Dr Lisa Stead

Research interests

My research interests include:

  • feminism and film history
  • women’s cinema
  • women’s writing and print cultures of film
  • adaptation
  • cinema and intermediality
  • interwar cinema
  • film audiences and reception
  • modernism, modernity and the movies
  • archival theory and practice
  • historical fandoms
  • star studies
  • location filming histories


My research has primarily focused on the relationships between literature, gender and audiences in the early and interwar periods, looking at intermedial exchanges between women's film and print culture. My monograph titled Off to the Pictures: Cinemagoing, Women’s Writing and Movie Culture in Interwar Britain was published with Edinburgh University Press in 2016. The book explores women’s intermedial fictions surrounding the first three decades of UK film culture. It gives new understanding to female-created cultures of cinema and their influence on women’s everyday lives through an original exploration of short stories, middlebrow and modernist literature, tabloid criticism, and a wealth of ephemera.

My current research focuses on archives, women’s creative labour, and feminist film historiography. This work is primarily focused on a case study of the archival histories of Vivien Leigh (1913-1967), reframing one of the twentieth century’s most iconic female stars through her diverse and dispersed archives. In July 2018 I was awarded an AHRC Early Career Leadership Fellowship for the Reframing Vivien Leigh: stardom, archives and acess project, which will run for 20 months from January 2019, and involves collaborative partnerships with the University of Exeter and the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum, Topsham Museum, and curatorial experts at the Victoria & Albert Museum. The project explores regional film histories and curatorial practice for preserving women's star legacies. It will include a project symposium, public exhibitions, and the creation of a variety of new digital resources -- including a new podcast series and Story Map resource tracing the movement of archival objects from Hollywood film sets to regional museums. The project will produce detailed new research around museum artefacts that tell of Leigh's unique South West connections and meanings - including costumes, correspondence, scrapbooks and memorabilia -- and the curatorial stories that have resulted in their acquisition and regional significance.

My book on the topic, titled Reframing Vivien Leigh: stardom, gender and the archive, is forthcoming with Oxford University Press in 2020.

This work has its foundation in my wider research around archival theory and practice, leading on from my co-edited collection (with Dr Carrie Smith) The Boundaries of the Literary Archive (Ashgate 2013), and a series of archive-focused research activities including grant capture within the AHRC Beyond Text scheme. I ran a project titled Object Stories in 2015 with Dr Helen Hanson (Exeter), exploring the history of archival objects held at Exeter’s Bill Douglas Cinema museum through a series of online video essays. You can view my video essay here. You can also read my blog about the project and working with a student filmmaker on the Exeter Humanities Blog.

Research collaborations

Much of my current and ongoing research project work is fundamentally collaborative. I work with academics across institutions and disciplines, and with non-academic partners including charities, archives and museums.

I run an ongoing project titled Filming Rural England in collaboration with Dr Lavinia Brydon of the University of Kent. The project focuses on the impact of location filming on regional spaces and communities, and how memories of filming are archived and accessed. We launched the project with a community case study in the village of Chilham, Kent. You can read about the project on our Filming Rural England Blog. In 2017 we published a piece with SERIES journal on location filming for the BBC adaptation of Emma.

I was also Co-Investigator of the AHRC Connected Communities funded project Lost Spaces (2015). This project was a collaboration with Dr Dai O’Brien (PI, York St Johns), Dr Nick Nourse (University of Bristol), the Deaf Studies Trust, and the British Deaf Association. It explored the loss of Deaf community spaces and Deaf heritage in Bristol. The project included a series of Deaf filmmaking and poetry workshops in Bristol, alongside a heritage community event and awareness march through Bristol city centre. Our project documentary was screened this summer at the Watershed in Bristol.

I am about to embark on a project funded by an AHRC ECR Leadership Fellowship titled Reframing Vivien Leigh: Stardom, Archive and Access in collaboration with Topsham Museum, The Royal Albert Memorial Museum, The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum and curators at the Victoria & Albert Museum.