Utilitarian Filmmaking

Deane Williams, Monash University

20 June 2017

In recent years, outside Australia, there has been significant research undertaken into utilitarian filmmaking, particularly in the US, and across many territories in Europe. This research provides a highly informative, revisionist complement to the thoroughgoing study of the production, distribution, exhibition and viewing practices that have long been associated with feature-film drama, television, ‘art cinema’, and documentary filmmaking around the world. These latter domains have always been the mainstay of film history, film theory and media studies worldwide, including in Australia (which has been an extremely influential contributor to these disciplines on a global basis over the past four decades). But now European and American research into utilitarian cinema has begun to provide a provocative and informative complement to the disciplinary orthodoxies. For example, the recent books Films That Work (Hediger & Vonderau, 2009 – Europe-focused) and Useful Cinema (Acland and Wasson, 2011 – America-focused) have canvassed the scope and cardinal themes of utilitarian and non-theatrical cinema in a range of different national cultures and economies where it has only recently become evident that utilitarian cinema provided employment for thousands of people, fostered the long term publication of several trade journals and generated an international circuit of trade shows, festivals and industrial and governmental conferences between 1950 and 1980.

Also, highly influential archives have been made available to scholars under Creative Commons licences. The global ‘gold standard’ is the Prelinger Archives that is now administered by the Library of Congress in the US; Archive.org is also a vital contributor in this field. Even so, Australian specificities concerning utilitarian cinema have received almost no attention, at home or abroad. Archives of utilitarian cinema in Australia are nowhere near as consolidated as they are in the US and Europe, even though there are some small but notable exemplars such as portions of the Mu-meson Archive, and the Teasdale Collection of films detailing farm work and rural culture, which Ross Gibson has been investigating for some time (see Gibson, 2015): http://www.cv.vic.gov.au/stories/john-teasdale-chronicle-of-a-country-life/.

Clearly an investigation of utilitarian cinema in Australia can inform an important and innovative recasting of audiovisual media histories as well as industrial practices in communications both at home and abroad. A team consisting of Ross Gibson (University of Canberra), Mick Broderick (Murdoch University), John Hughes (University of Canberra), Joe Masco (University of Chicago), PhD candidates Grace Russell (Monash University), Ruby Arrowsmith-Todd and Stella Barber (Murdoch University) and myself received Australian Research Council funding to pursue what we understand to be urgent and important research for at least three compelling reasons. Firstly, an understanding of the ‘peculiarities’ of the Australian utilitarian filmmaking ‘scene’ adds nuance to the global account and brings Australian- focused scholars into fruitful dialogue with their international counterparts in a rapidly-expanding field of scholarship. Secondly, we are generating and disseminating vital new knowledge about market-focused and audience-focused interpretations of Australian media and communications, particularly because of the way utilitarian filmmakers developed systems of exhibition and distribution in this country that were different (and sometimes even oppositional) to the US-dominated cartels that organised the entertainment sector here. Thirdly, from industrial-relations and labour-history viewpoints, a history of Australian utilitarian filmmaking deepens our understanding of how the utilitarian sector maintained a critical mass of well-trained technical and creative staff who formed the basis, despite long ‘fallow periods’ prior to the ‘renaissance’ that occurred during the1970s in the entertainment, of the theatrical and television-focused sectors of Australian film production. Indeed, for all their avoidance of explicitly aesthetic approaches to the medium, utilitarian filmmakers in Australia would appear to have supplied a consistent ‘through-line’ of factual, pragmatic and documentary ideologies and aesthetic and technical capabilities that have nourished and guided the more well-known, entertainment-focused sectors of cinematic production in the nation. This is a revelatory new line of investigation and explanation.


By utilitarian we mean pragmatic, purposeful films that were made and distributed outside the well-studied systems of entertainment, ‘theatrical’ exhibition and visual arts installation; films that were produced, distributed and exhibited to a wide range of (as-yet under investigated) audiences in mostly ‘non-theatrical’ and ‘mundane’ contexts and spaces.

