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Photo of Professor Sally  Faulkner

Professor Sally Faulkner

Assistant Deputy Vice Chancellor (Europe), Professor of Hispanic Studies and Film Studies


01392 723408


I am a Professor of Film and specialize in Spanish- and Portuguese-language cinemas. In my undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and research supervision, I cover film and TV from both Europe and Latin America. My research largely focuses on Spanish-language cinema and television, where I have particular interests in gender and feminism; film and politics (especially dictatorship and the Transition to democracy) and film aesthetics (the practice of close reading and questions of adaptations between literature and film).

As Principal Investigator, I am currently leading a five-year interdisciplinary and international project, funded by the British government's Arts and Humanities Research Council: Invisibles e insumisas / Invisíveis e insubmissas: Leading Women in Portuguese and Spanish Cinema and Television, 1970-1980. I work with Co-Investigators Professor Núria Triana Toribio (University of Kent), Professor Hilary Owen (University of Oxford), 3 post-doctoral research assistants (the first of which was Dr Jara Fernández Meneses, now a Lecturer in Film at the University of Southampton, and the second is Dr Olivia Glaze) and a research assistant (Rachel Beaney).

I am University Assistant Deputy Vice Chancellor for Europe, and lead the University's engagement with Europe across both the teaching and the research of our three Faculties. In that role I represent the University on the Academic Council of Venice International University. You can read about the work on the University Europe strategy in my blog posts here: 'Our future with Europe,' (May 2020) 'Staying connected with Europe' (October 2020), 'Life after Brexit' (January 2021), European Languages and Partnerships remain critical for global Exeter and Britain (June 2021), Positive progress in Europe to support University's 2030 strategy (November 2021) and the latest, European partnerships more important now than ever (July 2022). I previously served as Associate Dean for International and Development in the College of Humanities. Prior to that I was Head of the Department of Modern Languages, and Director of Research for Modern Languages with responsibility for the department's REF 2014 submission.

Prizes and Honours

  • Arts and Humanities Research Council Research Grant, 2021-26.
  • Visiting Professor, Media Studies, School of Humanities, Carlos III University, Madrid, 2017.
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council Modern Languages Steering Group, 2017-21.
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council Peer Review College, 2014-17.
  • Philip Leverhulme Prize , 2014-17, for distinction in the field of Modern Languages and Literatures.
  • Visiting Fellowship at the Institute of Modern Languages Research, School of Advanced Study, University of London, 2014-15.
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council Leadership Fellowship, 2011.
  • Arts and Humanities Research Board Research Leave Scheme award, 2005.
  • Spanish Foreign Office Research Grant (BECAS MAE), 2005.
  • British Academy Small Research Grant, 2004.











Research interests


I am currently leading, as Principal Investigator, a 5-year interdiscplinary and international research project 'Invisibles e insumisas / Invisíveis e insubmissas: Leading Women in Portuguese and Spanish Cinema and Television, 1970-1980.' Working with my Co-Investigators, Professor Hilary Owen (University of Oxford) and Professor Núria Triana Toribio (University of Kent), alongside three post-doctoral research asssistants, our project will produce the first ever 'history from below' account of women working in the Portuguese and Spanish industries in the 1970s, the decade when fascist dictatorship ended in both countries, and subsequent legislative changes permitted women to work outside the home. By publishing monographs, volumes of interviews and special issues of journals, our project will add the critical transnational dimensions of Spanish and Portuguese history to current, worldwide, predominantly Anglophone, debates on women in the film and television industries today. By working with film festivals in Portugal, Spain and the UK we will share our research with wide public audiences, as well as bringing a critical gender dimension to film and education initiatives in Portugal and Spain. 

My previous work on Spanish and Portugese cinema has alighted, at different moments, on questions of intermediality, as in my first monograph Literary Adaptations in Spanish Cinema (Tamesis 2004) (forthcoming in Spanish translation with IberoAmericana-Vervuert in 2022) and on questions of politics, canonicity and popular film, as in my second book,  A Cinema of Contradiction: Spanish Film in the 1960s (Edinburgh University Press 2006), which I published in a revised and expanded version - with two new chapters on gender and memory - with IberoAmericana-Vervuert in 2022. My third monograph, A History of Spanish Film: Cinema and Society 1910-2010 (Bloomsbury Academic  2013) (published in Spanish translation in 2017 with IberoAmericana-Vervuert, is a major study of 100 years of cinema that established the previously overlooked 'middlebrow' as an approach that draws together textual analysis and contextual consideration of class. My prize-winning edited volume Middlebrow Cinema (Routledge 2016), freely available on Open Access, tested the purchase of the term across national and transnational cinemas beyond Spain, from the 1930s to the present. My work in Portuguese film, meanwhile, includes a special issue Portuguese Film: Colony; Postcolony; Memory, co-edited with Mariana Liz (Lisbon). All these projects have been underpinned by close reading film form, investigating film cultures, and tracking questions of gender in evolving socio-political contexts. 

