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Henry Bacon

George Henry Aslak Bacon
Born December 4, 1957, Helsinki

BA and Phil.lic. 1990 (Theatre Studies), PhD 1994 (Theatre Studies) University of Helsinki

Professor of Film and Television Studies, University of Helsinki (2004-)
Head of Projects, Finnish Film Archives 2003-04
Finnish Film Archives, researcher (1999-2003)
Theatre Studies docent, University of Helsinki  (1995-)
Film and Television Studies programme, Study Co-ordinator (1996-), acting Senior Assistant (1994) and acting Adjunct Professor, University of Oulu’s Arts and Anthropology Department (1995-98).

Bacon has also been a University teacher in the University of Helsinki and the Sibelius Academy, as well as a freelance journalist.

Publications, research projects and other academic activity

Research areas: Audiovisual narratology, film’s relation to other art forms, transnational film history, the appeal of filmic violence, the actor in film, and the history of opera.

Awards and achievements
The State Award for Public Information  2006 for Seitsemäs taide – elokuva ja muut taiteet (’The seventh art. Film and other art forms’)
Knight, First Class, Order of the Lion of Finland (6.12.2007)

Photo: Mika Federley
Authors: Henry Bacon and Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta (ed.).
Translated by John Calton, Mira Apell, Anna-Maria Jukarainen and Henry Bacon. Revised by John Calton.

Launching a new discipline

Starting a film and television studies programme (FTVS) at the University of Helsinki required persistent administrative efforts. Henry Bacon began this struggle  in his capacity as an adjunct professor of theatre studies and a member of the board of the Institute of Art Research.

Resources had to be found through a variety of collaborative networks. The most important was that with the Open University, which had the advantage of paving the way for assuming responsibility of the ‘third mission’ of the university, spreading knowledge into the society at large. At this point also the interests of the new discipline and the (Finnish) National Audiovisual Institute  (NAVI) met. Film history courses were transferred to the Orion cinema, where each lecture was followed by a screening of a related film. Negotiating these relationships was eased by Bacon having worked previously at the Finnish Film Archive (before it became NAVI), and subsequently serving as a member of the Board of the Archive as well as on the advisory board of the present NAVI.

As FTVS is an exceedingly multidisciplinary field of study, it has been natural to collaborate with a great variety of other disciplines. Courses have been organised with other fields of art research as well as with different language and historical studies. Good ideas have always been realised irrespective of traditional disciplinary or faculty boundaries.  

Bacon is the longest serving member of the Finnish Society for Film Studies (Suomen elokuvatutkimuksen seura, SETS) board. The society has provided a forum for scholars working at different universities in the broad field of audiovisual studies. A scholarly society can sometimes be quicker off the mark than the academy, making it easier to arrange a seminar or a conference.

Between 2011 and 2014 Bacon led the Finnish Academy project A Transnational History of Finnish Cinema. The project opened up some refreshing new research paradigms and furthered scholarly relationships with brilliant younger colleagues. As one part of this project, in December 2013 he hosted a conference, Transnational Baltic Cinema, providing a forum for Nordic, Baltic and Russian film scholars to meet and discuss the possibilities for developing collaboration in this cultural sphere. Bacon is a fellow of the Society for the Cognitive Study of the Moving Image and a member of the Nordic Body Language in the Moving Image project.

Photo: Pasi Nyyssönen.​


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