Dressing a Chicken (Victorian Department of Agriculture, Australia 1960)

These were films produced in significant numbers worldwide (including in Australia) for the functional purposes of instruction, surveillance, quantification or recordkeeping rather than principally for reasons of commercial entertainment, creative non-fiction narrative, or clearly-contextualised artistic and aesthetic appreciation. The project is, at the same time, seeks:

  1. To survey the full extent of holdings of utilitarian cinema dispersed across private, public and government-administered collections in Australia;
  2. to assay the themes and patterns of historical information that are contained within this reservoir of cultural, pedagogical, sociological and industrial evidence; NOTE: as part of this assay, the team is conducting, recording and making available a range of oral history interviews with practitioners, users and consumers’ of utilitarian history 1945 – 1980;
  3. to work with partners (such as the National Film & Sound Archive, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne, the National Archives of Australia and the online departments of State Libraries) to ensure not only that there are secure repositories for the discovered material but also that there is continuing policy-development as well as curatorial commitment devoted to accessing and interpreting the national heritage of utilitarian cinema in Australia;
  4. to consolidate and communicate to scholars and the interested general public the findings about Australian utilitarian cinema so that this new knowledge can be productively compared and integrated with extant knowledge of Australian media as well as with the global understanding that has begun to be accrued worldwide within the new sub-discipline of utilitarian film and media studies.
  5. to engage the participant public in a process of continuing, long-term data-collection, assets-collection and oral history via the project’s online repository and via the crowd-sourcing and citizen-curatorship enterprises that are now being enacted by the partner institutions.

Deane Williams is a film historian specialising in documentary film history and Australian documentary from Monash University, Melbourne. He is the author of 7 monographs and edited collections and of articles published in Screening the Past, Continuum, Media International Australia,  Framework and Critical Arts. He is also Editor of Studies in Documentary Film (ISSN 1750-3280 (Print), 1750-3299 Online), the only international, refereed, scholarly journal dedicated to the history and criticism of documentary. In 2015 he commenced work with Ross Gibson, Mick Broderick, John Hughes, Joe Masco on the four-year Australian Research Council Discovery Grant supported project, Utilitarian Filmmaking in Australia 1945-80. ($AUD 363,359).


The Big CON? How Theresa and ‘her team’ failed to mobilise the media of the age

Llewella Chapman, University of East Anglia

13 June 2017

How was it that Theresa May and ‘her team’ (the Conservative Party) went from being predicted to win a historic landslide to losing their overall majority in the 2017 General Election? Here, I review how Theresa May’s lack of engagement with key media platforms led to one of the most disastrous Conservative campaigns in modern history.

On Friday 9 June 2017, the British electorate woke up to what was deemed almost unthinkable by traditional press outlets weeks before when Theresa May called a snap General Election on 18 April 2017: a hung parliament.

Having failed to secure the landslide expected by pollsters, members of her advisory committee, and if one can believe the Sunday Express, Jean Claude Junker (who allegedly pressured May to hold an election in order to get a stronger mandate for a hard Brexit), Theresa May spoke to the country outside 10 Downing Street in an apparent attempt to assure the country that nothing had changed:

Many of the Prime Minister’s enemies could not hide their glee at such a disastrous result: leading the backlash was the former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne (sacked by Theresa May after being reportedly told that he ‘needed to get to know his party better’). Now editor of the Evening Standard, Osborne exclaimed on BBC 1’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday 11 June: “She’s a dead woman walking”. Nigel Farage, former leader of the UK Independence Party, also twisted the knife: “Whatever happens, Theresa May is toast”.

How, though, did it all go so very wrong for Team Theresa? There are a variety of answers that have been offered up by various media outlets over the last few days:

