Photo of Professor Helen Hanson

Professor Helen Hanson

Associate Professor


Extension: 4262

Telephone: 01392 724262

CV for Professor Helen Hanson

Twitter: @helenexeter

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Helen Hanson is Associate Professor in Film History at the University of Exeter.  She is currently Academic Director of the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum

She is the author of Hollywood Soundscapes: Film Sound Style, Craft and Production in the Classical Era (2017),  Hollywood Heroines: Women in Film Noir and the Female Gothic Film (2007) and co-editor (with Catherine O’Rawe) of The Femme Fatale: Images, Histories, Contexts (2010) and (with Andrew Spicer) of  A Companion to Film Noir (2013).

Professor Hanson’s recent research projects and publications have investigated industrial, generic, stylistic and representational histories of Hollywood cinema. Her current research explores how innovation and creativity happen within industrial structures and hierarchies.  This research is focused on sound personnel within the Hollywood studio system, and Professor Hanson’s current project traces activity and labour in the Hollywood studios ‘below the line’ by analysing case studies of sound practice in different studios and genres.  She has published articles and chapters from this project, and has recently published a new monograph, entitled Hollywood Soundscapes: Film Sound Style, Craft and Production in the Classical Era.  You can see and hear Helen talking about this project here.

Her work on classical and contemporary films noir and gothic films investigated the intersections of gender and genre through theories of narrative, agency and identification and offered fresh perspectives on these genres and their female figures.  The outcomes of this research were a number of publications, including a monograph: Hollywood Heroines: Women in Film Noir and the Female Gothic Film (2007)

Professor Hanson also has wider research interests in film sound and music theory and history, in adaptation theory and practice, in feminist film theory and in archives, cultural and screen heritage and historiography. 

She is an experienced PhD supervisor and examiner.  She has supervised PhDs to successful completion in film sound design, female film culture in British silent cinema, male characterisation in Brönte adaptations, sonic immersion in sound art and new media, and girlhood in the contemporary fairytale film cycle.  All of her former supervisees now either have academic posts, or are working in creative industries.

She is currently supervising or co-supervising a range of exciting doctoral projects on topics such as widescreen innovations in the 1950s, Buster Keaton as a film editor, mid-life female stars in contemporary cinema, filmmaker Bill Douglas, characterisation in contemporary screenplay and writing suspense.

Helen has discussed her research on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, and her public appearances include talks given at the BFI’s Gothic season, and on adaptation at the Page to Screen Festival, Bridport.  She has collaborated and innovatated on a number of public engagement initiatives, she set up ‘Screen Talks’, a partnership between the University and Exeter Picturehouse in which academics present films for public discussion.  And recently she worked on the Object Stories Project, a collaboration with Dr Lisa Stead , Dr Joe Kember and the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum to make short research films.

You can keep up with Helen’s activities on Twitter: @helenexeter