Call for Papers: IAMHIST Conference 2022

CONFLICT RESOLUTION AND THE MEDIA

International Association for Media and History Conference 2022, Kiel University of Applied Sciences (Kiel, Germany), 12-14 July (in-person)

Deadline for submissions: 

10 January 2022

Name of organisation: 

IAMHIST – Conference organizer: Professor Tobias Hochscherf (Kiel University of Applied Sciences)

Contact email: 

iamhist2022@gmail.com

IAMHIST is the International Association for Media and History, an organisation of scholars, filmmakers, broadcasters and archivists dedicated to historical enquiry into film, radio, TV and other related media. Its next biennial conference will take place in Kiel, northern Germany, from 12-14 July 2022.

The conference theme this year is CONFLICT RESOLUTION AND THE MEDIA. Scholars of media history, more other than not, have looked at the role of media in times of conflict, revolution, war, crisis, social and political upheaval. Yet, media has also played a decisive role in processes of conflict resolution. As such, media in one way or another affected nation building processes, the fight for civil rights, equalities, the reconciliation of former enemies, the democratisation of totalitarian states and peacekeeping missions around the world. Examples include European integration after the Cold War, the end of Apartheid in South Africa, democratisation processes after military dictatorships in South America or the empowerment of minorities.

The conference invites academics and practitioners from all relevant disciplines to take part in a timely conversation about the historical role of media in conflict and conflict resolution, from the film and broadcasting industries and the press, to new media, social media and advertising. In addition to presentations, the conference will include film screenings, events geared towards PhD and early-career scholars, social events, and a roundtable on the subject of the conference.

Proposals are welcome on, but not limited to, the following topics:

  • Media representations and examples of conflict resolution, consolation and reconciliation processes
  • Media reception and its positive impact upon social coexistence and the integration of society
  • The role of alternative or oppositional media and the challenging of power, injustice and inequality
  • Examples of how media circumvented censorship, regulation and offence
  • Media education and learning initiatives
  • The role of public service broadcasting in sustaining citizenship and civil society
  • Case studies of how media content has stimulated creativity and cultural excellence
  • The role of soft power: how media helped improving international relations through the means of public diplomacy and intervention

The deadline for proposals is 10 January 2022, you can submit proposals through the website: https://forms.gle/1m2f6JvzvSDwefCM6

Individual paper proposals should consist of a title, an abstract of 150 to 300 words and a short biography. Panel proposals (of three papers) are welcome; they need to be registered by the individual presenters who must flag up the title of the panel. We also appreciate proposals for archival, artistic or multimedia projects; you are welcome to discuss their suitability with the conference organisers in advance of the deadline.

Notifications of decisions will be sent alongside additional information on travel and accommodation by early February 2022; registration will be open by that day. Conference attendees are expected to be members of IAMHIST – there will be an opportunity to join at the time of registration.

IAMHIST Online: Dressing the Media – Materials and Methods for Studying Screen Costume

IAMHIST Online: Dressing the Media – Materials and Methods for Studying Screen Costume

15 October 2021, 12.00-14.00 (BST) via Zoom

Registration: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/181654151457

Hosted by Melanie Bell (University of Leeds) and Llewella Chapman (University of East Anglia)

Queries: Please contact llewella.chapman@gmail.com


Since the 1990 publication of Jane Gaines and Charlotte Herzog’s path-breaking Fabrications, the study of costume design for film and television has become well-established in the academy. Scholars have published an impressive body of research on fashion on screen, the costume design process, and the labour and professional identities of costume designers, much of this situated in the wider context of media histories and production studies. This workshop provides an opportunity to hear the latest research from scholars (both early career and established) working in the field of screen costume, to share ideas, reflect on methodologies and archival sources for the research and teaching of costume for the screen.

Speakers: Melanie Bell, Elizabeth Castaldo Lundèn (Stockholm University), Llewella Chapman, Victoria Haddock (Costume Curator and Collections Care, Zenzie Tinker Textile Conservation) and Helen Warner (University of East Anglia).

Schedule:

12.00-12.10: Introduction to ‘Dressing the Media’ by Melanie Bell and Llewella Chapman

12.10-12.20: Dressing the Talkies: the ‘Making Cultures’ of Early British Sound Film, Melanie Bell 

This paper draws on the diaries of leading costume designer Gordon Conway to reconstruct the making cultures of costumes for British film in the 1930s. These records offer a unique insight into the day-to-day operations of a costume designer at a time when the film industry was responding to the introduction of sound, opening up the networks and spaces through which a central aspect of film production was realised. As one of the most senior women in the film industry of the day, Conway’s career also raises wider questions about how film history responds to the figure of ‘the woman professional’ and their commercial and creative achievements.

