Calls for Papers

British Women Documentary Makers 1935 – 55

CALL FOR PAPERS:  British Women Documentary Filmmakers 1930-1955

Proposals are invited for a one-day symposium to be held at the London School of Economics on 5th April 2019.

As the work of filmmakers including Jill Craigie, Kay Mander and Marion Grierson testify, women have played a significant part in the early decades of British documentary and informational filmmaking. Women were a vital part of the war effort and this was apparent in the films made by the Ministry of Information as well as newsreels, documentaries and dramas. Women also worked behind the camera as directors, editors and scriptwriters on instructional and propaganda films. Yet much early British documentary history on Grierson and the Documentary Movement tends to elide the ways in which non-canonical works engage differently with questions of the nation, gender, class and identity and the ways in which form and content are linked to context of production.

This one-day symposium seeks to deepen understanding of women’s creative presence in British documentary film-making. Papers may explore individual films and filmmakers, as well as the industrial, social and historical contexts in which they worked. While WWII has been foregrounded in accounts of women’s participation in British film production, the day will consider a longer historical period including the innovations in documentary of the 1930s and the changing industry of the post-war period.


Topics and questions might include:

  • Women working within informational filmmaking
  • New approaches to women and non-fiction filmmaking in wartime and/or post-war period
  • How do emerging accounts of women’s role in the industry reshape standard accounts of documentary?
  • What can individual careers tell us about the obstacles and opportunities faced by women in the sector at different times within the period?
  • Does the study of women’s participation in film problematize dominant conceptions of ‘talent’, creativity and authorship?
  • The impact of distribution and reception on historical awareness of films by women
  • How can wider histories of women’s work during World War inform studies of women’s labour in film?
  • Feminist film historiographies and documentary film-making
  • Emerging methodologies for constructing women’s film histories


Please email abstracts of 300-500 words, 3-5 keywords and up to 5 key references to: Deadline for submissions is 17.00 on 1 November 2018.

We welcome proposals for presentations in audio-visual forms such as video essays, practice-led submissions etc. Please note:

  • The abstract should be in word format as an attachment with your Surname and Initials as the file name and please make sure you put BWDF in the subject line.
  • Please also include a 100 word bio.
  • Please include your NAME, EMAIL ADDRESS AND INSTITUTION (if any) on the proposal/abstract itself.
  • Any queries please contact: Kate Steward

We will respond to submissions by 30th November 2018.

The symposium is funded by The Arts and Humanities Research Council as part of the project, Jill Craigie: Film Pioneer, led by Lizzie Thynne (PI, University of Sussex),  Yvonne Tasker (Co-I, University of East Anglia) and Sadie Wearing (Co-I, LSE). We anticipate producing a journal issue from selected papers.