2010 Toronto Conference


Beyond the Screen: Institutions, Networks, and Publics of Early Cinema

The Eleventh International Domitor Conference was held at Ryerson University in Toronto, and examined the institutions and social networks that helped to define cinema as a scientific, moral, educational, commercial, professional, or archival medium. Evening events included screenings at the University of Toronto and the Toronto Art Gallery.


The vanguard of recent film scholarship has shown that institutions and social networks established a variety of sites, contexts, and ways for viewing early cinema, not always as “harmless entertainment” or as a “business, pure and simple,” as the U. S. Supreme Court defined it in 1915. The DOMITOR 2010 Conference seeks to develop this line of inquiry by demonstrating how early cinema’s cultural function and social uses were shaped by a range of institutions, both commercial and noncommercial: How was cinema used in the domains of science, technology, education, and social uplift, and how did these applications influence its development and shape the public’s perception of the medium? What decisions and powers led to the marginalisation of alternatives to the “entertainment” model championed by the Supreme Court and pursued by a maturing industry? Which organisations and groups helped preserve and archive early cinema and its culture? How were the production practices of early film companies affected by their alliance with institutions outside the confines of the film industry? DOMITOR 2010 will be a forum to present new research into extra-filmic contexts that broaden our understanding of the institutional basis for cinema during its formative years. To that end, we invite papers that explore the following areas, among others.

  • Extra-theatrical venues and publics for cinema exhibition: churches, settlement houses, social organisations such as libraries and museums, commercial settings such as department stores, and other marginal sites and marginalised audiences
  • Purposes of cinema beyond entertainment: using cinema for education, uplift, religion, advertising, scientific exploration, politics, and journalism
  • Networks of promotion and regulation of cinema: newspapers, the trade press, fan magazines, but also censor boards, organised labour, and court rooms
  • Institutional relationships between film companies and other media and social institutions: film producers’ dealings with charities, corporations, civic and political groups, and film production by such groups
  • Perpetuating early cinema through preservation and appreciation: the work in subsequent decades of archives, criticism, buying and collecting, and the study of film history itself


Alternative Viewing Spaces in Early Cinema: Prisons, Museums, Charity Bazaars

Alison Griffiths (Baruch College, CUNY), “Bound by Cinematic Chains: Films and Prisons, 1900-1915”

RCaitlin McGrath (U of Chicago), “‘This Splendid Temple’: Films Shown in the Wanamaker Department Stores”

Theresa Scandiffio (Toronto International Film Festival), “Mobilizing the Field Museum’s Movie Audience”

Denis Condon (National U of Ireland, Maynooth), “‘Baits to Entrap the Pleasure-Seeker and the Worldling’: Charity Bazaars Introduce Moving Pictures to Ireland”

Institutions of Governmentality: Regulation, Labor, Economy

Ian Christie (U of London, Birkbeck), “Film as Defined by Law before 1907”

Louis Pelletier (Concordia U), “A Moving Picture Farce: Public Opinion and the Beginnings of Film Censorship in Québec”

Wyatt Phillips (New York U), “Thorstein Veblen, Turn-of-the-Century Economic Thought, and Early American Cinema”

Priska Morrissey (U Rennes 2), “Histoire et enjeux de l’organisation syndicale des opérateurs de prise de vues cinématographiques en France avant la Première Guerre mondiale”

Early Educational Cinema (I): The Uses of Education

Jennifer Horne (Catholic U), “Agencies of Relief: The Educational Image and the American Red Cross”

Marsha Orgeron (North Carolina State U), “Multi-Purposing Early Cinema: An Instructive Experiment InvolvingVan Bibber’s Experiment (Edison, 1911)”

Oliver Gaycken (Temple U), “The School of the Future or Ganot’s Physics? Edison’s Foray into Educational Cinema”

Kaveh Askari (Western Washington U), “Picture Study: US Art Education and Its Devices”

Museums, Preservation, and the Aesthetics of the Archive

Charles O’Brien (Carleton U), “Early Film Color, Today and Yesterday”

Viva Paci (U de Québec à Montréal), “Le cinema s’en va en musée”

