Professor Robert Shail, Director of Research (Film, Music and Performing Arts) in Leeds School of Arts attended an exciting conference on Stardom and the Archive at Exeter University, 8-9 February 2020. The conference featured papers from a range of international scholars examining the various ways in which archival materials can be used to understand the changing face of film stardom. Topics covered included the intermedial stardom of Diana Dors, an analysis of film star graves and memorials, and a discussion of Cary Grant and his hometown of Bristol.
Professor Shail’s paper was entitled ‘Press Books and the Construction of Stardom in 1960s British Cinema: A Case Study from the BFI Archives’. It focussed on the historical collection of press books held by the British Film Institute. Press books were distributed to cinema managers to assist them in promoting new film releases and often made extensive use of film star images as advertising. Professor Shail’s paper took the example of Albert Finney to look at how images of masculinity, class, and national identity changed during the 1960s.
‘This was a wonderful opportunity for film scholars from around the world to look at the latest approaches to curation and archival sources with a special focus on how we understand the role of stars’, commented Professor Shail. The event finished with the launch of the AHRC-funded ‘The Reframing of Vivien Leigh’ project and exhibition.