Professor James Chapman

James Chapman

Professor of Film Studies


  • Office: 1713
  • Tel: +44 (0)116 252 2865

Personal details

  • PhD Film Studies

I took my BA (History) and MA (Film Studies) at the University of East Anglia and then undertook my doctoral research at Lancaster University, writing my PhD thesis on the role of official film propaganda in Britain during the Second World War.

In 1996, I joined The Open University, where I taught a broad range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses, and was principal contributing author to the university’s first dedicated course on Film and Television History.

I joined the University of Leicester as its founding Professor of Film Studies in January 2006.

I am a Council member of the International Association for Media and History (IAMHIST) and in 2010, became editor of the Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television.

When I'm not lecturing my students on why we should take James Bond seriously or decoding the semiotics of Diana Rigg, I can usually be found following Test Match Special.


  • Researching World Cinemas
  • Reading Film



Projecting the Future: Science Fiction and Popular Cinema, co-authored with Nicholas J. Cull (London: I. B. Tauris, to be published in 2012).

British Comics: A Cultural History (London: Reaktion, to be published in October 2011).

Projecting Empire: Imperialism and Popular Cinema, co-authored with Nicholas J. Cull (London:  I.B. Tauris, 2009).

War and Film (London: Reaktion, 2008).

Licence To Thrill: A Cultural History of the James Bond Films (London: I. B. Tauris, 1999; 2nd edn 2007).

Inside the Tardis: The Worlds of ‘Doctor Who’ – A Cultural History (London: I. B. Tauris, 2006).

Past and Present: National Identity and the British Historical Film (London: I. B. Tauris, 2005).

Cinemas of the World: Film and Society from 1895 to the Present (London: Reaktion, 2003).

Saints and Avengers: British Adventure Series of the 1960s (London: I. B. Tauris, 2002).

The British at War: Cinema, State and Propaganda, 1939-1945 (London: I. B. Tauris, 1998).

Edited books

 The New Film History: Sources, Methods, Approaches, co-edited with Mark Glancy and Sue Harper (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).

Windows on the Sixties: Exploring Key Texts of Media and Culture, co-edited with Anthony Aldgate and Arthur Marwick (London: I. B. Tauris, 2000).

Chapters in edited books

‘H. G. Wells and Science Fiction Cinema’, in Tobias Hochscherf and James Leggott (eds), British Science Fiction Film and Television (Jefferson NC: McFarland, 2011).

‘From Amicus to Atlantis: The lost worlds of 1970s British Cinema’, in Robert Shail (ed.), Seventies British Cinema (London: British Film Institute, 2008).

‘Policing the People’s War: Foyle’s War and British television drama’, in Michael Paris (ed.), Re-presenting the Second World War: Film and Television Since 1989 (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).

‘“This ship is England!”: History, politics and national identity in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)’, in James Chapman, Mark Glancy and Sue Harper (eds), The New Film History: Sources, Methods, Approaches (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).

‘Bond and Britishness’, in Edward P. Commentale, Skip Willman and Steven Watt (eds), Ian Fleming and James Bond: The Cultural Politics of 007 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005).

‘Quatermass and the origins of British television SF’, in John R. Cook and Peter Wright (eds), British Science Fiction Television: A Hitch Hiker’s Guide (London: I.B. Tauris, 2005).

‘Cinema, monarchy and the making of heritage: A Queen Is Crowned’, in Claire Monk and Amy Sargeant (eds), British Historical Cinema (London: Routledge, 2002).

‘The World at War: Television, Documentary, History’, in Graham Roberts and Philip M. Taylor (eds), The Historian, Television and Television History (Luton: University of Luton Press, 2001).

‘Action, spectacle and the Boy’s Own tradition in British cinema’, in Robert Murphy (ed.), The British Cinema Book 2nd edn (London: British Film Institute, 2001).

‘Cinema, propaganda and national identity’, in Justine Ashby and Andrew Higson (eds), British Cinema, Past and Present (London: Routledge, 2000).

