A Whited Sepulchre: Autobiography and video diaries in ‘post-documentary’ culture

Dowmunt, Tony. 2010. A Whited Sepulchre: Autobiography and video diaries in ‘post-documentary’ culture. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]


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Abstract or Description

This is a PhD project partly about my class and ethnic background and consciousness: how I have lived them as a white man and a documentary filmmaker, and how they are connected to the ghost of my great-grandfather, who was a soldier in the British Army in Sierra Leone in the 1880s.
But it is also a project about autobiographical documentary filmmaking, and is submitted for examination in two main components: the first a video-diary based film (A Whited Sepulchre) in which I investigated the form/genre of the video
diary by making one myself - filmmaking as a research method; the second, a text which has an independent relationship to the film - not one of ‘illustration,
description or explication’ but hopefully of ‘expansive enrichment’ (Trinh T. Minh-Ha quoted in McLaughlin & Pearce (eds) 2007: 107).
A Whited Sepulchre is a video which draws on the stories of two journeys: my great-grandfather’s account of his posting to Sierra Leone, and my own ‘video diary’ of a trip that I made in December/January 2004-5, following in his footsteps
but seeking a different understanding of Africa and of myself as a white ‘Englishman’.
The (written) textual component maps the intellectual and creative terrain that the project as a whole explores. It includes a survey of first-person and autobiographical film and video making in the context of contemporary media, but
also makes a case for writing autobiographically, ranging across my family history before focusing on my own formation both as a white man from a particular class, and as a filmmaker and video-diarist. The text concludes with an argument - at odds with some postmodern orthodoxies - advocating the cultural and political importance of a ‘sincere’ and direct mode of autobiographical address.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies



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Date Deposited:

05 Jan 2015 07:58

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 09:06



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