  1. Her team underestimated the youth vote. 18-24 year olds have hitherto felt disenfranchised by politics. They are perceived to feel that either their vote ‘doesn’t count’, or that when they do vote, they aren’t listened to (the EU referendum is a case in point). Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, successfully mobilised this core vote to great effect. The Conservative Party also underestimated the 25-35 age group, suggesting that university tuition fees continue to be a problem after the 2010 coalition between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, where fees rose to £9000 per year.
  2. The Conservative Party Manifesto. The main problem with the manifesto centred around the plan to provide social care for the elderly. This was slammed by many as a ‘dementia tax’, where the manifesto pledged that £100,000 would be protected if elderly patients needed to pay for their own care (it had been suggested before the manifesto’s release that there would be a cap on the amount of care costs paid). As one un-named backbench Conservative MP put it: “It seemed like two people got off their potties without wiping their botties and wrote a manifesto.” (Sunday Times, 11 June 2017: 13). Nigel Evans, Conservative MP for Ribble Valley, was more damning: “It was an amazing own goal. We didn’t shoot ourselves in the foot, we shot ourselves in the head… A manifesto should be about apple pie and cream but ours was laced with arsenic.” (The Sun, 10 June 2017: 9) How were campaigners for the Conservative Party supposed to sell such a manifesto that attacked their key voters on the doorstep? More importantly, the Labour Party Manifesto, accused of being funded by a ‘magic money tree’, appealed to voters from across parties, and offered ‘hope’ to an electorate sick of austerity politics.
  3. Theresa May herself. Ultimately, she became the key issue with the entire campaign. First, if you want to run a presidential-style campaign based on personality, you need a personality. Second, no one likes vacuous statements like ‘strong and stable leadership’. Especially if you commit U-turn after U-turn on manifesto policy and reveal that you are not so ‘strong and stable’ after all. Third, don’t call what the electorate perceive to be a ‘stupid’ election: nobody likes that. Least of all because the British have been called to the polls three (if you live in Scotland, five) times over the last four years. Brenda from Bristol became the proclaimed ‘voice of the nation’ when told that there was to be another General Election: “You’re joking?! Not another one?!” Fourth, never assume that the electorate are willing to give you a coronation. Finally, Theresa May lacked the magic ingredient: hope. Jeremy Corbyn offered this to younger voters, and hope is something which Barrack Obama campaigned on in 2008 (“Yes we can”). Theresa May offered no hope to anyone, and neither did the Conservative Party manifesto.  Her campaign echoes that of Edward Heath’s in 1974, where he asked the country “Who governs?” The answer returned by the electorate was “Not you”.

These points understood together point towards an aspect of Theresa May’s campaign which was not as effective as it could have been: social media. Unlike the Labour Party who mobilised Twitter, Facebook and other social media outlets relatively well, the Conservative Party, or rather ‘Team Theresa’, focused more on traditional press formats. This, I would argue, contributed to May’s failed campaign. Hillary Clinton also failed in this area, with @gyalalmighty summing up the difference between Clinton and Bernie Saunders thus:

‘Bernie Saunders is the grandpa who’s really nice and tells you stories about the war or civil rights movement when you didn’t even ask’.

‘Hilary [sic] Clinton is like the white mom who tries to be “cool” by saying/failing at using slang. She makes lemon squares for school bake sales’.

Sound familiar? To quote the Independent on Clinton’s Presidential campaign:

Complacent beyond belief, riven by a sense of entitlement, an empty slogan-fixated orator of pulverising tedium, incapable of projecting empathy, twice as robotic as the Supreme Dalek… Fatally underestimating the appeal of a maverick rival promising change [Donald Trump], Hillary hid herself away as far as possible in the assumption that she could coast to the line.

A ‘maverick rival’ promising change, @jeremycorbyn had 1.11 million followers on Thursday 8 June (this has since risen to 1.25 million followers at time of writing). @theresa_may has 354,000 followers. Reviewing both party leaders’ tweets, Jeremy Corbyn’s most popular recent tweet scored 157,954 likes (https://twitter.com/jeremycorbyn/status/873899597147639809), Theresa May’s 4,683 (https://twitter.com/theresa_may/status/871395319510118401) [at time of writing]. Momentum, the grassroots campaign movement established in 2015 after Jeremy Corbyn’s successful Labour Party leadership bid, was also integral to Corbyn’s social media campaign. They developed MyNearestMarginal.com to mobilise activists and they offered schooling in how to make best use of social media.

As Andre van Loon, research and insight director at We Are Social, explains: “They [the Conservatives and Theresa May] would have seen the data as it came through and yet they didn’t change anything. They could have tried to be more appealing to young people from the start.” van Loon further argues: “Theresa May’s core message of stability did not appear to play well with undecided voters, but Labour’s engaging and social posts performed better: The ‘strong and stable’ message didn’t seem to attract any new support on social media” (Telegraph, 9 June 2017).

Theresa May’s campaign also failed in making use of another aspect of the media, that of taking part in live televised debates against leaders of other political parties. This concept is relatively new in Britain, having been introduced during the 2010 General Election. A guide to politicised television debates can be found here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-26753299.

