Research Seminar: Women's film history

This talk asks what it means to put ‘womens’ in front of film history, suggesting the conceptual changes in perspective required and problems encountered in gendering film historiography and research.

Despite twenty years of research that has opened up the history of women’s pervasive activity in the development of cinema and emergence of film industries worldwide, and the publication of numerous monographs on women filmmakers, both pioneering and contemporary, women behind the screen are still barely recognized in current film histories ploughing a traditional path.

This is partly a matter of the historiographic frameworks that determine methods of research, archiving, publication and film programming. But also, until recently, feminist film studies had focused on textual representation and ‘images’ of women, assuming their absence in the making of cinema.

Now, the Women Film Pioneers Project, a growing website housed at Columbia University, New York, along with the biennial internationally-circulating Women and the Silent Screen conferences and in this country the Women’s Film and TV History Network and biennial Doing Women’s Film and TV History conferences, this is changing.

Christine Gledhill is Visiting Professor in Cinema Studies at the University of Leeds and co-founder of the Women’s Film and Television History Network.