Speed, Lesley Dr

Lesley Speed

Position: Program Coordinator Bachelor of Arts (Honours), Program Coordinator Bachelor of International Studies, Senior Lecturer
Study area: Humanities and Social Sciences
Location: Mt Helen Campus, Ballarat
Phone: 5327 9759
Email: l.speed@federation.edu.au


Doctor of Philosophy – Monash University - 1997
Bachelor of Arts (Honours) - Monash University - 1991



  • Bachelor of Arts
  • Bachelor of Arts (Honours)


  • Advanced Theory for Honours Students (BAHRS 4033)
  • Australian Screen Texts and Industries (BAFLM 2002/3002)
  • From Homer to Memes (BATCC 1001)
  • Mainstream and Alternative Screen Cultures (BAFLM 2004/3004)


Lesley is a Senior Lecturer and researcher in media and screen studies. Before teaching at Federation University and the University of Ballarat, she taught at La Trobe University, the University of Melbourne and three campuses of Monash University. She has taught screen studies, media studies, adaptation studies, communication studies, digital media and cultural studies as well as interdisciplinary Honours courses.

This wide range of experience is reflected in Lesley’s research, which is published in Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom. Her research is required reading in tertiary courses internationally. Her publications include the books Australian Comedy Films of the 1930s: Modernity, the Urban and the International and Clueless: American Youth in the 1990s. In 2010, Lesley was a Scholar in Residence at the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia. She is a peer reviewer for journals, has contributed her expertise to the Melbourne International Film Festival, and has been a judge in the ATOM (Australian Teachers of Media) Awards for several years.

Areas of expertise

Lesley’s work includes an emphasis on popular screen texts, extending to areas of digital media, exploitation film, genre-mixing and independent screen media. Her research often centres on social aspects of screen texts, including their relationships to social contexts, public discourse and historical shifts as well as production and reception contexts. Her major research projects have focused on comedy and youth culture. However, the ideas underpinning her research are often as much about relationships between screen texts and society as they are about specific genres. Lesley’s research interests can be encompassed by the following areas.

Screen comedy

Lesley’s research about teen comedy and Australian comedy focuses on social aspects of popular genres. Although often not taken seriously, comedy serves important social functions through having a capacity to challenge conceptions of the existing world, explore challenging ideas and envisage developments that have not yet occurred. Lesley’s research about comedy explores differences of gender, ethnicity and class. She has demonstrated how early comedy films reflect on shifting social relationships in interwar and contemporary Australia. This in turn forms a basis for understanding later and contemporary developments in screen comedy.

Social and spatial aspects of screen texts

Lesley’s research encompasses ways in which narratives are fundamentally shaped by social contexts and can engage in public discourse. Ways in which screen productions are implicated in the circulation and shifting of ideas and discourses pervade her work about historical developments in comedy and youth culture, historical exploitation films, genre-mixing and contemporary media. Forms of digital media, television and film are rich areas for examining values, attitudes and experiences of social shifts that can be understood as local and international, generational and historical.

Cultural value and popular culture

The significance of ideas of value in relation to screen media is a recurrent element of Lesley’s research. Ideas and frameworks of value are important for understanding relationships between popular genres and their contexts of production and reception. Lesley’s research examines screen media in relation to shifting cultural landscapes in which genres that are maligned or commonly overlooked can be understood as barometers of popular awareness, topical issues and shifting social values.

Research interests

  • Screen comedy
  • Popular genres and genre mixing
  • Social aspects of screen texts
  • Australian and international screen history
  • Age, generations and popular culture
  • Cultural value and popular screen texts
  • Contemporary screen media including video games


Current supervisions:

Duncan Hubber – “Diegetic Wounds: The Representation of Individual and Collective Trauma in Found Footage Horror Films” – Principal Supervisor

Courtney O’Neill – “Policing the Boundaries: The Construction of Femininity in Contemporary Crime Television” – Principal Supervisor

Cale Hellyer – “Fulcian Incubi: The Nightmarish Depiction of Children and Youth in the Films of Lucio Fulci” – Principal Supervisor

Completed HDR students:

Chloe Benson, PhD – “Bi what means: paratextual and filmic representations of bisexuality in contemporary cinema” – Principal Supervisor

Nicholas Moll, PhD – “Kemo Sabe: Tonto as a developing construction of the Indian character type” – Principal Supervisor

Marian Chivers, MA – “The Warrior Woman in Contemporary Romance Fiction” – Associate Supervisor



Speed, Lesley. Clueless: American Youth in the 1990s. Routledge, 2018. Cinema and Youth Cultures.