‘Why We Fight: Pastor Hall and Thunder Rock’, in Alan Burton, Tim O’Sullivan and Paul Wells (eds), The Family Way: The Boulting Brothers and British Film Culture (Trowbridge: Flicks, 2000).

‘God Bless Us, Every One: Movie Adaptations of A Christmas Carol’, in Mark Connelly (ed.), Christmas at the Movies: Images of Christmas in American, British and European Cinema (London: I. B. Tauris, 2000).

‘The Avengers: Television and Popular Culture during the “High Sixties”’, in Anthony Aldgate, James Chapman and Arthur Marwick (eds), Windows on the Sixties: Exploring Key Texts of Media and Culture (London: I.B. Tauris, 2000).

‘British Cinema and the People’s War,’ in Nick Hayes and Jeff Hill (eds), Millions Like Us: British Culture in the Second World War (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1999).

‘Celluloid Shockers’, in Jeffrey Richards (ed.), The Unknown 1930s: An Altermative History of the British Cinema, 1929-1939 (London: I. B. Tauris, 1998).

Articles in refereed journals

The Adventures of Robin Hood and the origins of the television swashbuckler’, Media History, forthcoming (2011).

'“Sordidness, corruption and violence almost unrelieved”: Critics, censors and the postwar British crime film’, Contemporary British History, 22: 2 (2008).

‘Onward Christian Spacemen: Dan Dare – Pilot of the Future as British cultural history’, Visual Culture in Britain, 9: 1 (2008).

‘The BBC and the Censorship of The War Game (1965), Journal of Contemporary History, 41: 1 (2006).

‘“Honest British violence”: Critical responses to Dick Barton – Special Agent (1946-51)’, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, 26: 4 (2006).

‘“The true business of the British movie”: A Matter of Life and Death (1946) and British film culture’, Screen, 46: 1 (2005).

‘“Excellent stupidity, silly excellence”: Visual style in The Avengers’Visual Culture in Britain, 1: 1 (2000).

“The Yanks Are Shown to Such Advantage”: Anglo-American rivalry in the production of The True Glory (1945)’, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, 16: 4 (1996).

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943) Reconsidered’, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, 15: 1 (1995).


My research focuses on British popular culture, especially cinema and television in their historical contexts. I am interested in

  • the role of the media as propaganda
  • the representation of war and history
  • the cultural politics of popular fictions - including, but not limited to:
    • Dick Barton
    • Dan Dare
    • James Bond
    • The Avengers
    • Doctor Who

I have recently completed the first book to offer a cultural history of British comics from their origin to the present, and I am currently researching books on Science Fiction Cinema and Contemporary British Television Drama.

I am also co-investigator on a three-year Arts and Humanities Research Council project called ‘Spaces of Television’ in association with the University of Reading and the University of Glamorgan.


I am willing to supervise research students in any of my areas of interest and am happy to discuss research proposals with potential applicants.


  • Peter Waymark: ‘Television and the Cultural Revolution: The BBC under Hugh Carleton Greene’, PhD, The Open University, 2006.
  • Sally Dux: ‘Richard Attenborough and the British Cinema’, PhD, The Open University, 2009.
  • Joy Payne: ‘The London Film Makers’ Co-operative: 1960s to the Present’, The Open University, 2010.

I'm currently supervising:

  • Andrew Croft: ‘Michael Balcon and the British Cinema: Gainsborough Pictures and the Gaumont-British Picture Corporation, 1926-1936’ (University of Leicester).
  • Julie Ives: ‘A History of ITV Regional Programming in the East Midlands’ (University of Leicester, AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award with the Media Archive of Central England).
  • Victoria Byard: ‘The spaces of British telefantasy’ (University of Leicester)
    Andrew Moule: ‘The legacy of the Second World War in post-war British cinema’ (University of Leicester)

Learn more about research degrees in the Department of the History of Art and Film

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