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Audience lost: Minority women and spectatorship

16.05.2019 14:48 | Anonymous member (Administrator)

November 22-23, 2019

Ghent, Belgium 

Deadline: June 30, 2019

Keynote speakers: 

  • Prof. Judith Thissen (Utrecht University) 
  • Prof. Allyson Nadia Field (University of Chicago) 

In 2002, Annette Kuhn reflected, in /Dreaming of Fred and Ginger: Cinema  and Cultural Memory/, that in regards to 1930s British cinemagoers, “we  hardly know these people at all” (2002, 3); Jackie Stacey (1994, 49)  focusing on British female movie fans of the 1940s and 1950s, made a  similar observation in 1994, when she noted that “there is a history of  female cinematic spectatorship which has yet to be written.” In their  respective works, both scholars used sources such as magazines,  questionnaires and interviews to begin to write exactly that history. 

This conference wishes to build upon this observation that “we hardly  know these people at all” by expanding its meaning in terms of the  people involved, both in terms of time and in terms of demographics. We  therefore invite papers focusing on marginalised female audiences in the  broadest sense, and interpret this in two distinct ways. Firstly, we  seek to hear from scholars focusing on rediscovering or uncovering  particular audiences, marginalised vis-à-vis the texts they consumed  through racial, ethnic or religious identity, through geographic or  linguistic distance, through sexual orientation or gender identity,  through disability status, through social class, etc. This includes a  demographic analysis of such audiences, an examination of their specific  and varied fan practices and attitudes, the intersectional identities of  certain audience members, etc. 

It also includes, however, broader contemplations on the very notion of  the “marginalised” audience. 

Firstly: if we are indeed all, as Henry Forman wrote in 1933,  “movie-made”, what, then, does it mean to be “made” by movies or media  texts specifically aimed at demographic groups with a privilege  inaccessible to many other audience members? Secondly, we are keen to  acknowledge and discuss the methodological challenges involved in  studying such audiences, and the ways in which difficulties in terms of  scholarly research may essentially serve to marginalise the group in  question further. Thirdly, we wish to invite auto-ethnographic  reflections from scholars working on such research topics, while also  members of one or more marginalised groups themselves. 

While the organisers’ own research is rooted within a film-historical  context, and indeed we are very interested in hearing from those engaged  in rediscovering lost historical audiences, we also invite submissions  from those working on contemporary LGBTQ+, disabled, or  racial/ethnic/religious minority women spectators. We particularly hope  to reach out to scholars working within the multidisciplinary field of  fan studies, where much fascinating work has been done, in recent years,  on examining the practices of such audiences, as well as their  relationship to traditional conceptions of fandom (such scholars include  Kristen J. Warner, Rukmini Pande, Julie Levin Russo, Eve Ng, and  others). While film and television history and fan studies have largely  operated in distinct and separate spheres from one another, we believe  the disciplines can come together in fruitful and methodologically  interesting ways in order to allow us a more complete picture of these  often invisible fans. 

Potential topics can include, but are not limited to: 

•       Historical perspectives on cinemagoing in ethnic communities 

•       Immigrant spectatorship 

•       The consumption of Hollywood movies by minority women 

•       LGBTQ+ fandoms 

•       Methodologies to access historically lost audiences 

•       Film archives and the marginalised audience 

•       Black women as movie fans 

•       Disability and spectatorship 

•       Studies of film reception amongst specific religious groups 

•       Women-only film screenings and film clubs 

•       Characteristics of marginalised spectatorship 

•       The methodological challenges in examining female audiences 

•       Theorising lesbian spectatorship 

•       Working class women and the movies 

•       Women and film criticism 

•       Gender and race-specific viewing pleasures 

•       National minorities and cinema culture 

•       Girlhood and fandom 

•       Geographically specific viewing practices 

We invite abstracts of no more than 300 words for 20-minute papers, as  well as panel proposals for pre-constituted panels (consisting of three  papers). Conference attendance will be free of charge.  Send your proposal and a short bio to Lies Lanckman and Agata Frymus at  womenspectatorship.conf@gmail by 30 June 2019. The conference website can be found at



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