Film & history conference 2016

I’m delighted to announce that I will be attending and presenting at this year’s Film & history conference in Milwaukee, Wisconsin!

While not my first visit to America, it will be my first to Milwaukee, and the first time I’ve been able to attend a Film and history conference.


When I saw the theme for this year’s conference in the call for papers – Gods & Heretics: Figures of Power and Subversion in Film & Television – I immediately thought of the individuals, organisations and publications I had read when researching Reframing the Past.

My paper is explores who the gods (and goddesses) and heretics of Screened History were and are, and the various acts of heresy and hubris (including my own) that have so characterised the field over the years:

Gods, heretics & hubris: reframing the past of history, film and television

In 2004 I began a journey to follow the footsteps of the ‘gods’ of film and history, to find the origins of the field so that I could try and understand where it had begun, and why historians working with film and television were still so often seen as ‘heretics’ by mainstream history. That journey resulted in a PhD – which saw me labeled a heretic by one examiner – and with the support of a number of the ‘gods’ of the field, it also resulted in the book Reframing the past: history, film and television. The book traced what historians have written about film and television from 1898 until the early 2000s. In an act of heresy (perhaps hubris) on my part, its central argument is that historical engagement with film and television should be reconceptualised as Screened History: an interdisciplinary, international field of research incorporating and replacing what has been known as ‘History and Film’.

My presentation will explore the challenges of being an outsider ‘looking in’ on a number of close-knit intellectual communities, of writing a ‘history’ from written documentation when some those of who lived it are still with us, and what the possibilities might be for future histories building on my heretical act. No longer ‘just’ a historian, but not ‘yet’ a film scholar, what does it mean to be a screened historian? Is it still the ultimate act of heresy?

So I am currently refining my paper and finalising the trip … might see you there!

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