British Cinema

Amy Sargeant

in Cinema and Media Studies

ISBN: 9780199791286
Published online October 2011 | | DOI:
British Cinema


Before the 1960s, much historical and critical writing on British cinema was generated outside of the academy—for instance, a multivolume, largely economic history of the silent period, subsequently republished in the 1990s, was commissioned by the British Film Institute and sought extant personnel as consultants. With the introduction of film courses to British universities came an unfortunate prejudice against the homegrown product, largely inherited from European commentators. A small contingent of trailblazers then led a group of writers, teachers, and disciples who did not affect to despise British films and who found British cinema a worthwhile subject of study and analysis. British cinema became no longer “an unknown continent.” The number of designated courses has proliferated alongside the publication of increasingly specialized and focused monographs and edited collections, devoted to specific periods, genres, themes, individual directors, individual films, and individual stars and actors (a distinction recurrently made in British cinema discourse). In recent years, attention has broadened from discussions of British cinema as narrowly “national” (something possibly peculiar and insular) to a just appreciation of demonstrable transnational exchanges in historical and contemporary contexts. Coverage has correspondingly deepened, with volumes devoted to particular roles in production: cinematography, composition, editing, and set and costume design. It has also extended to “cult” and “alternative” areas of production and reception, addressing not only films that fall into these provisional categories but also their audiences. Fandom itself has become a topic of investigation. Furthermore, a trend toward “bottom-up” history and a reevaluation of personal and collective memory as the basis for the writing of history have encouraged both investigation of the cinema in Britain as a social space and a broader investigation of mainstream and underground film culture.

Article.  10575 words. 

Subjects: Media Studies ; Film ; Radio ; Television

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