Audiovisual Cultures episode 49 – Reframing Vivien Leigh with Dr Lisa Stead automated transcript

please support our Patreon to help us provide accurate transcripts

this is audio-visual cultures the podcast exploring different aspects of cultural production I’m Paula Blair and in this episode and Rochelle and I are delighted to be joined by dr. Lisa stead during her trip to Newcastle to present research from her reframing Vivian Leigh project hello and thanks to our members at forward slash a V cultures if you’re listening and you want to support you can also donate to libera PACOM /pe a Blair or PayPal dot me /pe a Blair where money received reimburses me for costs and cars and making the podcast I’ll be back at the end with more details on how you can support and get in touch for an I do enjoy listening to Lisa and I kind of sit between English and film and that University of my research sits between those students you’ve been doing some really exciting research but Vivian Lee for the past few years we’d like to tell us a benefit so my research before that was it was actually about women’s writing in the interwar period so it’s not an immediate connection to Vivian Leigh but what I’ve done before it’s been more about cinema going and how women write about going to movies and process what it means to go to the movies in that period and how it forms ways of thinking through identity etc so I’ve always been slightly more interested in film culture rather than film texts a big part of that has been working with archival material and film ephemera University of Exeter there’s a museum on site I don’t if you have a bin yeah the build up with cinema museum which is this fantastic collection of pre cinema early cinema film culture ephemera so has everything except actual movies magazines cigarette cards toys games scrapbooks letters etc so I’ve always been connected to that collection as a teacher and a researcher they happen to have quite a lot of stuff about Vivian Lee amongst many of their other stars they also happen to have Vivian E stuff specifically because she had a Southwest Connection which not many people know about because they think of her as this big Hollywood global star so what do you think of Venini you tend to think of Blanche DuBois you think of Scarlett O’Hara you probably think less about Topsham or Devon but it so happens that before she became a star before she was a professional actress she was born in India and then she came over to live in the UK and then she spent some time in Devon with relatives in the late 1920s and when she was there she met a man called Lee Holman at the time she was called Vivian Hartley and she met a man called Lee Holman who was a London barrister who had his Devon connection and the myth goes that she spotted him out riding I think at riding it’s very kind of Austin and said oh that’s the man I want to marry and he happens to look like lovely Howard into the great connection forward to her so anyway she married this man Lee Holman and in the early 1930s they lived in London but they kept a very strong connection to Devon which is his home and where his family were from so his sister Dorothy Ullman founded a museum in Topsham which this little mystery village town in South Devon she got on very well with Vivian Lee and she also kind of followed her career as a fan throughout her life and as a consequence materials from the Viennese career when she became an actress she became a local star have ended up in this little Museum in Topsham and they’ve also ended up in the Royal Albert Memorial Museum Ram which is the main museum minister because to option is so someone couldn’t hold all of the materials that they had so what you find is in RAM and int option museum and the book Douglas in my museum you have these bits and pieces these traces that connect back to this global style that come through that family connection before she was Vivian Lea before she was connected to Laura I basically got asked to speak at some memorial event so that maybe you need to represent the bill Douglas Museum probably sort of 2010 ish and that sparked my interest and it’s been on the backburner since then and then in the last years it’s just become a kind of central focus and yeah one of my colleagues said to me you should pretty much look about that okay so now it’s become a book that even isn’t about Vivien Leigh so I’m working on a book about her archives Laurel and she’s sort of the case study for thinking through stardom and star labor and the creative work of performance on the stage in the screen through archival traces of materials and she’s the central case study so there’s a book but I’m writing at the moment this journal next year with Oxford University Press and then connected to that there’s an HRC project and that is very much about the local museums and thinking about how those materials have been curated how you can tell regional stories through global stars wow I’ve been following you quite a lot you the project has been tweeting knots of shadows from their clothes and things have been as it past dies for a family yes yeah it’s kind of a common dress history project in the hallways which is not what I expected there’s a research assistant working on a project called Becky Ray’s fantastic she has a lot of experience and knowledge of working with textile history and we’ve been working with curators at topsail museum and ran and looking at their holdings because most of what they have dress materials so what’s really interesting about that is they were donated through Vivian E’s daughter to her Aunt Dorothy Holman and then they ended up a prominent option Topsham museum has a nightdress for the set of Gone with the Wind mm-hmm that Vivien Leigh was allowed to keep apparently she could pick one or two items and that’s the item that she chose interestingly of all the dresses although I assume that but he wouldn’t have let her had the green cone I imagine they would let that happen so that’s it Topsham and then