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Professor Joe Kember



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CV for Professor Joe Kember

Joe Kember is a Professor in Film Studies. His research interests include early and silent cinema, Victorian and Edwardian popular entertainments including the magic lantern, theories of film affect, and issues concerning the representation of the human face. He teaches film, literature, and cultural theory, and has supervised postgraduate research concerning topics ranging from Victorian freak show to contemporary Scottish cinema. He is currently completing a book concerning the exhibition of popular screen entertainments, 1840-1914.




Research interests

My research is in popular and visual culture throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and especially in early and silent cinema. My book, Marketing Modernity: Victorian Popular Shows and Early Cinema (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2009), provides an expansive analysis of the institutional development of early film in relation to emergent models of self-identity and personality at the turn of the century.  Other notable publications in the field of silent film studies include Early Cinema 1895 - 1914: From Factory Gate to Dream Factory (London: Wallflower, 2004), co-authored with Simon Popple.

A second strand of my research is in popular entertainments, exhibitions, and displays between 1850 and 1914. I am the reviews editor for Early Popular Visual Culture, a journal which specialises in this type of subject matter. From 2007 I led, with Professor John Plunkett, the AHRC funded project, Moving and Projected-Image Entertainment in the South-West 1840-1914.  I am completing the co-authored book, Picture Going: Popular Visual Media in the South-West 1840-1914, which will be the major published output for the project. Within the project, I have also co-edited special issues of the journals Early Popular Visual Culture and Nineteenth-Century Theatre and Film and a volume in the Pickering and Chatto ‘Science and Culture in the Nineteenth Century’ series entitled, Popular Exhibitions, Science and Showmanship, 1840-1910 (London: Pickering and Chatto, 2012). Among my  other recent articles and chapters, are publications that have tackled spectatorship, performance and screening practices in exhibition sites such as Victorian freak shows, lecture theatres, public halls, and the magic theatre.I am currently the UK Principal Investigator in the project, A Million Pictures: Magic Lantern Slide Heritage as Artefacts in the Common European History of Learning, which is a Joint Programming Initiative on Cultural Heritage - Heritage Plus, and which is funded in the UK by the AHRC and co-funded by the European Commission.

My next project is an intermedial study of the performance and representation of the human face between 1880 and 1930, provisionally entitled Pulling Faces. I have already published several chapters and articles on related subjects, and hve been a Co-investgator on the 1914FACES2014 project, which aimed to analyse how the mutilated faces of soldiers injured during the Great War significantly influenced medical practice, social and political history, arts, law, and philosophy. My own responsibilities in this project related to performative and representational histories of the face on film, especially during the late teens and 1920s.


Research supervision

I am currently supervising PhD students in the fields of  cinema history and theory, nineteenth-century shows and popular culture, and film practice. In addition to these areas, I am also interested in supervising PhD theses on any aspects of film and popular entertainment exhibition practices, histories of acting and performance, representation of cities and other spaces on film, and theories of film, including studies of cognition, emotion, and embodiment.

I also use Exeter's Bill Douglas Cinema Museum ( widely in my research and would be very interested in working further with doctoral students on the substantial mass of materials held by the Museum concerning film history and nineteenth- and twentieth-century visual and popular culture.

Research students

First Supervisor.

Ros Leveridge, Dignified and Discreet’: The Development of Popular Entertainment in Devon Coastal Resorts, 1870-1914 [AHRC Project Studentship] (2008-11, passed).

Fiona Petit, Freak Shows in Britain 1870-1900: Interactions of Popular Entertainment and Medical Curiosity (2008-12, passed).

Adam Whybray, Animating Dissent: The Political Object of Czechoslovakian Stop-Motion Film (2011-).

Jamie Chambers, The Strange Home Project: Towards a Distinctive, ‘Authentic’ Contribution to Scottish Cinema Grounded in Community Folklore (PhD by Practice co-supervised with LFS, 2012-).

Jane Devoy, Methods of Writing, Production and Exhibition in Contemporary Filmmaking: How Modes of Working Affect Final Product (PhD by Practice co-supervised with LFS, 2012-).

Second Supervisor

Phillip Wickham, British Situation Comedy and the Culture of New Capitalism (2009-12, passed).

Gillian Moore, The Life and Work of Charles Victor Alexander Peel (2008-)

Christopher Davies, History, Fantasy and Reality: The Influence of the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on Contemporary Historical and Fantasy Films since 2004 (2010-)

Alice Levick, Narrative Representations of American Urban Space from 1920-1960 (2011-)

Hannah Brown, British Film Culture in the 1980s (2011-)

Richard Wells, The Apple Paradigm: Food for Thought (2011-)

Will Barrett, Digital Interaction with Heritage (2012-)