Revisiting Women’s Labour in UK Film Culture Using The C. A. Lejeune Archive

Victoria Lowe (Lecturer in Drama and Screen Studies, The University of Manchester)

Publicity pamphlet for Citizen Kane (Welles: 1941)
Publicity pamphlet for Citizen Kane (Welles: 1941)

This year long project, funded by the JRRI and the SALC Research Recovery fund, enables two researchers to conduct preliminary investigations into the newly acquired archive of C.A (Caroline Alice) Lejeune (1897-1973).

Lejeune was one of the most important film critics of her generation, with a newspaper column in the Observer from 1928 to 1960.

There has already been some excellent work on Lejeune (Bell: 2010, Bell: 2011, Stead: 2017), which recognises her substantial contribution to British film culture but they have focussed on her published work. Her archive provides the unique opportunity to examine the processes that went into the final published piece from initial contacts with producers and distributors, the writing of notes during screenings and editorial interventions before reviews and articles went into print.

An understanding of these processes enables not just a better grasp of the materiality and bodily labour of the female critic but also a richer understanding of film cultures in Britain at different historical moments and ‘the mediated contexts in which cinema is conceptualised, produced, distributed and experienced’ (Wasson, 2006:160).