it ran they have a couple of evening dresses and there was to have a broad tail dress so I didn’t know what broad tail was until very recently and I wish I didn’t know what broad tail is really it’s made from the skins of unborn Lambs oh my god it’s a really particular very expensive you’d have to have this custom-made for you kind of textile and they have this black broad tail dress actually they were given to Dorothy at Topsham and then they were then passed on to RAM in the mid 70s and there are some great letters from Suzanne the daughter viennese daughter saying I have this problem I can’t store these materials anymore would you be interested in them Museum so you have this broad tail dress that’s kind of decadent wonderful revolting movies in textile history that was Vivien Leigh’s dress and then you have two other dresses that were Vivian leaves that Suzanne then altered so they are hers but the silhouette is very different so physically those two women were incredibly different they’re doing is very very miniscule very petite Suzanne had a very different kind of silhouette so you’ve got these really fascinating objects that have sort of two spectral women having inhabited them and then they end up in this regional space and they pass through Dorothy home and the collector the curators and carry all these different histories of different women using these dresses living in these dresses connections to the star in a severely and then the more normal quote-unquote life of her daughter Suzanne who didn’t move in those circles and then they end up here and ran so when you’re holding them in your hands you’re sort of holding Suzanne’s stories in these stories but also the stories about the women who decided these had value kept them collected them preserved them sometimes in the face of policies of curation in those institutions that didn’t really place the same value on these materials because dress history women’s history is not as interesting or a serious as some of the other items that those institutions hold so the more I look into it there’s a kind of fascinating lines of women preserving these materials deciding they have certain kinds of values thinking about the stories and passing those stories down so an awful lot of what these centers hold all those textile materials I mean that tactility of the materials fascinating as well because when you’re thinking about anything to do with film history it’s usually things you can’t necessarily touch in the same way yeah or things that you look at but that embodiment you know of a garment there’s something you know that like it’s a living breathing human person you saw occupy that space within that thing oh yeah absolutely I can discuss all details about that stains on them oh yeah look for little sweat marks of makeup marks it’s those things that are more for me personally I found those things absolutely fascinating that there lived in material people have different reactions to them so this is sort of more the kind of fan reaction and I don’t mean this dismissively is to be overruled by it being something that she has touched and then if you talk to one of the curators the way they look at it is fascinating because they can just see spilling forth from it all the stories about Couture the designers who they would have liaised with which furrier in London they might have interacted with to have this made and then I look at it and I think you know I’m interested in how does that connect those human stories about passing the tools on what does that tell you about stardom in film history so I love how when you have a dress on display you have all these different you know Donnie Darko where they have to spin it makes me think of a sphere is coming out of these dresses leading all these different directions that are more or less interesting to different people but I find those really tapped ideas as fascinating of marks things the impression of someone having been in this in some ways it’s different kind of feeling to a signature or a letter those are the kinds of collector items with story I remember a time back in the previous millennium you might have been the year 2000 I think probably something like 1999 when a Chaplin costume was loaned temporarily to what was then the bill Douglas Center yes in a museum I’d love to get changed at all in that renaming its don’t cave it was a little bit sad because nobody thought to get a mannequin ah to put the costume on so it was just kind of laying down inside a display cabinet and was also a bit of local press and the curator at the time so I’ll tell you what is I’ll model it right I think it was has to hate in those characters like this century at the time but quite quickly realized that chaplains a tiny guy yeah and also that she probably had better not even try and force any old worn garments anti-social model in the sense of draping it across the floor so there’s a lot of logistical problems with just exhibiting these material objects and this does seem to be one of the lovable oddities about because cinema museum is it’s almost committed to not preserving copies of films even copies of scraps of films it’s almost minted in not doing that because the stuff that gets thrown away around the edges yeah things like the particular boxes of sweets that are sold in cinemas and aren’t sold somewhere else for example facts or value for preservation and that’s hardly specific to the Builder Center but it is rare you’ve wondered in the cinema Museum in Lambeth as well that’s kind of let’s keep this thing which is a dispenser from the toilet impulse so this is why I am extremely happy that I’ve managed to get Lisa okay because it’s a little bit like the thing we do every year at the British silent film festival symposium for just once I’ve managed to be in the same room as somebody else you’ve abused this kind of historical material and I must confess that I lived in to option for a year and never went to the museum in spite of the fact that it having one item a