The 2019 Postgraduate Colloquium
Since 2016, the Centre for Film and Media Studies has been organising an annual Postgraduate Colloquium which is a flagship event that brings together academic staff of the department and postgraduate students studying for their Honours, Master’s and PhDs in film and media. The event offers postgraduates the opportunity to present their ongoing work to their peers in a friendly atmosphere while receiving feedback from a diverse audience and an assigned responder who is an academic staff member.
This year, the fourth edition of the Colloquium was held on Thursday 17 October at AC Jordan Building on the Upper Campus of the University of Cape Town. Welcoming participants and guests and declaring the programme open, the Director of the Centre for Film and Media Studies, Professor Herman Wasserman reiterated the importance of the gathering and how much value the department places on the event that affords students the chance to benefit from the knowledge and ideas of lecturers besides their supervisors and thus enrich their work. Professor Wasserman praised the efforts of the members of the organising committee comprising Chikezie Uzuegbunam, Storm Jade Brown and Tina-Louise Smith in planning and putting the event together.
Delivering the keynote address, Associate Professor Tanja Bosch who is the Deputy Dean of Postgraduate Affairs in the Faculty of Humanities, gave postgraduate students some tips and tricks of academia. Notably, she charged students to remember that their postgraduate work was not their entire life and to see their programme as some sort of apprenticeship after which their career and scholarship would depend mostly on their future contributions to the field. She urged students to read widely, even outside the scope of their work and disciplines, write regularly and practise self-care while navigating their postgraduate studies.
There were seven student presentations that focused on various aspects of film and media studies. Topics ranged from media and democratic consolidation, decolonisation of the film industry, the limitations within South Africa’s film and television sectors, the intricacies of researching street art in South Africa, making sense of musicianhood in popular culture, to examination of the complexity in children’s digital media practices in rural and urban Nigeria.
A panel session involving lecturers of the department attempted to find answers to pressing questions and issues in the field, including how academics are preparing students for the changing workplace and academia in the fourth industrial revolution. Several responses emerged from the lecturers’ discussion. Dr Ian Rijsdijk enthused that it is important for students to maintain the soul and breadth of their work as they progress in their careers. Associate Professor Marion Walton raised the issue of an urgent curriculum change in light of the changes and shifts of the digital age. On her part, Dr Alexia Smit admitted that getting a job in the academy after a PhD, for instance, is not easy and that the time it takes to land an academic position can be scary too. She advised students who desire to become academics to persist, assuring them that if they do, it will happen for them. Ms Tando Ntunja urged participants to be bold in the research that they do as well as to learn transferable and soft skills which are necessary to navigate real-life realities and challenges. Associate Professor Musa Ndlovu stressed the need for skills from different areas as these will shape the kind of academics postgraduates become.
Other highlights of the Postgraduate Colloquium included the presentation of the Best Paper Award to Honours student, Daniel Steyn, whose paper was titled ‘A cinema for (some of) the people: KykNet film’s dominance of the South African film industry’. The liaison librarian for the Faculty of Humanities, Ms Ingrid Thomson served as the judge for the competition. She was joined by her colleagues from UCT Library, Bev Angus and Busi Khangala. Certificates of presentation were also given to all presenters by the Head of Department.
Offering the vote of thanks to end the event, the outgoing Postgraduate students’ coordinator of the department, Dr Chikezie Uzuegbunam thanked the department and especially Professor Wasserman and all the lecturers who have over the years generously supported the Colloquium that facilitates students benefiting from their wealth of knowledge and expertise. He urged postgraduate students to continue to keep the flame of the flagship event alive and to continue to support the department in creating a welcoming space for everyone to come together in a collegial spirit.