Conference Paper

Moving Images, Moving Expectations: An Exploration of Mediated Protest in Early Cinema


Martin Karlsson

2016 LSE Media and Communications PhD Symposium


The actualities and newsreels of early cinema are not necessarily examples that come to mind when discussing the political impact of media in terms of traditional concepts such as the public sphere. Compared to later televised news broadcasts or contemporaneous newspaper articles, the silence and seeming lack of narrative structure in newsreels make them appear more as disrupting experiences, perhaps closer to what Deluca & Peeples (2002) have referred to as images on a public screen, or possibly even what today within the art world is referred to as glitch (Menkman 2011). Early cinema grew out of a field of new media technology that allowed reality to literally be seen in a new and different light (cf. Elsaesser & Barker ed. 1990; Schwartz 1999). And perhaps it is because it fails to meet our expectations of later “traditional” news, or hopes of an objective mediation of reality, that it actually provided political opportunity (cf. Cammaerts 2012). Especially for marginalized groups of the early 20th century Europe who sought recognition beyond the expectations contained within dominant discourses. In an attempt to capture the early cinematic experience of mediated protest and understand its role in processes of political and social change, this study will explore the image composition of newsreels and actualities depicting protests by groups with little or none political recognition in early modern Europe, such as workers and women. These will then be contextualized historically and politically by use of the contemporary concepts public screen and glitch.

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  • Status:
    Work in progress
  • Type:
    Conference Paper (other academic)
  • Conference:
    2016 Lse Media And Communications Ph D Symposium
  • Language:

About the Author

Martin Karlsson

Martin Karlsson began his PhD program in Media and Communication Studies at the Department of Media Studies in the autumn of 2015. Martin has a great interest in media, culture and history. He graduated with his Master's thesis Struggling Nation ... Read more