lot more but it was we’ve got this dress yeah was its main marketing method was we’ve got this I never thought I wonder how so I’m from their course since have gone yeah so it’s good to finally yeah I know it’s interesting a few other things are saying now about displaying items that’s an interesting choice it’s just very positive when we were trying it so we’ve been making 3d models of these dresses so with the idea that you can get closer to them when you things you are not allowed to touch how can you get closer and see some of those details so we’re creating these 3d models that allow you to go extremely close and look underneath in a row and when we were doing that we had to mount them and her dresses only fit one child mannequins because she was so small so you can’t use the standard mannequins for it I’m relatively new to working with textiles I just didn’t realize how much goes into thinking through the logistics of doing that so when you think about putting it on I can hear the Conservatives from Erasmus dreaming about the idea of doing that because you have to think carefully about weight about how you hang it about whether you pin something about trying to give the impression of the way it was born without distorting it and passing I’m completely obsessed with the kind of debris of cinema as a lived thing I find it fascinating when we teach with those collections because you get out things like fan magazines or something I’ve written a lot about but you also get out things like ticket stubs or we hold things in that museum like false eyelashes at the stars when the 40s or the 50s or just those real random junk and students have really different reactions to it either they find it fascinating or it completely turns them on there’s nothing there and it’s a real effort to try and find a way into it and then every now and then you get someone who has that same kind of reaction to it where they just love it and they’re fascinated but it’s challenging stuff to work with because it’s charmingly mundane and then trying to think about how to analyze it at other story about it can be if it’s challenging because it requires all these different skills it’s like how do I place this why what does this tell me about anything about the history I think you and I may have at the same impulse behind our phd’s because uh phd’s if I remember correctly are based on the same type of resource maybe not exactly the same resource yeah and I’ve been there my PhD was based on reading all of the British film phone magazines in the Beau Douglas Center from the 1910s and that you some few years later did something very similar with 1920s yes my PhD which my first book is built on that if some of it’s that kind of material and then it’s a lot of middle ground literature and all the kind of novelizations that they hold so yeah this is twenties mainly twenties 30s so yeah reading everything and this may be the safer of the of doing research in the bill Douglas Center because this is ephemera yeah novelizations and fan magazines but the list it’s ephemeral weathers are clear somebody making a statement and it was an actual literary content but you can particular a nurse I mean you in school of English and film yes I wasn’t that at the time was it still back to discord English at the time that’s a good question I think it was English in film at the time then it has changed a few times it’s the kind of analysis where you forgot literary colleagues they may because it’s analyst yeah what you’re looking at isn’t prose poetry yeah plays conventionally defined but it’s not actually another medium it’s just a very odd sort of prose which is produced in the literature which is about another medium when I was doing my PhD I have an odd mixture of oh yeah of course that’s definitely falls under what we study and wouldn’t earth are you doing that particularly given the cultural statuses these kinds of print works yeah if anyone has any conceits about literary merit which you sometimes come across these days people going on it’s gotta have this much merit to be worthy of study then straight off what this it is off the bottom of that list is yeah oh yeah absolutely I think I thought massively appeals to me why I didn’t want to write about cinema going in literature with you know quotes around it in the way that we’re talking about you write a little bit about say wolf for example but I didn’t want to look at modernist writing from that period I mean that’s been addressed brilliantly and by other writers but I really wanted to look at the stuff the everyday life stuff and take that seriously and yeah you do I think I’ve come up against its resistance for that sometimes you’re in a position now where you can go to our students this is why you should never get to the headspace where you might regard this is unworthy of study yeah yeah one of the reasons I was so into using fan magazines to ask what the impact of cinema and modernism might have been was because nobody seemed to care about what the average person thought about cinema and asking about questions they were like oh what does the vision wolf think about so now which is hardly going to be a typical view it’s how they’re gonna represent how people thought about it it’s good to know that there’s it is to how much paper country yeah champion be definitely lowbrow forms of prose that are useful assist Oracle documents what we could do is just say just tell us what you’re going to tell us in the lecture that’s wrong twice I saw half in some way is the talk done giving later is particularly about tops and museum and it’s about the story of that night dress so it’s partly about trying to find out how it came to be there and then in the story of trying to find out how it came to be there it actually became a story about women’s volunteer work and curatorial work in these kinds of particular spaces local museums what I’ll be talking about a little bit is about a kind of network of women that I suppose goes from Lee herself to Suzanne to