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Dr Alan Sennett

Profile summary

  • Honorary Associate
  • Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences
  • School of Hist, Rel St, Soc, SP&C
  • History
  • a.sennett

Professional biography

I studied modern history at Sheffield City Polytechnic, took an MA in Political Sociology at Leeds University and obtained a PhD at Manchester Victoria University in 1992.  I joined the Open University in 1994 as an Associate Lecturer in history and social science and currently tutor on A326 Empire: 1492-1975 and DD102 Introducing the Social Sciences. Over the past twenty years I have also taught at the universities of Manchester, Salford, Central Lancashire and Sheffield. I currently teach modern history and film history at Liverpool University and work for a number of adult educational organisations in addition to freelance lecturing, research and writing.

Research interests

In 2014 I completed a book on the revolutionary left in Spain during the 1930s for Brill. Ongoing research areas range from political organisations in the Spanish Civil War to film propaganda.  I am currently pursuing two projects.  One looks at the production context and political uses of Joris Ivens’s 1937 documentary The Spanish Earth. It considers the film as a piece of political propaganda and explores its political messages within the context of the ideological complexities of politics in the republican zone.

The other project deals with cinematic representations of empire.  It explores both film versions of Graham Greene’s novel about the colonial war in French Indochina, The Quiet American.  The focus is upon the processes through which each film constructs very different political messages from the same source materials. It considers ways in which history has been re-presented in order to promote the ideological values of the film-makers, the propaganda interests of production “advisers” and address the perceived concerns and sensibilities of audiences.



Revolutionary Marxism in Spain, 1930-1937, Brill, Leiden and Boston 2014

Journal Articles

‘Film Propaganda: Triumph of the Will as a Case Study’, Framework 55, No. 1, Spring 2014. This available online via JSTOR.

‘Play it Again Uncle Sam.  Casablanca and American Foreign Policy’, Journal of Popular Film and Television, Vol. 37, 1, Spring 2009 [abstract]

Other publications

Book Review: Linda Palfreeman, Aristocrats, Adventurers and Ambulances. LeftCentral, 28, July 2014

Orwell and Loach on Spain’, LeftCentral, 10 August 2013,

[with Creina Mansfield] ‘Unearthing the Third Man – Loyalty and Betrayal in Post-War Europe,’ A Sort of Newsletter.  The Newsletter of the Graham Greene Birthplace Trust, Issues 53 and 54 February and May 2013

Film as Historical Source’, Nation on Film OU/BBC, January 2005

Understanding Social Theory, Distance learning module (ODL) School of Continuing Education at the University of Leeds, 2000

Recent conference papers

“Re-presenting Empire: Competing Film Versions of The Quiet American”. European Congress on World and Global History at the École normale superieure in Paris. 4th September 2014

“Revolutionary Marxism in Spain and Beyond”. University of Derby, Identity, Conflict and Representation Research Centre, Derby 11th December 2013

“Turning a PhD thesis into a book”. Open University Arts Scholarship Network, Manchester, 1st July 2013,

The Spanish Civil War” and “New Deal Documentaries”. “The Rest is Noise” Festival, South Bank Centre, London, 24th March 2013

“Nazi Art and Propaganda – Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will”. University of Liverpool, Centre for Continuing Education, Public Lecture, Liverpool 18th February, 2013,  

“Andrés Nin on European Fascism”.  Historical Materialism Conference, School of Oriental and African Studies, London, 11th November 2012

“Approaching the Study of Film Propaganda. Triumph of the Will – a Case Study”.  University of Central Lancashire, School of Journalism, Media and Communication (JOMEC), Dimensions of Political Cinema Conference, Preston, 19th June 2012

“A Stalinist Propaganda Film? Joris Ivens and Ernest Hemmingway’s The Spanish Earth (1937)”.  University of Central Lancashire, School of Journalism, Media and Communication (JOMEC), Marx at the Movies Conference, Preston, 17th March 2012,

Casablanca and American Foreign Policy”. University of Liverpool, Centre for Continuing Education, Public Lecture, Liverpool 20th February, 2012

“Revaluating Joris Ivens’ The Spanish Earth”. PCA/ACA & Southwest/Texas Popular & American Culture Associations’ Joint Conference, San Antonio, Texas, 20th, April 2011

“Planning an Arts Textbook”.  Open University Arts Scholarship Network, Manchester, 26th April 2010

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