James completed his PhD in 2016. Entitled The Anarchist Cinema, the thesis explored the series of relationships between film and political anarchism.
His research interests include the dynamic between film form and content, horror, spaghetti westerns, and other cult cinemas, as well as anarchism in popular culture. He is also interested in the history of guerrilla, no-budget, and underground filmmaking.
James is also a filmmaker, whose work encompasses both narrative and experimental forms.
He was formerly Programme Director of Digital Media at Canterbury Christ Church University, and Associate Lecturer in Film Studies at the University of Kent.
James’ research interests include the relationship between film form and content, horror, spaghetti westerns, and other cult cinemas, as well as anarchism in popular culture. His book The Anarchist Cinema (Intellect, 2018) explores how aspects of anarchism have influenced film culture, and how anarchist theory can be used as a method to understand and interpret developments in cinema history.
He is currently working on The Mad Max Effect: Road Warriors of International Exploitation Cinema. This book (Bloomsbury, 2020) looks at the Mad Max series as being at the centre of multiple lines of exploitation cinema – from 70s car crash films, Australian genre pictures, transnational post-apocalypse action films from the 1980s, to online film culture in the 21st century.
James currently convenes the following modules:
Making Media: This module draws upon concepts in Media Studies to inform an introduction to moving image production. The module explores various forms of screen culture - from cinema, to television, to content creation in the digital age.
Digital Storytelling: This module explores some of the many new forms of content creation and narrative practices that have appeared as a result of technological and cultural change, and encourages students to engage with these forms critically and creatively. Students examine digital storytelling as an emergent form of participatory media by exploring new media narrative methods such as vlogs, citizen journalism, social media based storytelling and video essays.
I am interested in supervising doctoral students in research projects that explore aspects of cult cinema, radical politics and film, and guerrilla and underground film culture. I welcome proposal on these topics and any associated subject areas.
Newton, J. (2014). Nunsploitation: The Forgotten Cycle. Offscreen [Online] 18. Available at: https://offscreen.com/view/nunsploitation.
Newton, J. (2011). Turning the Western on its head: simple subversion in Sergio Corbucci’s The Great Silence (1968). Offscreen [Online] 15. Available at: https://offscreen.com/view/great_silence.
Newton, J. (2019). The Anarchist Cinema. [Online]. Bristol, Uk: Intellect. Available at: https://www.intellectbooks.com/the-anarchist-cinema.
This book examines the complex relationships that exist between anarchist theory and film. No longer hidden in obscure corners of cinematic culture, anarchy is a theme that has traversed arthouse, underground and popular film. In The Anarchist Cinema, James Newton explores the notion that cinema is an inherently subversive space, establishes criteria for deeming a film anarchic, and examines the place of underground and DIY filmmaking within the wider context of the category. The author identifies subversive undercurrents in cinema and uses anarchist political theory as an interpretive framework to analyse filmmakers, genres and the notion of cinema as an anarchic space
Pallant, C. and Newton, J. (2017). Animating Class and Contemporary British Television. In: Forrest, D. and Johnson, B. eds. Social Class and Television Drama in Contemporary Britain. London: Palgrave. Available at: https://www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9781137555052.
Newton, J. (2015). The Zombiefied Landscape: World War Z, ParaNorman, and the Politics of the Animated Corpse. In: Pallant, C. ed. Animated Landscapes: History, Form and Function. Bloomsbury Academic. Available at: https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/animated-landscapes-9781628923490/.
Newton, J. (2016). The Anarchist Cinema.
There has been only a minimal amount written in academic circles on the connections between political anarchism and cinema. Alan Lovell focuses on allegorical readings of films by Jean Vigo, Luis Bunuel, and Georges Franju. Richard Porton examines the historical representation of anarchists and their ideas. More recently, Nathan Jun lays out ideas for a proposed ‘cinema of liberation’. Yet these three writers, who provide the most notable attempts at wrestling with the subject, barely refer to one another. This means that there are disconnections in the areas of existing scholarly research, and it fails to fully analyse the complex series of relationships that exist between anarchism and film.
My thesis attempts to address these gaps, and suggests ways in which anarchist theory can be used as a framework to inform our understanding of cinema as a cultural and industrial institution, and also provide an alternative process of reading and interpreting films. In analysing the dynamics between anarchist theory and film, it focuses on three key areas. Firstly, it considers the notion that cinema is an inherently anarchic space, based around fears of unruly (predominantly working class) audiences. Secondly, it attempts to delineate what the criteria for an anarchist film could be, by looking at a range of formal characteristics and content featured in a number of popular movies. And thirdly, it examines the place of grassroots and DIY filmmaking in the wider context of an anarchist cinema. My thesis finds the continuities that exist between radical film culture of the present and the past, and I propose that there is an innately anarchic undercurrent to several key aspects of cinematic culture.
The thesis concludes by stressing the distinction that exists between film as a text, and cinema as a range of cultural activities. I propose that the ultimate embodiment of a study of an anarchist cinema should combine film analysis with that of an examination of cinema as a social and physical space. In turn, this can help us to consider the ways in which film and cinema may form part of a culture of resistance – one which fully articulates the concerns and questions surrounding anarchist political theory.