dorothy Holman to when we called and McMenamin who was a steward at torture museum who found the dress so there’s this kind of myth about finding the dress in a carrier bag in a drawer and then through to Rachel Nichols who currently runs torture museum but it’s run almost entirely by volunteers so a lot of the research that’s been done around it it’s been my people whose interest is primarily Topsham and then it’s Vivian Lee framed through that local interest so you get a really interesting take on what a star is or what a star means in this context where she’s not quite as important as local history family history and that particular way of thinking about it so it’s a really interesting different take on who Vivian Leigh is or was or what she means or why she matters and a lot what the museum does is that interplay between something that’s so mundane offset against something that’s so iconic and glamorous and from over there and from Hollywood history versus st. V’s bag and they draw the whole this dress from the set of Gone with the Wind so the story is that Anne found this in a cupboard somewhere and took it out I wasn’t sure what it was and then cross-referenced a few books on Gone with the Wind and thought that’s that might dress and then found out a bit more about its history and did it quite a lot research around it and then from there they decided to Center those collections and they had a Vivian Lee room where they had various items like that the Gone with the Wind dress which is the kind of centerpiece and they also have a dress I think for the premiere of which the third it’s wonderfully ornate it’s a real steam CO you can imagine it premiere just getting all the attention they have a travel dress a very ugly travel just from the 50s that they wore and then other things like I think as a cigarette case there’s a perfume bottle their house piece of fabric Accenture and a few bottle still for no but Becky who’s the research assistants where’s you can smell things on the fabrics still some of the fabric when you unfold it but the more you unfold it the less that’s better they have a fascinating range of the two so they ended up having this dedicated room but then over time that’s no longer there so it kind of comes and goes in in importance and there are different policies about what they should have shouldn’t Center it’s been fascinating going back through their own archives in the Attic of the strands so it’s this house along the s3 and it used to be a family house and their home and family and then I think drive the Alma to go over it and I think maybe 39 turned into a museum in the late sixties it’s just this beautiful house and you go in as a kitchen it has a sailboat in the loft and it’s all about fishermen and work on the estuary and it has rooms that are period rooms kept as they were and then it has some bits and pieces of Vivien Leigh just kind of scattered around it in a bedroom here in there which is interesting of Anna period where there’s more attention to her so her archive the VNA was open from 2013 and there have been lots of events celebrating some terries of but there is a lot of interest in her there are two movies coming out about her in the next couple years I think that my daughter is supposed to play her which if you ask me is great casting mm-hmm with cat-like faces I think she’s a great master I was gonna ask you if there was a connection with the Turing exhibition about her from a few years ago yes it Keith he’s the theatre performance curator at the V&A is the kind of mainly person he was responsible for bringing that archive working with it and then bring it out to the public so he’s done some amazing public engagement stuff with it they’ve been lectures at the V&A there’s been that touring exhibition I don’t if you saw it I saw it when I was here in the line art gallery in New Castle yeah there’s some beautiful stuff from Cleopatra there’s a lot of stuff we’re working on gone with the wind I think that told all over it was I start in York when I saw it a while ago he’s done a few other things with it I think there are some stereoscopic slides in that collection so she was a pretty keen photographer and I’m not sure if this actually happened but I know that he had plans just told that particular bit and make more of that so it’s just ongoing there’s stuff about her all the time Lucy Bolton at Queen Mary’s and some amazing half combination of scholarly and working with the fans there’s this fan organization could be Vivien Leigh Circle which actually started in somewhat of officially in the 70s but it was started by three women who were super fans of immunity and he’s the wait at the stage door for her so primarily theatre fans and met her and talked to her a few times and actually corresponding with her Violetta’s quite often so they have a wonderful collection of letters between these women and Vivien Leigh and then when she died they had a memorial event fair and they started a little urbanization called of eating circle and it kind of faded out in the 70s and then was picked up again in the 2010s in the wake of the V&A archive I think and they do really wonderful events actually to celebrate everything that it had connected to us so a couple of some of the go yeah some events in London where they had in the actus Church in the centre of London I can’t remember the name of the church but they had a memorial service and then readings from these fans and it was amazing then they had an event at Queen Mary where they had an exhibition of fan material so Lucy Bachman has some fantastic work on it there’s a lot of stuff going on around her so it’s an interesting moment I find it would interesting why people are still interest in her she’s not she’s quite different to Monroe say well would you have burn those DUHS it’s still kind of indoor I think I look there’s a lot been publicized about her mental health issues do you think maybe that’s part of the interest in her I think so I think that’s a big hook so I’ve