Speed, Lesley. Australian comedy films of the 1930s: Modernity, the urban and the international. St Kilda: Australian Teachers of Media, 2015. The Moving Image 13.

Book chapters and sections

Speed, Lesley. “A Seamless Wedding: Comedy, Diversity, and the International”. Australian Genre Film, edited by Kelly McWilliam and Mark David Ryan, Routledge, 2021, pp. 59–73.

Speed, Lesley. “Way Hilarious: Amy Heckerling as a Female Comedy Director, Writer, and Producer”. Refocus on the Films of Amy Heckerling, edited by Timothy Shary and Frances Smith, Edinburgh UP, 2016, pp. 218–239.

Speed, Lesley. “Comedian comedy”. Directory of World Cinema: Australia & New Zealand 2, edited by Ben Goldsmith and Mark David Ryan and Geoff Lealand, Intellect, 2015, pp. 79–8 1.

Speed, Lesley. “Director: Ken G. Hall”. Directory of World Cinema: Australia & New Zealand 2, edited by Ben Goldsmith and Mark David Ryan and Geoff Lealand, Intellect, 2015, pp. 41–44.

Speed, Lesley. “Comedy”. Directory of World Cinema: Australia & New Zealand, edited by Ben Goldsmith and Geoff Lealand, Intellect, 2010, pp. 159–162.

Speed, Lesley. “His Royal Highness”. Directory of World Cinema: Australia & New Zealand, edited by Ben Goldsmith and Geoff Lealand, Intellect, 2010, pp. 163–4.

Speed, Lesley. “Harmony Row”. Directory of World Cinema: Australia & New Zealand, edited by Ben Goldsmith and Geoff Lealand, Intellect, 2010, pp. 165–6.

Speed, Lesley. “A Ticket in Tatts”. Directory of World Cinema: Australia & New Zealand, edited by Ben Goldsmith and Geoff Lealand, Intellect, 2010, pp. 166–7.

Speed, Lesley. “Strike Me Lucky”. Directory of World Cinema: Australia & New Zealand, edited by Ben Goldsmith and Geoff Lealand, Intellect, 2010, pp. 168–9

Speed, Lesley. "Out of the Frying Pan: From Casual Teaching to Temp Work". Gypsy Scholars, Migrant Teachers and the Global Academic Proletariat: Adjunct Labor in Higher Education, edited by Rudolphus Teeuwen and Steffen Hantke, Rodopi, 2007, pp. 127–147.

Refereed journal articles

Speed, Lesley. “Comic investigation and genre-mixing: the television docucomedies of Lawrence Leung, Judith Lucy and Luke McGregor”. Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, vol. 34, no. 5, 2020, pp. 690–702.

Speed, Lesley. “Renditions from the inside: Prison Songs, documusical and performative documentary”. Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, January 2019,.

Speed, Lesley. “Prurient exuberance: early Australian sex hygiene films and the origins of Ozploitation”. Screening the Past, no. 42, 4 October 2017.

Speed, Lesley. “Fishing the waters of life: Zane Grey’s White Death, exploitation film and the Great Barrier Reef”. Studies in Australasian Cinema, vol. 11, no. 1, March 2017, pp. 5–17.

Speed, Lesley. "The Virtual City in The Doctor Blake Mysteries". Metro, no. 187, Summer 2016, pp. 50–56.

Speed, Lesley. “‘In the best film star tradition’: Claire Adams and Mooramong”. Screening the Past, no. 39, August 2015.

Chivers, Marian, Lesley Speed and Meg Tasker. “The warrior woman in Harlequin’s Bombshell Athena Force series”. Australasian Journal of Popular Culture, vol. 3, no. 3, September 2014, pp. 335–349.

Speed, Lesley. “A handshake and a smile: Video-making, young people and mental health”. Screen Education, no. 59, Spring 2010, pp. 52–57.

Speed, Lesley. “Loose Cannons: White Masculinity and the Vulgar Teen Comedy Film”. Journal of Popular Culture, vol. 43, no. 4, August 2010, pp. 820–841.

