Silent Cinema and the Transition to Sound Colloquium 23rd May – 24th May


Silent Cinema and the Transition to Sound Colloquium at Stirling University, 23rd-24th May 2016 – All Welcome!

The transition from silent to synchronised sound cinema in Britain between 1927 and 1933 was a period which changed British cinema as both industry and art form forever, but which has largely been overlooked by cinema historians.

This colloquium will examine the arrival of sound across the industry in terms of economics, employment, technology and infrastructure, as well as the shift in film form and style including its impact on production, distribution, exhibition, reception and critique.


Monday 23rd May – From 10am to 1pm the University of Stirling Archive, in the University Library, will be open for delegates to view the 1920s/30s cinema collections, including the John Grierson and Musician’s Union archives.

12-1pm Arrival and Registration

1-2pm Opening Plenary/Screening (Norman McLaren Filmhouse)
Geoff Brown (De Montfort University), ‘When Britannia Ruled the Soundwaves: Britain’s Transition to Sound in its European Context’
2-3.30pm Panel Session 1: Last of the Scottish Silents (Playhouse)
Chair: Maria A. Velez-Serna (University of Stirling)
Caroline Merz (University of Edinburgh), ‘A True Tale of Empire Pioneer Work’
Julia Bohlmann (University of Glasgow), ‘From Wholesome Viewing to Wholesale Films: ‘Early Co-operative Cinema in Scotland, 1902-1928’
Trevor Griffiths (University of Edinburgh), ‘The Talkies Triumphant: The Response of Scottish Cinema Exhibitors to the Coming of Sound’
3.30-4pm tea/coffee break

4-5pm Plenary (Norman McLaren Filmhouse)
Tell England (Anthony Asquith, 1931)
Bryony Dixon (British Film Institute)
5-6.30pm Panel Session 2: British Cinema and the Period of Transition (Playhouse)
John Ritchie (University of Stirling) ‘Harry Lauder and Will Fyffe: Being Scottish in Early Sound Cinema’
Julie Brown (Royal Holloway) ‘”Better than any of the eight super-cinemas near Broadway”: Walter Wanger at the Royal Opera House, 1921-22’
Chris O’Rourke (University College London), ‘Houses of Silent Shadow: London’s early repertory cinemas and the Transition to Sound’
6.45pm Plenary (Norman McLaren Filmhouse)
Rick Altman (Professor Emeritus, University of Iowa), ‘The Early Cinema Soundscape’
7.45pm Reception (hosted by the Stirling Centre for Scottish Studies)
8.15pm Dinner (at the MacRobert – included in the registration fee)
9.15pm Screening (Norman McLaren Filmhouse)
The Loves of Robert Burns (Herbert Wilcox, 1930) 1:36, 35mm
Tuesday 24th May

9-11am Panel Session 3: Multiple Voices (Playhouse)
Paola Maganzani (University of Bologna), ‘Multiple Voices in the early thirties: a comparison between Sunshine Susie (V. Saville 1932) and Die Privatsekretärin (W. Thiele, 1931)’
Maike Helmers (Bournemouth University), ‘Early German Sound Film’.
Özge Özyılmaz (Istanbul Sehir University), ‘Transition to Sound Film in Turkey’.
11-11.30am coffee/tea break

11.30am-1pm Panel Session 4: Cinema, Architecture and Design (Playhouse)
Nyasha Sibanda (De Montfort University), ‘A Portrait of a Cinema: What the Business Records of a Birmingham Cinema Might Tell Us About the Coming of Sound’
Bruce Peter (Glasgow School of Art), ‘Cinema Architecture in Scotland from the 1900s until the late-1920s’
Sarah Neely (University of Stirling), ‘Cinema Design and the Coming of Sound: The Construction of Ritz Cinema in Edinburgh, 1929’
1-2pm Lunch – delegates are free to explore the various lunch options on campus

2-3pm Plenary/Screening (Norman McLaren Filmhouse)
Sunny Days (dir. Ronald Jay, 1931)
Ruth Washbrook/Emily Munro TBC (National Library Scotland/Moving Image Archive)
3-4pm Panel Session 5 (Playhouse)
Researching Early Cinema and the Period of Transition
Darren Manson (Cinema for Thurso)
Tony Fletcher (The Cinema Museum)
Bryony Dixon (British Film Institute)
4-4.30pm tea/coffee break

4.30pm Closing Plenary (Norman McLaren Filmhouse)
Laraine Porter (De Montfort University), ‘Okay for Sound? The reception of early talkies in Britain’
5.30pm Screening (Norman McLaren Filmhouse)
A Cottage on Dartmoor (Anthony Asquith, 1929) 1:27, with live piano accompaniment by Stephen Horne
7pm Conference close
After the conference, delegates are invited to meet at the Meadow Park (a short walk from the entrance of the University) for dinner. Please let organisers know if you would like to join us. We will book a table for all in advance.
Recommended reading: The Multiple-Language Version Film: A Curious Moment in Cinema History

Registration Fees

Full rate £100
Early-bird (before April 1st) £80
Students/Unwaged £70
Day rate £50
All registration fees include dinner on the first evening.

Registration Fees

Full rate £100
Early-bird (before April 1st) £80
Students/Unwaged £70
Day rate £50

All registration fees include dinner on the first evening.

Register here:

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