In 2018, with his wealth of professional experience & success, Justin decided to translate his practice into theory given his years of experience in the film & TV industries. He is currently pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at the University College London, London's global university.
In 2019-2020, Justin will be pursuing UCL's exchange programme with Yale University (USA), where he hopes to study HBO’s and PBS’ considerable contribution to authentically told histories.
Below is an excerpt of his proposed thesis, which seeks to explore the muscularity, sensuousness and "traces of the past" during the historical drama "boom" of the early 2000s - a genre Hardy was instrumental in developing.
"The thesis will prove a timely interdisciplinary intervention that brings together the disciplines of television studies and historiography to research the questions of how and why, in the late 1990s, this unparalleled interest in the past caught the imagination of such large national and international audiences, and thereby ensured the UK’s creative and innovative leadership in this field.
I will argue that the dramatization of factual history at the turn of the century in fact forms the basis for understanding the costume dramas of our Netflix era, such as the Crown. My thesis will be a piece of historical scavenging or ‘media archeology’ that will necessitate finding and using materials barely conserved on VHS tapes in order to bring back into focus a body of largely forgotten films, that have been sometimes derided, often forgotten. As an award-winning practitioner in the field, I am ideally placed to bring an important perspective to bear on this project.
UCL is also the home of the practice-based MA Ethnographic and Documentary Film and the City Docs Festival. UCL is also a key “jumping off” point for existing scholarship outside Britain. London is a natural base for this research. The home of many major production companies, it also gives access to the BFI Library and National Film & Television Archive.
This thesis connects primary source television history with the academic rigour of screen studies. I intend to publish my findings under the notional title of: from Culloden to the Crown, and to establish a complete database of historical dramatizations for posterity, even going as far as to offer to digitize them all and thus create a digital library for an otherwise, potentially, lost collection."
- Justin Hardy, 2019