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A Critical Cinematic Survey of The Death and Life of UK Universities

Carless, Tonia; Troiani, Igea


Tonia Carless
Senior Lecturer in Architecture

Igea Troiani


This presentation will screen and discuss extracts from a film which the authors are currently producing entitled The Death and Life of UK Universities. The film is a cinematic database survey being compiled of the changing space of all British universities. The already 2-year long research project is an audio-visual critique of the way in which neoliberalism and corporatisation has co-opted the domestic space of the British university in the plight world university status. Building upon the writings of Jane Jacobs (1961), Henri Lefebvre (1991), Ellen Meiksins Wood (1991) and Wendy Brown (2015) among others, it intensifies observations on the representation of the university linked to the global H.E. market and scientific discourse and popular or everyday knowledges derived from lived space.

Using an architectural research cinematic collage methodology developed by the authors (Troiani and Carless in Troiani and Campbell eds, 2019) which combines found and historical documentary or feature film footage, direct footage shot on site (Fig. 1) and found footage in the public domain of the virtual online space of the university it juxtaposes readings of the various lives of British universities in popular culture and in memory. The British university is understood through the film to be a subject of the extreme crisis of academic capitalism (Troiani, 2017). If the process of spectacular recuperation beyond capitalism depends upon identifying and highlighting spatial/cultural/socio-political cultural difference then to identify sameness and non-identity with a heightened cinematic sensitivity to atmosphere and sites of historical action might offer a possible detournement. The film critiques the spatial model of the UK university and presents a new interdisciplinary method of cinematic architecture film research, survey and analysis considering the everyday workings, lives, atmospheres and material conditions that intensify these spaces.


Carless, T., & Troiani, I. (2019, September). A Critical Cinematic Survey of The Death and Life of UK Universities. Paper presented at Slices of Everyday Life, Cambridge University Newnham College Department of Architecture

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name Slices of Everyday Life
Conference Location Cambridge University Newnham College Department of Architecture
Start Date Sep 19, 2019
End Date Sep 20, 2019
Deposit Date Oct 13, 2019
Keywords film collage neo-liberalism university space
Public URL
Additional Information A co-authored paper and presentation with Professor Igea Troiani