Words on the screen


First the classics, now the Eng Lit department – UK universities are discovering silent films and examining them in welcome new ways. The Film and Literature Programme, Department of English and Related Literature at the University of York is organising a one-day symposium on silent cinema and literature on Friday 1 May, led by the university’s Judith Buchanan, whose forthcoming book on silent Shakespeare films will receive close attention here once it has forthcome.

Here’s the blurb on the symposium:

Silent Cinema and Literature

One-day Symposium

Friday 1 May 2009

University of York, 9.30am-6.30pm

  • Lawrence Rainey: ‘Modern melodrama: Chickie (1925)’
  • Erica Sheen: ‘Imperishable bodies: Graham Greene’s A Little Place Off the Edgeware Road
  • Judith Buchanan: ‘The biblical, the literary and the olfactory: synaesthetics in MGM’s 1925 Ben Hur
  • Lawrence Napper: on British cinema of the 1920s (title tbc)
  • Jon Burrows: ‘“A Vague Chinese Quarter Elsewhere”: The Cinematic Mapping of Thomas Burke’s Limehouse, 1919-1936’
  • Andrew Higson: ‘Becoming Michael Curtiz: “European” cinema, literary connections, and the challenge of Hollywood in the 1920s’

The day will end with a roundtable discussion of issues of shared interest followed by a drinks reception. To register, please email Emily Blewitt: seb518 [at] york.ac.uk.

Full registration (including refreshments and lunch): £25
Student registration (including refreshments and lunch): £10
University of York Department of English students: free registration

(Early registration is advised since places are limited.)

Let’s have more of this – medical departments looking at the work of Jean Comandon and other such pioneers, history departments considering the significance of early newsreels, art classes looking at 1920s set designs, geography students considering pioneering travelogues for their topographical content, medievalists looking at how their age is depicted in one-reelers, sport studies assessing the correct running speeds for silent films of … runners. Just so long as they tell us something new and jolt us out of our complacency.

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