Dr. Sheldon Hall’s ‘Figures in Focus’ in the new edition of Picture House, the Cinema Theatre Association’s annual journal

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Dr Sheldon Hall, Reader in Stage & Screen, Department of Humanities, has published an article written in conjunction with thirty undergraduate students taking courses in Film Studies and Screenwriting & Film.

The 15,000-word article, ‘Figures in Focus’, appears in the new edition of Picture House, the annual journal of the Cinema Theatre Association. It was based on the students’ analysis of surviving documents from Focus Cinemas, Sevenoaks, which formed part of a case study of cinema-going in the late 1970s. Sheldon then wrote up their findings for the article, which explains its origins in the first-year module Film Consumption.

One of the students on the project, Ellie Scholey-Strzala, commented in the article: ‘These precious primary sources give us an insight into the world of cinema in 1978 that is totally unavailable in the form of secondary accounts… the documents are so full of information and do a fantastic job of educating us. It also becomes apparent that in over 40 years, the cinema-going experience has not changed as much as many may think it has.’

Picture House has been published since 1982 and is widely read by scholars and lay readers interested in the history of film exhibition and cinema buildings. Introduced by journal editor Allen Eyles as ‘a unique research collaboration between students and teacher’, the article quotes and credits all thirty students by name, all of whom will receive a complimentary copy of the journal, and some will even find their photograph in its pages!

Sheldon comments: ‘I’m proud of the effort all the students put into this project, which gave them the opportunity to engage in original, real-world research using rare primary sources and to have their work appear in a prestigious journal. At a relatively early stage of their academic careers, they demonstrated high-level skills in the interpretation of documents from long before most of them were born. I hope the experience has given them a taste for the rewards of scholarly research!’