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Name: Jennifer Leane Voss

PhD: Drama Studies and Film History

Thesis Title: Performing Emotion: Women's screen acting and the transition from silent to sound cinema, 1926-1934

Thesis Description: Utilising performance theories developed within Drama Studies, this project will bring an interdisciplinary perspective to traditional film history scholarship, in the investigation of women’s performances of emotion during the transition from silent to sound cinema. Contributing to the development of women’s film history, this thesis will consider a range of key female actors, including Mary Pickford, Lillian Gish, Joan Crawford, Madeleine Carroll and Mabel Poulton, in a comparative study of their silent and sound performances within films from Britain and America from 1926 -1934. Adhering to a feminist perspective, the focus on these women’s necessarily evolving and carefully constructed performances of emotion, will serve to challenge essentialist ideologies that highlight women as naturally aligned with emotion.

Supervisors and Institution(s):

  • Dr Alissa Clarke - De Montfort University
  • Prof. Steve Chibnall - De Montfort University 
  • Laraine Porter - De Montfort University

Scholarly/Public Engagement Activities


  • Introduction to screening of Pandora's Box (1929) at Phoenix Cinema, Leicester

  • ‘Catch ‘em young, treat ‘em rough, tell ‘em nothing’: A Study into the Emotional Exploitation of Women in Silent Cinema, Women in Hollywood Symposium, De Montfort University 


  • Women, Emotion, and Melodrama: Blurring the Boundaries of Performance in Mary Pickford’s Tess of the Storm Country (1922), Exploring Boundaries in Film and Television, Cinema and Television History (CATH) Research Centre Postgraduate Conference, De Montfort University

  • Women, Emotion, and Melodrama: Reconsidering Performative Perspectives of Melodrama for the Silent Screen, Genre Studies: Now! BAFTSS Annual Conference, University of Bristol


  • "The Hardest Working Girl in Hollywood": Clara Bow, Louise Brooks and the Welfare of the Performer, Doing Women's Film and Television History III: Structures of Feeling, Women's Film and Television History Network, De Montfort University

  • The Emotional Machine: Clara Bow, Louise Brooks and the Welfare of the Performer in Training, Drama and Performance Conference, Sapienza University, Rome


  • 'Performative Persona: A Comparative Study of Louise Brooks and Clara Bow', Outlines: MA Performance Practices and Research Showcase

  • attended Borderlines: Performances, Disciplines, Dialogues - De Montfort University, Leicester

  • attended Doing Women's Film and Television History II - Women's Film and Television History Network, University of East Anglia

Teaching Experience: 

 2016 - 2017

  • Associate Tutor/PTHPL, De Montfort University
    Film1001: Introduction to Global Film History
    Dram1003: Texts and Stages

Related Employment:

2017 - 2018

  • Archivist, Hammer Script Archive and Peter Whitehead Archive, Cinema and Television History Research Institute, De Montfort University


  • Production Assistant, 1960’s Cinema Going Research Project, Picturehouse Central, London

Other Research Interests:

  • Actor training
  • Women and the Method
  • Exploitation of women in the film industry
  • Welfare/ethics in actor/performance training
  • Twentieth-Century theatre 
  • Star Studies and fan magazines 




University email address:


Twitter: @jenniferleane


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