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‘To Be a Woman’: Female Labour and Memory in Documentary Film Production, 1929–50

Fox, J.

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Authors

J. Fox



Abstract

Despite extensive scholarship on British documentary in the period from 1929 to 1950, the role of female documentary film-makers has received relatively little attention, partly due to their fragmented and partial ‘archival trace’. Combining neglected materials in the BECTU oral history project, the personnel records of the GPO Film Unit, and the personal papers of leading female documentarists, this article challenges the standard narrative of wartime opportunity and postwar decline that tends to characterise the examination of women's employment more broadly in this period. It uses women's experience in documentary film production to offer a more complex explanation of the effect of war within a wider chronological framework and within the context of workflow, labour patterns, training and networks within the industry itself. It examines female documentarists’ own accounts, through oral histories, to suggest that such sources should be ‘read against the light’ to offer insights into the memory of the Second World War, contending that the place of gender in defining individual careers both during and after the conflict remains contested, a site of the continued struggle for professional recognition, achievement and identity.

Citation

Fox, J. (2013). ‘To Be a Woman’: Female Labour and Memory in Documentary Film Production, 1929–50. Journal of British Cinema and Television, 10(1), 584-602. https://doi.org/10.3366/jbctv.2013.0159

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jul 1, 2013
Deposit Date Dec 17, 2012
Publicly Available Date Sep 6, 2013
Journal Journal of British Cinema and Television
Print ISSN 1743-4521
Electronic ISSN 1755-1714
Publisher Edinburgh University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 10
Issue 1
Pages 584-602
DOI https://doi.org/10.3366/jbctv.2013.0159
Keywords Documentary, Evelyn Spice, Jill Craigie, Kay Mander, Margaret Thomson, Marion Grierson, Muriel Box, Ruby Grierson, Second World War, Women.

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