CFP – Designs on Television: Production Design and Television Aesthetics

Tuesday 31 January 2023

Golda Rosheuvel as Queen Charlotte in 'Bridgerton' (Liam Daniel / Netflix)

A University of Brighton/CREAM, University of Westminster conference

July 27th and 28th 2023, University of Brighton, Grand Parade, Brighton

Organisers: Dr. Christopher Hogg – C.Hogg@westminster.ac.uk (University of Westminster) and Dr. Douglas McNaughton – D.Mcnaughton@brighton.ac.uk (University of Brighton) 

Overview: Design is a key element of all sorts of television, but frequently neglected in academic studies. In 2003, Piers D. Britton and Simon J. Barker wrote ‘No serious, sustained examination of the role of scenic or costume design in the medium has been attempted’ (p.1). Almost 20 years later, Britton wrote ‘Scholarly analysis of almost any form of design for the screen… is still a relatively new phenomenon’ (2021: 10). This conference seeks to examine various aspects of television design, including set design, set dressing, redressing locations, connections between real space and onscreen place, relationships between set design and costume design, and the interpersonal relationships and institutional structures which inform design for television. 

The organisers feel that input from professionals is vital to understanding how television design works, and therefore there will be at least one panel of industry practitioners to discuss their experience of television design. In addition, in collaboration with the University of Brighton Design Archives, which holds the papers of the pioneering television designer Natasha Kroll (1914-2004), among others, the organisers hope to stage an accompanying exhibition of documents, artefacts and costumes related to television design. 

Early critical orthodoxies around television have assumed it is a medium lacking in any distinctive visual aesthetic. However, more recent work by scholars such as Steven Peacock, Brett Mills and Helen Wheatley has drawn attention to television’s aesthetic. As Wheatley (2016) argues, television has always been visual and has always been spectacular. This conference therefore aims to draw attention to the visual and aesthetic qualities of television design. 

Paper proposals are welcomed on various topics that may include – but are not limited to – the following:

Factual and fictional television design

Realism, naturalism and alternative approaches 

Studio set design 

Adapting real locations for television

Costume and makeup design 

Designing character

Graphic design

Production design processes and institutional structures

Design and authorship

Careers in television design

Teams and interpersonal relationships in design

Connections between television and other media

Design, spectacle and visual pleasure  

Set dressing and action props 

Visual Effects

How television design supports performance and narrative 

Please send abstracts of no more than 500 words, a title for your paper, a 300 word biography (written in the third person) with ‘Designs on Television’ in the email subject line to both the organisers listed above. We welcome papers from students studying towards a PhD as well as from established academics. 

Deadline for submitting abstracts of papers: 31st January 2023

Presentation of the papers will be limited to 20 minutes.

Travel and accommodation expenses are covered by the participants.