Dr Elizabeth I Watkins, Research Fellow in History of Art and Film


My research interests include the historiography of colour – its theories, technologies and materiality – in cinema; the history and ethics of colourisation; the imbrication of fiction/nonfiction in early 1900s polar expedition films, photography and their exhibition; gender, representation and feminist theory. My book project with Routledge on colour and cinema analyses the converse effects and counterpoints of colour design that track the gendered and classed social structures of narrative cinemas (gothic, melodrama, horror and experimental film forms).

I am Marlene Nathan Meyerson Photography Fellow (2020) at the Harry Ransom Center for Research in the Humanities at the University of Texas, Austin for a project on ‘Colour, Control and Consciousness in the work of Eliot Elisofon: from Photojournalism to Technicolor Design.'

I am organising a conference on Darkrooms and Representations: Histories of Photography, Film and Exploration, which will be at the National Maritime Museum 2-3 April 2020.

I founded and co- convene the BAFTSS Special Interest Group on Colour and Film and the Notes on Colour blog with Professor Sarah Street (University of Bristol) for the British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies (BAFTSS). I am a member of the Executive Committee of BAFTSS and the BAFTSS Special Interest Group Coordinator. I am an Editor of Open Screens Journal on film, television, screen and media studies.

My publications include edited collections - Gesture and Film: Signalling New Critical Perspectives (Routledge 2017), Color and the Moving Imge, History, Theory, Aesthetics, Archive (Routledge, 2013) and British Colour Cinema, Practices and Theories (BFI/ Palgrave Macmillan, 2013)- journal articles in Screen, Journal for Cultural Research, Paragraph, NECSUS - European Journal of Media Studies and Parallax and chapters of the Roultedge Encyclopaedia of Film Theory  (2013) and the Oxford Handbook of archaeology of the Contemporary World (2013). I have written about the films of Nicolas Roeg, Andrea Arnold, Lynne Ramsay and Jane Campion alongside journal articles and book chapters on Technicolor design in melodrama, Eastmancolor, colourisation and the making, conservation and exhibition of the photographic and film records of 1900s Polar expeditions.

I was British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Leeds and I have 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 British Academy-funded project on early 1900s polar expeditions contemporary to the emergence of cinema and early colour processes for stills photography. The project examines the use of photography and film on early 1900s scientific expeditions, the study of colour and the commercial exploitation of nonfiction expedition films. Publications from this project include an essay on Liminal Perceptions: Intermediality and the Exhibition of Non-fiction Film (Amsterdam University Press, 2018) and on 'Mapping the Antarctic: Colour, Photography and the Early 1900s Scientific Expedition' in Progress in Colour Studies (2018). As Sackler Short-Term Research Fellow (2019) at the National Maritime Museum (Greenwich) I focused on the intersecting histories of photography, film and early 1900s scientific expeditions: from the use of photography in scientific experiments (time, movement, labour, place, artificial light, the mediation and illustration of natural phenomena) to the depiction of science for public audiences to examine the ideologies and politics that are interlaced with the material and historiographic practices of expedition narratives.

Selected Publications. 


Film Theories and Philosophies of Color (New York: Routledge, 2020)

Andrea Arnold: Unsettling the Cinematic, Ethics, Sexuality and Desire. (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).

Screen Signs: Cultures of Gesture in Cinema- special issue edited by Nicholas Chare and Liz Watkins - Journal for Cultural Research (2015) vol.19, no.1.

Screening Embodiment - special issue edited by Chare and Watkins - Paragraph (2015) vol.38, no.1.

Color and the Moving Image: History, Theory, Aesthetics, Archive, eds. Brown, Street, Watkins (New York: Routledge 2013)

British Colour Cinema: Practices and Theories, eds. Brown, Street, Watkins (London: BFI/ Palgrave Macmillan 2013)

Journal Articles:

'Don't Look Now: Transience and Text', Screen (2016) vol.56, issue.4, pp.436-449.

'Unsettling Perceptions: Screening Surveillance and the Body in Red Road', Paragraph (2015) vol.38, no.1, pp.101-107.

'The Disquiet of the Everyday: Gesture and Bad Timing', Journal for Cultural Research (2015) vol.19, no.1, pp.56-68

'Colour Consciousness and Design in Blanche Fury as Technicolor Melodrama', Journal of British Cinema and Television (2010) 7, 1, pp.53-68.

Book Chapters:

'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.

'Mapping the Antarctic: Photography, Colour and the Scientific Expedition in Public Exhibition', eds. Carole Biggam, Lindsay Macdonald, Galina Paramei, Progress in Colour Studies (Amsterdam: John Benjamins 2018) pp.439-459.

'Cinematic Excess', eds. Edward Branigan and Warren Buckland, Film Theory Encyclopedia (Routledge, 2013) pp.178-181.

'The Materiality of Film', eds. Paul Graves-Brown, Rodney Harrison and Angela Piccini,The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of the Contemporary World (Oxford University Press 2014) pp.574-590.

'Herbert G. Pontings Materials and Texts', eds. Simon Brown, Sarah Street and Liz Watkins,Color and the Moving Image: History, Theory, Aesthetics, Archive (New York: Routledge 2013) pp. 322-335.

Liz Watkins and Nicholas Chare, 'The Matter of Film: Decasia and Lyrical Nitrate', eds.Barbara Bolt and Estelle Morris,Carnal Knowledge: Towards a New Materialism Through the Arts, (London: I.B. Tauris 2012) pp.75- 88.

'The (dis)articulation of Colour: Cinematography, Femininity and Desire in Jane Campions In the Cut', ed. Wendy Everett, Questions of Colour in Cinema: From Paintbrush to Pixel, (Bern: Peter Lang, 2007) pp.197-216.

Blog Posts:

Liz Watkins 'Threads of Colour and Meaning in the Film Works of Nicolas Roeg and Anthony Richmond' for the AHRC Funded Project (Bristol and UEA)The Eastmancolor Revolution and British CInema, 1955-1985 (guest blog post July 2018).

Recent Research Presentations:

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. ‘Shades of Grey: The History and Ethics of Colourisation in Cinema’, Widescreen Weekend Film Festival, National Science and Media Museum. Discussion Panel: Dr Liz Watkins (Panel Chair), Professor Sir Christopher Frayling, David Strohmaier (Cinerama Inc), Tom Vincent (Film Archivist, Aardman Animations).

2019. ‘“You see that is the sort of thing that appeals to scientists. I’m not a scientist”: Experimental Photography and the South Pole Expedition’, Caird Library Research Seminars, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. 

2019 ‘ A Spectator Viewed: Gender, Emotional Labour and the Polar Expedition Film’, British Silent Film Festival Symposium, King’s College London. 

2019 ‘The Politics of Colourisation: Film Archives and Spectators’ as part of a convened panel on - Politics and Ideologies of Global Colour and the Film Archive - at the Global Colour and the Moving Image, 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. ‘Cinephilia and the “Presentational Aesthetic” of Archival Film’, Screen Studies Conference, University of Glasgow.

2017. ‘Materiality, Matter and Abstraction: Colour and Photography in Early 1900s Polar Expedition Records’, Excavating Media: Devices, Processes, Apparatuses, Faculty of English, University of Cambridge.

<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

Professional memberships

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