been interviewing quite a lot of fans and people that range from my age people in their 30s to there’s people in in their teens up to the 80s and that does seem to be one of the big things that people ask people why she matters of why they care they tend to say things like she had a real grace about her which I find really interesting because I kind of think of her as chaotic and beers and Jessica but there’s a lot of emphasis upon kind of grace and glamour glamour makes a lot of sense particularly in the 50s and 60s that later period of her life and then a lot of people tend to say I made a connection because of the mental health thing and either for a personal reason were sympathetic reason and that does seem to be really a big hook and I think right now that’s a key reason why she’s interesting to people and I think her portrayal of Blanche DuBois is the pinnacle because I think even if you’ve never even seen gone with the wind or you can never been aware of anything else she’s done there’s just something about that version of streetcar named desire yeah and that pairing with Marlon Brando because it’s so violent and yet it’s so compelling and it’s very difficult to reconcile the relationship between those cuz they’re too explosive characters anyway yeah but in that film there’s just something about them there’s something animalistic and yet she embodies all of those contradictions you know she’s graceful and yet she’s all over the place she’s sexy but frigid you know she’s all of these things and he can’t help himself and then so you’ve got this rape apologist and maroon hen and there’s just so much meat to get into you’re right it’s still just so prescient I think because we’re still having discussions around those problems even though I wonder if that’s what it is as well yeah I think as well if you think about the way people understand Vivien Leigh quote-unquote and the characters that she played people like to conflate inevitably like to conflate the two so a role like that because of the breakdown and the end Blanche DuBois is kind of mental state people love to read lead into it through it lying about the part of the appeal of it it’s really interesting about with Brandon Lee against each other we’ve got method versus this very classical model and I think that’s what makes it work so brilliantly that you have these two different styles that are clashing against each other I’m not clashing but that works so brilliantly for Blanche and that works so brilliantly for Stanley and seeing them together is so fascinating it must be red fur because she was the movie cast is the American cast – Jessica Tandy as the only person who wasn’t on that original cats probably really helped in making her feel like a complete outsider yeah there are some great stuff in them her up over the VNA about that production that allows you a bit of access to working practice in preparation for that role so she’d be performing it on the stage with Olivier London in the late 40s and then in moving it to the screen they obviously have to make a number of changes not least to do with censorship but there’s a series of letters between Kazan and Lee in the early 50s talking about that adaptation and they discuss how we’re gonna get around censors are we gonna include flashbacks are we gonna do this I’m gonna do that some of them are type that as some of them are notes from telephone conversations and what’s really fascinating about them is they’re an interesting way to give agency back what to sort of think about agency and the history of that role where it’s not the case that you just have because I’m directing and this is how it is and she just translates the performance from the stage that’s coached by Olivier you know a lot of the talk about that role is there she was always coached by Olivier a lot of the discussion of that relationship keeps tripping agency from her but what you find in those letters is this very kind of extremely articulate about film adaptation about what wouldn’t work at a micro level with individual lines and then thinking about the structure of the play and how it will translate just very clear opinions about how that’s gonna work and very clear opinions about how she should look and how she should be costumed how that’s gonna work against her glamorous star image so she talks about wanting to look right and not good and she thinks very carefully if you have a wig it’s gonna work and how questions are gonna work so she’s giving an awful lot of attention to the construction of that performance and the play overall so those archive materials are interesting way to sort of write her back into that adaptation history where if you just look at the publicity her voice in those interviews or first-person articles that she writes sort of absent herself from that it’s all just about the parties that were happening in Hollywood at the time and the direction that you get and very little about her kind of active role so the archival story adds an interesting thread to our working practice while I’m the kind of final finished film piece so there’s a bit of a reclaiming of her authorship in a way I think so yeah definitely yeah and because I know other people the production deferring to her as well so you can also see in the archival record times where she’s dismissed when she’s talked over but you see the impact of her views her opinions her decisions that end up in the film and you can kind of trace some of those decision-making processes it doesn’t raise the question of why in the marketing for the film she self portrayed as having basically been a puppet our patriarchal pressures that strong was her agent parent persuaded her to play a kind of long game what’s the deciding factor fact why you decide to be publicly so yeah different it’s so self-deprecating I definitely don’t want to overplay that so in this isn’t some material in fan magazines that’s the way that was presented but you were also find in the press her pushing back very strongly against readings of the play that lunches a prostitute and morally devoid and how very passionately speaking about her interpretation of the rock so it’s not always like that but I think that this is I’m talking about that from time magazine material that the emphasis is slightly more upon a kind of glamour and the intimate insight into what it’s like to be in Hollywood than it is to work yeah so it pushes that aside more and I wonder you know how much did she actually write about how much is it edited or just yeah

