Sounds and silents

A call for papers has now been issued for The Sounds of Early Cinema in Britain: Textual, Material and Technological Sources, a conference being held 7-9 June 2009 at the Barbican, London. The conference is being organised as part of the Sounds of Early Cinema in Britain project, which is one of a network of project organised under the Arts & Humanities Research Council‘s Beyond Text programme.


AHRC-Funded Beyond Text Network “The Sounds of Early Cinema in Britain”

The Sounds of Early Cinema in Britain: Textual, Material, Technological Sources

Sunday 7th-Tuesday 9th June 2009

Institute of Musical Research and the Barbican, London, UK

We invite papers from interested parties from all related disciplines to participate in this, the first of four events to establish and develop a research network concerned with the variety of sonic and musical practices of “silent” film exhibition in Britain, interpreted in the broadest possible sense. Explorations of “sources” – of whatever kind – are particularly welcome, as are presentations by archivists, curators, and performers.

Potential topics might include:

  • Sonic and musical practices used alongside the exhibition of early film in Britain
  • The potential sources for understanding these practices
  • Their problems. How we might excavate them
  • The challenges that Britain faces in preserving the existing historical legacy of these sonic and musical practices, instruments, equipment, and spaces
  • Relationship between these practices and those of cinema’s antecedent forms in Britain
  • Distinctive musical practices pursued in Britain, compared to other countries
  • Perspectives from other disciplines, other countries
  • Use of eye-witness memory

Preference will be given to papers with a British focus, though we may be able to accommodate papers that explore the same issues in other national contexts.

Individual Papers: Abstracts of 250 words for individual papers of up to 25-30 minutes should be e-mailed, as a Word attachment, to Mrs Valerie James at music [at] We will also consider shorter presentations of around 15 minutes on specific issues relating to sources. Please include your name and title, institutional affiliation (if any), email address, and postal address.

Round tables: Round table organizers should provide an abstract of 700 words introducing the discussion topic for a 90 minute/2 hour presentation. All panel members must be listed (names and affiliations). The round table organizer is the chairperson and acts as moderator. Proposals should be e-mailed to Mrs Valerie James at music [at] as a Word attachment, along with your name and title, institutional affiliation (if any), email address, and postal address.

The deadline for all proposals is 9th January 2009.

Postgraduate scholarships: Postgraduate students working in this, and/or related areas may apply for one of two scholarships (to include basic travel and accommodation, and conference fee and refreshments). Applicants should send the following information to Mrs Valerie James music [at] name, institution where studying, and an outline of their (related) research project.

Should be fun. Start excavating.

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