Research supervision


I offer research supervision in the following areas. Please get in touch if you have a strong academic record and well-defined research proposal for your potential thesis. I am also pleased to receive enquiries from international doctoral students who wish to spend a period at Exeter under my supervision, and from specialists who already hold PhDs and wish to undertake post-doctoral work at Exeter. 

  • Spanish and Portuguese cinemas and television.
  • Transnational cinemas, especially those involving networks incorporating Spanish- and Portuguese-language work, such as Latin America and Lusophone Africa.
  • Middlebrow cultures and questions of canonicity (when and why does a text become 'mainstream', or considered a 'classic' and how are these assumptions challenged?).
  • Literary adaptations on screen (film, television, on-line).
  • Feminist and postcolonial approaches to audiovisual cultures.

Research students

Post-doctoral Research Fellows:

Dr Jara Fernández-Meneses. The first Post-Doctoral Research Assistant on AHRC-funded 'Leading Women' project and now Lecturer in Film at the University of Southampton.

Dr Olivia Glaze. The second Post-Doctoral Research Assistant on the AHRC-funded 'Leading Women' project. Dr Glaze holds a PhD in Portuguese literature from the University of Oxford 'Gender and the Embodiment of Trauma in Post-Imperial Portuguese Women's Writing' (awarded 2022). 

PhD Students:

Delphi May. Arts and Humanities Research Council PhD student (South West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership). First supervision: Exeter (Professor Sally Faulkner); second supervision: Reading (Dr Simone Knox). Thesis title: ‘“Chineseness” in Spanish Cinema and Audiovisual Culture.’ Thesis was passed with no corrections, May 2020, and won the Association of Hispanists of Great Britain and Ireland runner-up prize, 2021, for publication, subject to review, as Hybrid Acts: Chinese Culture in Spanish Film and Television with Legenda.

Rachel Beaney. Arts and Humanities Research Council PhD student (South West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership). First supervision: Cardiff (Dr Ryan Prout); second supervision: Exeter (Professor Sally Faulkner). Thesis title: 'The representation of orphans in Spanish Cinema.' September 2018-. In March 2021, Rachel ran the successful Ibero-American film festival 'Screening the Child' in collaboration with Pragda.




External impact and engagement

I run, or co-run, the following events that aim to connect my two areas of expertise, Film studies and Modern Languages, especially Spanish and Portuguese, with public audiences, including local schools.

Film Studies

I collaborate regularly with Exeter Phoenix, and have organized film screenings and events in connection with my research interests in cinema and feminism (for example our screening of Independent Miss Craigie [Thynne 2021]) and Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American cinema (for example, the 2019 VIVA Spanish and Latin American Film Festival, which featured a special screening of Fernando Fernán Gómez's 1963 El mundo sigue [Life Goes On] subtitled by University of Exeter students and introduced by the original producer's son, the Spanish director and producer Juan Estelrich). 

With Professor Will Higbee and Professor Danielle Hipkins I co-run the Subtitling World Cinema project, which seeks to make currently unsubtitled foreign-language films available to English-speaking audiences through free streaming. Fernando Fernán Gómez's Life Goes On is the first film to be subtitled through this project.

In collaboration with the Chagford Film Festival, I curate a Hispanic Cinema Day, which launched in 2018, and at which we held an event on Hispanic cinemas and traumatic pasts in 2021. In 2022 we focus on Almodóvar's Volver and Parallel Mothers.

Modern Languages

In 2019 I launched the University's 'Languages in a Global World' public lecture series, which has thus far featured local MP and graduate of German, Ben Bradshaw, BBC Security Correspondent and graduate of Arabic Studies, Frank Gardner, and German and Spanish graduate Susannah Poulton, from the Department of International Trade.

In 2019 I co-hosted the Jornada didáctica del español, a training day for South-West teachers of Spanish at primary and secondary school (both GCSE and A-level) in collaboration with the Spanish Embassy, at the University. The second event took place in 2021 and Hispanic Studies colleagues at Exeter plan regularly to host this important event.

