HOMER Network Logo

Session 2: Approaches: Exploring Cinemagoing Memories

Paper 1 - Stuart Hanson (De Montfort University) & Helen Wood (Lancaster University). The Cinema, the town and ‘my films’: Generating particular ‘memoryscapes’ of local cinema-going.

This paper will consider some preliminary data from a methodologically innovate quantitative and qualitative audience study based on the cinema-going practices of audiences of three re-opened local family-run cinemas in the UK – in Melton Mowbray, Belper and Stockport (see Hanson, 2016). The quantitative element of the research, involving 1,300 completed survey questionnaires, found that the over-55s are a significant demographic in understanding the renewed appeal and success of town-centre cinemas. Qualitative responses indicated a deep concern with, and support for, the town-centre regeneration suffused with ideas of nostalgia and tradition. With funding from the British Academy/Leverhulme Trust, we have followed up with 34 in-depth oral history interviews of a sample of cinemagoers to explore the memories, feelings and attachments that cinema-going generates to more fully inform the tangential ideas around the relationship between cinemagoing and community cohesion. Given their emphasis upon voice, such a method is central to illuminating the sense of locality and place that this project seeks to address. (Trower, 2011). Our research is beginning to map out how the social-geography of the town as a site of memory, overlaps with narratives of personal film histories as interviewees curate their own film archives in relation to their lived experiences and histories. These biographical contexts overlay a sense of ‘my films’ with local knowledge that gives us access to the ways in which cinema as an experience, and film texts and genres as a set of personal investments, are closely and easily imbricated in their narrative telling. We refer to these as ‘memoryscapes’ (Edensor, 1997) as the space of the town is articulated alongside film’s textual landscapes in biographies of cinema-going. This particular age group are particularly interesting because they have lived through key transformations in cinema exhibition, allowing us to further explore how these ‘scapes’ allow interviewees to ‘produce’ their own subjective accounts of social and local change.

Dayton-Wood, A. Hammonds, L., Matherson, L. and Tollison, L. (2012) “Bridging Gaps and Preserving Memories through Oral History Research and Writing” The English Journal 101: 4 (March), pp. 77-82.

Edensor,T. (1997)‘National Identity and the Politics of Memory: Remembering Bruce and Wallace in Symbolic Space’, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 29: 175–94.

Hanson, S. (2016) ‘“Town centres first”: The relocation of the cinema from out-of-town to the town centre in Britain since 1985’ in Judith Thissen and Clemens Zimmermann (eds) Cinema Beyond the City: Small-town and Rural Film Culture in Europe, London: BFI/Palgrave Macmillan.

Trower, S. (2011) “Regional Writing and Oral History, from China Clay to Eden” in Shelley Trower (ed), Place, Writing, and the Voice in Oral History. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Dr Stuart Hanson is Associate Professor at De Montfort University. He is author of ‘Screening the World: Global Development of the Multiplex Cinema’ (2019) and range of publications on cinemas and cinema-going.

Prof. Helen Wood is Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at Lancaster University. She has researched and written extensively on media audiences.

Paper 2 - İlke Şanlıer Yüksel & Aydın Çam, Çukurova University, Materialization of the Memory and Historiography of Cinemagoing: Premises from the New and Local Cinema History of Adana.

This paper aims to discuss the novelty of New Cinema History approach through a series of researches focus on the cinema experiences of Adana’s urban and rural area from a local perspective. As the city and its surroundings located in the south-central Turkey’s fertile land, it has been home to many coming from various social class, ethnicity and religious backgrounds for decades. Adana’s cosmopolitanism has resulted in a multitude and variety of leisure practices including cinema experiences.

In our attempt to write the history of Adana cinemas, we try to obtain the data by scanning local/national archives and documents such as newspapers and magazines; walk & talk interviews with the employees of the open-air and lounge cinemas, and the neighbourhood middlemen; and oral history interviews. We mapped geospatially over 130 cinema places both the lounge and open-air cinemas that run from 1902 till today in Adana. To gather, triangulate and analysis of geospatial data, we organized a datathon workshop as a participatory method. More interestingly, the ‘history’ started to grow into a more materialized form after we as researchers integrate to the field itself. For example, the studies are accompanied by cinema history tours in the city and film cartography tours by focusing on Yilmaz Güney’s films that we organize. And also, we try to apply materialized and reflexive methodologies, such as reviving cinemagoing experience as ethnographic research, meaning recreating similar historical experiences. Through watching 35mm pellicle films full of scratches and cuts which has been shown hundreds of times in the open air with the audience, we had a chance to observe how cinema invigorate the memories.

