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Murray Smith

Professor of Film, Divisional Deputy Director of Research & Innovation (Interdisciplinary), and Director of the Aesthetics Research Centre, University of Kent

Murray Smith is a film theorist and philosopher of art based at the University of Kent, where he is Professor of Film and co-director of the Aesthetics Research Centre.

Professor Smith’s research interests are film theory broadly, but especially the ‘philosophy of film’, film theory informed by analytic philosophy, and classical film theory; cognitive and evolutionary approaches to cinema, and to art in general; philosophy, especially the philosophy of art, of mind, and ethical theory; music and the philosophy of music, especially popular music (blues, rock, jazz, soul), and film music; avant-garde and experimental cinema; American cinema in general, ‘independent’ cinema in particular.

His film and psychology research and teaching are motivated by a career-long interest in the interdisciplinary field known as cognitive theory or cognitive psychology, a research community and program defined by the attempt to develop a properly scientific account of the human mind, constituted by psychologists, philosophers, linguists, computer scientists, anthropologists and even the odd interloper from the ‘hard humanities’.

Given the very significant involvement of philosophers (such as Daniel Dennett and Jerry Fodor) in the enterprise of cognitive theory, there is considerable overlap between his interests in philosophy and psychology.

If philosophy, psychology and cognitive theory constitute the methodological framework and intellectual community in which Murray pursues research, then artistic and aesthetic phenomena—the making and experience of works of film art in particular—constitute the primary focus of his teaching and research.

He is interested in, for example, what makes artistic and aesthetic experience distinctive, and how such experience relates to our experience in other domains, including that of ‘ordinary’ life. This interest is manifest in his teaching, including the more theoretical courses mentioned above, as well as in courses such as FI506 Avant-garde and Experimental Cinema, and FI531 Beyond Hollywood.