there’s often in these these articles where it’s often a female interviewer sitting down with the female stars after this lengthy preamble about the journey and entering the inner sanctum of this star and describing them physically laughing this company yeah yeah but seemed to be covertly this everything I’m about to tell you is completely made up this like normal myth you know it’s the setting the scene for it was a dark and stormy not yeah and of course we’re also talking about fan magazines that for some reason had decided to almost exclusively target whoa no this may be something to do with the advertisers that were paying for advertising space in these magazines being advertisers that decided that all people who went to see films were women and therefore all buyers of these magazines therefore that means the the editors of the magazine are going what everything we write has to basically just be a way of easing the entire process about our advertisers yeah advertising to our readers and that will definitely influence what an interviewer asks oh yeah one’s raising their members yeah when they speak to a star if they even did yeah that’s the thing isn’t it if they even do yeah yeah how much really now about your first book it’s got a very cheeky title doesn’t it after pictures yeah is that an allusion to the title of something earlier because there’s that iris Barney book isn’t it yeah there is which is called let’s go yeah let’s go to the pictures so of it actually it’s from a line and Winifred Holtby one of your hope he’s not will stop writing where there’s a character in that who’s just at the end of her tether looking after all we useless men in her life and I think she she downs tools and her son says where you going – she says after the pictures but who is also an echo of the RX very bit which is kind of defensive the value of cinema going all the different ways in which it’s useful all meaningful and should be defended against dismissed as being lowbrow and dangerous and nasty so yeah it’s a combination of those two things with you what’s the subtitle I could never I think it’s woman’s writing on cinema going into war Britain was it it had a way more bland title and then the reader the final reader suggested changing it to something and then that line is an echo from something that this talked about is your impression of the nineteen twenties that this is a point by which in popular perception the whole institution has been thoroughly feminized as encoded female women do the institution itself is more of suitable as a home for women at least women performers if not oddly women behind the camera and it belongs in the larger field of leisure practices but you to be good to what women yeah that’s primarily the way that I approached it already in that text particularly because that’s a really useful tool for cultural commentators to condemn it and to dismiss it or speak negatively about it because if you associate it with being entirely feminine and feminized then you can attack it straightforwardly but then what you find in a lot of women’s writing is they’re kind of reclaiming that as a positive thing and seeing it is that dual awareness of something that is ridiculous or explosive or commercialized can also have value if it gives you a template to figure out questions about identity questions about everyday life and to pick and choose parts of that culture that help you make meaning basically so what do you find in a lot of the novels and literature that I’m looking at our people staging interactions or conversations or events in cinemas or talking about cinema growing characters and working through the place of the pizza palace or the flea pit in everyday life or somewhere that either is it kind of useful metaphor for working through something in the story or becomes quite an important public private space for different kinds of women to be a way to indulge in something that’s just about them to compare their lives against what they’re seeing on the screen to think through those questions of sort of British womanhood in modernity at that period usually against an American template because in law the content on screen or in the fan magazines is American more than is British so it was interesting for me looking about the vantage point of British women consuming this not entirely bowl of culture coming in from the outside and then sort of picking and discarding what they want to engage with is the big story here that there’s a lot of women writing about cinema who aren’t modernist yes at some time before these well-known statements by Virginia Woolf and Dorothea Richardson appear in the late 1920s yes this earlier stuff is conventionally disregarded definitely I mean there’s and there’s a lot of stuff alongside those writers in in of late 1920s and early 30s that’s doing not more interesting stuff but different stuff so someone like Winifred Holtby for example cinema is this constant element to fiction writing and to her journalistic writing where she’s always using it as a way to work through middle-class identity and regional experiences and what it is to be kind of northern and so this is that non London centric way of thinking about film culture that is not the Film Society or is not a kind of highbrow reflection on its artistic properties it’s more about like what does actually mean for people and how is it used so you find that in a lot of middlebrow literature there’s already kind of rich vein of thinking yeah we’re gonna read oh