Women in the box: female projectionists in post-war British cinemas

Wallace, R., Harrison, R. and Brunsdon, C. (2018) Women in the box: female projectionists in post-war British cinemas. Journal of British Cinema and Television, 15(1), pp. 46-65. (doi:10.3366/jbctv.2018.0401)

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Cinema projection is usually understood to be a male-dominated occupation, with the projection box characterised as a gendered space separate from the more typically feminine front-of-house roles. Although this is a fairly accurate representation, it risks eliminating all traces of women's labour in the projection box. Previous work by David R. Williams (1997) and Rebecca Harrison (2016) has addressed the role of women projectionists during wartime, and this article begins to excavate a hidden history of women projectionists in a peacetime context. The article uses oral testimony from two women – Florence Barton and Joan Pearson – who worked as projectionists in the mid-twentieth century. Their accounts are presented in the article as two portraits, which aim to convey a sense of the women's everyday lives in the projection box, as well as think about implications that their stories have for our understanding of women's roles in projection more broadly. Of particular significance to both Barton and Pearson are the relationships that they had with their male colleagues, the possibilities afforded for career progression (and the different paths taken by the women) and the nature of projection work. The women's repeated assertions that they were expected to do the same jobs as their male counterparts form a key aspect of the interviews, which suggest there is scope for further investigation of women's labour specifically in projection boxes and in cinemas more generally.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This research was funded by the AHRC grant number AH/L008033/1 (The Projection Project, University of Warwick, 2014-18).
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Harrison, Rebecca
Authors: Wallace, R., Harrison, R., and Brunsdon, C.
Subjects:D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
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:Journal of British Cinema and Television
Publisher:Edinburgh University Press
ISSN (Online):1755-1714
Published Online:01 November 2017
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 Richard Wallace, Rebecca Harrison and Charlotte Brunsdon
First Published:First published in Journal of British Cinema and Television 15(1):46-65
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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