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Dr James Russell

Job: Head of the Leicester Media School

Faculty: Computing, Engineering and Media

School/department: Leicester Media School

Research group(s): Cinema and Television History (CATH), Centre for Adaptations

Address: The Gateway, De Montfort University, Leicester, LE1 9BH

T: +44 (0)116 207 8257



Personal profile

Dr James Russell is Head of the Leicester Media School, and a member of the Faculty of Technology's executive team.

James is the co-author of Hollywood and the Baby Boom: A Social History (Bloomsbury, 2018) and author of The Historical Epic and Contemporary Hollywood: From Dances With Wolves to Gladiator (Continuum, 2007), and he has published articles, reviews and book chapters on many other aspects of American film and TV history. His research focuses on Hollywood’s history, film economics and the role of popular entertainment in contemporary British and American society. Research for his most recent project, on the relatioinship between American movies and the 'Baby Boom' generation, was funded by the Leverhulme Trust, and involved carrying out interviews with numerous American filmmakers, including Nancy Meyers, Ivan Reitman, Jerry Zucker, Steve Kloves and Lawrence Kasdan. 

James teaches several undergraduate and postgraduate modules which focus on the economics of movies and moviemaking. He welcomes applications from prospective research students who want to work in the field of popular entertainment, film industry economics and mainstream audience trends since the 1950s. 

Research group affiliations

  • Cinema and Television History Research Centre (CATH)
  • Adaptations

Key research outputs

The Historical Epic and Contemporary Hollywood (New York: Continuum, 2007)

(with Dr Jim Whalley) Hollywood and the Baby Boom: A Social History (New York: Bloomsbury, 2018)

Research interests/expertise

  • Popular Hollywood Entertainment

  • Blockbuster film production.

  • Child and family film and TV production and consumption
  • Social history and popular cinema

  • The economics of film.

Areas of teaching

  • Film and TV history
  • Consumption of popular entertainment
  • Hollywood economics


  • PhD in Film Studies (University of East Anglia)
  • MA in the History of Film and Popular Culture (University of Exeter)
  • BA in English (University of Exeter)

Courses taught

  • FILM1402: Film and New Media

  • FILM2403: Disney

  • FILM3406: Hollywood Now!

Membership of professional associations and societies

  • Association of Adaptation Studies (2008-)
  • War and Media Network (2006-)
  • Media, Culture and Communication Studies Association (2007-present)
  • Society for Cinema and Media Studies (2007-2010)

Conference attendance

Invited Keynote Speaker: “The Myth of the Teen Movie,” Myths in Culture, University of Leicester, May 2014.

“A Magic Kingdom on a Hill: Disney and the Baby Boom Audience,” Discussing Disney, University of Hull, 2014.

“Taking a ride with the Pirates of the Caribbean,” Children’s’ Film and Literature, De Montfort University, 1 March 2010.  

“Sensual Spirituality in Lew Wallace’s Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ,” Association of Adaptation Studies 4th Annual Conference, British Film Institute, London, September 2009.

“In Hollywood, but not of Hollywood: Christian Film Production and the Evangelical Market,” American Independent Cinema: Past, Present and Future, Liverpool John Moore’s University, May 2009.

“Exhilaration and Enlightenment: Ben-Hur and American Belief Since 1880,” British Association for American Studies Annual Conference University of Nottingham, April 2009.

Other forms of public presentation

Performances, broadcasts, exhibitions, etc

I have had several mainstream comment pieces published on the Guardian’s film website:

1) “Harry Potter – Hogwarts and all – is Britain’s Top Model,’ Guardian, 19 Nov. 2010:

2) “More Harry Potter or Another Year? RThe BFI must decide,’ Guardian, 30 Nov. 2010:

3) “Will Tron Legacy make Disney a long term game winner?” Guardian, 14 Dec. 2010:

I was interviewed in a feature article in the Independent newspaper: Francesca Steele, ‘British-US Film, the Special Relationship,’ Independent ,12 May 2010:

“The Metropolis Restoration,” Public Lecture at the Phoenix Square Cinema, 1 Oct. 2010.

“James Cameron and Avatar,” Public Lecture at the Phoenix Square Cinema, 21 Dec. 2009.

Various appearances as a film pundit on BBC Radio Leicester, Jan.-Dec. 2009.

Key articles information

[Add key research outputs information here] 

e.g ‘Outputs, e.g. selected publications’ produced since January 2008

Consultancy work

Consultant for The Guardian, the BBC and others on mainstream film matters.

Current research students

  • Richard Glanville, PhD

  • Cassandra Brummit, PhD

Externally funded research grants information

Hollywood and the Baby Boom, Leverhulme Trust Research Project Grant, £98,600 (Jan. 2012-Dec. 2013) 

Internally funded research project information

Using Videogames in Adaptations Teaching, RIT funded project, £1090 (Dec 2008) – with Dr I Hunter. 


Case studies

I have been interviewed in the mainstream press (the Independent), and consulted by BBC Radio 4 as an expert on American film funding matters. 

I have published several editorial pieces in the Guardian which have resulted in further work, and in various exchanges with the UKFC and other national bodies.

The Hollywood and the Baby Boom project has engaged audiences and filmmakers across the USA. 

James Russell