College: Newnham

Research topic:Tracing Looseness: an evaluation of narration and aesthetics in the narrative film

Supervisor: Dr Isabelle McNeill


Jessica is a PhD student researching film narratology and aesthetics.

Prior to Cambridge, Jessica read Film Aesthetics (MSt) at the University of Oxford. In 2023, she joined Cambridge as a doctoral student of Film and Screen Studies, generously funded by a Cambridge Trust Vice-Chancellor’s Award and Newnham College Scholarship.


Jessica’s thesis evaluates the concept of looseness in film. With theoretical support from literary studies and philosophy, she seeks to freshly illuminate the narrative film by closely tracing tension, belatedness, delays, digressions, and the resulting production of dramatic resonance.

In recent research, Jessica has explored narrative play and fabulation in Jacques Rivette’s Céline et Julie vont en bateau; the emotional contours of style in Yasujiro Ozu’s Late Spring; and cinemas of ephemerality, specifically in David Lean’s Brief Encounter, Agnès Varda’s Cléo de 5 à 7, and Chantal Akerman’s Saute ma ville.

Jessica’s research interests are varied but revolve around film aesthetics.


  • Vice-Chancellor’s and Newnham College Scholarship (Cambridge Trust, University of Cambridge; full funding for 3 years of doctoral research)
  •  Distinction Prize (Worcester College, University of Oxford). Concurrently, highest average mark on MSt Film Aesthetics programme
  • Humanities Rotary Prize (University of Kent; top-ranked undergraduate student on the BA English and American Literature programme)


  • ‘Narrative Carousels and Modes of Play in Céline et Julie vont en bateau’, Preface, Prelude, Prologue: an interdisciplinary symposium, University of Sussex, Lewes Depot Cinema, June 2024
  • everything turns into Formica: visualising crisis in Barbara Loden’s Wanda, Newnham College MCR Graduate Conference, Newnham College, University of Cambridge, June 2024
  • ‘Napoleon’ (introducing the film for a special triptych screening), English Faculty, University of Cambridge, March 2024

Other activities and roles:

  • Founding editor-in-chief of a student-run journal of film criticism
  • Freelance editorial writing, including a by-line at MUBI Notebook and press attendance at BFI London Film Festival
  • Member of BAFTSS, MOVIOLA
  • Founding co-convenor of Close-Up
  • Pre-selection juror at Cornwall Film Festival (2021)
  • Past experience in academic administration at the University of Oxford (2022-23)

Cambridge Film & Screen

Tel: +44 (0)1223 335057