Itzia Fernandez (U Paris III – Sorbonne Nouvelle), “La compilation un outil de valorisation pour le cinéma des premiers temps: Laméthode sensorielle-analytique du cinéaste Peter Delpeut auservice du NFM (1989-1999)”

Nadia Bozak (independent scholar), “Salvage Ethnography and the Exoticization of Decay in Peter Delpeut’s Lyrical Nitrate and Bill Morrison’sDecasia”

Local Film Cultures as Public Spheres

Gregory A. Waller (Indiana U), “The Motion Picture Territory ‘Beyond Entertainment’”

Wolfgang Fuhrmann (U of Zurich), “Transnational Public Spheres”

Martin Johnson (New York U), “‘Boost Your Town in the Movies’: The Municipal Film in the United States, 1910-1915”

Judith Thissen (Utrecht U), “Early Cinema and the Public Sphere of the Neighborhood Meeting Hall”

Lantern and Cinematograph in Service of Charity around 1900

Frank Gray (U of Brighton), “Mission on Screen: The Early Use of the Lantern and the Cinematograph by the Church Army”

Karen Eifler (U of Trier), “Feeding and Entertaining the Poor: Lantern and Cinematograph Shows Combined with Food Distribution in Great Britain and Germany”

Ludwiga Maria Vogl-Bienek (U of Trier), “Turning the Social Problem into Performance: Slumming and Screen Culture in Victorian Lantern Shows”

Martin Loiperdinger (U of Trier), “Early Film Stars and Mothers’ Health Care Organizations in Germany, 1911”

Early Educational Cinema (II): Education and Entertainment in National Contexts

Gerda Cammaer (Ryerson U), “From Documentaries and Family Film Nights to the First Film University: The Early Works and Big Educational Ideals of Belgian Film Pioneer Hyppolyte de Kempeneer (1876 – 1944)”

Paul Spehr (independent scholar), “The Scope of Those Scopes: Other Production for the Mutoscope and Biograph in the BeginningYears”

Peter Walsh (U of Sheffield), “‘Claims of Amusement Are Not Forgotten’: Mr. Waller Jeffs and His Manifesto for Erudition through Pictures”

Gunnar Iversen (Norwegian U of Science and Technology), “‘And They Can See Half-Naked Dancers, Catching Young Men in Their Nets’: Teachers and the Cinema in Norway, 1907-1913”

Urszula Biel (independent scholar), “Young Audience Cineliteracy in the Early and Post-Early Cinema: An Example from the Region of the Upper Silesia (Germany/Poland)”

Guest presentation, Barbara Hall (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences)

Intermedial Institutions: Theatre, Print Media, Architecture

Germain Lacasse (U de Montréal), “Les ‘journaux filmés’ entre tradition et nouveauté”

Laura Horak (UC Berkeley), “The Place of the ‘Female Boy’ in Negotiations over the Child, the Theater, and the Cinema”

Matthew Solomon (College of Staten Island, CUNY), “Caricature, Satire, and the Work of Georges Méliès”

Brian Jacobson (U of Southern California), “Glass, Iron, Concrete, and Celluloid: ‘Building’ Cinema in the Bronx, 1906-1909”

Early Educational Cinema (III): Immigration, Conversion, and Cleanliness

Marina Dahlquist (Stockholm U), “Health Instruction on Screen: Campaigns, Expositions, and Sanitation Work under the Auspices of the Department of Health in New York City, 1909-1917”

Stephen Bottomore (independent scholar), “Missionaries, Early Movies, and Distant Lands”

Martin Barnier (U Lyon 2), “Paroles éducatives et religieuses lors des projections de films en France avant 1915”

Anne Bachmann (Stockholm U), “Get Back to Where You Once Belonged: A Political Piece of Scandinavian-American Media Relations”

Theater and Early Cinema

Edouard Arnoldy (Université de Liège) ‘‘Le déclin du café-concert, l’échec du Chronophone Gaumont et la naissance de l’Art Cinématographique” Rashit Yangirov (Moscow) “Talking movie or silent theatre: creative experiments by Vasily Goncharov”

