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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.

Publications and Other Research Outputs


Norris Nicholson, H (2014) ‘Cinemas of Catastrophe and Continuity: Mapping Out Twentieth-Century Amateur Practices of Intentional History-Making in Northern England’. In: Amateur Filmmaking The Home Movie, the Archive, the Web. : Bloomsbury. pp. 67-80. ISBN 9781441139054


Norris Nicholson, H (2013) ‘Legends, Romance, and the Intelligent Knowledge of History: Storytelling on Film and Imagining the Past’. In: Bringing History to Life through Film The Art of Cinematic Storytelling. : Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. pp. 89-109. ISBN 978-1-4422-2963-1


Norris Nicholson, H (2012) ‘Looking Beyond the Moving Moments: Adaptation, Digitization and Amateur Film Footage as Visual Histories’. In: The Adaptation of History: Essays on Ways of Telling the Past. : McFarland. pp. 196-206. ISBN 9780786472543

Norris Nicholson, H (2012) Amateur Film: Meaning and Practice, c. 1927 - 77 . Studies in Popular Culture. Manchester: Manchester University Press. ISBN 978-0-7190-7773-9

Norris Nicholson, H (2012) ‘Manchester’s Moving Memories: Tales from Moss Side and Hulme: archive film and community history-making’. In: Tourists and Nomads. Amateur Images of Migration. : Jonas-Verlag. . ISBN 9783894454647


Nicholson, H (2010) ‘'Old World Traditions…and Modernity' in Cunard's Transatlantic Films, c.1920-35: Making Connections between Early Promotional Films and Urban Change’. In: The City and the Moving Image. : Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 21-35. ISBN 9780230243385


Norris Nicholson, H (2009) ‘Moving pictures, moving memories: framing the interpretative gaze’. In: Private Eyes and the Public Gaze - The Manipulation and Valorisation of Amateur Images. : Kliomedia. . ISBN 9783898901369

Norris Nicholson, H (2009) ‘Framing the view: holiday recording and Britain’s amateur film movement c.1925-1950’. In: Movies on Home Ground: Explorations in Amateur Cinema. : Cambridge Scholars Publishing. pp. 93-127. ISBN 9781443813440

Norris Nicholson, H (2009) ‘Floating Hotels: Cruise Holidays and Amateur Film-making in the Inter-War Period’. In: Moving Pictures/Stopping Places: Hotels & Motels on Film. : Lexington Books. pp. 49-71. ISBN 9780739128558

Norris Nicholson, H (2009) ‘Through the Balkan States: Home movies as travel texts and tourism histories in the Mediterranean, c.1923-39Panoptikum , 8 (15).

Norris Nicholson, H (2009) ‘Journeys into Seeing: Amateur Film-making and Tourist Encounters in Soviet Russia, c. 1932New Readings , 10, pp. 57-71. ISSN 1359-7485


Norris Nicholson, H (2008) ‘”Old world traditions… and modernity” in Cunard’s transatlantic films, c.1920 – 35: making connections between early promotional films and urban change’. In: Cities In Film: Architecture, Urban Space And The Moving Image Conference Proceedings. : University of Liverpool. pp. 163-169. ISBN 9780955788413


Norris Nicholson, H (2007) ‘“As If by Magic”: Authority, Aesthetics, and Visions of the Workplace in Home Movies, circa 1931–1949’. In: Mining the Home Movie Excavations in Histories and Memories. : University of California Press. pp. 214-230. ISBN 9780520248076


Norris Nicholson, H (2006) ‘Shooting in Paradise: Conflict, Compassion and Amateur Filmmaking During the Spanish Civil WarJournal of Intercultural Studies , 27 (3), pp. 313-330. ISSN 0725-6868

Norris Nicholson, H (2006) ‘Sites of Meaning: picturing Mediterranean and other landscapes in British home movies, c. 1928-1965’. In: Landscape and Film. : Routledge. pp. 167-188. ISBN 9780415975551

Norris Nicholson, H (2006) ‘Through the Balkan States: Home movies as travel texts and tourism histories in the Mediterranean, c.1923-39Tourist Studies , 6 (1), pp. 13-36. ISSN 1468-7976


Norris Nicholson, H (2004) ‘At home and abroad with cine enthusiasts: Regional amateur filmmaking and visualizing the Mediterranean, ca. 1928–1962GeoJournal , 59 (4), pp. 323-333. ISSN 0343-2521


