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Dr Davinia Thornley

MA PhD (N Carolina, Chapel Hill)
Senior Lecturer
 

Contact

Office: 3N8, 3rd floor, Arts (Burns) Building
Tel: 64 3 4794182
Email: davinia.thornley@otago.ac.nz

Academia.edu

Google scholar

Research Interests

  • Adaptation
  • Audience / Reception Studies
  • Film Festivals
  • Indigenous Media
  • New Zealand National Cinema


I am a cinema and media scholar who investigates cross-cultural creative practice, the circulation and reception of such practice, and the creative processes of storytelling in an international context. Further, two domains of inquiry connect all my work in order to challenge prevailing ideologies around race relations and power-sharing in creative practice: 1) the cinematic connections between indigenous and majority groups and 2) questions of methodology i.e. that what we know is shaped by how we know—or the methods that we employ. These foci encompass audience/reception studies through my research on:

a) Film Festivals. I was invited by Sonia Tascon, USC Australia, to contribute to Intellect's collection, Activist Film Festivals

b) Adaptation research. I made a successful Tourism NZ-supported bid for SRN2017, a Screenwriting Research Network conference, which saw Otago host attendees from five continents, connecting academics, industry, practitioners, and local/international specialists around the theme of “Fact and Fiction, Truth and the Real.”

c) Audience/reception studies methods, while firmly established in the USA/UK, are less used in Australasia; therefore, my experience in this area is a particular research strength of mine. I am often asked to contribute specific audience-orientated pieces including, internationally-recognized Audience Studies research articles, the former invited by Karina Aveyard (U. of East Anglia).

I have published two books, one monograph and an edited collection. Cinematic Cross-Cultural Collaboration and Criticism (Palgrave, 2014) investigates filmic partnerships between indigenous/minority & majority groups in Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia, and Canada. The perspective I took closes a gap in indigenous media scholarship, while offering new, unique methodological tools for academics/practitioners to use in their collaborative projects. Internally-recognised indigenous studies Professor Arnold Krupat's review praised my model as "entirely persuasive," stating "this is a very fine book.” On completion, I was invited to address the longest-running national indigenous film festival (Wairoa) as “New Zealand’s foremost expert on global indigenous film” (Festival Director, Leo Koziol) and attracted an award-winning US filmmaker and Fulbright grant recipient to study with me (RM Metzler).

The essays in my next book all—in various ways—address the relationship between adaptation, “true events,” and cultural memory. They ask (and frequently answer) the question: how do we script stories about real events that are often still fresh in our memories and may involve living people? True Event Adaptation: Scripting Real Lives (Palgrave, 2018) contains work from scholars committed to interrogating historical and current hard-hitting events, traumas, and truths through various media. Each essay goes beyond general discussion of adaptation and media to engage with the specifics of adapting true life events—addressing pertinent and controversial questions around scriptwriting, representation, ethics, memory, forms of history, and methodological interventions. Further work of mine along these lines has appeared inLiterature Film Quarterly.

My current research revolves around (mis)representations of childfree people, specifically the relationship between childfreedom, social ideologies, and community activism. In the collection I am editing, Childfree across the Disciplines: Academic and Activist Perspectives on Not Choosing Children, writers in various disciplines and movements riff on the childfree life: its implications, its challenges, its conversations, and its agency—all in relation to its inevitability in the 21st century. After all, “if a woman is not a mother, the patriarchal social order is in danger” (Avivi, 2017).

Teaching

2019:

MFCO 216: New Zealand Cinema

MFCO202 Theory of Communication Studies
MFCO330 ST: Film Festivals

Conferences Organised

Leadership of the 2017 International Screenwriting Research Network conference.

Successful bid in conjunction with Tourism New Zealand [TNZ], Dunedin City Council, Enterprise Dunedin, New Zealand Writers Guild, and the New Zealand Film Commission, to hold the Screenwriting Research Network conference (via TNZ travel grant to fly to Potsdam, Germany in Oct 2014).

Expertise and Public Engagement

I am currently Vice-President (NZ) of the Screen Studies Association of Australia & Aotearoa New Zealand https://ssaaanz.org/. As convenor of SRN2017, I was profiled in national news sources (such as Stuff.co.nz) and on Dunedin local Channel 39, by Tourism New Zealand, and in the Otago Daily Times and Enterprise Dunedin press releases. I was also the recipient of a New Zealand Business Events award, based on the research and industry impact of the conference. I am profiled in two Tourism New Zealand videos: “Host It at Home” (Nov 2017), as well as a follow-up video (April 2019) on the ongoing impact of the conference in terms of new research collaborations, published papers, international profile, new business relationships, and professional advancement opportunities.