it’s here so it’s part of everyday life now so so really key part of how we talk to our readers about their lives and how we process that and then you know it’s present in all kinds of lowbrow one-off cheap reading matter that a place like the Bulldog assume our museum holds in abundance where those kind of cinema going stories are just everywhere a lot of those stories are about aspiring stars so in Cinderella stories there’s an awful lot of that but they’re always they’re not as straightforward as that they’re not always just you know little Jenny Smith wanted to be a star and she made it they always have a kind of edge of cynicism and kind of like grittiness that’s very appealing there’s always this sense of knowing better which I think it appeals to readers in it and the kind of smart way well it’s like it’s okay to indulge in this and we know that is sort of nonsense and sort of noir and I really like that voice that runs through these fictions so it’s quite different you know wolf thinking about yeah like it is an untapped medium that could be something greater it’s a different way of thinking about what is a sense of when it was that the general consensus arose that this was a female appropriate institution because it’s in place by the early 20s isn’t it yeah even further yeah and when you get them back to the prospect that it may have been white at the time that the refere cinemas were built that people were already seen this is a feminized it wasn’t that happened just a couple of years after their first generation of cinemas yeah so do you have a sense of a year when that first I don’t know I don’t think I can pinpoint it to a year but I think like you say it goes in hand with shipped in legitimizing Cinemark culture I think I think in the push towards it being a trying to attract middle-class audiences that’s the shift that pushes it towards being more feminized rather than kind of mixed gender working-class audience so I think and that’s the first world war thing isn’t it yeah yeah yeah yes yes it is so if you look at I mean you know this from having read all of the early families if you look at this stuff from I mean like nineteen eleven is maybe when the first British papers are and then the early early stuff from sort of eleven to fourteen sixteen isn’t especially tailored that way but then you get on to about I’m trying to think back to the millions of things that they were like in a rolodex I made a hundred I don’t know like sixteen seventeen on where to get it starts to take the shape that solidified from about nineteen eighteen that is that more feminized package where it seems more explicitly tailored towards women I think a big part of it is the inclusion of fiction in those papers and that their story magazines more in their earlier incarnation and the kind of stories seem to be addressing a female reader and they seem they often have every woman characters you can put yourself into those shoes yeah if you think about the fan magazine side it is slightly earlier than like 1920 or there’s maybe one real tippet of evidence that it started in German or formed just before the First World War and it’s that the pictures magazine set up a thing called the picture goes League and they even created little membership badges which had little fans on them I mean that in itself yeah was like one-year-old in this country while this way you know new stuff but there’s this one remark from mid 1913 when someone in the magazine says the picture goers League is not in any way connected with the women’s suffrage movement and it just came out of nowhere and I found no follow up to it or an explanation of why anyone would accuse them of that but the most obvious explanation is the picture goes league is almost entirely yeah and that might be just one of those first few signs that this the home institutions managed to orientate itself such that women are now perhaps not in the overwhelming majority but just in an evident majorities yeah that 60 percent of cinema goers and then it’s got something to do with leisure time as well and how much people were quit of course you know at the time if you live by selling your labor women work as much as men so perhaps but about having one at a time thing only applies when the whole institution goes middle-class yeah do you think that continue to uncover these kinds of things even and I’m asking very naively cuz I’m a more contemporary person yeah and the more we uncover by women in film and women in film culture more generally in earlier years there’s more evidence that women were always a big part of everything and just got pushed out more and more it’s the 20th century moved on and know we’re having to fight to get space back and some production from solar going everything again if that along the right lines or yeah yeah I think so I mean you know there’s a big push in feminist film historiography to do that work of writing back in there’s that amazing project women from the Pioneers project that’s trying to sort of create a database a new archive of all those like lost forgotten figures by not just focusing on actresses and put that back in I think it’s Jane Gaines that writes about that Jules forgetting in film history where you have they’re forgetting in historical record all of these women that contributed then you have a kind of forgetting in feminist criticism that I’m reading the text and theorizing the text at the expense of thinking about the historical presence of women behind the camera and then in your standard history textbooks you end up with your little box also women it’s there but I was not the story so there’s so much amazing work happening right now in early film globally to put women back into restore women to the historical record and to complicate that process as you were doing it right so it’s just as easy as going right now we have you know always blank headshots are not filled with these faces of women what next so I think it’s very fascinating trying to connect back to the contemporary