New Approaches to Silent Film Historiography: Technology, Spectatorship and the Archive

The purpose of this conference is to bring together UK silent film academics and restorers to discuss the vitally important issues surrounding silent cinema preservation and restoration. Silent film academics and restorers rarely co-operate, despite the fact that the two disciplines can directly benefit each other. We plan to use this event to create a unique network of early cinema academics and restorers that will co-operate on future research and restoration projects.

Our event will explore how recent technological advances have created an uptake of interest in silent cinema study and restoration. 21st Century technology has allowed restorers to produce HD transfers of badly damaged silent film prints, but these restorations have raised questions surrounding the preservation of the filmmakers’ artistic integrity. We aim to explore how recent restorations have modified silent film historiography and suggest best practice for restoring films ethically in the future. Our focus on silent film historiography is likely to attract social scientists that use film as historical evidence in their projects, thus expanding the academic appeal of our event and making it interdisciplinary.

Despite the fact that many British universities conduct significant research on early cinema, there are very few silent film conferences in the country. The British Silent Film Symposium (BSFS) is the only annual scholarly early cinema event in the UK and attracts sizeable interest. However, BSFS takes place in London, so naturally favours academics from Southern England. By holding our event in Leeds, we are offering northern academics, including those from the White Rose universities, a vital opportunity to attend and present their work at a silent film conference. We plan to utilise this event to create an early cinema community across the three White Rose institutions that will work together on further academic research and events in the future.


£ 2604

Lead Student

Laurence Carr, University of Leeds

Other student organisers

Agata Frymus, University of York and Dr Luca Antoniazzi, University of Leeds

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