Hollywood and British film figures at University of Leicester event

Posted by er134 at Jul 19, 2013 12:39 PM |
‘Home Alone was conceived as Straw Dogs for kids’

Issued by University of Leicester on 19 July 2013


Hollywood production designer John Muto, who worked on the sets of Home Alone and Species,  and distinguished British TV writer Bob Baker – who created the robot dog K-9 in Doctor Who -  are at the University of Leicester today for a major conference on Childhood and Media.

The University’s Department of History of Art and Film is hosting the 25th IAMHIST Conference until 20 July 2013.

The conference examines the representation of childhood in the media; the production of films and television programmes for children; child stars and actors; children as consumers of the media; and the regulation and control of films and television for child audiences.

The conference has attracted over 60 delegates from around the world, including the United States, UK, France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Turkey, Argentina, China and Australia.

Among the topics covered are: the careers of child film stars such as Shirley Temple, Freddie Bartholomew and Sabu – ‘the Elephant boy’; the puppet series of Gerry Anderson such as Stingray, Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons; motherhood and childhood in The Sarah Jane Adventures; and the censorship of images of children in horror films such as The Exorcist.

As well as academic papers, there are two special guest speakers.

Bob Baker, the distinguished British television writer, who wrote classic children’s drama serials including Sky, King of the Castle and Into the Labyrinth, as well as numerous stories for classic Doctor Who (Bob created the robot dog K-9) and worked with Nick Park on the Wallace & Gromit films, talks about his career.

John Muto, Hollywood production designer, talks about his experiences in the film industry, including his work on Home Alone, which he reveals was conceived as ‘Straw Dogs for kids’.

Professor James Chapman, of the University of Leicester, said: “We are delighted to host the IAMHIST conference on Childhood and the Media. Childhood has been a relatively neglected subject in media history – we tend to trivialise juvenile films and television in preference for more ‘adult’ fare. But I wonder how many of us have been profoundly affected in our outlook and values by the popular culture we consumed as children. The conference is showing that young audiences are not passive consumers of media – that children can be very proactive in their choices and are in fact among the most discerning of consumers.

“It’s surprising that there has been so little attention to children’s media because it’s a subject on which we are all experts. After all – we were all children once.”

The biennial conference of the International Association of Media and History (IAMHIST), last visited the University in 2003. IAMHIST was founded in 1977 as a professional subject association bringing together historians, librarians, archivists and practitioners interested in the role of the mass media in historical teaching and research, and in the representation of history in the media. IAMHIST’s journal, the Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, was founded in 1981, and its current editor is Professor James Chapman in the Department of History of Art and Film.



For more information, please email Professor Chapman on jrc28@le.ac.uk


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