moment yeah you know me too and all those shifts and changes that have or haven’t happened I guess what fascinates me about from history from my perspective these are those missing stories and pieces of when you shift focus to think about women’s contribution and that at the moment in some ways what I’m doing is more typical because it is a star but by thinking it through the archival side what I’m trying to do is not just think about star image and not just read some text but to connect Lea as a case study to all these other versions of women’s labor and then with the material on history cultures of cinema again it’s looking differently it like the other piece it’s not just women making movies it’s consuming film and film culture and telling those stories thinking about the relationship between two more modalities so yeah would you like to plug any social medias yeah but Vivien Leigh project has a twitter handle which is reframing VL that’s reframing VL so you can follow us on Twitter we are gonna have our own series of podcasts in the near future so we’re working on this right now there’s gonna be a symposium and an exhibition event on the 8th and the 9th of February next year and that’s at the University of Exeter so the CFP is closed but it will be open to registration soon it’s a free event so that’s on stardom in the archive more broadly and it’ll be on Saturday the 8th and then on Sunday the 9th we were having public exhibition where all of the outputs from this Viviani project will be on display we have some talks from curators were some 3d models that you can play around with yeah you can check us out on Twitter and that I’ll lead you through two pretty great submissions I think we got Michael Williams with a Hampton we’ve got Angie spice is gonna come what Glen’s be Charlotte cross doing pellon Cary Grant in the Bristol connection yeah James Chapman – I never imagined the panel Manley Williams is gonna come talk about Dinah doors pouches and listen to about graveyards star great guys isn’t archived yeah there’s some pretty interesting stuff oh nice it’s gonna be do it I think I’m also reminded you know he said that getting into fashion history yeah yeah if he ever I’m not so meeting is the right word but have you ever just been in this in the same room as parachurch Gibson no she’s one of these people who just she’s actually as a person she’s about that but she was so many clothes she looks like this blast button right right and she works at the London College of Fashion and she’s a film historian man and she did that to film studies yes yeah and so she’s specializes in fashion in film I just thought yeah I’ve never met her because it wasn’t about the something was really important when we do any teaching your students is to go I wanna give you an example of stuff you have to go and find it yeah yeah yeah when you do any research I have recently under find out what that name of that caller is where the caller lies flat against your top its kind of Puritan Erica is quite big and wide and it’s do nothing up here it’s a nice flat but what the girl it’s called a drop collar oh wow and you know when you’re a kid you have those horses where you become the horse you get inside your shoulders like nurses I had to look find out what that it’s called for a thing recent thing about series any film it’s called a step in the horse he’s a great uncle we’ve all been going yeah now I need to go and find out about how this materials manufactured I remember it was Chris Brooks’s memorial after he died in there I think was the early noughties it was done in an Cathedral but it wasn’t a religious service and a bishop it’s a bishop it was a friend of Chris’s and he said look I just wanted to point out that Chris he showed me something amazing which is they once said to me if you want to explain the stained-glass window you have to understand maybe your mathematics if you want to understand medieval mathematics you have to understand medieval cosmology and if you understand medieval music so the general rule is if you want to understand anything you have to know everything and the best wicked most of us can do is we can find out a few scraps it’s the other thing else to make it just about doable to provide an explanation of something so I think you’re going with that impulse of a few scraps yeah yeah and then I think when you’re a student as well even when you’re when you’re a PG RPG T trying to have a healthy level of fear about what you don’t know and then but use that as a motivator to keep digging is that getting that balance right it’s quite difficult isn’t it either just go I cannot possibly engage with all this stuff all you think oh it’s so exciting I get to learn about all this stuff but then you have to cut yourself off at the right point so I think you get better at knowing I’ve seen the gaps and then being excited about the gaps rather than terrified about the gaps and it’s almost gonna tell you that you have a gap unexpected to us and a gap yeah I still find out now you know you almost pushing and pulling between finding that exciting and planning right now we need to be engendering in our students I think yeah thank you so much soon you’ve been listening to audio-visual cultures with me Paula Blair and Rochelle and Lisa Stead’s this episode was recorded and edited by Paula Blair and the music is common grind by air tone licensed under creative commons attribution 3.0 and available for download from ccmixter org if you liked the show and find its content useful and interesting please help cover production and distribution costs by donating to paypal taught me /pe a Blair & libera PACOM /pe a Blair episodes are released every other Wednesday please read share and subscribe on your chosen listening platform as this helps others find the show for more information visit audio-visual culture at and follow av cultures on Twitter and Facebook thanks so much for listening and catch you next time


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s