‘Reclaiming the Screen: Addressing Overlooked Women in Film and Television’ 14th June 2019.

The following event and call for papers may be of interest to WFTHN members:

Call for Papers
‘Reclaiming the Screen: Addressing Overlooked Women in Film and Television’
Postgraduate Conference – Friday 14th June 2019.
Cinema and Television History Institute (CATHI), De Montfort University, Leicester.

Keynote speaker: Dr. Shelley Cobb (Associate Professor of Film, University of Southampton).

£5 conference free: to be paid in cash upon registration

MA travel bursaries available – email cath.postgrad@gmail.com for more information.

‘[T]he tragedy of film history is that it’s fabricated, falsified, by the very people who make film history’ – Louise Brooks

De Montfort University’s Cinema and Television History Institute (CATHI) is pleased to invite Postgraduates and Early Career Researchers to its eighth annual postgraduate conference, focusing on overlooked women in the film, television and media industries. This conference seeks to offer a platform uncovering, challenging, and drawing attention to issues relating to overlooked self-identifying women across all areas of women’s film and television history, culture, and production. There is a continued lack of gender equality within the film industry, exemplified most recently by the absence of any female nominees within the 2019 Academy Awards’ Best Director category. This conference aims to offer a platform to the voices of underrepresented, unheard and undervalued women. This conference is also an opportunity to highlight examples of women’s autonomy and agency within the television and film industries, from any era and any part of the globe.

In hosting this conference, we hope to look backwards, seeking and uncovering forgotten women, both on screen and behind the camera. In looking backwards, we aim to also push forwards in relation to challenging patriarchal structures of industrial and cultural misogyny. We welcome a broad range of proposals from a diverse range of voices, looking at the interconnectedness of past, present and future issues for female-identifying individuals on and off-screen.

The event will end with a roundtable focused on improving and challenging issues that the conference presents.

Relevant topics include, but are not limited to:

The gendering of industry roles.
Ageing woman and visibility on and off-screen.
Women in film and television academia.
Women in the film industry.
Representations of trans women, behind and in front of the camera.
The intersections of class, race, sexuality, and able-bodiedness of women.
The politics of the gaze, and challenges to how we look at women on screen.
Coming of age female representation.
Underrepresentation of female labour.
Examples of transgressive, monstrous and subversive femininities on screen.
Forgotten figures.
The #MeToo movement.
Proposals for twenty-minute presentations (both traditional and non) should include the title of the presentation, a 250-word abstract, and a brief biographical statement. Proposals should be submitted to cath.postgrad@gmail.com by Friday 12th April 2019.

Applicants will be notified in late April/early May.

Twitter: @CATHpostgrad | #CATHCON19


Symposium Review. Broad Strokes: Trailblazing Comedy Screenwriters

Exclusively for WFTHN members, Jay Bamber presents a comprehensive and lively review of a packed one-day symposium on women writers and screen comedy, held at the BFI, Southbank in October 2018.

Broad Strokes: Trailblazing Comedy Screenwriters
28/10/2018 – BFI Southbank

Pamela Hutchinson – ‘Anita Loos: The Soubrette of Satire’
Gail Renard – ‘Carla Lane: Writings of a Liver Bird’
Deborah Jermyn – ‘”I’ll Have What She’s Having”: Nora Ephron’s Brilliant Screenwriting’
Julia Havas – ‘Dry Humping in the Outer Boroughs: Tina Fey and the Image of the Female’ Ashanti Omkar – ‘Mindy Kaling: Breaking Boundaries with Comedy’

Event flyer can be found here.

Hosted by the British Film Institute, as part of their wider Comedy Genius season, Broad Strokes: Trailblazing Comedy Screenwriters narrowed the focus of the season to engage with some of the female screenwriters, past and present, who have challenged comedic norms, helped construct a female comedic language and enriched the visual comedic landscape.

