Performance, realisation and reception

The AHRC-funded Beyond Text Network “The Sounds of Early Cinema in Britain” has issued a call for papers for The Sounds of Early Cinema in Britain: Performance, Realisation and Reception. The conference takes place Thursday 7-Friday 8 April 2011, at the Institute of Musical Research and the Barbican Centre, London. The deadline for abstracts is 30 November 2010. Here’s the invitation in their words:

We invite papers from all relevant disciplines for the last in a series of events designed to establish and develop a research network concerned with the sonic dimensions of “silent” film exhibition in Britain, interpreted in the broadest possible sense. Papers concerning the performance, presentation and/or reception of these sonic practices are particularly welcome, as are presentations by composers and performers. We are especially interested in papers on British practices, but welcome proposals facilitating comparisons.

Research questions might focus on:

  • Film accompaniment manuals and photoplay collections
  • Key British cinema performers
  • Sonic and musical practices in Britain compared to elsewhere, variations in practices according to county or region, rural versus urban setting, and exhibition context
  • Aspects of cine-variety
  • How differing sonic practices shape our understanding of silent films
  • Relationships between sonic practices and developments in the narrative structure and purpose of early films (e.g. educational, ‘stories’, newsreel, etc.)
  • The practice and/or reception of live accompaniment of early cinema in Britain today (avant garde/pop/historically conscious …)

They invite abstracts of 250 words for individual papers of up to 20 minutes, which should be e-mailed, as a Word attachment, to with the subject line: The Sounds of Early Cinema in Britain. They will also consider shorter presentations of around 10 minutes on specific issues relating to the conference themes. These may be grouped into a panel, or sent individually. You should include your name and title, institutional affiliation (if any), email address, and postal address.

As in 2009, the conference will be running alongside the peripatetic British Silent Film Festival 2011, which takes place 7-10 April 2011 at the Barbican. Papers that include a practice element (composition, performance) are particularly welcome for that day.

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, marking the subject line “PG Scholarships, The Sounds of Early Cinema in Britain: name, institution where studying, and an outline of their (related) research project.

More information about the Network, whose previous events have been advertised here, can be found

For questions about the conference or Network, please contact either Dr Julie Brown (Julie.Brown [at] or Dr Annette Davison (a.c.davison [at]

2 responses

  1. “Sonic practices” are not exactly music to the ears or eyes. I look forward to some silent films with accompaniment at the Barbican next year.

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