Bignell, Jonathan (Charles) 1963-

views updated

BIGNELL, Jonathan (Charles) 1963-


Born March 20, 1963, in London, England; son of Victor (a university lecturer) and Dorothy (a teacher; maiden name, Gammage) Bignell; married Elizabeth Taylor (a lecturer), July 29, 2000. Ethnicity: "White Caucasian." Education: Jesus College, Cambridge, B.A., 1984; University of Sussex, M.A., 1985, Ph.D., 1989. Politics: Liberal.


Office—Centre for Television Drama Studies, University of Reading, Bulmershe Ct., Woodlands Ave., Earley, Reading RG6 1HY, England; fax: +44-0-118-931-8873. E-mail—[email protected].


University of Reading, Reading, England, lecturer in English, 1989-99; Royal Holloway College, London, London, England, senior lecturer in media arts, 1999-2002; University of Reading, reader in television and film studies, 2002—. Member of British Film Institute and National Film Theater, 1989—, and Institute for Learning and Teaching, 2001—.


Society for Cinema and Media Studies, Media, Communication, and Cultural Studies Association, Society of Authors, Soceiété d'Études et de Recherches dans le Cinèma Anglophone.


Media Semiotics: An Introduction, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1997, 2nd edition, 2002.

(Editor) Writing and Cinema, Pearson (New York, NY), 1999.

Postmodern Media Culture, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 2000.

(Editor, with S. Lacey and M. Macmurraugh-Kavanagh) British Television Drama: Past, Present, and Future, Palgrave/Macmillan (Basingstoke, England), 2000.

An Introduction to Television Studies, Routledge (New York, NY), 2003.

(With Andrew O'Day) Terry Nation, Manchester University Press (Manchester, England), 2004.

Beckett on Screen: The Television Plays, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), in press.

General editor of "The Television Series," Manchester University Press (Manchester, England). Contributor to books, including War, Culture, and the Media: Representations of the Military in Twentieth-Century Britain, edited by I. Stewart and S. Carruthers, Flicks Books (Trowbridge, England), 1996; Alien Identities: Exploring Differences in Film and Fiction, edited by D. Cartmell, and others, Pluto (Sterling, VA), 1999; The Classic Novel: From Page to Screen, edited by E. Sheen and R. Giddings, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1999; "A Necessary Fantasy?" The Heroic Figure in Children's Popular Culture, edited by T. Watkins and D. Jones, Garland Publishing (New York, NY), 2000; and Other Becketts, edited by D. Caselli, S. Connor, and L. Salisbury, JOBS Books (Tallahassee, FL), 2002. Contributor to periodicals, including International Journal of Scottish Theater, Yearbook of English Studies, Cinèma et mythes, Journal of Beckett Studies, Wellsian, Dracula: Insemination/Dissemination, New Theater Quarterly, and British Journal of Canadian Studies.


Big Brother: Reality TV in the Twenty-first Century, for Palgrave/Macmillan (Basingstoke, England); editing Popular Television Drama: Critical Perspectives, with S. Lacey, for Manchester University Press (Manchester, England).


Jonathan Bignell told CA: "My professional life has been dedicated to research and teaching in the British university system. My writing is motivated by the desire to make original contributions to knowledge that will benefit fellow scholars, and to provide students with textbooks that will give them access to ideas. Most of my writing is in the subject areas of television studies and cultural theory.

"Perhaps because my own background was originally in the study of English literature, I believe that understanding television, film, and other audiovisual or written media should begin from the close analysis of what can be seen on the screen or read on the page. That is why I wrote Media Semiotics: An Introduction, which analyzes advertisements, newspapers, magazines, television programs, and films using the methodology of semiotics, or 'the science of signs,' to explore the range of meanings that contemporary media offer to their audiences. In my more specialized academic publications, such as Postmodern Media Culture, I have placed more emphasis on conceptual debates that are of interest to professional scholars like myself.

"My recent writing combines my interest in close analysis with historical and contextual work. I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s immersed in television, at a time now thought of as Britain's 'Golden Age' of television. Although I continue to be fascinated by television today, I have looked for opportunities to research into the Golden Age from an academic point of view. In the British university system, the pressures of maintaining a program of one's own writing at the same time as teaching and administration mean that competing for research funding is the best way to support sustained research. I have been successful in gaining funding for two substantial research projects on the history of British television. One of these focused on the British Broadcasting Corporation Wednesday Play television dramas of the 1960s, and the other on popular British television from 1960 to 1982. I was the coeditor of British Television Drama: Past, Present, and Future, which grew out of the research project on the Wednesday Play, and I shall be writing, editing, and contributing to further books on television history and aesthetics.

"My role is increasingly becoming that of a manager of research projects, where my own writing contributes to collaborative publications such as British Television Drama. I am series editor of 'The Television Series,' which publishes studies of individual television writers, and the book that I have recently completed with my coauthor Andrew O'Day, Terry Nation, is one of the first books in the series to be published. With research staff and contributors from other universities working alongside me, I now have time to explore related areas of interest for me. Most recently, I have begun working on 'reality TV' and the new kinds of factual television that have spread around the world after the success of Big Brother in the United Kingdom and abroad."