing Films,' eds. M. Williams et al Ealing Revisited (Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming)
  • 'Better or Differently: Style and Repetition in The Trip,' eds. J. Jacobs & S. Peacock Global Television: Aesthetics and Style (Continuum, forthcoming)
  • ‘Sense and Sensibilities: The Value of Coherence in the Contemporary Twist Film,’ ed. L. Hubner Valuing Films (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011)
  • ‘The Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique: Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill,’ eds. T. Brown & J. Walters Film Moments (British Film Institute/Palgrave MacMillan, 2010)
  • ‘The Bigger Picture: Preschool Television in its Critical and Aesthetic Contexts,’ J Steemers Creating Preschool Television (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010)
  • ‘When People Run in Circles: Structures of Time and Memory in Donnie Darko,’ ed. C. Lee Violating Time: History, Memory and Nostalgia in Cinema (Continuum, 2008)
  • ‘Repeat Viewings: Television Analysis in the DVD Age,’ eds. J. Bennett & T. Brown Film and Television After DVD (Routledge, 2008)


  • ‘Making Light of the Dark: Understanding the World of His Girl Friday,’ Journal of Film and Video, vol. 60, no. 3-4, 2008
  • ‘“Emotional Blood on the Undusted Carpets:” The Citizen as Subject in Wife Swap,’ Critical Survey, vol. 18, no. 3, 2006
  • ‘Saving Face: Inflections of Character Role-Play in Shameless,’ Journal of British Cinema and Television, vol. 3, no. 1, June 2006

Reports and reviews

  • ‘“Some people are disappointed to only get the film:” What is a DVD?,’ Screen, Volume 46, Number 4, Winter 2005
  • ‘Style and Meaning: Studies in the detailed analysis of film,’ Scope: An Online Journal of Film Studies, issue 6, October 200