Interview with Dr Simon Hardy, Course Leader for Media & Cultural Studies

Dr Simon Hardy is the Course Leader for Media & Cultural Studies. He teaches War, Democracy, and the Media, a topic which is both passion and practice.

The module

The inspiration for the module comes from how the 1990s Balkan wars were covered. In his documentary, Jeremy Bowen describes his activity as ‘intrinsically important’.

As an extension, what we are doing in the classroom, by appreciating this work, is ‘intrinsically important’ as well.

Western democracies have been involved in conflict for the past century and the only way people can find out what is going on is through the media.

As such, individuals must be informed about how it operates and what its limitations are.

Covering conflicts is the media’s most important function. In the West, the theory goes that a free press enables citizens to give permission for military operations.

Over time, coverage has changed. The historical perspective is critical in making us more aware of what has been achieved, while also highlighting certain repetitions applicable to the present day. For me, this remains a life-long process.

The personBLOG - Course Diary - The people - Simon Hardy

What is your main virtue?

I feel quite close to and have extensive knowledge of the subject.

What is your main fault?

I seem as remote and not very approachable to a lot of students because I focus very hard on what I am trying to get across and because I am sometimes nervous. I have to try to smile more.

What is your idea of happiness?

I don’t have a fixed idea of what happiness is. At the moment, I am happy when I get home at the end of the day and my son sits at the dinner table and just smiles at me with his big toothless grin.

What is your favourite pastime?

My favourite pastime is reading non-fiction. It feeds into my job and mentality to spend so much time with books.

If not yourself, who would you be?

Academically, I would like to have the intellect and energy of Chomsky. On a personal level, I admire my brother, who is a scientist.

Who are your favourite authors?

In terms of fiction, Umberto Eco and Lawrence Norfolk. In terms of non-fiction, I admire the work of Jared Diamond and Fernand Braudel, to name the top authors.

Who is the literary hero/heroine you identify yourself most with?

Can I say Tintin? I don’t think I identify with anyone, really. Perhaps Roberto, from one of Umberto Eco’s novels. He keeps trying to reach an island which is out of reach.

Who is your favourite poet?

I don’t really understand poetry but have enjoyed translations of Homer.

Who is your favourite war correspondent?

In a contemporary sense, I like Janine di Giovanni and John Pilger. Most certainly a correspondent that writes, because I believe writing allows for more depth. I would also mention I.F. Stone.

What war has been covered very well?

The one where I admire the work of correspondents most is the Bosnian conflict between 1991 and 1995. I think they brought something to people’s attention and it made a difference.

What is your favourite war reporting triumph?

Ed Murrow is a good example, but generally speaking war reporters can’t really make a difference. It’s up to other people. However, anyone telling the truth, the likes of James Cameron or Wilfred Burchett, fits the description.

Which is your favourite war biography?

Janine di Giovanni’s work is powerful in telling the story of people’s experience during the Balkans conflict.

What is your favourite war documentary?

The War Game was a great influence.

What are your favourite qualities in a student?

Interest can’t be underestimated. Also, asking questions, contributing to a creative atmosphere, and being respectful of other’s opinions.

What fault do you tolerate the most in others?

I tolerate people not making too much effort.

What is your motto?

Keep on keeping on.

To find out more about the Media and Cultural Studies course, have a look at the website.