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Suburbia, seaside and sensation: showing films in London and the south-east, 1896 – 1897

Bethel, Amy Louise (2015) Suburbia, seaside and sensation: showing films in London and the south-east, 1896 – 1897. PhD thesis, University of York.

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The study of film exhibition has become increasingly important in researching and interpreting the silent film period. In this context, it is crucial to understand how the British film-going experience emerged, laying the foundations for one of the key leisure pursuits of the twentieth century and beyond. This thesis examines a fascinating and distinct moment in the history of silent film. The resilience of films as an occasional form of entertainment during the first two years of commercial exhibition was due, in part, to the sensational aspects of the new medium, and to the activities of a range of travelling showmen and lanternists. The role of such individuals in suburban areas has been largely overlooked, while the role of the music hall and the frequency of film shows in this period have been overstated. I seek to redress this by showing that films arrived outside of large urban areas in a variety of settings, with lanternists occupying a crucial role. By employing an empirical and systematic methodological framework, I offer a new perspective by means of detailed case studies chronicling the exhibition of films in the suburban towns of Croydon, Ealing and Woolwich between 1896 and 1897. Focusing so precisely on the first two years of commercial exhibition enables a comprehensive study of the initial impact of the cinematograph and how film exhibition was working in that period. By means of a fourth case study, I re-appraise and re-position the role of lanternists and show the importance of these entrepreneurs in terms of film exhibition and their impact on the suburban London landscape. I also consider the broader theme of Sensation and how it relates to the film-going experience in this period.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Film exhibition; Film history; Silent film; British silent film history; Sensation; 1896; 1897; Victorian film exhibition; Suburbia; Lanternist; Croydon; Ealing; Woolwich; Cinematograph
Academic Units: The University of York > Theatre, Film & Television (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.721887
Depositing User: Mrs Amy Bethel
Date Deposited: 09 Aug 2017 14:15
Last Modified: 24 Jul 2018 15:22
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/17808

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