Peter Stanfield

Jul 24, 2019, 08:34 AM
My guest this week is Peter Stanfield, Professor of Film Studies, at the University of Kent. Peter talks about why coming to work at Kent amounted to a form of renewal after his previous job and we find out about singing cowboys and the relationship between teaching and research. Peter works in American popular cinema from the 1930s through to the 1970s, and we learn why it was that the 50s resonated in the way it did in later films, including the rise of teddy boys in the early 70s.

Peter reveals about how he understands memories in the light of dealing with an aged mother and we talk about how easy it is to conflate our remembering of a photo with the moment that the photo was taken. We learn that Peter grew up in Hemel Hempstead, and his father came over to England from Poland during the Second World War.

We talk about pop musical influences and the secret language of New Musical Express, and we discover why, for Peter, 1972 was such a seminal year. He saw many artists, including Eric Clapton, in concert during this period, and we find out which key artist he missed seeing on stage. Peter also reminisces about seeing the emerging punk scene in 1976 and we learn that he has a list of the gigs he went to at the time. He also relays experiences of seeing various artists, including the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, and about the unmediated nature of the music in this period.

We find out how Peter’s love of cinema emerged and how he ended up studying at Middlesex University and then doing an MA in Film at the University of East Anglia. Peter also discusses his experience of watching Polanski’s ‘Cul-de-Sac’ and how on one occasion at the cinema he found himself sitting next to Nick Cave and the Birthday Party. Peter talks about how there is no separation between being a consumer/fan and researcher/teacher.

In the final part of the interview we talk about Friends Reunited and how Peter’s recollection of being at school isn’t that great and how he has wiped out his bad teenage memories. We discover why he doesn’t have a longing to return, why he wouldn’t want to write on the Coen Brothers, the relationship between nostalgia and repetition, whether he has fulfilled the dreams from when he was young, the pleasure of working in academia and why Peter has never had the ambition to be a filmmaker.

Please note: Opinions expressed are solely those of Chris Deacy and Peter Stanfield and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the University of Kent.