Since their introduction in the UK, ‘Leaders Debates’ have adopted different formats. In 2010, there were three debates held between the leaders of the three main parties: Gordon Brown (Labour Party), David Cameron (Conservative Party) and Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrats). The debates were broadcast on ITV, Sky and the BBC on successive Thursday evenings. In 2015, this format was adapted where the BBC and ITV staged debates to include more political parties: Conservative Party, Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats, Green Party, UK Independence Party (UKIP), the Scottish National Party (SNP) and Plaid Cymru. Sky and Channel 4 also broadcast a head-to-head debate between David Cameron (Prime Minister) and Ed Miliband (Leader of the Opposition).

In 2017 the format changed again. This time, ITV broadcast their Leaders Debate on Thursday 18 May. All party leaders had been invited to attend, however after Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn refused, those who turned up included Tim Farron (Liberal Democrats), Nicola Sturgeon (SNP), Paul Nuttal (UKIP), Leanne Wood (Plaid Cymru) and Caroline Lucas (Green Party). As Theresa May refused to debate Jeremy Corbyn, Sky and Channel 4 adapted their previous head-to-head debate broadcast in 2015, and instead arranged for the two main party leaders to answer questions from a live studio audience and then be interviewed by Jeremy Paxman separately in May v Corbyn: The Battle for Number 10 (broadcast on Monday 29 May). Finally, the BBC held the Election Debate on Wednesday 31 May. As with ITV’s Leaders Debate, this was to be a seven-way podium battle between ‘spokespeople’ from the seven parties, alluding to Theresa May’s and Jeremy Corbyn’s refusal to attend televised debates with other party leaders.

By refusing to appear on this media platform, and by Jeremy Corbyn’s late U-turn announcing that he would show up to debate other party leaders on the BBC after all, this worked to undermine May’s decision to avoid the debates, and arguably contributed to making her refusal appear arrogant and a weakness in her leadership. Indeed, during the BBC’s Election Debate Caroline Lucas slammed May’s absence: “I think the first rule of leadership is to show up. You don’t call a general election and say it is the most important election in her lifetime and then not even be bothered to debate the issues at hand.” Tim Farron received huge applause from the audience when asking: “Where do you think Theresa May is tonight? Take a look out your window. She might be out there sizing up your house to pay for your social care.”

She was also roasted on Twitter, for example on the official Twitter account for the TV show House of Cards: “Theresa May. They respect you more when you show strength. Or show up”. This post that was shared more than 13,000 times. Her refusal to appear also started a parody Twitter search:

As the self-proclaimed ‘political love-child’ of Gordon Brown and Hillary Clinton, one would think that Theresa May might have learnt from her adopted political parents’ mistakes. But then, as I was once told: ‘As parents, you can hope that your children will listen to the mistakes you made yourself and learn from them. But sometimes, if they won’t listen to you, it’s necessary to let them learn for themselves’. In her disastrous General Election campaign, Theresa May will have to learn the hard way.

*At time of writing, Theresa May is still “squatting in Downing Street”, as Emily Thornberry puts it (but one day is a long time in politics).

Thank you to Professor John Charmley and Dr Ellen Wright, who kindly read this piece before publication and offered excellent advice.

Llewella Chapman is a PhD student at the University of East Anglia. Her doctoral research focuses on the use of film and television in the UK heritage industry with particular reference to the representation of Henry VIII and Hampton Court Palace. She has published on fashion and lifestyle as promoted in the James Bond films, and is currently under contract with I. B. Tauris to write a monograph entitled Fashioning James Bond: Costume, Gender and Identity in the World of 007. Her research interests include British cinema and television history, fashion, costume and gender.


The Hollywood Glamour Photograph

Ellen Wright, De Montfort University

6 June 2017

Considering Hollywood’s reliance upon photography between the teens and the 1960s, as a means of promoting, shaping and altering star images, the photographic representation of stars remains a peculiarly underdeveloped area of star studies. This is a real missed opportunity, as these images can offer considerable insights into the construction of film stardom and the pleasures of film fandom during the American cinema’s classical era.

Developments at the start of the twentieth century, in studio, lens and lighting technologies, made effective sharp focus, short depth-of-field and close-up shots all possible, and consequently the iconic Hollywood glamour photograph format, exemplified by the work of photographers such as George Hurrell and Ruth Harriet Louise, quickly became both popular and codified during this period.