Speed, Lesley. “Win and Lose: Subculture and Social Difference in Dogs in Space”. Metro, no. 162, 2009, pp. 160–165.

Speed, Lesley. “Strike Me Lucky: Social difference and consumer culture in Roy Rene’s only film.” Screening the Past, no. 26, December 2009.

Speed, Lesley. “The comedian comedies: George Wallace’s 1930s comedies, Australian cinema and Hollywood”. Metro, no. 158, 2008, pp. 76–82.

Speed, Lesley. "The possibilities of roads not taken: Intellect and Utopia in the films of Richard Linklater". Journal of Popular Film & Television, vol. 35, no. 3, Fall 2007, pp. 98–106.

Speed, Lesley. "When the Sun Sets over Suburbia: Class and Subculture in Bruce Beresford’s Puberty Blues". Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, vol. 20, no. 3, September 2006, pp. 407–418.

Speed, Lesley. "'No matter how far you run’: Looking for Alibrandi and coming of age in Italo-Australian cinema and girlhood". Screening the Past, no. 19, 2006.

Speed, Lesley. "Life as a Pizza: The Comic Traditions of Wogsploitation Films". Metro, nos. 146/147, 2005, pp. 136–144.

Speed, Lesley. "You and Me Against the World: Revisiting Puberty Blues". Metro, no. 140, 2004, pp. 54–60.

Speed, Lesley. "A World Ruled by Hilarity: Gender and Low Comedy in the Films of Amy Heckerling". Senses of Cinema, no. 22, October 2002.

Speed, Lesley. "Reading, writing and unruliness: Female education in the St Trinian’s films". International Journal of Cultural Studies, vol. 5, no. 2, June 2002, pp. 221–238.

Speed, Lesley. "Moving On Up: Education in Black American Youth Films". Journal of Popular Film & Television, vol. 29, no. 2, Summer 2001, pp. 82–91.

Speed, Lesley. "Together in Electric Dreams: Films Revisiting 1980s Youth". Journal of Popular Film & Television, vol. 28, no. 1, Spring 2000, pp. 22–29.

Speed, Lesley. "Millennium Man: Comedy and Masculinity in the Films of Mike Myers". Metro, no 120, 1999, pp. 56–64.

Speed, Lesley. "Tuesday's Gone: The Nostalgic Teen Film". Journal of Popular Film & Television, vol. 26, no. 1, Spring 1998, pp. 24–32.

Speed, Lesley. "Pastel Romances: The Teen Films of John Hughes". Metro, nos. 113/114, 1998, pp. 103–110.

Speed, Lesley. "Kids". Metro, no. 105, 1996, pp. 4–10.

Speed, Lesley. "Good Fun and Bad Hair Days: Girls in Teen Film". Metro, no. 101, 1995, pp. 24–30.

Conference and seminar presentations

Speed, Lesley. “The fallacy of age determinism in screen comedy: Trainwreck and The Intern”. Cultural Enquiry Research Group, Federation University, October 2017.

Speed, Lesley. “Screen comedy and the fallacy of age determinism”. Australasian Humour Studies Network Colloquium, Federation University, February 2017.

Speed, Lesley. "'The Best Men in the Metrolopis [sic]': Speech and language in 1930s Australian comedy films". Cultural Enquiry Research Group, University of Ballarat, 2012.

Speed, Lesley. "Make us smile: Australian comedy film's early peak and its challenges to cultural values in the 1930s". National Film and Sound Archive, 2010.

Speed, Lesley. "George Wallace's 1930s comedies, Australian cinema and Hollywood". School of Behavioural and Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Ballarat, 2009.

Speed, Lesley. "Insights into mental health". DVD presentation. Grampians Mental Health Conference, 2009.

Boyd, Candice, and Lesley Speed. "Development and evaluation of a pilot film-making program for rural youth with serious mental illness". Psychology Colloquium, School of Behavioural and Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Ballarat, 2008.

Speed, Lesley. "Anti-intellectualism in the New Hollywood". School of Behavioural and Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Ballarat, 2007.

Speed, Lesley. "Life as a pizza: the comic traditions of wogsploitation films". School of Behavioural and Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Ballarat, 2006.


  • Australasian Humour Studies Network (AHSN), member
  • Cultural Enquiry Research Group (CERG), Federation University, member
  • ATOM (Australian Teachers of Media) Awards, judge