• Who am I?

    Who am I?

    I joined the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies as a Senior Lecturer in Film, Television, and Cultural Studies in the autumn of 2014. Prior to this, and following the completion of my PhD, I taught at the University of Essex for three years, lecturing in film studies, U.S. literature, and critical theory. My doctoral thesis focused on the complex historical relationship between American frontier mythology and the Hollywood Western from 1939 to date. Considering it a form of ideology critique, I argued for the importance of the genre’s socio-cultural, historical, and political dimensions. My teaching is research-informed and focuses primarily on American Cinema from 1945-date, in particular, the Western, Science Fiction, and Horror genres. I also lecture on various European and Latin American national cinema movements. 

    Outside of my main research areas,and I have a long-standing interest in the films of Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock, the Coen brothers, Kelly Reichardt, and John Carpenter. In terms of literature, I am a huge admirer of the novels of Cormac McCarthy, E. L. Doctorow, and Kurt Vonnegut. I also hold a love for (though am hardly a specialist in) ‘Radium Age’, ‘Golden Age’, and ‘New Wave’ Science Fiction, and eagerly devour the work of A. E. Van Vogt, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, Ursula K. Le Guin, Sheri S. Tepper, Philip K. Dick, William Gibson, and many more besides. I also stick to my sincerely held belief that Frank Herbert's 1965 novel, Dune, is one of the finest novels ever written ... in any genre. 

    Why do I teach?

    In a media saturated age, moving images go a long way toward structuring our identities and our perception of the world. One could go so far as to say that our entire lives are mediated through images. They are undoubtedly among the most powerful forces shaping both our contemporary lives, how we perceive others, and how we interpret culture, politics, and history. Therefore, our ability to read and interpret the images, ideas, and stories that film and TV deliver is crucial to how we understand both ourselves and our world. An education in Film and Television Studies is a most profound skill and a most fulfilling accomplishment. This is why I teach.

    How I’ll teach you

    I have always employed an interdisciplinary approach to teaching. Following an ethos of comparative study, part of my approach is on emphasising the link between film and literature, and film and the other arts. I am also committed to studying film as a global industry and art form. I aim for a friendly but rigorous level of discourse, and believe in encouraging all students to express themselves openly and apply individual, informed minds to the work at hand. Encouraging discussion and group work helps to incorporate and articulate the different perspectives of your fellow students. Not only will these methods maximise the educational benefits of undergraduate study, they will create an atmosphere in which you are enabled to engage with the material and with each other. Such a communal feel maintains an inclusive, equitable and safe environment, which will enrich your educational experience and help to prepare you for healthy social interaction in the work place.

    Throughout your undergraduate career, we will work together to explore the capabilities of film as a medium that can both sustain and interrogate social and cultural values. My teaching emphasises the historical and theoretical value of film alongside its status as a popular art form. In our lectures together, you will learn a wide-range of critical theory, including Marxism, psychoanalysis, feminism, structuralism and post-structuralism, as well as modernism and post-modernism. We will apply aspects of these critical methodologies to 'classic', 'new', and contemporary Hollywood (including the Horror and Science Fiction genres, film noir, musicals, and Westerns). In addition, we will look outside the Hollywood 'mainstream' to consider alternative and so-called 'independent' U.S. cinema, as well as various European and Latin American national film movements.

    Embedding employability skills is important to my teaching vision. I always seek to foster a ‘can do’ attitude among students and demonstrate the link between academia and employment, be it in the teaching sector or the commercial creative industries. Therefore, as well as focusing on developing your knowledge of a particular topic within the broader subject, I am concerned with the development of key academic skills such as textual analysis or critical reading of secondary sources. I also focus on enhancing your vital transferrable skills, such as research, communication, and written expression that are of great importance in your lives outside of academia.