Norris Nicholson, H (2003) ‘British Holiday Films of the Mediterranean: At Home and Abroad with Home Movies, ca. 1925-1936Film History , 15 (2), pp. 102-116. ISSN 0892-2160


Norris Nicholson, H (2002) ‘Picturing the Past: Archival Film and Historical Landscape ChangeLandscapes , 3 (1), pp. 81-100. ISSN 1466-2035

Norris Nicholson, H (2002) ‘Telling travellers’ tales: framing the world in home movies, c.1935 – 1967’. In: Engaging Film: Geographies of Mobility and Identity. : Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. pp. 47-68. ISBN 978-0-7425-0884-2


Norris Nicholson, H (2001) ‘‘At the centre of it all are the children’: Aboriginal Childhoods and the National Film BoardLondon Journal of Canadian Studies , 17, pp. 73-100. ISSN 0267-2200

Norris Nicholson, H (2001) ‘Icons, flagships and identity: aboriginal tourism in western Canada’. In: Aboriginal People and Other Canadians: Shaping New Relationships. : University of Ottawa Press. pp. 187-210. ISBN 9780776605418

Norris Nicholson, H (2001) ‘Regionally Specific, Globally Significant: Who's Responsible for the Regional Record?The Moving Image , 1 (2), pp. 152-163. ISSN 1532-3978

Norris Nicholson, H (2001) ‘Two tales of a city: Salford in regional filmmaking, 1957-1973Manchester Region History Review , 15, pp. 41-53. ISSN 0952-4320

Norris Nicholson, H (2001) ‘Seeing how it was?: childhood geographies and memories in home moviesArea , 33 (2), pp. 128-140. ISSN 0004-0894


Norris Nicholson, H (2000) ‘Defining People Differently: Claiming Space for Aboriginal Diversities in Contemporary CanadaLondon Journal of Canadian Studies , 16, pp. 1-11. ISSN 0267-2200


Norris Nicholson, H (1999) ‘Reconstructing memories: indigenous film-making, place-names and identities in Le Grand Petit EuropeanBritish Journal of Canadian Studies , 14 (1), pp. 21-34. ISSN 0269-9222


Norris Nicholson, H (1997) ‘Moving memories: image and identity in home movies’. In: The Jubilee book: essays on amatuer film. Charleroi: Association européene des inédits. .

Norris Nicholson, H (1997) ‘In amateur hands: framing time and space in home-moviesHistory Workshop Journal (43), pp. 198-213. ISSN 1363-3554


Norris Nicholson, H (1996) ‘Crossing points and meeting places: geography and global perspectives in initial teacher training’. In: Developing the Global Teacher: theory and practice in initial teacher education. : Trentham Books. pp. 73-82. ISBN 9781858560328

Norris Nicholson, H (1996) ‘Collusion, Collision or Challenge?: Indigenous Tourism and Cultural Experience in British Columbia, Canada’. In: Quality Management in Urban Tourism. : Wiley. pp. 115-136. ISBN 9780471970996

Norris Nicholson, H (1996) ‘Some timely secrets: geography re-inventedBritish Studies Now , pp. 10-12.


Norris Nicholson, H (1994) ‘"At Ilkley they sell lovely": regional memory and experience in amateur movies’. In: You Can't See What You Don't Know: Amateur Film as Evidence. : Association Européenne Inédits Colloquium. .

Norris Nicholson, H (1994) ‘“Where the land is blue like an orange”: image, meaning and option in rural tourism in Tunisia’. In: Urban and Rural Change in the Developing World: Proceedings of the International Workshop on Urban Farming and Rural Tourism - Priorities for Action in the 21st Century. : University of York. pp. 53-66. ISBN 9780904761467

Norris Nicholson, H (1994) Place in story-time . : Geographical Association. ISBN 9781899085217


Norris Nicholson, H (1993) Bright ideas: inspirations for geography . Bright Ideas Series; Inspirations Series. : Scholastic. ISBN 9780590530460


Norris Nicholson, H (1992) ‘Cultural centres or trading posts?Museums Journal , 92, pp. 31-34. ISSN 0027-416X

Norris Nicholson, H (1992) ‘Cultural tourism in enterprising timesLondon Journal of Canadian Studies , 8, pp. 57-69. ISSN 0267-2200


Norris, H (1982) ‘Military Influence on European Town PlanningHistory today , 32 (4), pp. 10-15. ISSN 0018-2753


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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