Film journalist Pamela Hutchinson began the discussion of female comedy writers with an analysis of the work of Anita Loos, whose success and influence in the silent film era offers an instructive case study of the difficulties that female creatives experienced in the transition from silent to sound cinema. Hutchinson provided fascinating biographical detail of Loos to examine how her public persona informed her film work and contributed to her ability to tackle taboo subjects, including female sexuality. Examples of Loos’s intertitles were used to illustrate her sharp, risqué comedic style and clips demonstrated her keen interest in the relationship between sex and power in conventional heterosexual romance narratives. Hutchinson provided important cultural and industry context to point out the enormous role that women screenwriters (as well as editors, producers and designers) played in the silent era, as well as to illuminate Loos’s creative partnerships with legends such as D.W. Griffith (who referred to Loos as “the most brilliant woman in the world”) and Douglas Fairbanks. Loos was also famous for her literary output and Hutchinson carefully mapped how the cultural success of the novel Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1925) indicated Loos’s exceptional authorial cultural capital for that time, making her a unique figure in early sound cinema.

BAFTA-winning comedy writer and producer Gail Renard turned her attention to the Liverpudlian writer/creator Carla Lane, situating her analysis around the British sitcoms The Liver Birds (BBC1, 1969 – 1979) and Butterflies (BBC 2, 1978 – 1983). Renard contextualised the dynamic, multifaceted female characters of The Liver Birds, co-created by Lane and Mayra Taylor, by revealing statistics regarding the rarity of female sitcom writers in 1970s UK television and contrasting the show with parallel (male-centred) texts such as The Likely Lads (BBC 2, 1964 – 1966). Renard demonstrated how scenes of four female characters talking together were an anomaly for the time and an illustration of The Liver Birds’ commitment to the revelatory, comedic potential of the female voice and female-centric interactions, including Lane and Taylor’s confident tackling of everyday experiences to produce an emotionally-nuanced comedic sensibility within the sitcom genre.

Deborah Jermyn offered insight and analysis into the films of Nora Ephron analysing how the popular comedy screenwriter maintained an unusual level of prestige and industry respect whilst working in the often undervalued romantic comedy genre. This analysis led directly into the following Q&A on the often problematic cultural reception of female-oriented comedy, which positions it as “frivolous” – a term which is often used derogatively to describe the genre in which Ephron excelled creatively. Jermyn’s presentation focussed on When Harry Met Sally (Reiner, 1989), Sleepless In Seattle (Ephron, 1993), and You’ve Got Mail (Ephron, 1998), the Ephron films which have gained the greatest cultural capital, symbolised by their contributions to the cultural lexicon. In keeping with the theme of the conference, Jermyn also illustrated the ways in which these films elevate the female point of view and legitimise female emotional responses, even when the female characters don’t always seem to take precedence on the page.

Julia Havas focussed her analysis on the comedic image and contribution of Tina Fey, paying particular attention to how Fey constructs and problematises the image of the female comedy writer. Havas discussed how Fey navigates the pretty/funny binary often employed to analyse female comedians, pointing to Fey’s description of herself as a writer first and a performer second. Havas argued that Fey’s more cerebral public identity as a writer helps to legitimise her feminist point of view.

Radio broadcaster Ashanti Omkar turned her attention to Mindy Kaling, who, like Tina Fey, is a show creator, writer, producer and performer – most known for her work on The Office (NBC, 2005-2013) and The Mindy Project (FOX, 2012 – 2015, HULU, 2015 – 2017). Omkar demonstrated how Kaling’s Indian heritage and her comedic persona places her in a unique position to explore diasporic identity more self-reflexively on popular television and to subvert stereotypes through a comedic lens, pointing out the particular nuance placed on romantic comedy tropes through Kaling’s casting as an under-represented minority at their centre. Omkar also highlighted how Kaling has fostered a relationship with her audience separately via social media and book publication.

Many of the themes of the individual presentations were brought together and further scrutinized in the panel discussion. Topics discussed included: female access to creative pursuits, the role of genre in female writing and diversity in comedy screenwriting. At the beginning of the event, it was suggested that screenwriting has always been a “breeding ground” for female comedic talent, even if women’s contribution to comedy (and notions of comedic genius) have often been ignored. The papers that made up Broad Strokes: Trailblazing Comedy Screenwriters more than proved that point by demonstrating how these screenwriters make what is important to them personally, important to their comedy writing. The symposium particularly revealed how these women use the comedic space to uncover new stories and new languages to bring fresh political and social attitudes into the comedic landscape.

Jay Bamber is currently studying for a PhD at Roehampton University after completing a BA and an MA at the same institution. His interests are centred on genre and how it functions in film and television, including romantic comedy. His thesis explores the relationship between the horror genre and The Disney Corporation.