Case Studies in Commercial Exhibition

Frank Kessler (Utrecht U) and Sabine Lenk (Utrecht U), “Images en mouvement au théâtre de variétés: le Grand Apollo à Düsseldorf”

Joel Frykholm (Stockholm U), “Local Showmanship in the Early Feature Era: The Case of Stanley Mastbaum”

Ross Melnick (UC Los Angeles), “Not the Same Old ‘Lyric’: Cultural Uplift and Public Relations at Minneapolis’ Lyric Theatre”

André van der Velden (Utrecht U), “Luxors, Royals, and Rembrandts: Patterns and Particularities of Cinema Names in the Netherlands, 1896-1916”

Institutions of Magic and Movement: Contextualizing the Trick Film and Early Animation

Frédéric Tabet (U Paris-Est), “Magies en images, les prestidigitateurs et la machine”

Amy Borden (U of Pittsburgh), “Corporeal Permeability and Shadow Pictures: Reconsidering Uncle Josh at the Moving Picture Show (1902)”

Murray Leeder (Carleton U), “Cinema in the X-Ray’s Light: Eroticism and the Culture of Bone”

Nicholas Sammond (U of Toronto), “Watch Me Move: Instructing Early Animation Audiences”

Early Educational Cinema (IV): Rhetorics of Instruction

Amanda Keeler (Indiana U), “Defining the Space and Scope of the Educational Film Movement”

Jennifer Peterson (U of Colorado, Boulder), “Concrete Civilization: Industrial Films and Progressive-Era Political Economy”

Scott Curtis (Northwestern U), “Dissecting the Medical Training Film”

Nationalism and Early Cinema

Richard Abel (U of Michigan), “A Trip to the Moon as an ‘American’ Phenomenon”

Oksana Chefranova (New York U), “The Tsar and the Kinematograph: The Russian Monarchy in Front of the Camera, 1896-1917”

Elizabeth Clarke (Wilfred Laurier U), “Presenting the Wargraph! Advertising War in Early American Film”

Lise Gantheret (U de Montréal), “Regards croisés sur le Québec entre 1896 et 1914: Un cinéma entre survivance, allégeance et dépendance”

Non-Western Contexts: Education and Exhibition

Ranita Chatterjee (U of Westminster, London), “Calcutta Cinema in the Making: Building Boundaries, Shaping Society”

Sudhir Mahadevan (U of Washington, Seattle), “The Bioscopewallah: Traveling Showmen and the History of Motion Picture Exhibition in South Asia”

Kazuhiro Umemoto (Kyoto U), “Early Cinema and Hygienic Modernity in Colonial Taiwan”

Moreno Nieves (U Autónoma de Madrid), “Cinema and Colonialism: Takamatsu Toyojirô, the Father of Educational Films”

Narrative Institutions: Intertitles, Lecturers, Copyright

André Gaudreault (U de Montréal) and Philippe Gauthier (U de Montréal/U de Lausanne), “G.-Michel Coissac, La Maison de la Bonne Press et la série culturelle de laconférence-avec-projection”

Jan Olsson (Stockholm U), “Intertitles, Storytelling, and Modes of Presentation: Swedish Biograph’s Practices, 1912-1916”

Thierry Lecointe (Académie de Montpellier), “Le bonimenteur, le ‘conférencier de cinéma’ en France (1896-1930): Historique d’une pratique à travers les réseaux de diffusion, lieux de projection et genres filmiques”

Jane M. Gaines (Columbia U), “Twins, Triplets, and Quadruplets: Early Cinema’s Repetition Function”


World première of the restoration of Chalice of Sorrow (Ingram, 1916), plus His Nibs (La Cava, 1921)
Introduction by Jan-Christopher Horak (UCLA Film and Television Archive)

Screening of nonfiction films from the Eye Film Institute Netherlands
Introduction by Nico de Klerk (Eye Film Institute Netherlands)

Screening of early Canadian cinema from the Libraries and Archives Canada, Revue Theatre
Introduction by D.J. Turner (Libraries and Archives Canada)