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School of Languages, Linguistics and Film

Simon Dickson


Research - PhD



As a film scholar, I am mainly interested in film and philosophy, especially phenomenology and the nature of the mind. My current thesis looks broadly at the relationship between film and dreams, more specifically, at two terms which we often use to describe films, ‘poetic’ and ‘dreamlike’, and to explore at a deeper level, in the imagination, how these two concepts are much more closely related than we might think. In my usage, by introducing a third term, ‘oneiric’, this subsumes both ‘poetic’ and ‘dreamlike’ to function as a broader concept for understanding this duality when it is revealed in both the mind as well as in fiction and nonfiction film.

I have found it to be the case that documentaries have become more experimental in recent years, particularly with regard to blurring the boundaries between reality and fiction, resulting in films that question the very nature of truth in the observation and recording of reality whilst engaging simultaneously in a ‘poetic’ or ‘dreamlike’ form of storytelling. Examples of such work includes: Patricio Guzman’s Nostalgia for the Light (2010) and The Pearl Button (2015), Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing (2013) and The Look of Silence (2014), Edward Lovelace and James Hall’s The Possibilities are Endless (2014), and James Spinney and Peter Middleton’s Notes on Blindness (2016).

For more information on my research please visit my page.