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 Dr Heather Norris Nicholson | 01484 478466


Heather is a Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Visual and Oral History Research. She joined the university in 2012. She studied for her BA and PhD at the University of Exeter and her PCGE at Lancaster. She has taught at Bretton Hall, York St John University, University of Leeds and Manchester Metropolitan University where she was a Research Fellow with the Manchester Centre for Regional History and the North West Film Archives. She has been Visiting Fellow at the University of Calgary and has held honorary positions with Birkbeck College and The School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. She will be a Visiting Scholar at the Courtauld Institute 2013-14.

Research & Scholarship

Heather's research is concerned with archive film and changing amateur visual practice.  She is particularly interested in the rise of amateur cine photography from its first pioneers, through its years of peak popularity to its contemporary meaning and significance. She is also interested in the relationship between visual memories, identities and community-history making.

Her book, Amateur Film: Meaning and Practices, 1927-1977 (Manchester University Press, 2012) drew upon non-fiction film collections at the North West Film Archive, oral testimonies and the specialist hobby literature published from the 1920s onwards. It discusses formal and informal aspects of amateur practice, and uncovers many forgotten films and neglected filmmakers.

Heather has written many chapters and articles that explore aspects of amateur practice in relation to holidays, leisure, memories, identity, family relations, social issues, digital access and how landscape meanings change over time.

Current research focuses on how women made and showed cine films and uses oral testimonies, film and printed materials to reclaim a strand of neglected amateur visual practice.  Other current writing  explores links between amateur film and  regional identity, media archaeology and the early teaching of history.

Heather was involved with the EU funded Marie Curie project digital memories (2010) and past outreach projects include Moving Memories: Tales from Moss Side and Hulme and Reel Times, Turnpike Gallery, Leigh (2010). She contributed to the first Manchester Histories Festival, and the BBC series, Reel Histories of Britain (2011). Currently she is  involved with the Holmfirth Film Festival  and developing various community projects about amateur filmmakers.

She has also explored links between indigenous culture in tourism and in film, with particular reference to Canada’s aboriginal filmmakers. Screening Culture: Constructing Image and Identity (2003) linked indigenous and non-indigenous perspectives on film in a survey of cultural representation in moving image. This work sprang in part from studying indigenous cultural tourism initiatives in Western Canada where early archive footage often contributed to museum exhibits. Finding ways to reconnect and relocate archived visual histories with wider audiences remains a strong strand through other projects that Heather would like to take forward collaboratively.


Heather edited the British Journal of Canadian Studies (2009- 2012) and was on the editorial board of Landscapes (2001-2011). Currently she is part of the editorial team for Manchester Region History Review  (2006 onwards), Oral History Journal (2012 onwards) and the forthcoming Journal of Amateur Cinema Studies (2013).

Within the British Association of Canadian Studies (1993-2012),  she was Vice President, a councillor and member of various strategic reviews,  and undertook different DFAIT-funded initiatives and visits to Canada.

She has helped to run many conferences and seminars, held numerous small awards and travel scholarships that  include the  British Council, Krasna-Krausz, British Academy Small Grants and Prix de Quebec and she has examined research degrees for the universities of  Kent and Sheffield.

Past media appearance/consultancy includes BBC Nation on Film (2006-07), Reel Histories of Britain (2010-11) various independent production companies, and local press.

She contributed to Moving Memories: Tales from Moss Side and Hulme  (BUFVC Learning on Screen award and THES nominee , 2010); Reel Times, Turnpike Galley, Leigh, Lancs,2010) and various initiatives with the North West Film Archives at Manchester Metropolitan University (2005-2011).

She contributes to anonymous peer reviews and manuscript submissions for different publishers and journals and is on the steering committee for the AHRC Children in Amateur Media in Scotland project, 2010-2014.

Research Degree Supervision

Heather is happy to supervise postgraduate work or form part of a supervisory team, or act as external examiner in areas which connect with any of her research interests.  She welcomes informal  enquiries to discuss ideas at any stage, particularly in the following areas:

Amateur and archival film interpretation

Building links between communities and moving image collections

Personal narratives, visual memories, oral histories and community outreach

Travel footage, tourism histories and place identity

Promotional imagery and twentieth century change

Previously, Heather has co-supervised and been an External Examiner on topics in Canadian Studies and film.

Enterprise Activities

Educational resources for Canadian High Commission and Scholastic.

Teaching and Professional Activities

Not currently contributing to any taught programmes

Last updated Tuesday 16 June 2015
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