Greta Garbo photographed for Wild Orchids (Ruth Harriet Louise, 1929)

Greta Garbo (George Hurrell, 1930)

Identifying characteristics of the glamour image include dramatic, exaggerated gestures and posturing, a monochrome colour pallet and expressionistic Chiascuro-style lighting to create heavy theatrical shadows and imply danger, emotional ambiguity or depth of character, ‘dramatizing and conferring an atmosphere of sexual allure on the subjects.’[1]

Rather than being a relatively realist rendering of the film star subjects’ body, the glamour photograph fixated upon the star’s physical form as exceptionally desirable, graceful, exotic or spectacular. Using techniques similar to those developed by the earliest of experimental photographers such as Julia Margaret Cameron, they drew specific attention to singular details (for example, in facial close ups it was the eyes, ‘the window to the soul’) and these were often the only element which appeared in sharp relief. [2]

A truncated depth-of-field imbued the glamour photograph with an unreal, insubstantial and dreamlike aura, and an emphasis upon textures such as reflective surfaces (gelled hair, mirrors, rhinestones, jewels), smooth complexions, wisps of cigarette smoke and translucent fabrics all helped to suggest a sensory excess.

In light of such conventions and considering the tendency to carefully light actresses hair or backlight subjects in such images, producing a halo of light behind the stars head, it is not surprising that such images and the stars they depict have often discussed within a psychoanalytical framework and why the film stars of this era came to be known in the popular consciousness as enviable screen ‘gods’ and ‘goddesses.’ [3]

The epitome of the exotic, revered Hollywood goddess, and possibly the most obvious choice for an example of a Hollywood glamour image subject is Marlene Dietrich, an actress whose close, collaborative relationship with Svengali director Joseph Von Sternberg resulted in an expert ability to utilise light in order to sculpt her own appearance and a close association with the medium close-up.

In a 1937 promotional image for the Ernst Lubitsch film Angel, Dietrich is shot in medium close-up, in a spectacular, white, feather headdress, her bare right shoulder in the foreground, presented directly to the lens.

Marlene Dietrich (George Hurrell, 1937)

Her left hand with its long, dark, gleaming fingernails, stroke her bare shoulder, inviting the spectator to contemplate the sensual experience of caressing Dietrich’s flesh. Furthermore, the composition, with the subject framed horizontally across the image, invites the spectator to read across the picture, left to right, head, to face, to shoulder, to hand. And as there is no sign of clothing in this image, presumably they are invited to imagine what falls below Dietrich’s shoulders and beyond the camera’s gaze.

The combination of feather headdress and the talon-like nails, carry a primal or animalistic implication. Dietrich is an exotic ‘creature,’ to be admired in her plush habitat. Here she is posed against satin upholstery, presumably either an approximation of luxurious booth seating in a high-class night club or an index for an opulent boudoir setting.

She tilts her head to her right, provocatively revealing her bare neck, allowing the chiaroscuro lighting to catch her cheekbones and the long, dark lashes of her heavily made-up eyes. The tilt of her head also suggests she is lost in reverie. Despite repeatedly playing fallen or sexually ambiguous women who were often brought low within film narratives, Dietrich herself had an aloof, untouchable quality. In line with that established star persona, and with a broader art tradition of iconic female archetypes such as the muse and the Madonna, Dietrich may be presented here as an object of desire but her facial expression, her pose, the short depth of field and the way she is lit, in that classic three-point style which created the ‘virtual aura’ identified by Dyer as being typical in such imagery, make her appear beatific, distant and ethereal.

The key appeal of the glamour photograph appears to have been the flagrant glorification of its film star subjects, the way these images allowed the player to demonstrate both their ‘personality’ and their acting range (see for example images produced of Garbo or Crawford by Ruth Harriet Louise) through the emphasis upon their invariably flawless visage (the face in glamour photography performs a metonymical function; carrying the burden of the star persona through feature or expression) as well as the ‘closer’ emotional access that these images purported to offer audiences to the pictured star, precisely because of the images’ facial/emotional preoccupation.

Both exoticised and, in some ways, legitimised by being ‘artful’ in form, the glamour photograph may have appeared to offer privileged access but it often concealed as much as it revealed. Its mise-en-scéne was meticulously crafted to project an air of sophisticated modernity, an image of glamorous perfection entirely denuded of any extraneous mundane details that may link its ethereal subject to humdrum reality.