The Twitterverse: #dwfth4 from a distance.

Dear @wfthn and @callingtheshots

What does #dwfth4 look like, viewed from a distance, via its tweets? Collated out of the Twitter feed from the inspirational conference at Southampton University, organized by the @callingtheshots team, here is the image – our #dwfth4 group photo/temporary planet (via wordcloud).

A little background about the process to create this picture:

  • all the tweets and e-mails were cut and pasted into a document;
  • all names of delegates were removed (with apologies for any editor error), to honour the general rule that we are not a star system but a collective;
  • a dispensation to ‘repealthe8th’ in tweets was given, to acknowledge the conference’s support of that important, contemporaneous event;
  • less willingly, all directors’ names, were removed, to allow the shared vocabulary to prevail. Some painful surgery was, therefore, necessary on Lotte (5) and Reiniger (4), as well as Craigie (4) and Winona (2);
  • that said, Weinstein stays in, since this writer trusts it will become a historical marker, as in pre- and post-;
  • ‘canapés’ was underused (1) but should be recognised as the official kitemark of a good conference.

Please feel free to print and pin for a happy reminder.  If you’ve no such time, let us point out  a few highlights and enjoyable associations:

  • ‘tomorrow’ is visible;
  • The words ‘working’ (LHS) and ‘looking’ (RHS) are prominent, and balanced;
  • ‘pretty ignored’ has formed itself into a useful phrase (towards the base);
  • ‘pioneering’ and ‘old’ are nestling together between the ‘e’ and ‘n’ of women.

Of course, you might see others – please feel free to share via a tweet or two @wfthn.  Overall, in amongst our discursive tentpoles: women, history, feminist, film, tv and research: we have an expanding collective vocabulary – virtually and in person –  to take us forward.

@wfthn looks forward to supporting #dwfth5 – coming soon…….

CFP: Doing Women’s Film and Television History IV

 Doing Women’s Film and Television History IV: Calling the Shots – Then, Now, and Next

University of Southampton, May 23 – 25, 2018

Organising team: Shelley Cobb, Linda Ruth Williams, and Natalie Wreyford

As researchers of the AHRC-funded project Calling the Shots: Women and Contemporary UK Film Culture 2000-2015 we are proud to host the fourth International Doing Women’s Film and Television History conference in association with the Women’s Film and Television History Network – UK/Ireland.

Details can be viewed and dowloaded here (pdf) and here (Word document)

The focus for DWFTH-IV is predicated on the idea of the contemporary as an historical formation. The conference will offer a space to think about the interconnectedness of the past, present and future in feminist historiography and theory, as well as across all forms of women’s film culture and film and television production. It will also consider women’s film and television histories and their relationships with the contemporary, framed and read historically, to reflect on our methodological, theoretical, ideological and disciplinary choices when researching and studying women and/in film and television. In addition to this theme, we are interested in proposals/panels on all topics related to women’s film and television history, from all eras and from all parts of the globe. We hope that DWFTH-IV will build on the successes of the previous conferences through new work on women, both historical and contemporary, and fresh thinking on what we mean by women’s film and television history.


Confirmed Keynote Speakers

Professor Jane Gaines (Columbia University, USA)

Dr. Oluyinka Esan (University of Winchester, UK)

Dr. Rashmi Sawhney (Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, India)

Professor Shelley Stamp (University of Santa Cruz, USA)

Professor Yvonne Tasker (University of East Anglia, UK)

The conference will also include screenings with practitioners and other industry professionals.

Papers are invited on any aspect of women’s work in, consumption of, and relationship with film and television. The following is an indicative (and by no means exhaustive) list of possible topics:

  • women’s film/TV historiography: filling gaps or changing history?
  • history formulated as in medias res: how do we do contemporary history, and what are the implications of thinking of the historical in this way?
  • methodologies: archive searches, data collection (uses, limitations, difficulties collecting); interviews with practitioners; creative/cultural industrial approaches
  • the impact of social, economic and industrial conditions (including industry regulation) on women’s roles and creative practices
  • new ways of doing textual analysis of women’s films (rethinking feminist theory?)
  • the intersection of class, race, sexuality, disability and women both on screen and behind the camera
  • issues of archiving and preservation for women’s film and television
  • distribution and exhibition and broadcasting – finding and seeing women’s film and television
  • re-thinking women as ‘auteurs’ of film and television (directors, showrunners, producers, actors)
  • feminism & women’s film history; historicizing women’s film collectives of 1970s and 80s; feminist filmmaking today (and tomorrow?)
  • international and transnational contexts: connections, comparisons, collaborations, migration
  • crossing industry boundaries: film, television, theatre, radio, journalism, art, etc
  • practice-based research: directing, screenwriting, sound/set/costume design, etc

– the relationship between practice-based research and history

  • women audiences/viewers and women as fans
  • women campaigner/activists in film and television and for on-screen/off-screen change
  • women’s film criticism/women film critics
  • the uses of social media by women filmmakers/showrunners/actors/critics/fans/campaigners etc
  • digitisation in women’s filmmaking and future histories
  • ‘women’s cinema’ as critical category in post-feminist contexts
  • women’s independent filmmaking and/versus women’s mainstream (or blockbuster) directing
  • changing the curriculum: critical canons; pedagogies of women’s film and television history; teaching feminist history and theory; women’s film and television in core curricula
  • the relationship between film and television genres, their gendered affiliations and women’s involvement in their production
  • women practitioners’ negotiations of femininity and/or feminism in their working lives

Proposals for twenty-minute presentations must include the title of the presentation, a 250-word abstract and a brief biography the author(s). Pre-constituted panels of three speakers may also be submitted, and should include a 250-word panel rationale statement, as well as individual abstracts.Proposals from both established scholars and early career researchers including postgraduate students are welcomed.Proposals should be submitted to dwfth4@gmail.com before the (now extended) deadline of 13th November 2017 (GMT 10am). Participants will receive a response from the selection committee before 20 December 2017.

Calling the Shots: Women and Contemporary Film Culture in the UK, 2000-2015 is an AHRC funded research project, running from 2014-2018. Further details of the project can be found at:http://www.southampton.ac.uk/cswf/



Remembering Annie Hall: A One Day Conference

Remembering Annie Hall: A One Day Conference
University of Sheffield
31st May 2017
Confirmed plenary speaker: Professor Annette Kuhn (Queen Mary, University of London)
Since its release on 27th April 1977, Annie Hall has established itself as a key film for Woody Allen’s career and the history of romantic comedy more generally. At the 1978 Academy Awards, it won Oscars for Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Actress. In addition to its central place in Allen’s oeuvre (film critic Roger Ebert called it “just about everyone’s favorite Woody Allen movie”), it is regularly cited as one of the greatest film comedies. In 2015 it was voted the funniest screenplay ever by the Writers Guild of America.
To mark the fortieth anniversary of the film’s release, the University of Sheffield is hosting a one-day conference to consider the importance of Annie Hall and its cultural influence. We are particularly interested in conversations stimulated by revisiting the film in the current political climate of President Trump’s government. To that end we welcome papers on all aspects of the film, including its reception and reputation. 
Suggested topics may include but are not limited to the following:
 Annie Hall and “New Hollywood”
 Annie Hall as an auteur film
 Annie Hall as (auto)biography
 Annie Hall and fashion
 Annie Hall and feminism
 Annie Hall and whiteness
 Annie Hall and film genre
 Annie Hall and film theory
 Annie Hall and psychoanalysis
 The role of art, transformation and performance
 Representations of the city
 Representations of migrant experience
 Representations (or non-representations) of race
 Romance and sex
 Music and voiceover
 The problem of the Hollywood ending
 Thinking about Annie Hall as (or as not) a Woody Allen film
 Thinking about Annie Hall as a Diane Keaton film
 Annie Hall in 1977 versus Annie Hall in 2017
 Allen’s influences in Annie Hall and/or the influence of Annie Hall today
 Thinking about Annie Hall in the age of Trump
Proposals for 20-minute papers (maximum 200 word abstracts, plus a short biographical note of no more than 50 words) are due by 31st March 2017, and should be sent to Annie.Hall@sheffield.ac.uk.
We encourage proposals from anyone with an interest in Annie Hall, including established academics, graduate students and independent scholars.
There is a conference website: anniehallat40.wordpress.com