Melanie Bell has published widely on many aspects of gender and British film including a monograph on the star Julie Christie (BFI, 2016), an article on women’s soundwork and the foley artist Beryl Mortimer (Screen, 2017) and women documentarians (Feminist Media Histories, 2018). Her recently published monograph drew on oral history and trade union records to write a feminist revisionist history of women in film: Movie Workers: The Women Who Made British Cinema (University of Illinois Press, 2021).  Her latest project investigates the making cultures of costume for British film in the early sound period, using the designer Gordon Conway as a case study.

12.20-12.30: Beyond the Screen: The Perils of Researching Costume Design History, Elizabeth Castaldo Lundén

This presentation will problematize existing literature and research methods used so far in costume design history. It will discuss our role as researchers in building the foundations for a more informed and meticulous research practice that includes a close collaboration with archives beyond our individual projects to validate this area of study. The talk invites participants to reflect upon the political trajectory that costume design must undergo as a scholarly sub-field in its scattered existence within various academic disciplines. It also encourages researchers to write a history of costume design beyond screen representation, using various methods and sources while contemplating the work of below-the-line designers.

Elizabeth Castaldo Lundén is a Senior Lecturer at the Center for Fashion Studies, Department of Media Studies at Stockholm University.  Castaldo Lundén’s research addresses the history of the fashion and film industries, costume design, consumer culture, celebrity culture and public relations practices. Her most recent book, Fashion on the Red Carpet: A History of the Oscars, Fashion and Globalisation, published by Edinburgh University Press in 2021, investigates the history of the Academy Awards red-carpet phenomenon. She is currently working on a research project to study fashion newsfilms in collaboration with the Media Ecology Project and writing a book about research methods in costume design.

12.30-12.40: Cutting the cloth of James Bond’s wardrobe: Eileen Sullivan, wardrobe mistress, Llewella Chapman

The voices of women who worked in the wardrobe departments of British film remain relatively silent. I have found several examples in my research into costume and the James Bond film franchise where a costume designer is not employed on a film production at all, and the role of making and sourcing costumes goes to the wardrobe supervisor, master, mistress or costumier. For example, Tessa Prendergast (as Welborn) was credited as being the costume designer for Dr. No (1962), however she only briefly worked with the production when on location in Jamaica, and the bulk of the costume decisions were in fact made by Eileen Sullivan, the wardrobe mistress, who was not afforded a credit in the final film. Therefore, my paper works to spotlight the work of Sullivan, through personal papers that were recently shared with me by her family, and will address the difficulties of researching the work of wardrobe personnel in the James Bond films who have hitherto remained unacknowledged in broader scholarship.

Llewella Chapman is a film historian and visiting scholar at the University of East Anglia. Her research interests include British cinema, fashion, costume and gender. Llewella is a member of The Costume Society, and her monograph, Fashioning James Bond: Costume, Gender and Identity in the World of 007 will be published by Bloomsbury in October 2021. She is currently working on a research monograph, Costume and British Cinema.

12.40-12.50: Stitched Up: Researching labour disputes in wardrobe and costume design, Helen Warner

This talk will be a reflection on some current research on the history of two Hollywood trade unions (Motion Pictures Costumers – local 705 & The Costume Designers Guild – local 892). The research examines the formation of both organisations and the symbolic distinction between the ‘workers’ who clothe the performers and the ‘artists’ who design costumes. The talk will reflect on the process of conducting this research, methodological challenges in Covid times, and the value of certain kinds of archival material when reconstructing women’s histories.

Helen Warner is a Senior Lecturer in Cultural Politics, Communications and Media Studies at the University of East Anglia. Her research interests include gender, textiles, craft and the creative industries. She is the author of Fashion on TV (2014) and co-editor of The Politics of Being a Woman (2015).

12.50-13.05: Comfort Break

13.05-13.15: Searching the Stores: Researching Costume in Museum and Archival Collections, Victoria Haddock 

This presentation will discuss the methodologies and sources that can be used to research existing film costumes held in museum and archival collections, focusing on the costumes worn by Oscar-winning actress Vivien Leigh. The paper will encourage us to use museum databases and collections to uncover and view surviving items of dress designed for the screen.

Victoria Haddock graduated with a BA (Honours) History degree from the Open University in 2016, before undertaking a Masters degree in the History of Design and Material Culture from the University of Brighton, graduating with a Merit in 2019. Victoria’s dissertation focused on the topic of fashion tie-ins inspired by film costumes during the 1930s. She currently works as the Collections Officer at Brunel’s SS Great Britain, and has previously worked for the Gallery of Costume, Platt Hall, and the National Trust’s Killerton House. She is currently working on a research project studying the fashions of Argentinian First Lady, Eva Peron.