So New Cinema History approach provides a mixed method that can combine physical data within the spatial context and the social data which is constructed by using both digital and/or conventional data gathering and analysis techniques. The paradigm itself allows us to relate each step of the research design and transform research workflow into a cyclical and flexible methodology in which every step feeds each other. In the end, our effort to write about Adana cinemas historiography also allows us to give back what we have learned to the original owners. So the novelty of the New Cinema History paradigm lies in its capacity in transforming the research and its results to materialize the social and cultural context of cinemagoing.

Biltereyst, D., van Oort, T. & Meers, P. (2019). Comparing Historical Cinema Cultures: Reflections on New Cinema History and Comparison with A Cross-National Case Study on Antwerp and Rotterdam. D. Biltereyst, R. Maltby & P. Meers (Ed.), in The Routledge Companion to New Cinema History (96–111). New York: Routledge.

Elsaesser, T. (2004). The New Film History as Media Archeology. Cinémas, 14(2–3), 75–117.

Maltby, R., Biltereyst, D. & Meers, P. (Ed.) (2011). Explorations in New Cinema History – Approaches and Case Studies. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

İlke Şanlıer Yüksel is an assistant professor in the School of Communications at Çukurova University, and serves as the director of Migration and Development Studies Research Center. She got her BA degree from Sociology Department at Boğaziçi University and a PhD degree from Communication program at Anadolu University. Her research mainly focuses on the sociology of migration and the sociology of cinema. She works on media’s role in diasporic cultures, transnational politics through mediated settings, cinema and mobility. She has a long experience of field research and ethnographic research on migrants.

Aydın Çam is an assistant professor in the School of Communications at Çukurova University. He got his BA degree from Department of Communication Sciences at Marmara University and a PhD degree from Media and Communication Studies Program at Galatasaray University. His research mainly focuses on the New Cinema History, cinema history of Çukurova, cinemagoing, and spectatorship. Recently, he works on travelling cinema experiences in Taurus’ highland villages, nomad (Yörük) films, and mapping of Adana cinema history. He is also interested in cinema and space relations such as cinematic spaces, spatial experiences, and mapping the cinematic spaces.

Paper 3 - Dalila Missero, Oxford Brookes University, Memories Beyond Borders and Proximity: A Qualitative Audience Research on Latin-American women in Spain and Italy.

This paper poses some methodological and theoretical questions stemming from my project “Investigating Cinema Memories and Transnational Practices: A Qualitative Study with Female Latin-American Audiences in Barcelona and Milan”, which studies the cinematic memories and habits of audiovisual consumption of a group of Latin American women based in Milan and Barcelona. The study consists in the collection and analysis of in-depth interviews, to recuperate “traveling memories” (Erll, 2011) and media biographies, exploring the multifaceted notions of proximity (La Pastina and Straubhaar, 2005; Georgiou, 2012), border and border-thinking (Lugones, 2010) in the migrant experiences of the media. The project uses in-depth interviews to understand the everyday and affective aspects of cinema-going both in the ‘homeland’ and the ‘hostland’, intersecting questions of nostalgia, temporality and spatiality as posed in postcolonial theory and transnational studies.

To date, film studies have approached these topics by means of textual analysis and cultural critique, addressing matters of authorship, filmmaking, aesthetics and cultural policy (Naficy, 1999; Berghahn & Sternberg, 2010; Ponzanesi & Waller, 2012). In this framework, the paper assigns to audience studies an important role in the conceptualization and study of transnational cinema, thanks to its attention to the ‘ordinariness of culture’ (Williams, 1978) and its understanding of gender identity as an everyday, dynamic practice. In particular, I will discuss the potential of personal memories and ‘cinematic cartographies’ to illuminate the affective temporalities and material dimensions of cultural consumption in women’s lives.

Astrid Erll (2011) Travelling Memory, Parallax, 17:4, 4-18;

Myria Georgiou (2012) Watching soap opera in the diaspora: cultural proximity or critical proximity?, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 35:5, 868-887,


Maria Lugones, Toward a Decolonial Feminism, Hypatia Vol. 25, No. 4 (FALL 2010), pp. 742-759;

Dalila Missero is a Research Fellow at the School of Arts, at Oxford Brookes University, where she is working on a project on women’s media memories. She has received her PhD in Visual, Performing and Media Arts at the University of Bologna and has published essays on women in Italian cinema in the Journal of Italian Cinema & Media Studies, Feminist Media Histories and The Italianist. In parallel with her new project, she is also completing her first monograph “Italian Women and Cinema: The Making of a Feminist Film Culture” for Edinburgh University Press.