 Unfortunately, this contrivance also had the added consequence of heightening the potential for the film star subject to be perceived as a malleable element within the photographic mise-en-scéne and as a result it is also not unusual for classical era Hollywood stars and the fans who enjoyed and collected these images to be discussed in passive terms, as victims of an exploitative industrial system and for the glamour photograph and the industry who produced them to be treated as suspect.

Certainly, the stars’ eyes, lips, lashes, coiffure, eyebrows, cheekbones, complexion, jewellery, clothing, were all subject to sculpting, editing or (what was referred to in the Hollywood’s burgeoning cosmetics industry as) ‘glamorisation’ in pre-production, and post-production by the notorious airbrush. The glamour image conveyed a stars’ emotional authenticity or integrity, but its conspicuous and careful construction simultaneously suggested inauthenticity or even deception or trickery. As a product intended for mass reproduction and distribution which lacked a true ‘original’ (with the exception of the negative – in itself a questionable original), the glamour photograph lacks an ‘aura’ and thus artistic legitimacy. [4] As Benjamin notes:

The cult of the movie star, fostered by the money of the film industry, preserves not the unique aura of the person but the “spell of the personality,” the phony spell of a commodity. [5]

Benjamin’s use of the term ‘spell’ here alludes to a notion of misdirection or glamour (the word ‘glamour’ being etymologically linked with witchcraft), whilst marking the star phenomenon as a ‘cult’ and a ‘commodity’ suggests an industry cynicism and that followers are devotees, lured by a heady combination of aspiration and sex appeal. This interpretation is not unreasonable, considering the plethora of monochrome images featuring stars in exotic, utopic or sumptuous settings (signified though palms and bamboo shutters, satin sheets, draped furs, modern art deco lobbies), reclining or recumbent, in poses that carry implications of passivity and/or eroticism whilst also suggest an enviable lifestyle of comfort and idling.

For me these images’ complex, deliberately multi-layered mise-en-scéne and overt contrivance, whilst simultaneously claiming to reveal an impossible level of access to ‘stars’ who somehow managed to possess what Dyer terms as ‘extraordinary ordinariness,’ their insistence upon authenticity despite overwhelming evidence of fabrication, is what makes the glamour photograph so fascinating. [6] These images perfectly encapsulate how Hollywood saw itself, and how we, the audiences saw, and still see Hollywood, as a place of ostentatious, extraordinary excess, whose idols were painstakingly fashioned through cosmetics, costuming, training and manner, situation and perhaps most importantly, soft focus.

[1] Gundle, S and Castelli, C.T. The Glamour System (Houndsmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006) p. 71

[2] Whose work comprised of religious, mythical and romantic iconography and tableau vivants.

[3] As Dyer notes ‘Glamour of the Classical Hollywood period relied on creating a glowing image for the female star – the convention of three types of lighting, key, fill and back, established in the 1920’s, created a virtual aura around the female stars.’ Dyer, R. White: Essays on Race and Culture. (London: Routledge, 1997). p.87.  Carol Dyhouse’s brief discussion of the black and white photography of Hollywood cinema also identifies some key characteristics of the photographic genre. See Dyhouse, C. Glamour: Women History, Feminism (London: Zed books, 2010) p.30-33

[4] As Benjamin observes ‘aura is tied to… presence; there can be no replica of it.’ Benjamin, W. ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’ Holmes, S and Redmond, S (eds) Stardom and Celebrity: A Reader (London: Sage, 2007) p.8

[5] ibid. p.9

[6] A paradox whereby in short Hollywood stars ‘live more expensively than the rest of us, but are not essentially transformed by this’ See Dyer, R. Stars (London: BFI, 1979) p.43

Dr Ellen Wright is the VC2020 Lecturer in Cinema and Television History at De Montfort University, Leicester. She has taught film studies, media studies, and photographic theory, and specializes in the representation of femininity in the leisure industries, consumer culture, and broader social contexts, surrounding classical Hollywood cinema. Her academic publications include ‘Spectacular Bodies: The Swimsuit, Sexuality and Hollywood,’ special edition on leisure industries, Sport in History 35, no. 3 (2015) and ‘Having her Cheesecake and Eating It: Performance, Professionalism and the Politics of the Gaze in the Pin-Up Self-Portraiture and Celebrity of Bunny Yeager’ Feminist Media Histories Special Edition ‘Histories of Celebrity’ (Fall, 2016). She is currently working on a series of public engagement events linked to her research on the media representation of the women who performed at the Windmill Theatre in London.



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