I have appeared in various media discussing my new Film Festivals class (The Star, 11 Aug 2016); work on the film, Out of the Blue, made about the 1990 local mass shooting at Aramoana village (Otago Daily Times, 19 May 2012); the loss of funding for TVNZ7 (NewsTalk ZB, April 2011); the New Zealand International Film Festival, (D-Scene, July 2009); and my New Zealand cinema research project at the time (National Radio’s “Nine To Noon” show with Maggie Barry, October 2007). Since 2010, I have regularly introduced directors’ films at the New Zealand International Film Festival.

Completed Supervisions

MA

Amie Taua: A Foot in Both Worlds: The Bicultural Audience and Film in New Zealand

Chloe Banks: United States of Shondaland: Investigating the para-social contact of white audiences with Black Lives Matter

Ryan Metzler: Creative Cross-Cultural Collaboration: Forging a New Path for Ethnographic Film in Aotearoa New Zealand

PhD

Owain Gwynne: Fan-Made Time: The Hobbit


Mariska Mannes
: “When professional and cultural identities collide: working in a multicultural health team in New Zealand.”

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Publications

Thornley, D. (2014). Cinema, cross-cultural collaboration, and criticism: Filming on an uneven field. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 134p. doi: 10.1057/9781137411570

Thornley, D. (2017). imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival: Collaborative criticism through curatorship. In S. Tascón & T. Wils (Eds.), Activist film festivals: Towards a political subject. (pp. 200-212). Bristol, UK: Intellect.

Thornley, D. (2015). Mobilizing Māori identity: Cultural capital and expatriate “portable personhood”. Palgrave Communications, 1, 15008. doi: 10.1057/palcomms.2015.8

Thornley, D. (2012). Māori identity by way of New Zealand film or why 'I don't have to be a particular skin colour to feel beige'. Studies in Australasian Cinema, 6(2), 203-215. doi: 10.1386/sac.6.2.203_1

Thornley, D. (2014). Playing with land issues: Subversive hybridity in The Price of Milk. In W. G. Pearson & S. Knabe (Eds.), Reverse shots: Indigenous film and media in an international context. Waterloo, Canada: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.

Authored Book - Research

Thornley, D. (2014). Cinema, cross-cultural collaboration, and criticism: Filming on an uneven field. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 134p. doi: 10.1057/9781137411570

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Chapter in Book - Research

Thornley, D. (2017). imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival: Collaborative criticism through curatorship. In S. Tascón & T. Wils (Eds.), Activist film festivals: Towards a political subject. (pp. 200-212). Bristol, UK: Intellect.

Thornley, D. (2014). Playing with land issues: Subversive hybridity in The Price of Milk. In W. G. Pearson & S. Knabe (Eds.), Reverse shots: Indigenous film and media in an international context. Waterloo, Canada: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.

Thornley, D. (2010). Films, national identity and the Otago landscape. In J. Stephenson, M. Abbott & J. Ruru (Eds.), Beyond the scene: Landscape and identity in Aotearoa New Zealand. (pp. 111-120). Dunedin, New Zealand: Otago University Press.

Thornley, D. (2006). 'Wellywood' and Peter Jackson: The local reception of The Lord of the Rings in Wellington, New Zealand. In E. Mathijs (Ed.), The Lord of the Rings: Popular culture in global context. (pp. 101-118). London: Wallflower Press.

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Journal - Research Article

Thornley, D. (2015). Mobilizing Māori identity: Cultural capital and expatriate “portable personhood”. Palgrave Communications, 1, 15008. doi: 10.1057/palcomms.2015.8

Thornley, D. (2013). Prime-time activists in 'Crooked Earth': The meta-narrative of Aotearoa New Zealand film. JGCinema: Cinema and Globalization. Retrieved from https://archive.is/zQaKT

Thornley, D. (2012). Māori identity by way of New Zealand film or why 'I don't have to be a particular skin colour to feel beige'. Studies in Australasian Cinema, 6(2), 203-215. doi: 10.1386/sac.6.2.203_1

Thornley, D. (2011). 'From a Maori point of view to look at a Maori film': Maori New Zealanders talk about watching indigenous films. Journal of International Communication, 17(2), 107-120. doi: 10.1080/13216597.2011.589366

Thornley, D. (2009). Talking film, talking identity: New Zealand expatriates reflect on national film. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 12(1), 99-117. doi: 10.1177/1367549408098707

Thornley, D. (2006). The Scream reflex: Meta-horror and popular culture. Metro, 150, 140-147.