  • Academic Biography

    Academic and professional qualifications

    2012, Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA)
    2011, PhD in Film, the University of Essex
    2005, MA in Art History and Theory, the University of Essex
    2004, BA (Hons) in Film and Literature, the University of Essex

    Previous Employment

    2011-2014: Lecturer in Film, Literature, and Critical Theory, University of Essex, Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies

    2013-2014: Teacher in Critical Approaches to Creative Media Products, Colchester Institute, Centre for Creative Arts

    2007-2011: Graduate Teaching Assistant, University of Essex, Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies

    Other academic service (administration and management)

    Currently, I am Combined Honours Year Leader (Year 1)

  • Teaching & Research Supervision

    Undergraduate courses

    Currently, I am Unit Leader for the following units:

    American Cinema: History, Aesthetics, and Cultural Politics (Level 4)
    The Cinema of Modernity (Level 5)
    Film and Ideology (Level 6)

    External examiner roles

    Currently, I am external examiner for the BA Film Studies programme at the University of Worcester

  • Research Expertise, Publications & Grants

    Research expertise

    My research mainly focuses on American frontier mythology. In particular, I consider the intersections between myth and history and of the powerful ideological role played by the Hollywood Western in shaping and analysing social, political, and historical attitudes and beliefs. I attempt to disentangle the complex interrelations of history and myth in the popular memory-landscape of the American West, and the Western. I adopt a range of approaches from aesthetic and theoretical analysis, considerations of industrial context, ideology critique, and how film mediates representations of history, to develop a historically grounded and critically informed approach to Film Studies.

    I am the author of Myth of the Western: New Perspectives on Hollywood's Frontier Narrative (2014) and the co-editor of ReFocus: The Films of Delmer Daves (2016). I have published chapters based on my research in the edited collections Contemporary Westerns: Film and Television Since 1990 (2013), The Post-2000 Film Western: Contexts, Transnationality, Hybridity (2015), and America: Justice, Conflict, War (2016). Other articles and reviews of mine have featured in various peer-reviewed journals. 

    Currently, I am co-editing a special edition of the journal Papers on Languages and Literature that focuses on the issues of gender and the family in the Western. I am also developing my research to encompass generic hybrids that fuse Science Fiction and/or Horror with the Western and other frontier narratives. In particular, I am focusing on the thematic links between the frontier myth and contemporary apocalypse fictions, and have recently completed an article on the frontier's relation to the zombie-apocalypse in the film Maggie (2015) for the Polish journal Studia Filmoznawcze, and am also working on a chapter about female agency in Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) - which I interpret as a contemporary, transnational, and transgeneric Western-apocalyptic hybrid - for a forthcoming edited collection called Unbridling the Western Film Auteur: Contemporary, Transnational and Intertextual Explorations.

    Looking to the future, I am outlining a project provisionally entitled, Rethinking National Identities, which will explore the frontier roots of the various narratives that emanate from the ‘borderlands’ of the American Southwest. Encompassing literature, film, and television, and bringing my research specialisms to bear on such topical contemporary issues as 9/11 and the "War on Terror" and the "War on Drugs" with investigations of identity, race, gender and violence, this interdisciplinary, transnational project seeks to re-think the contours of US-Mexico Border Studies and beyond for the twenty-first century.

    • Publications

      • Books (authored/edited/special issues)

        M. Carter, AP. Nelson (2016). ReFocus: The Films of Delmer Daves. M. Carter. Edinburgh University Press.

        M. Carter (2014). Myth of the western: New perspectives on hollywood's frontier narrative.

      • Refereed journal articles

        M. Carter (2017). Personalising the Apocalypse: Frontier Mythology and Genre Hybridity in Maggie. Studia Filmoznawcze (Film Studies). 38, pp.121-136.

        M. Carter (2013). On the Making of Lonesome Dove, John Spong. Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media. 6(2),

        M. Carter (2012). ‘I’m just a cowboy’: Transnational Identities of the Border Country in Tommy Lee Jones’s The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. European Journal of American Studies. 7(1),

        M. Carter (2009). ‘The dismal tide’: Shoring up the Fragments in Joel and Ethan Coen’s No Country for Old Men. IUP Journal of American Literature. 2(3-4),

      • Chapters in books

        M. Carter (2016). ‘This is where he brought me: 10,000 acres of nothing’: the Femme Fatale and other Noir Tropes in Jubal. M. Carter, AP. Nelson. In: ReFocus: The Films of Delmer Daves. Edinburgh University Press, pp.195-221.

