CFP: Stardom and the Archive

Posted on Apr 30, 2019

From Dr. Lisa Stead, Senior Lecturer in Film Studies, University of Exeter,

Stardom and the Archive: an International Symposium

Followed by a public exhibition event on Sunday 9th February 2020

University of Exeter, Devon, UK


Confirmed Keynotes:


Professor Maryanne Dever

(Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Technology Sydney)


Dr. Lucy Bolton

(School of Languages, Linguistics and Film, Queen Mary University of London)

New developments in star studies have been led by a number of recent and innovative scholarly collections, such as Lasting Screen Stars (Palgrave Macmillan 2016); Revisiting Star Studies(EUP 2017); and the BFI’s recent Film Star Series publications, all of which challenge traditional Hollywood-defined models of stardom and foreground innovative new methods in star studies research.

Within this this newly energised focus on ways of ‘doing’ star studies, fresh attention needs to be given to the material as well as aesthetic legacies of star images: in particular, the way that heritage institutions, ‘unofficial’ organisations and individual collectors have preserved and made use of the material legacy of film stardom. Conventional critical discourse focuses overwhelmingly on the findings of archival research rather than the process with scholarship telling ‘a story about what you found, but not about how you found it.’ (Kaplan 1990: 103) The Stardom and the Archive symposium seeks to challenge this convention by centralising archival process and curatorial histories in researching stardom. The symposium aims to create opportunities for new collaborations and shared innovations by bringing scholars and archivists together.

Building on recent scholarship by critics such as Anne Helen Petersen and her work on Gloria Swanson (2013) at the Harry Ransom Centre archives, Jennifer Barnes’ research into Laurence Olivier (2017) in the British Library, and Maryanne Dever’s work on Greta Garbo’s archives and LGBTQ star histories (2017), the symposium seeks to explore the stories that archival objects tell about star meanings and legacies. In tandem, the symposium seeks to analyse the experiences of those whose creative and pragmatic labours have helped sustain such legacies. In doing so, the aim is to encourage participants to consider star history as a site of archival policy and discourse, and in turn consider the potential value of the archive as a way to ‘review received notions of what and who counts in film history’ (Callahan 2010: 3).

Specific topics for paper and presentation proposals might include, but are not limited to:

  • archival correspondence and stardom
  • business archives for performers
  • stars and memorial
  • archiving performance
  • the star body and the archive
  • star voice and material records
  • ‘localising’ / locating stardom
  • star museums / stars in the museum
  • archiving transnational stardom
  • curatorial practices for star archives
  • dispersed collections
  • non-‘star’ actor archives for film performers
  • acts of collecting and preserving
  • amateur archival practice / private collections
  • television stars and the archive
  • digital / digitising star archives
  • gender, stardom and the archive
  • stardom and archival ephemera
  • feminist and queer approaches to stardom and the archive
  • archiving star labour
  • non-paper artefacts in star archives
  • methods for locating collections
  • impact and public engagement work with star archives
  • questions of access

Proposals of 300 words for 20-minute papers should be sent, together with a 100-word biographical statement, by 31 May 2019. Proposals for video essay presentations are also very welcome.

Panel and round-table proposals, particularly those that that seek to employ less conventional modes of presentation, are also encouraged.

x5 Postgraduate Bursaries at a value of £180 each are available for the event to support travel and accommodation. If you would like to be considered for a bursary, please submit a brief statement (no more than 500 words) about your research and its relevance to the symposium along with your proposal.

The symposium will be followed by a free public exhibition event on Sunday 9th February 2020, held at Exeter’s Digital Humanities Lab, which all delegates are welcome to attend, including a networking brunch. This event will showcase outputs from the AHRC funded Reframing Vivien Leigh: Stardom, Archives and Access project, including the launch of a new podcast series and StoryMap, and will feature archival items on display, readings, and talks from South West based archivists and curators.

Further event information can be found on the Stardom and the Archive blog:  If you have any queries about accessibility, or any other queries about the event including transport and accommodation advice, please contact the organiser directly:

Dr. Lisa Stead, Senior Lecturer in Film Studies, University of Exeter,

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