Thornley, D. (2006). Indivisible: Mäori-Päkehä hybridity in Aotearoa New Zealand cinema. International Journal of the Humanities, 3(6), 67-75.

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Journal - Research Other

Thornley, D. (2007). [Review of the book Mana Tuturu: Māori treasures and intellectual property rights]. Oceania, 77(3), 375.

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Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Abstract

Thornley, D. (2011). "I don't have to be a particular skin colour to feel beige": Mobilizing Māori identity by way of New Zealand film. Proceedings of the Screen Cultures Conference. Retrieved from http://www.otago.ac.nz/languagescultures/screencultures.html

Thornley, D. (2008). Playing with land issues: Subversive hybridity in The price of milk. In C. Fowler & R. Simmons (Eds.), Proceedings of the XIVth Biennial Conference of the Film and History Association of Australia and New Zealand (Vol. 1: Refereed Abstracts). (pp. 72). Dunedin, New Zealand: Department of Film, Media and Communication, University of Otago. [Abstract]

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Conference Contribution - Verbal presentation and other Conference outputs

Thornley, D. (2017, September). Critiquing cross-cultural collaboration in Aotearoa New Zealand's small cinema [Panel discussion: Cinema of First Nations]. Verbal presentation at the 8th International Small Cinemas Conference: Diversity in Global Cinemas: Language, Culture, Identity, Bilbao, Spain.

Thornley, D. (2016, September). Adapting Robert Sarkies' Out of the Blue: The at-home and abroad reception of a New Zealand tragedy. Verbal presentation at the 9th Annual Conference of the Screenwriting Research Network: Between Artistic Freedom & Norms, Leeds, UK.

Thornley, D. (2015, May). Up in the Air but losing altitude: Adapting redundancy in the global financial crisis. Verbal presentation at the Special International Screenwriting Research Network (SRN) Conference: Transnational Screenwriting: A Dialogue between Scholars and Industry, Santiago, Chile.

Thornley, D. (2013, August). Making Robert Sarkies's Out of the Blue: Adaptation and indigenization in Aotearoa New Zealand. Verbal presentation at the Screenwriting Research Network International Conference: Screenwriting in a Global and Digital World, Madison, Wisconsin.

Thornley, D. (2012, July). "Instrument of change": Cinematic cross-cultural collaboration in ISUMA's Before Tomorrow. Verbal presentation at the Crossroads in Cultural Studies International Conference, Paris, France.

Thornley, D. (2011, August). Out of the blue: A case of 'national genre confusion'? Verbal presentation at the Masculinities between the National and the Transnational: 1980 to the Present International Conference, Kent, OH.

Thornley, D. (2010, November-December). ″My whole area has started to be about what's left over″: Alec Morgan, stolen histories, and Australian Aboriginal collaboration. Verbal presentation at the XVth Biennial Conference of the Film and History Association of Australia and New Zealand: Cinema, Modernity and Modernism, Sydney, Australia.

Thornley, D. (2010, November). ″I don't have to be a particular skin colour to feel beige″: Mobilising Māori identity by way of New Zealand film. Verbal presentation at the Mobilities Symposium: Towards a Movement-driven Social Science in Aotearoa/New Zealand, Dunedin, New Zealand.

Thornley, D. (2010, February). Cinematic cross-cultural collaboration: Alec Morgan and Australian Aboriginal communities. Verbal presentation at the 31st Annual Meeting of the Southwest/Texas Popular and American Culture Association (SWTX PCA ACA), Albuquerque, NM.

Thornley, D. (2008, August). Illustrious energy: New Zealand's Chinese settler diaspora. Verbal presentation at the Transnational Cinema in Globalising Societies: Asia and Latin America Conference, Puebla, Mexico.

Thornley, D. (2008, July). Conceptions of empire: ″Pictures″ as a colonial war film. Verbal presentation at the Australian Historical Association Conference, Melbourne, Australia.

Thornley, D. (2007, June). ″I come from a really small country but look my country can produce″: New Zealand expatriates talking about national film. Verbal presentation at the 14th Annual Conference of the New Zealand Studies Association, London, UK.

Thornley, D. (2006, November). New ways of thinking about national cinema(s). Verbal presentation at the Postcolonial Politics Conference, Dunedin, New Zealand.

Thornley, D. (2006, July). The scream reflex, meta-horror and popular culture. Verbal presentation at the Australian and New Zealand American Studies Association Conference, Launceston, Australia.

Thornley, D. (2006, November). Prime-time activists: Meta-narrative in Crooked Earth. Verbal presentation at the XIII Biennial Conference of the Film and History Association of Australia and New Zealand, Melbourne, Australia.

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