13.15-14.00: Roundtable

All speakers will discuss researching costume, wardrobe design and labour through the archives, with the floor invited to discuss the fun as well as the trials and tribulations of applying an empirical approach to this type of research. Victoria will also discuss using groups, such as The Costume Society, for research.

Fabric samples for Anna and the King (1999). Credit: Jenny Beavan Collection, BFI National Archive

Love and revenge in The Eagle (1925)

Agata Frymus, University of York

23 January 2018

[print-me]

Big budget costume dramas were a prominent fixture in the changing landscape of early and mid-1920s Hollywood. Such productions were instructive in responding to ‘a specific spectatorial desire for escapism into an ahistorical time of myth and magic, inured to the ravages of urbanization [and] industrialization.’[1] In other words, silent historical epics were tailored to cater to audiences’ desire for spectacle, whilst also providing a conceptualisation of chivalry and romance untarnished by the shifting gender discourse of the time of their production. Vilma Bánky’s stardom was constructed around the notions of respectable (and largely passive) femininity, concepts which were easily accommodated by this type of drama. Because it was one of the most conservative genres, at least as far as gender portrayal is concerned, it gave its female protagonist a chance to fulfil the role of damsel in distress.

Figure 1: Rudolph Valentino’s star appeal was used in The Eagle’s publicity campaign.

The opening sequence of The Eagle (1925) depicts the first encounter between Lieutenant Dubrovsky (Rudolph Valentino) and Masha (Vilma Bánky) as the handsome man saves her from being kidnapped. One might extrapolate the significance of their meeting for the further development of the plot, given that the motion picture builds upon the trope of the ‘damsel in distress’, a patriarchal fantasy that has long foregrounded the depictions of love in mainstream art. In accordance with this representational pattern, the act of rescue perpetuated by the hero equates Bánky’s character with the trophy awarded for his exceptional bravery. At that point, Dubrovsky is unaware of Masha’s precarious status as the daughter of the man who had seized Dubrovsky’s dying father’s familial estate. Whilst Bánky exchanges the look of the film’s protagonist, her ‘to-be-lookedness’ within the scene is counterbalanced by the negative position appointed to Catherine the Great, who observes the rescue action unacknowledged by Valentino’s gaze, with her face ‘momentarily transfigured in desire.’[2]

Figures 2 and 3: Seducer and seduced: Valentino as Dubrovsky with Masha (left) and Catherine the Great (right).

Portraying Catherine the Great in terms of sexual insatiability was by no means a development pioneered by The Eagle, but a long-standing tactic that has persisted across a plethora of other cultural texts.[3] Suggesting debauchery in relation to the monarch operated to highlight the notion that female political power constitutes an ultimate reversal of the ascribed gender positions. Much of the film’s comedic potential is built around the juxtaposition between the young, seemingly inaccessible Masha and Czarina, an older and sexually aggressive woman who pursues soldiers in her own guard in exchange for military status. Masha’s standing as a representational antithesis to the Czarina is inadvertly highlighted through visual means, particularly by costume: whilst the former wears delicate gowns and elaborate Russian dress, the latter is seen mostly in military uniform.

Moreover, Bánky’s heroine gains in moral stature because she is constructed in opposition to the corporeal aspects emblematised by the Czarina and, by extension, in referencing the idealistic notions of the spirit rather than the body. Historian Arthur Marwick has traced some aspects of this discourse back to the body vs. mind philosophy of the nineteenth century, which supported the notion that female beauty is evaluated in the context of the emotions it invokes in a heterosexual man; if the feeling is lustful, then the woman cannot be morally virtuous.[4] Confronted with this notorious man-eater, Dubrovsky chooses to desert the army rather than to conform to Czarina’s advances, eventually assuming a new identity as a Robin Hood-esque hero, the defender of the downtrodden, by the name of Black Eagle. ‘I enlisted for war service only’ proclaims the proud lieutenant, as he leaves the Czarina’s chamber in haste. To paraphrase Wood, The Eagle testifies to the universality of Western fantasy because it reduces two major female characters to archetypes of the Mother and the Whore, which embody the two fundamental myths of women continually re-inforced within patriarchal society. In the initial scenes of The Eagle Valentino is defined as a target of seduction, a ‘reluctant male trapped by the lustful designs of a female seductress’, which constitutes an ultimate reversion of his most famous role of predatory lover in The Sheik.[5]

The main challenge encountered by Dubrovsky in his quest to challenge Kirilla ? the corrupt man who robbed him of his inheritance ?  is the fact that the villain has a familial relationship with his love interest. One might argue that this obstacle naturally falls into the remit of ‘courtly love’, [6] in the sense that Masha’s inaccessibility not only elevates her status as an object of desire, but also creates the chief force driving the narrative forward. For Lacanian theorists, this is a culturally persistent trope, where hindrances and complications function to strengthen the desire to attain one’s goal. ‘Obstacles’, writes John Richardson, ‘are necessary in this understanding to preserve the illusion that without them the object would be instantly accessible.[7]

Masha’s initial rejection of Black Eagle’s advances (‘I don’t associate with masked men as a rule’) is hardly surprising, given the representation of romantic courtship in the bulk of popular Hollywood productions, as well as within Western cultural texts more broadly. Popular fictions on page and screen have long favoured a narrative contrivance in which heteronormative unity is achieved through the process of deferred courtship; that is, where the heroine is initially reluctant to fall under the hero’s spell, but does so eventually after he proves himself worthy of her affection. The ‘seduction plot’, was one of the central motifs of eighteenth-century sentimental literature that has been successfully disseminated across s great number of films, albeit in varying forms.[8]

As the action moves on, Dubrovsky gets closer to his arch nemesis – and, most significantly, to his daughter – by applying for the position of a French teacher in Kyrilla’s household. Bánky’s character resents Black Eagle at first, thinking very little of his chivalry and compliments. After she discovers the real identity of her French teacher, the narrative trajectory moves to emphasise Masha’s internal conflict: ‘I hate you!’, she screams. Eventually, she can no longer maintain the distance between herself and Dubrovsky, admitting that ‘Day and night I have fought against loving you – fought and lost!’

Figure 4: A still promoting the film seems to emphasise the semi-tragic aspect of Masha’s love for Dubrovsky, the nemesis of her father.

Of course, Masha wields little power on her own, being defined primarily through her relationship with the film’s chief antagonist. Eventually, the masked hero forsakes the oath of vengeance he has taken, concluding that ‘Revenge is sweet, but sometimes a girl is sweeter.’ In its critical appraisal of the film The New York Times deliberated that this dramatic shift is understandable, given the astonishingly good looks of Bánky’s character; ‘her beauty makes the hero’s gallantry all the more convincing.’[9] Thus, The Eagle culminates with the assumption that romantic fulfilment is a panacea for virtually all societal problems, including class struggle. The fight between the underprivileged citizens of the Russian state and the landowning class, epitomised here by Kirilla, is effectively eclipsed by the nuances of heteronormative romance.


References:

[1] Diana Anselmo- Sequeira, ‘Blue Bloods, Movie Queens and Jane Does: Or How Princess Culture, American Film, and Girl Fandom Came Together in the 1910s’, in Princess Cultures: Mediating Girls’ Imaginations and Identities, ed. Miriam Forman-Brunell and Rebecca C. Hans (New York: Peter Lang Press, 2014): 169.

[2] Miriam Hansen, Babel and Babylon: Spectatorship in American Silent Film (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1994): 269.

[3] Peter Bondanella, Hollywood Italians. Dagos, Palookas, Romeos, Wise Guys and Sopranos (New York: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2006): 139.

[4] Sarah Berry, ‘Hollywood Exoticism’, in Stars: The Film Reader, ed. Lucy Fisher and Marcia Landy (London: Routledge, 2004): 183.

[5] Bondanella, Hollywood Italians, 138.

[6] The term is theorised by Slavoj Zizek in his The Metastases of Enjoyment: Six Essays on Women and Causality (London and New York: Verso, 2005): 89 – 91.

[7] John Richardson, ‘The Neosurrealist Musical and Tsai Ming-Laing’s The Wayward Cloud’, in The Oxford Handbook of New Audiovisual Aesthetics, ed. John Richardson, Claudia Gorbman and Carol Vernallis (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013): 300.

[8][8] Lea Jacobs, The Decline of Sentiment: American Film in the 1920s (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008): 181.

[9] Mordaunt Hall, ‘Movie Review. The Screen,’ The New York Times, 9th November 1925, page unknown, available at http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9804E7DB1F38E233A2575AC0A9679D946495D6CF? [accessed 10/04/2017]


Agata Frymus is a PhD candidate at University of York and a recipient of White Rose Scholarship of Arts and Humanities. Her PhD thesis explores the star personae of three silent stars: Pola Negri, Jetta Goudal and Vilma Bánky. Her work has been published in Celebrity Studies Journal and Early Popular Visual Culture; she has an upcoming publication in Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television.


Disclaimer: The IAMHIST Blog is a platform that offers individual scholars the opportunity to present their work and thoughts. They alone are responsible for the content, which does not represent the view of the IAMHIST council or other IAMHIST members.

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