Purple leaf

Classical Hollywood Studies in the 21st Century Conference

Laurier’s Film Studies Program is hosting the Classical Hollywood Studies in the 21st Century Conference (May 10-13, 2018).

The conference explores where academic inquiry on classical Hollywood cinema has gone, where it is now, and — most importantly — where it is going. This event will provide a forum for leading and emerging scholars Film Studies to share new ideas, research, methods and approaches to studying a mode of cinema that exerted unparalleled influence on contemporary and global filmmaking. To broaden the impact and reach of this event, the conference has partnered with leading organizations such as Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), Waterloo’s Princess Cinemas, and Kitchener’s Apollo Cinema. Featuring a keynote lecture by David Bordwell, one of the most illustrious and influential scholars on classical Hollywood cinema, the conference also includes panels that address the relationship between Hollywood and national cinemas, as well as that between classical and postclassical filmmaking.

The study of classical Hollywood cinema, defined by the body of films produced by American motion picture studios between 1917 and 1960 (the “studio era”), was the central preoccupation of Film Studies when the discipline emerged as an area of serious academic inquiry in the 1960s. Initially informed by theories of authorship and genre, scholarship on studio-era filmmaking was invigorated in 1985 with the publication of The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960, which inspired scholars’ turn toward the relationship between film artistry and industry. After decades during which Film Studies proliferated and generated numerous subfields, studies of classical Hollywood cinema in recent years has undergone expansive growth and critical reassessment, influenced by the emergence of new methodologies, technological resources, and archival discoveries that have brought to light largely forgotten histories of the studio era, from its African-American audiences to its women screenwriters to its independent productions. Not only do these new modes and subjects of analysis offer a critical reassessment of classical Hollywood film, but they also have a profound relevance to current cultural and political efforts to articulate the role of cinema in shaping societal norms. Armed with new resources such as the Media History Digital Library and networks such as the Classical Hollywood Scholarly Interest Group of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, scholars are better equipped than ever to account for new methods, interdisciplinary connections, and archival discoveries as they pertain to classical studio cinema.

For more information about the conference, its speakers, and papers, please check out the website. Following the conference, videos of selected presentations will be posted and available to view.

Conference Organizers

  • Dr. Philippa Gates, Professor of Film Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University
  • Dr. Katherine Spring, Associate Professor of Film Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University


  • Dr. Stefan Brandt, Professor of American Studies, University of Graz
  • Dr. Helen Hanson, Senior Lecturer in Film Studies, University of Exeter


The conference received extensive support from various departments and offices at Wilfrid Laurier University, leading Canadian industry partners, local organizations in Kitchener-Waterloo, and SSHRC. The conference organizers thank the following institutions for their support:

  • Apollo Cinema, Kitchener
  • Alumni Relations, Wilfrid Laurier University
  • Department of Communication Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University
  • Department of English and Film Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University
  • Faculty of Arts, Wilfrid Laurier University
  • Office of the President and Vice-Chancellor, Wilfrid Laurier University
  • Office of the Provost and Vice-President: Academic, Wilfrid Laurier University
  • Office of Research Services, Wilfrid Laurier University
  • Princess Cinemas, Waterloo
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
  • Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)