Dr Elizabeth I Watkins


My research focuses on colour, its theories, technologies, and materiality, in cinema; sexuality and the image; contingency in photographic records of polar exploration; the history and ethics of colourisation and the archive (photography and film). 

I am Chair of the British Association of Film Television and Screen Studies [BAFTSS]. I am coordinator of BAFTSS' research network of Special Interest Groups [SIGs]. I founded and convene the BAFTSS SIG on Colour and Film with Professor Sarah Street and Dr Vicky Jackson (University of Bristol). 

I was British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Leeds and I worked with Professor Sarah Street on a project on colour films in Britain 1900–1955, which was funded by the AHRC at the University of Bristol. This research led to a Leverhulme/British Academy Small Research Grant on scientific photography on polar expeditions contemporary to the emergence of cinema and early colour processes for still photography. I was a Sackler Fellow at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich for project on the history of photography and film, its use in scientific experiments, the depiction of science on early 1900s Antarctic expeditions.

My Caird Fellowship at the National Maritime Museum examines the question of contingency in the voyages and photographic archive of Colbeck's the 'Morning', as relief ship for Scott's 'Discovery' expedition 1901–04. The project examines intricacies of scientific and amateur photographic practice as a trace of social interactions beyond iconic images of the voyage. My fellowship at the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin will examine Eliot Elisofon's work as still photographer for LIFE magazine and as consultant on Technicolor films of the 1950s.  

My publications include articles on the films of Jane Campion, Andrea Arnold, and Nicolas Roeg. I have written articles for Screen, Journal for Cultural Research, and Parallax, co-edited collections on British Colour Cinema: theories and practices (BFI/ Palgrave 2013), Color and the Moving Image: History, Theory, Aesthetics, Archive  (Routledge 2013) with Sarah Street and Simon Brown, and Gesture and Film: New Critical Perspectives (Routledge 2017) with Nicholas Chare. Forthcoming publications include a book on Theories and Philosophies of Colour Cinema (Routledge) and a book on Andrea Arnold: Unsettling the Cinematic (Edinburgh University Press) and a Journal special issue on colourisation.

Selected Publications


  • Liz Watkins, Theories and Philosophies of Colour Cinema (Routledge).
  • Liz Watkins, Andrea Arnold: Unsettling the Cinematic (Edinburgh University Press).
  • Gesture and Film: Signalling New Critical Perspectives, eds. Nicholas Chare and Liz Watkins (London: Routledge, 2017) (ISBN: 978-1-138-90019-6).
  • Color and the Moving Image: History, Theory, Aesthetics, Archive, eds. Brown, Street, Watkins (New York: Routledge, 2013) (ISBN 9780415892643).
  • British Colour Cinema: Practices and Theories, eds. Brown, Street, Watkins (London: BFI/ Bloomsbury, 2013) (ISBN: 9781844574131).