        M. Carter (2016). ‘This Country’s Hard on People’: No Country for Old Men as Political Allegory of 9/11. A. Gilroy, M. Messmer. In: America: Justice, Conflict, War, EAAS 60th Anniversary Conference Volume. Winter Universitätsverlag, pp.117-129.

        M. Carter, AP. Nelson (2016). 'No One Would Know It Was Mine': Delmer Daves, Modest Auteur. M. Carter, AP. Nelson. In: ReFocus: The Films of Delmer Daves. Edinburgh University Press, pp.1-47.

        M. Carter (2015). “Crossing the beast”: American identity and frontier mythology in sin Nombre. In: The Post-2000 Film Western: Contexts, Transnationality, Hybridity. pp.89-105.

        M. Carter (2013). 'I’m just a cowboy’: Transnational Identities of the Border Country in The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. AP. Nelson. In: Contemporary Westerns: Film and Television Since 1990. The Scarecrow Press, Inc., pp.149-169.

    • Invited keynotes and conference contribution

      • Invited papers

        “‘Crossing the Beast’: American Identity and Frontier Mythology in Cary Joji Fukunaga’s Sin Nombre”, MMU Cheshire Interdisciplinary Conference: ‘Contested Spaces: Shared Places’, Manchester Metropolitan University, Cheshire Faculty, Crewe (July 2015)

        “Reimagining Women in the West: Kelly Reichardt’s Meek’s Cutoff”, III International Conference on the American Literary West: ‘A Territory without Borders?’, University of the Basque Country, Vitoria-Gasteiz (October 2014)

        “Notes on Feminism, Psychoanalysis and Narrative Cinema in David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive”, Centre for Intimate Sexual Citizenship, Department of Sociology, University of Essex (February 2014). Available on SoundCloud


        Select Conference Papers (through application rather than invitation)

        “Reappropriating Western Violence for Feminism in Mad Max: Fury Road”, British Association for American Studies 62nd Annual Conference, Canterbury Christ Church University (April 2017)

        “‘Una herida abierta’: the Migration of Myth in Three Cinematic Visions of the Borderlands”, XIII British Comparative Literature Association International Conference: ‘Migration’, University of Essex (July 2013)

        “‘I’m just a cowboy’: Transnational Identities of the Border Country in Tommy Lee Jones’s The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada”, II International Conference on the American Literary West: ‘Beyond the Myth’, University of the Basque Country, Vitoria-Gasteiz (October 2010)

        “‘The dismal tide’: Shoring up the Fragments in Joel and Ethan Coen’s No Country for Old Men”, ‘My Hero’: Defining and Constructing Non-Military Heroism Symposium, King’s College London (June 2009)

        “‘Lunatic Logic’; or, Dr. Strangelove, the Western, and the Terrible ill-logic of Nuclear Weaponry”, ‘America: Real and Imagined’, British Association for American Studies Annual Postgraduate Conference, University of Exeter (November 2008)

        “‘Transcendence on a Pale Horse’: Speaking the Myth of the Frontier as a Language of Violence in Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven”, Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies Annual Postgraduate Conference, University of Essex (May 2007)

      • Invited roundtable discussions

        “‘This country’s hard on people’: No Country for Old Men as Political Allegory of 9/11”, Workshop: ‘Writing and Visualizing Justice, War and Peace in the American West: Local, Regional, National and Global Perspectives’; “America: Justice, Conflict, War”, European Association for American Studies 60th Anniversary Conference, The Hague (April 2014)

    Expert reviewer for journals and publishers

    European Journal of American Studies - Peer Reviewer 2014 - Present

  • Engagement & Knowledge Exchange
  • Awards, Honours & Distinctions

    Prizes and awards

    Erasmus Staff Mobility Grant (£600). April, 2016

    University of Essex Doctoral Scholarship (£12,000). October 2006 - October 2009

    Eccles Centre Postgraduate Award in North America Studies (£650). October 2006 - October 2007

    Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Full Scholarship (£11,500). October 2004 - September 2005

    Membership of professional associations

    Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA)