On April 4th I organised a discussion with the Arts and Humanities Research Institute, free and open to King’s student and staff, with Talking Pictures TV Managing Director Sarah Cronin Stanley! What an inspirational talk. Deemed, “one of the most remarkable and heart-warming success stories in the history of modern television”, Talking Pictures TV is a family-owned, father and daughter-run station with only three members of staff, launched on Freeview less than three years ago which now has over two million viewers and continues to grow. The Guardian calls it “joyous”.
It’s been a hectic while since my last academic post. Since October of last year I have presented at several conferences such as the British Jewish Contemporary Cultures at Bangor University and SCREEN 2018 conference in Glasgow. I have upgraded to writing-up status for submission in 2019 and have published a book chapter on political theatre (Pluto Press, Scenes from a Revolution). I continue to work as an examination assessor for the Kings Awards and as a tutor for the library services at Kings’ Study Skills. Two of my articles on my Soho research will be published next year & I will be launching a podcast and video essay in the next few months. 2019 is looking to be an extremely active year leading up to my Viva Examination.
October 3, 2017
The International Association for Media and History (Historical Journal of Film and Television published a piece I wrote on Miracle in Soho (Julian Amyes, 1957).
Read more on Belinda Lee, J. Arthur Rank & the fictional St. Anthony’s Lane here.
This Summer, pre-York 1960s British Cinema conference I was able to pen a guest blog for the 1960s British Cinema Project (AHRC with University of York and East Anglia) on parts of my research on Soho exploitation cinema. This piece, entitled “Soho Nights, ‘Warm-Hearted Tarts,’ and the year ‘old England’ died” was specifically on the very ill-received yet wonderful/terrible film The World Ten Times Over (Wolf Rilla, 1963). Some of what appears in the post was presented at the Literary London Conference 2017 a month before.
Here’s an extract:
James Bond. The Beatles. The Cuban Missile Crisis. The Profumo Affair. Founding member of Private Eye and staff writer for the satirical television series That Was The Week That Was (1962 – 63) Christopher Booker proposed that 1963 was the “year old England” died. 1963 saw the harshest winter, the collapse of the Conservative Establishment…this was the beginning of a media fueled frenzy that proclaimed Britain had become “sex crazy.”Wolf Rilla’s X-rated critical and box office failure “The World Ten Times Over” (“Pussycat Alley” as it was renamed for its American release) embodies the spirit of the early 1960s and reflects the beginning of the permissive society in Britain.
On September 1 2017 I will be presenting a paper Wolfenden in the West End Jungle at the University of York’s conference ‘From Profumo to Performance: New Perspectives on 1960s British Cinema’, which is a companion event to their London conference, ‘British Cinema in the 1960s: Histories and Legacies’, which is being held at the BFI Southbank on 6-7 September. The paper will explore the documentary feature West End Jungle (Arnold L Miller, 1961) and the Wolfenden Report which led to the Street Offences Act of 1959.
About the conferences: These two events will differ in scope and focus: the London conference will take as its starting point ideas about how we construct histories of the era’s cinema and how we might better understand its legacies. The focus of the York symposium will be on showcasing a wide variety of the latest cutting-edge academic research on all aspects of 1960s British cinema in order to fully engage with the sheer dynamism of this era in British cinema history.
The symposium will be held at the Department of Theatre, Film and Television (TFTV), which is located on the University of York’s Heslington East campus. Register here.
On 13 July I will be presenting my paper entitled “Soho Nights, ‘warm-hearted tarts’ and the year ‘old England’ died: The World Ten Times Over (Wolf Rilla, 1963)” which will examine little-known box office flop ‘World Ten Times Over’ or ‘Pussycat Alley’ as it was renamed for the American film market, and its relationship to Soho and the permissive society at the Literary London Conference 2017 at the Institute of English Studies in Bloomsbury entitled ‘Fantastic London: Dream, Speculation and Nightmare’.
The official Conference Programme can be found online here
If you fancy coming along you can register for the symposium here.
Mapping in Arts & Humanities Workshop
Over the last two weeks I have been very fortune to have participated (and presented) at ‘Mapping in Arts and Humanities’ workshops run by Dr. Mark Shiel (King’s College London) and Dr. Roland-François Lack (UCL). Supported by the London Arts and Humanities Partnership and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, these two half-day workshops took place on 14th and 21st June, one at King’s and the other at UCL. Partly aiming to broaden relationships between early researchers and PhD students, these workshops explored multi-displinary approaches to mapping in arts & humanities research, particularly through the medium of cinema but invited researchers across a diverse range of fields from geography to the social sciences.
There will also be a more formal symposium on the 27th June at UCL with a keynote address from Shannon Mattern from the New School for Social Research, New York. You can purchase free tickets for the event here.
Theories and practices of mapping have been increasingly prominent and influential in arts and humanities research in the past twenty years. The histories of art, architecture, film, literature, and other cultural forms have been retold from geographical, spatial perspectives, across disciplinary lines, by Giuliana Bruno, Denis Cosgrove, Tom Conley, Thomas Da Costa Kauffmann, Rob Kitchin, Franco Moretti, Ricardo Padron, and Todd Presner, to name just a few. Drawing on rich influences in geography, sociology, architecture and urban planning, these scholars and others have used maps to rethink art, culture, and the humanities, or vice versa. As such, mapping has become one of the key tools by which arts and humanities researchers have collaborated and innovated, and by which they have interacted with the social sciences.
Many arts and humanities researchers today seek to incorporate maps and mapping in their research, and yet provision of training and opportunities for critical reflection are rare in this specific cross-disciplinary area. This is despite the fact that digital technologies have made mapping increasingly feasible and sophisticated, in technical terms, even for those without specialist cartographic training. Mapping has also become increasingly informative and rewarding methodologically – e.g. what Todd Presner calls “thick mapping” – as a complement to, or, for some, even a replacement for, certain, more traditional aspects of research.
The first workshop was led by Dr. Mark Shiel (my own supervisor at KCL!) and explored mapping Los Angeles and the film industry. We were firstly broken off into groups and given 4 sets of maps: Geological Survey, City and Transportation, Movie (or ‘Guide to the Stars’) and Sanborn fire insurance maps. We were asked to identify similarities and differences over time, the ways in which maps displayed the city’s ambition to grow and develop into a modern city (especially interesting – the development of ‘freeways’ and implications for America’s obsession with the automobile), promotional power of Hollywood ‘fan’ maps and their hierarchical nature particularly in presenting Hollywood stars homes and haunts. We also watched clips capturing various urban locations frequently used within the city of Los Angeles which included inter-textual films such as A Star is Born (1937), a technicolour ‘behind-the-scenes’ film on the movie business.
We were also asked to bring one map, in digital form which related to our research. We had an opportunity to share our maps with the group and discuss. We also heard from other researchers Ruth Slatter (UCL) on her work mapping Highgate and Bow Methodism 1851 – 1932, and Chengyang Xie (Portsmouth University) presenting on Historical London Maps.
The second workshop was led by Dr. Roland-François Lack at UCL (on the hottest day of the year!) where we looked at the relationship between maps and films, starting from the idea of mapping a film, either plotting elements of a film onto an existent map or actually drawing a map to represent elements of the film. We then worked in groups on a small corpus of early English films, made at Robert Paul’s studio in North London between 1903 and 1906. One task (a psuedo-quiz!) involved watching one of Paul’s films A Victim of Misfortune, also known as The Unfortunate Policeman (1905) before comparing shot(s) with Dr. Lack’s photographs of the location today and were asked to identify them. It was quite the challenge but ultimately this task raised questions amongst the researchers such as film’s ability and use as a topographical tool. We also looked and discussed the locality of London studios, a marvellous thing to behold.
Further can be found on Dr. Lack’s fantastic blog the Cine Tourist
My fellow Cities in Crisis partner (and fellow KCL researcher) Anna Viola Sborgi presented a very interesting talk on the limitations of online/digital mapping including the BFI Player / Britain on Film and the Cinematic Geographies of Battersea
I was also given the opportunity to present my first ever ‘film map’ (created via the now-defunct Google Map Maker) which chronicles the opening sequence of the Small World of Sammy Lee (Ken Hughes, 1963). This piece of B-British realism is one of the only films to feature an extended sequence on-location in Soho in this period. I enjoyed every minute of making this map and I hope to incorporate maps somehow into my final thesis (perhaps an appendix). It may not be entirely accurate (bear with me!)
These workshops were incredibly fascinating and eye-opening as to the scope of what maps may show us about society (and cinema) including the severe lack of cross-collaboration between departments such as fine art, geography, film, languages… and hopefully all who participated have made great progress in this regard and we all certainly will keep in touch with updates of our ongoing or completed research.
You can see and read more on the workshop at Anna Viola Sborgi and I’s ‘Cities in Crisis’ Twitter feed and do remember to register for the Mapping Symposium at UCL!