Conference – Researching Past Cinema Audiences: Archives, Memories and Methods

Monday 26th – Wednesday 28th March 2018, Aberystwyth University, UK

In collaboration with:

Media Industries and Institutions Research Cluster, Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies, Aberystwyth University 

Centre for Media History, Aberystwyth University

Keynote Speakers:

Professor Sue Harper, Portsmouth University, UK

Professor Daniel Biltereyst, Ghent University, Belgium

Since Allen and Gomery’s (1985) call for a revision of existing approaches, the emergence and rise in prominence of the New Film History tradition has irrevocably changed what it is to be a film historian. No longer solely concerned with film aesthetics or viewing cinema as a ‘reflection’ of society (Chapman, Glancy and Harper, 2007: 2–3), films themselves are now not necessarily the chief focus of a historical investigation of cinema. Indeed, over the past twenty years there has been a notable shift towards the study of all kinds of past film exhibition spaces (both public and private) and the tastes, responses and habits of the audiences who frequented them. This is illustrated by the growing number of publications, networks and research projects on past cinema audiences which cross and connect the disciplines of film and media studies, cultural and leisure studies, and history and cultural geography.  With this shift towards researching spaces of exhibition and their audiences, film historians have met the call to look beyond traditional film history methodologies and incorporate the use of a wide range of sources, from archival, industry and reception sources, to audience memories elicited through interviews or questionnaires.

This conference offers a platform for both established and emerging scholars who share this desire to research past cinema audiences – prior to 2000 – through a wide range of investigative foci. The conference will allow for the showcasing and sharing of current research and, consequently, for the consideration of current and future directions and debates within the field. We welcome proposals for twenty minute papers, as well as for poster presentations, the latter of which may be ideal for masters or first year PhD students.   Please send paper proposals (of 250 words maximum) to Jamie Terrill and Kate Egan at by Friday 1st December 2017. Panel proposals (of 3 or 4 speakers) are also welcome; please include a brief panel introduction (of 150 words maximum) with paper proposals in these cases.

Paper and panel topics may include (but are not limited to):

  • Past audiences for cinemas in particular cities, towns or villages (rural, seaside, etc.)
  • Past audiences for cinemas in particular eras or decades
  • Past cinema audience responses and experiences in relation to gender, class, nationality, age, race or sexuality
  • Audience responses to – or recollections of – past film controversies (local, national or international)
  • Changing audience tastes, including in relation to particular stars, genres or modes (documentary, experimental, avant-garde, underground, cult cinema)
  • Audiences for past forms of home media (Super 8, analogue video, laserdisc)
  • Considerations of particular archives, sources or methods for researching the habits or experiences of past audiences
  • Audience responses to past technological developments (in relation to sound, colour, widescreen, 3D, etc.)
  • Audience habits or experiences associated with particular kinds of cinema or forms of exhibition (picture palaces, art cinemas, fleapits, grindhouse cinemas, multiplexes, drive-ins, midnight movies and cult screenings, matinee screenings, film societies and clubs)


Historical Cinema Audiences Conference Call For Papers – Word Download