Contribution to discipline

I am a member of the Editorial Boards of Legenda, UK, and of GeNueve Ediciones, Spain. I have previously held membership of the Arts and Humanities Research Council Advisory Board for Modern Languages, the Arts and Humanities Research Council Peer Review College, and of the Executive Committee of the Association of Hispanists of Great Britain and Ireland.

I have served as external examiner in the Department of Hispanic, Portuguese and Latin American Studies, University of Bristol (2011-14) and in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of Cambridge (2014-17). 


I am Founder- Director of Languages in a Global World, which brings notable speakers who are graduates of Modern Languages to Exeter to share their experiences in an in-conversation event aimed at local schools, the wider public in the South West, and students and colleagues across the University. I am also Founder-Director of the College of Humanities Centre for Translating Cultures , which holds fortnightly seminars and regular workshops and symposia, and I supported the launch of the University Centre for Latin American Studies, EXECLAS. I regularly organize further events relating to either Modern Languages, Film Studies, or both, aimed at wider audiences, including schools (see External Engagement and Impact) or academic audiences:

  • With Dr Mariana Liz (Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lisbon) 'Portuguese Film: Colony; Postcolony; Memory' at the Institute of Modern Languages Research, University of London, at which we hosted as special guest the director Margarida Cardoso, 2016. A recording of the Q and A I co-chaired with the director is available at this link.
  • With Dr Jonathan Bradbury and Dr Katharine Murphy (University of Exeter), the 60th Anniversary Conference of the Association of Hispanists of Great Britain and Ireland at the University of Exeter, 2015. 
  • With Dr Maria Thomas (University of Exeter) the 'Iberian Transitions' workshop in the Centre for Translating Cultures, University of Exeter, 2014.
  •  'Middlebrow Cinema' symposium, University of Exeter, 2012.

Selected Speaking Engagements

From 2000 I have spoken on over 30 occasions as key-note speaker, invited speaker or conference participant at events in the UK and internationally. Selected speaking engagements include:

Key-note Lecture, 'Cuestiones de cinefilia y cine de mujeres en Gary Cooper, que estás en los cielos de Pilar Miró (1980)',¿Una luna de miel entre un cine y su público?. Culturas cinematográficas en transición 1970-1990, Department of Geography and History, Complutense University, Madrid, Spain, November 2019.

Special Guest Keynote Lecture, 'Spanish Film Studies and Questions of Cultural Translation: from "Auteur" to "Middlebrow"’, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of Toronto, Canada, October 2018.

Invited speaker: 'Middlebrow Spanish Cinema: Working across Languages, Cultures and Disciplines,' 'Our Uncommon Ground' International Conference, University of Durham, April 2018.

Key-note lecture: 'Reclaiming, Remapping and Repositioning: Middlebrow Cinema and the case of Almodóvar', B-Film, Screening and Book Launch, Middlebrow Cinema, University of Birmingham, November 2017.



I have taught across both Film Studies and Hispanic Studies undergraduate degrees at Exeter, as well as contributing to Masters degrees in Film and Television Studies, Translations Studies and International Film Business. Drawing on my own research expertise, I have established a pathway in Hispanic film on these programmes, growing from introductory lectures on team-taught modules at first year, to specialist second and final-year courses. In 2018 I introduced a Field Trip for undergraduate students, taking the finalists studying my Pedro Almodóvar course to Chagford Film Festival in Devon. 

Internationally, I have taught at the University Carlos III, Madrid, Spain (as Visiting Professor), and the Complutense University, Madrid, Spain. I am a scientific co-ordinator and member of faculty for the 'Films in Venice, Filming Venice' International Summer School at Venice International University, Italy.


Modules taught


I attended Wellsway Comprehensive School, Bristol, from where I won a place to read Modern and Medieval Languages (French and Spanish) at the University of Cambridge. I graduated with a double first and a distinction in spoken Spanish, and went on to gain an MPhil in European Literature (distinction) and PhD in Spanish, both University of Cambridge, where  I also held the position of 'Women's Officer' for the Fitzwilliam College Postgraduate Community. I was appointed to a permanent lectureship at the University of Exeter in 2001 and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2006. Following a career break for caring responsibilites over 2006-11, I was promoted to Associate Professor in 2013 and a personal chair in 2015, thereby becoming the first woman to hold a Professorship in Hispanic Studies at Exeter. In 2022 I joined Exeter's newly-formed department of Communications, Drama and Film.

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