The coming of the projectionettes: women’s work and changing modes of spectatorship in British cinemas in the Second World War

Harrison, R. (2016) The coming of the projectionettes: women’s work and changing modes of spectatorship in British cinemas in the Second World War. Feminist Media Histories, 2(2), pp. 47-70. (doi:10.1525/fmh.2016.2.2.47)

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Abstract

This article investigates women’s roles as cinema projectionists, and transformations in women’s spectatorship, in Britain during World War II. Between 1939 and 1945 the British Cinematograph Exhibitors’ Association (CEA), among other organizations, encouraged women to train as projectionists when the government conscripted men into the armed forces. The “projectionettes” experienced unequal pay, often chaotic training pro- grams, and patronizingly sexualized portrayals in contemporary press reports. Yet without women projectionists, British cinemas would not have been able to operate during the war. This essay traces their histories and daily working lives through archival materials and the trade press. Moreover, by situating their work in a broader narrative about gendered spectatorship, the article proposes that owing to changing labor conditions, women gained new perspectives through their experiences in the movie theater. Investigating women projectionists is a valuable strategy in a broader reexamination of British film exhibition, points of view, and the proliferation of “women’s cinema” during wartime.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Published as Harrison, R. (2016) The coming of the projectionettes: women’s work and changing modes of spectatorship in British cinemas in the Second World War. Feminist Media Histories, 2(2), pp. 47-70. © 2016 by the Regents of the University of California. Copying and permissions notice: Authorization to copy this content beyond fair use (as specified in Sections 107 and 108 of the U. S. Copyright Law) for internal or personal use, or the internal or personal use of specific clients, is granted by the Regents of the University of California for libraries and other users, provided that they are registered with and pay the specified fee via Rightslink® or directly with the Copyright Clearance Center.
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Harrison, Rebecca
Authors: Harrison, R.
Subjects:D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
College/School:College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Theatre Film and TV Studies
Journal Name:Feminist Media Histories
Publisher:University of California Press
ISSN:2373-7492
ISSN (Online):2373-7492
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 Regents of the University of California
First Published:First published in Feminist Media Histories 2(2): 47-70
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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