Dr Dieter Declercq joined the School of Arts in 2013 as a Graduate Teaching Assistant and PhD candidate in Film Studies. Dieter's PhD thesis philosophically investigated the nature and significance of satire in a variety of popular media. After completing his thesis in 2017, Dieter continued teaching in the School of Arts as an Assistant and Associate Lecturer, delivering modules in Film, Media Studies and History of Art. Dieter moved onto a lectureship in Film and Media Studies in 2019.
Prior to arriving at Kent, Dieter completed a BA in Literature and Linguistics, a BA in Philosophy, an MA in Western Literature (all KU Leuven in Belgium), an MA by Research in Film Studies, focusing on TV comedy and the Baby Boom generation (De Montfort University) and an MA in Translation and Interpreting (Erasmus University College Brussels). This diverse trajectory has shaped Dieter's teaching and research.
Dieter's research combines methodologies from Film Studies, Media Studies and Philosophy of Art in the analytic tradition. He is particularly intrigued by the significance of popular media in our daily lives. Recently, he has worked on the political significance of satire, the moral value of irony in TV series and the value of comedy to our mental health. You can read a short introduction to Dieter's research on satire on aestheticsforbirds.com.
An important part of Dieter's work is outreach and widening participation. In recent years, he has delivered several short-form courses in Film and Media for students at primary and secondary schools in the local area. Dieter also regularly organises events and conferences at Kent, including the exhibition There is an Alternative! Critical Cartoons and Comics at the Templeman Library in 2016. Currently, Dieter is co-organising the British Society of Aesthetics Conference: Art, Aesthetics, and the Medical and Health Humanities, which will be held at Kent from Friday 7 February to Sunday 9 February 2020.
Dieter has a broad interest in popular media, with a specific focus on satire, comedy, irony, cartoons, comics and graphic novels, animation, and, more recently, memes and video games. His approach combines methodologies from Film Studies, Media Studies and Philosophy of Art in the analytic tradition. In his research, Dieter philosophically investigates the value and significance of popular media in our daily lives. He values interdisciplinary research and actively welcomes collaboration across disciplines.
Dieter is currently writing a book on Satire, Comedy and Mental Health (Emerald, 2020). This book investigates how satirists use comedy to cope with the depressing sociopolitical world and explores how we can incorporate entertainment and narrative strategies from satire to address mental health challenges in modern life. His investigation reassesses the idea of satire as therapy and challenges the heroic conception of satire as a cure for the ills of the world. Instead, Dieter argues that satire is a tool to cope with a sick world beyond full recovery. Specifically, satirists develop aesthetic strategies to mitigate their limits in changing the world.
Other recent and current research interests include defining the nature, function and significance of satire, visual indicators of irony in comics, the distinction between fiction and non-fiction in relation to satirical cartoons and comics journalism, the moral value of irony in popular media, the limitations of the safety valve metaphor to frame the affordances of satire, what we do when we communicate ironically, the idea of satire as philosophy, the truthfulness of caricaturing, and the neoliberal values underpinning reality TV.
In the current academic year (2019/2020), Dieter is convening:
MSTU3010: Media and Meaning (Stage 1, Media Studies, Autumn Term)
This module introduces students to the ways in which meaning is created and communicated across various media. The primary focus will be upon a range of key forms across the historical continuum of media practice. These trends will span both traditional and new forms of media content, such as print, radio, television, the Internet and user generated content. Media are therefore studied in this module as processes of transmission that shape and constrain what can be communicated through previous generations and into the future.
MSTU5006: Video Gaming: Play and Players (Stage 2, Media Studies, Autumn Term)
This module aims to provide students with a broad-based knowledge of the history and development of video gaming, alongside an understanding of the technological and industrial advances in game design. Students will learn about game theory and be able to use it analyse a wide range of game types. They will learn about intersecting questions of narrative, interactivity, space, play, players, game genres and representation. They will gain an understanding of how formal and informal regulation works to control game content, and be able to conceive of all of this through a range of critical theories.
FI622: Television Series: Narration, Engagement and Evaluation (Stage 3, Film Studies, Spring Term)
The module explores storytelling in fictional television series, and how the long duration of these series changes the spectator's engagement, as compared to engagement in the relatively short fiction film. The module also addresses how various types of television series have been valued in critical reception through the history of television. In addition to introducing the students to current developments in television studies, this module takes a film theoretical, narratological approach to current television series, and trains students in various approaches to the study of television series in and beyond television studies proper.
In the current academic year (2019/2020), Dieter also delivers seminars for:
FI587: Extreme Cinema (Stage 3, Film Studies, Autumn Term) Convenor: Professor Mattias Frey.
This course probes film cultural issues surrounding extreme cinema, i.e., 'arthouse' films which, because of violent, sexual, or other iconoclastic content, form or style, have created critical or popular controversy. Representative topics include the aesthetics of violence and the ethics of representing and viewing pain, boundaries between erotic art and exploitation, disgust and the ‘unwatchable’, authorial and critical discourses, marketing, audience and reception studies and censorship.
In recent years, Dieter hasalso taught a variety of other modules across departments in the School of Arts since 2014, including Film Style (FI313), Film Theory (FI315), Film Histories (FI316), Animated Worlds (FI573), Media and Meaning (ART301) and Introduction to Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art (HA361/2). He has also delivered the extra-curricular Study Plus Course, Film and Media Analysis (KE180).
Dieter welcomes enquiries about supervision for BA, MA and PhD dissertations. Topics of specific interest and expertise include, but are not limited to: