Reporter 428, 30 November 1998

Resolution adopted by the Senate (21 October 1998) on the retirement of

Professor Nicholas Pronay

Born in Hungary, Nicholas Pronay came to the UK after the 1956 uprising. He attended Coleg Harlech and secured a first-class honours degree, together with the A G Little Prize, in History from the University of Wales. After working for two years as a researcher at Scottish Television for John Grierson’s series, This Wonderful World, Nicholas joined the School of History here at Leeds as an assistant lecturer in 1964. Initially a medievalist, Nicholas began to consolidate his interests in the media by becoming one of the first historians in Britain to research and teach what was then considered somewhat tangential to mainstream history.

A founding member of the Inter-University History Film Consortium in 1968 (which he chaired between 1975 and 1978 and again in 1981-84) and of the International Association for Audio-Visual Media in Historical Research and Education (for which he served as Vice-Persident, 1985-89 and as President, 1991-95), Nicholas has also served as a member of the Councils of the Historical Association and British Records Association. Indeed, he was Director for Film and Television for the Historical Association for ten years and was Chair of its Developmental Committee for its Young Historian scheme in the 1980s. This service to the promotion of academic acceptance of historical film and television was consolidated in the three television series he wrote for the BBC, Propoganda with Facts (1976), Illusions of Reality (1978) and Visions of Change (1984). His articles on ‘British Newsreels in the 1930s’ remain seminal works, as do many of his thirty other published journal articles and book chapters. His relevant book contributions to the field are British Official Films in the Second World War (1980, with Frances Thorpe), Propoganda, Politics and Film, 1918-45 (1982, with Derek Spring) and The Political Re-education of Germany and her allies after 1945 (1985, with Keith Wilson). But he also remained a constitutional historian at heart, as reflected by his two books with his Leeds School of History colleagues, Parliamentary Texts of the Later Middle Ages (1979, with John Taylor) and The Crowland Chronicle Continuations (1986, with John Cox).

In 1988, following the retirement of Professor Blumler, Nicholas was asked to examine the future role of the Centre for Television Research for the University. The Institute of Communications Studies is today the result of that request. As founding head of department, he stayed in the post for ten years, directing its extraordinary growth into one of the ten largest teaching departments in the University, and securing the Chair in Communications Studies in 1995. The Institute is in many ways the culmination of his career, an achievement of which he, his wife, Jane, and his son Nicholas, can justifiably feel proud. They, together with his colleagues in the Institute and in the University, wish him a well-earned rest in his retirement - although they all find this hard to imagine!

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