Journal Articles and book chapters

  • Liz Watkins, ‘The Spectacle of Nothing: the image, material and object in a photographic ecosystem of Antarctica’, Photographies (2021) vol.14, no.3. pp.481–503.
  • Liz Watkins, ‘The Politics of Nostalgia: Colorization, Spectatorship and the Archive’ , Comparative Cinema, special issue on color, (2021) Vol.IX, No. 17. pp.123-145.
  • Liz Watkins, ‘The Strange Art of Scientific Photography: Anomalous Images of Antarctic Exploration’ in The Empiricism of the Gaze. The Assignment of Meanings to Scientific Expedition Photography, eds. Gisela Parak / Elke Bauer (Halle: Mitteldeutscher Verlag, 2021), pp.74–85.
  • Liz Watkins, 'Liminal Perceptions: Intermediality and the Exhibition of Early Non-fiction Film', eds. Giovanna Fossati, Victoria Jackson, Bregt Lameris, Elif Rongen Kaynacki, Sarah Street, Joshua Yumibe, The Colour Fantastic, Chromatic World of Silent Cinema (Amsterdam University Press, 2018) pp.51–73.
  • Liz Watkins, 'Mapping the Antarctic: Photography, Colour and the Scientific Expedition in Public Exhibition', Progress in Colour Studies, , eds. Carole Biggam, Lindsay Macdonald, Galina Paramei (Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2018) pp.439–459.
  • Liz Watkins, 'Don't Look Now: Transience and Text', Screen (2016) vol.56, issue.4, pp.436–449.
  • Liz Watkins, 'Unsettling Perceptions: Screening Surveillance and the Body in Red Road', Paragraph (2015) vol.38, no.1, pp.101–107.
  • Liz Watkins, 'The Disquiet of the Everyday: Gesture and Bad Timing', Journal for Cultural Research (2015) vol.19, no.1, pp.56–68
  • Liz Watkins, 'Colour Consciousness and Design in Blanche Fury as Technicolor Melodrama', Journal of British Cinema and Television (2010) 7, 1, pp.53–68.
  • Liz Watkins, 'Cinematic Excess',  Film Theory Encyclopedia , eds. Edward Branigan and Warren Buckland (Routledge, 2013) pp.178–181.
  • Liz Watkins, 'The Materiality of Film', The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of the Contemporary World, eds. Paul Graves-Brown, Rodney Harrison and Angela Piccini (Oxford University Press, 2014) pp.574–590.
  • Liz Watkins, 'Herbert G. Pontings Materials and Texts', Color and the Moving Image: History, Theory, Aesthetics, Archive, eds. Simon Brown, Sarah Street and Liz Watkins (New York: Routledge, 2013) pp. 322–335.
  • Liz Watkins and Nicholas Chare, 'The Matter of Film: Decasia and Lyrical Nitrate', Carnal Knowledge: Towards a New Materialism Through the Arts, eds. Barbara Bolt and Estelle Morris (London: I.B. Tauris, 2012) pp.75–88.
  • Liz Watkins, 'The (dis)articulation of Colour: Cinematography, Femininity and Desire in Jane Campion’s In the Cut' , Questions of Colour in Cinema: From Paintbrush to Pixel, ed. Wendy Everett (Bern: Peter Lang, 2007) pp.197–216.

Blog Posts

Recent research presentations

  • 2022 – ‘Colourisation and Contingency: critical perspectives on the concept of ‘natural colour’, Screen Studies, University of Glasgow.
  • 2021 – ‘Darkrooms: photographic records of polar expeditions from film laboratories to cinema auditoriums and lecture halls.’ Arctic Photography, Film Exploration and the Archive. Conference (online), National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.
  • 2021 – ‘The Archival Life of Autochromes: Exposure, Time and Polar Climates’, Colour Fever. Conference (online), V&A.
  • 2021 – ‘Surface Tension: colourisation, nostalgia and the digital mediation of photochemical film records’. Shifting Ecologies of Photochemical Film in the Digital Era. Conference, Aberystwyth University.
  • 2021 – ‘Imperfect tense: colourisation and the photographic archive’, Photography and Its Many Colours. Conference, Photographic History Research Centre, Leicester, UK.
  • 2020 – ‘The Strange Art of Scientific Expedition Photography: Authenticity and Antarctica in Exhibition’, The Empiricism of the Gaze. Assigning Meanings of Scientific Expedition Photography. Deutsches Schifffahrtsmuseum Bremerhaven.
  • 2019 – ‘Fiction/ Nonfiction: the Colourisation, Authenticity and Spectatorship of Photographic Documents’, Documentaries and the Fiction/Nonfiction Divide, Queen Mary University London.
  • 2019 – ‘The Spectacle of “Nothing” in a Photographic Ecosystem of Antarctica’, Light/Sensitive/Material, University of West London.
  • 2019 – ‘Gender, Spectatorship and early 1900s Polar Expedition Films’, British Silent Film Festival Symposium, King’s College London.
  • 2019 – ‘The Politics of Colourisation: Film Archives and Spectators’ as part of a panel that I convened on – The Politics and Ideologies of Global Colour and the Film Archive - at the Global Colour and the Moving Image Conference, University of Bristol.
  • 2019 – ‘Gothic Melodrama and Technicolor Design: Gender, Class and the Architectures of a House’, Gothic Feminisms: Technology, Women, and Gothic-Horror On-Screen Conference, University of Kent.
  • 2018 – ‘Reading the Notebooks of Fred Gent: Scientific Photography, Gaumont and the Fantastic in Polar Expedition Films’, British Silent Film Festival Symposium, King’s College London.
  • 2018 – ‘Media Histories of Polar Exploration’, Exploration and Memory Conference, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD, University of Leeds
  • MA, University of Leeds
  • BA Hons, University of Bradford
  • PGCLTHE, University of Leeds
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Professional memberships

  • British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies
  • Society of Cinema and Media Studies
  • Colour Group, GB