Public Engagement at Bath

Supporting researchers to engage the public with their research

Threshold concepts, social justice and the use of multi-platform storytelling

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Dr Matthew Alford (Politics, Languages & International Studies) was awarded £500 to develop his experience of performance techniques as a means of public engagement.

Matt is trying to connect three practical areas in his project: storytelling, teaching, and public engagement. The project builds on Matt’s longstanding scholarly research into the relationship between Hollywood, the military and security services, and ideology. To this end, Matt spent a year giving regular readings from his book ‘The Writer with No Hands’, including at the university's 50th anniversary celebrations, and will finish recording the audio book with musical accompaniment in front of a small audience next academic year. During the final session, Matt will seek focus group feedback to inform a written piece on the role of entertainment in public and academic pedagogy, considering for instance how key concepts can be made relatable and easy to follow.

Matt has recently appeared several times on Bristol Community FM (BCFM) for Andrew Parsonage’s ‘Stood Up’ show to talk about his research and stage experiences. While at BCFM, Matt was also asked to talk about the late actor, Roger Moore, who famously played the character, James Bond. Matt helped celebrate his life by participating in a discussion about Moore’s funniest lines in films. Matt also drew an analogy that related Noam Chomsky's media theory to making a cup of coffee.

To develop skills and ideas, Matt tried stand-up comedy with the Bright Club in Bristol and has started an improvisation course this summer. Matt is interested in developing a solo set but acknowledges that integrating ideas about Hollywood and ideology may not be easy. Martin Curtis, Senior Lecturer in Performing Arts at the University of Lincoln, has recently offered to serve as dramaturge on a stage project with Matt that develops these roots more theatrically. In the meantime, Matt is appearing on a variety of public forums and hopes this will have a positive impact on his ability to help audiences enjoy critically engaging with political doctrine.

Contact Matt (m.alford@bath.ac.uk) for further information about his project.

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