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Women Film Pioneers Symposium

Apr 19, 2019 @ 1:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Join us for our Women Film Pioneers Symposium on April 19! This half-day event is scheduled in conjunction with three programs of films by early women directors at the Oriental Theatre on Friday night, Saturday afternoon, and Saturday night, organized by Milwaukee Film.

About the Symposium

Film and media scholars have long been interested in questions of gender equity and representation, from theorizing gender to restoring the historical contributions of women as subjects, producers, and spectators. In recent years this work has been facilitated by a return to the archives and their material sources: from newspaper clippings and correspondence to production files and film prints.

As this research has revealed, women’s participation in the first decades of cinema was much more extensive than previously thought. Not only as colorists, camera operators, and exhibitors, but also as screenwriters, directors, and producers, women played an integral role in the early artistic development of the medium, bringing unique viewpoints and an imaginative exploration of crucial topics of the time, many of which remain surprisingly relevant today. The Women Film Pioneers Symposium brings four leading early cinema scholars together to explore questions of historiography, archival research, and affect.

Organized by Hugo Ljungbäck and Tami Williams. Milwaukee Film screenings curated by Tami Williams, with Haley Richards.


  • Jane Gaines, “Pink-Slipped: What Happened to Women in the Silent Film Industries?”
  • Jennifer M. Bean, “Feminist Curiosity, Genre Films, and the Poetics of Wonder”
  • Maggie Hennefeld, “Anything But a Dead Letter: Archives of Laughter, Film, and Feminism”
  • Shelley Stamp, “Women and the Silent Screen: A Short History of the History”

About the Speakers:

Jane Gaines is Professor of Film at Columbia University. She is author of Contested Culture: The Image, the Voice, and the Law (1991), Fire and Desire: Mixed Race Movies in the Silent Era (2001), and Pink-Slipped: What Happened to Women in the Silent Film Industries? (2018), and founder of the Women Film Pioneers Project. She won the Society for Cinema and Media Studies Distinguished Career Award in 2018.

Jennifer M. Bean is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Washington. She is co-editor of Silent Cinema and the Politics of Space (2014) and A Feminist Reader in Early Cinema (2002), and an advisory board member for the National Film Preservation Foundation and the British Film Institute. She is currently an NEH Digital Humanities fellow for “Junking Modernity.”

Maggie Hennefeld is Assistant Professor of Cultural Studies & Comparative Literature at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She is author of Specters of Slapstick and Silent Film Comediennes (2018) and co-editor of Unwatchable (2019) and Abjection Incorporated (forthcoming). She is currently a Mellon Faculty Fellow in residence at Princeton University’s Institute for Advanced Study in the School of Historical Studies.

Shelley Stamp holds the Presidential Chair at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she is Professor of Film & Digital Media. She is author of Movie-Struck Girls: Women and Motion Picture Culture after the Nickelodeon (2000) and Lois Weber in Early Hollywood (2015). She also curated the DVD box set “Pioneers: First Women Filmmakers” and is co-writing a book on women and the silent screen in America.


Hosted by the Moving Image Society and co-sponsored by the Center for 21st Century Studies Media Studies Research Collaboratory, the Department of Journalism, Advertising, and Media Studies, the Department of English, the Film Studies Program, the Department of History, and the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies.


Apr 19, 2019
1:00 pm - 5:30 pm
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Curtin 175
3243 N Downer Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53211 United States
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